Friday, June 29, 2007


Russell Mulcahy | 1984 | 91 min | Australia

New rule of thumb. A movie will get a positive review from me if within the first three minutes, a giant killer boar crashes through an old man's house, snatches his grandson, and somehow sets fire to the house on its way out. Bonus points if the old man then drops to his knees and cries with his home burning in the background.

Russell Mulcahy's narrative feature debut is as far as I can tell, the first film about a giant killer boar. Mulcahy has a knack for directing firsts. He has the honour of having directed the first music video ever shown on MTV, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles, and he would follow-up Razorback with the first film about sword wielding immortals who travel the earth trying to chop off the heads of anyone else who's like them.

The setup is that a young female journalist named Beth, is in Australia, working on a story about the decline in the kangaroo population due to slack-jawed yokels who love a good kangaroo killin'. She rubs a couple of the yokels the wrong way one night, and they force her off the road to attack her. Before they can get their pants to their ankles though, the giant boar makes its second appearance in the film, scaring them off, and saving Beth from being raped. It's a giant killer boar though, so it does what it does best, and kills her.

A bus rolls into town, and on that bus is Carl; Beth's Canadian husband. All he and the rest of the town know is that Beth has gone "missing", so he's there to find her. Getting help from the old man from the start of the movie, and Sarah, a young blond ecologist, the movie soon becomes not about finding Beth, but rather finding the boar, and killing it.

The effects work isn't the most elaborate, but they built a practical giant boar, and it LOOKS great. It doesn't move so hot, but Mulcahy overcomes the problem by showing it in short bursts. Most of the attack sequences are cut very quickly. It's like the shark in Jaws. If the camera were to linger on it for too long, it would start to look phony, and the movie would be ruined. An excellent job is done here at keeping disbelief at bay.

Razorback apparently didn't receive a North American theatrical release, and that's absurd. It's a really fun and wild monster movie in an exotic locale, and I bet would have done gangbusters at the box office in 1984.

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