RAZORBACK redefines the concept of “rip-snorting”, as woefully unprepared humans meet a grisly nightmare in the form of one of nature’s most dangerous and repellent scavengers. Quote to live by, especially when growled by Ozzie coot Bill Kerr: “There’s something about blasting the shit out of a razorback that brightens up my whole day.” Verily. *
Easy-going American ‘Carl Winters’ (Gregory Harrison) goes to the Australian Outback to investigate the disappearance of his wife, who was on assignment to report on the decimation of kangaroos and other marsupials, slaughtered for pet-food. He must discover what the audience has already witnessed, that she was assaulted by a pair of disgusting morons before they were interrupted by a giant razorback boar. While Carl looks for answers from the surly locals, old area resident ‘Jake Cullen’ (Bill Kerr) vows vengeance on the huge pig that carried off his grandson. Comely researcher ‘Sarah Cameron’ (Arkie Whiteley) befriends Carl. Ready to tear up & ingest one & all is a smart, ravenous, seemingly unstoppable and R-for-Repulsive one-ton monster hog. Eeeuuw!
Thriller screenwriter Everett De Roche (Road Games) fashioned the script for the 95-minute cult film, directed in 1984 as the first feature project from music video ace Russell Mulcahy (remember Duran Duran?), who lucked out as director by securing Dean Semler (Mad Max 2, Dances With Wolves, Apocalypto) as his cinematographer. Mulcahy’s stylizing gusto and Semler’s camera skill create intense neo-noir lighting effects and menacing shadows, playing with the color scheme, and infusing the over-the-top material with a overall graphic novel look that keeps your senses attuned and eyes on alert even when the sillier aspects of the story clash with the yucky gore and dread. The set designers and sound crew do exemplary work.
The actors are all good, including David Argue and Chris Haywood as the vile Baker brothers. Shooting was accomplished at the Broken Hills location in New South Wales, Australia.
For the porcine star, six expensive animatronic mockups were built, but feeling they didn’t work as intended with too much direct exposure, Mulcahy wisely used them mostly in quick cuts and very effective extreme close-ups of that ghastly face, eyes, mouth….
All told, they spent $5,500,000 Australian dollars back in 1984, a generous amount. Box-office was poor, grossing $801,000 Oz dollars and a bare $150,000 in the US. Time heals all wounds (except maybe the intestinal gashes rent open by boar tusks), and the nasty little item’s rep grows steadily.
Bloody sick fun, with Judy Morris (ill-fated ‘Beth Winters’), John Howard and John Hewart. The 378-page source novel that appeared in 1981 obviously invited comparison to “Jaws”, with those inclined to wag rooting up “Tusks”: such desperation enough to make one oink aloud.
* Nature, can we agree, basically a Good Thing? Fine, with candles and yoga, but how about all those non-Disney creatures who can ruin your vacation? At least if you’re batted around by a bear before they start gnawing on you, you can—when you stop screaming—put it in historical context: so this is how my ancestors felt? Mauled by a lion or tiger and you have to admit “This really hurts, but damn! that baby is beautiful!” Stomped by an elephant, tossed by a buffalo, hamstrung by a wolf— you can figure it’s generalized payback and just ‘go with it’ (plead, gasp, gurgle). But, really now…barracudas, African wild dogs, baboons? Hyenas. Komodo dragons. Scorpions, centipedes, vipers…Asian Giant Hornets? Pick your terror. Yet for sheer gross “not this way” shivers, there’s something truly wrong about a 1,200 pound pig ready to scarf on you. Gawd, the breath would be enough.