Friday, 6 March 2009

Razorback

Judy Morris and the Razorback
PLOT

An environmentally concerned American journalist (Judy Morris) heads to the Australian outback and proceeds to disappear after observing a sinister, pet food factory. Her husband (Gregory Harrison) follows the trail to where the eponymous, giant wild pig, dominates the life of a hunter (Bill Kerr), who has a long standing grudge with it.

REVIEW

I will start with a serving suggestion: This film is best served with a group a lads who have just returned from the pub, and cannot quite tell what is stuffed pork, and what is just plain cheese.

The best creature feature movies are the ones that shroud the beast in mystery and shadows, as that is where these paranoid delusions dwell in our individual psyches - left over from childhood nightmares. Fog and darkness also have the useful side affect of hiding much of the poorer quality areas of the puppets as well, but rarely has it been as essential as in this film.

The Razorback Puppet
Choosing such a cinema-unfriendly villain was never a good starting point anyhow. Pigs are highly dangerous, but somehow not terrifying on screen, and this specimen resembles not a great deal more than a botched attempt at taxidermy; and about as mobile. The only times it carries any menace are when it is off screen, and even the lighting techniques cannot imbue it with any life.

Those lighting effects are impressive though. You can tell that Russell Mulcahy, the director, has a background in music videos, specifically Duran Duran. He cuts the picture like the best of the early eighties boom in pop video, using his keen eye to create vignettes within the film, allowing Australia's unique landscape to do what his puppet cannot.

Razorback Scenery
Sound is also used to great effect. Each geographic location having its own signature, and most of them eerie and chilling. He creates a remarkable claustrophobia in the massively open expanses.

The plot could have been written on a beer mat, containing no surprises, and its characters are unable to carry the story, outshone by the peripheral locals. The style of the two pet food factory villains, is very derivative of Mad Max, coming only a few years after that genre defining film, and the setting and composition of the finale is echoed in his later later work, Highlander.

I would refer to Razorback as a B-Movie, but for its comparatively large budget, and so we are left with a film that thinks it is more than it is. The sub-genre of gigantic killer animals, or revenge of nature pictures, has many more watch-able entries. But, providing you follow the serving suggestion, this is a passable effort.