Razorback (1984) is a humble Aussie B-movie that had the audacity and good marketing sense to deem itself ‘Jaws on land’. Does it live up to that lofty goal? Hell no. Is it daft fun when accompanied by a bunch of beers? Hell yes.
For those who don’t know, razorbacks are actually a phenomenon and major problem in rural Australia. Feral pigs run rampant, growing to massive size, with very little in the way of natural predators. Pig hunting is a favoured past time amongst a certain type of person in Australia who often don’t actually look and sound all that different to the hideously narrow minded, racist hunters in this film. Razorback captures some of the barbarism inherent in bloodlust and the almost sexual thrill that some hunters get from their slaughter. The film is a little slapdash, with everything just thrown on the canvas to see what works. There is an armoured car, which I believe was a requirement of any Aussie genre film of this vintage. There are a few jaunts into absurdist territory which really does not work. There are a couple of American interlopers, one of them a reporter, and these outsiders function as a way to highlight just how alien a place the Australian outback really is. And the deaths are well shot, with the characters who go and the order that occurs is at least a touch surprising.
There is something of the delightful silliness and simplicity of Roger Corman at his best in Razorback. It’s bad, but endearingly so. Even when crafting a pretty accurate, if stylised and (only slightly) exaggerated portrait of life in remote Australia, the film never allows that to get in the way of the fact that there is an enormous, murderous pig on the rampage. Nor should it. The setting is a real point of difference, with the expanses of sun drenched outback a stark change-up to the horror setting norm of dank, dark, enclosed spaces and the filmmakers do toy with that. Though the film is nothing like Jaws (1975) on basically every level, it does nail one bit. The pig used is so monumentally terrible and fake looking that the film does everything it can to hide it away. Which leads to the good – funky silhouettes and PPOV (pig point of view) shots, and the bad – at times the film could use a little more giant murderous pig. Thematically, there is a little to discuss, even thought the film functions mainly as a blast of stupid fun. Feral pigs are often used as a metaphor for environmental degradation in Australia. They are not native and do untold damage to the landscape, just as mining, agriculture and numerous other feral species do. As for the script, it’s awesome. And by awesome I mean terrible. Razorbacks supposedly not having a nervous system plays a major role in the plot and the quote “took his grandson, his daughter and his pride… that boar destroyed his life” features shows its qualities.
Verdict: If you are a fan of what the gents of The Flophouse call ‘good bad’ movies, then Razorback has what you need. It falls comically short of fulfilling its Jaws on land premise. But it is comical and loads of fun, with the perfect mix of competence and incompetence. First class 80s schlock. Verdict: Stubby of Reschs
For a combination of reasons, the horror genre has always attracted its share of B Movies. There are numerous reasons for this, and even today it continues – there are far more straight to DVD releases in the genre than any other.
For today’s instalment for Halloween Week, I thought I would share three ‘classic’ horror B movies with you, with the public domain films included. A spanner was thrown into the works when I went to pop this up for you all today, when I found that Openflix on Youtube, my favoured source for public domain films has been shut down. I have managed to track down versions from other Youtube sources though, so hopefully these stay up for the long haul. Enjoy these guys, they are all great fun of some sort or another.
The Killer Shrews
I mean really, how can you go wrong with a name like that. Especially when the first time that the words “killer shrews” are said, lightning strikes. This is a classical B movie setup – a night on an island crawling with unknown killer animals and humans who seem to have something to hide. You can also throw into the mix typically awesome B movie dialogue and the fact that I’m pretty sure the shrews are dogs, and there is a typical old school horror flick.
Monster from a Prehistoric Planet
This Japanese ‘classic’ takes all the best bits from King Kong and Godzilla and essentially butchers them. But who doesn’t love a shoddily made monster flick homage. Starts out on a very cool isolated island (complete with very unfortunately presented native inhabitants), where scientists are searching out animals for a new theme park. And oh don’t they find some creatures to catch. If hilarious monster special effects & costumes are your thing, then check this one out.
The Vampire Bat
This horror/mystery combo is probably the most interesting of these three flicks. Discounting the poor quality of the print, this film looks fantastic. Apparently it borrowed a lot of the Universal horror sets of the time, so that would have helped. The film is a gothic tale of unexplained deaths and the interesting thematic concern of the clash between logic and supposed superstition. Also features Fay Wray, famous of course for her screamtastic turn in King Kong.
Like what you read? Then please like Not Now I’m Drinking a Beer and Watching a Movie on facebook here.