Razorback (1984)
By: Devon B. on October 31, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 95 minutes
The Movie
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Starring: Gregory Harrison, Arkie Whiteley, Bill Kerr, Chris Haywood, David Argue, Judy Morris, John Howard
Screenplay: Everett De Roche
Country: Australia
While babysitting, Jake Cullen (Bill Kerr) has his house ambushed by a massive razorback. It tears through his home and makes off faster than a dingo with his young grandson. Jake is somewhat upset by this turn of events, probably because he was planning on eating the boy himself and now needs to make new plans for dinner. No one believes his tale of a giant razorback, and after wearing the blame, Jake becomes an embittered, crusty, razorback hunter.

Enter this lady from America who likes animals and has come to the outback to yell at people like Jake about it. Things don't go well for her after she upsets two of the more unbalanced locals, Benny (Chris Haywood) and Dicko (David Argue). But before they can make her squeal, the gigantic razorback turns up again and she becomes piggy fodder. In the book it's explained that this is not the same razorback that took Jake's grandson, but I guess in the film version enormous razorbacks live a loooooooong time. Anyway, the stupid dead lady's husband comes to Australia to try to find out what happened to her, and also runs in to the colourful locals. And the pig, of course.

Razorback is a very, very silly film. The director, Russel Mulcahy, was hot in the video clips market, and his previous experience shows in terms how he chose to light the set and the film's backdrops. Imagery is at times striking, as in the backlit night shots of a roo hunt and slaughter, and at times distracting, as in the dream sequence.

What makes the film so good are four things, in reverse order: Haywood, Kerr, Argue, and a giant pig. Kerr does his best to give the film some credibility, while the manic Haywood and Argue are what made the film truly terrifying for many viewers. They also say "donk" which my wife denied was an Australian word, but I found it in an Australian dictionary, so she's obviously a liar.

The pig often looks like a shaggy mechanical bull, but I just can't dislike it. It could've been done better, but as is, Razorback is a fun monster flick. Yeah, the budget maybe went to FX that really didn't work, but there's enough pig mayhem to make this film a worthwhile addition to the rampaging monster films catalogue. The film might've been "better" if the pig was realised more convincingly, but the over the top silliness would've diminished, which is what gives Razorback most of its charm. While the climactic pig battle is a bit of a let down, Razorback is overall very entertaining.

Unfortunately, Umbrella have released the cut M version, not the original R18+ version which was released on VHS in the 80's by Roadshow.
I had the opportunity to screen this disc on a massive HD television, and was disappointed with the print. It was the worst looking DVD I have watched on that screen, appearing really dirty and grainy. Granted, the film is set in the outback, but it seemed like the print needed work. When I pulled out the disc again to make sure that I hadn't blown the visual problems out of proportion in my mind, I checked it on a more moderate tele. The image seemed much cleaner then. However, there was still some very noticeable grain and the image could get soft, particularly in the blue lighting of the climax. So, for mere mortals with normal televisions, this print will probably be considered good if flawed.
The audio is available in 5.1 Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital 2.0 options. I viewed with the 5.1 mix, and found it to be very nice. Dialog was clear, sound FX were crisp, and the score sounded dated…but that's not the fault of the DVD.
Extra Features
The DVD comes with the original theatrical trailer, as well as those of a few other Australian flicks.

"Grisly" deleted scenes are included, but really, they should have been put back in the film. No excuses. This is lame, and I won't even let Umbrella off lightly by saying "At least it was included in some fashion." The scenes being left separate from the film hurts the overall value of the disc greatly.

There's a stills and poster gallery, showcasing artwork that I think would've made a better DVD sleeve, not that that matters because the art has got a very distracting, very blue "M" over the top of it thanks to the OFLC.

There's also an audio interview with actor Gregory Harrison, and Jaws on Trotters, for those wishing to know more about the film. Jaws on Trotters is a 70-minute doco about the film and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of the key participants wax eloquent, and those that don't seem to be either dead, or Bill Kerr and David Argue. Naturally, the most interesting aspect was the stuff about bringing the pig to life, even when it wasn't entirely lifelike.
The Verdict
Razorback is a classic. If you say "Australian horror movie" it's the first thing I think of, and is my favourite film from this country. While the DVD isn't perfect, it may be the best release for a while. It's overpriced at $29.95, but if you can find it for say $20, it would be worth picking up, even just for the doco.
Movie Score
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