|Directed by||Russell Mulcahy|
|Produced by||Hal McElroy|
|Written by||Everett De Roche|
by Peter Brennan
|Music by||Iva Davies|
|Edited by||William M. Anderson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia)
|2 November 1984|
|Box office||A$801,000 (Australia)|
Razorback is a 1984 Australian natural horror film written by Everett De Roche, based on Peter Brennan's novel, and directed by Russell Mulcahy. The film revolves around the attacks of a gigantic wild boar terrorizing the Australian outback, killing and devouring people.
Jake Cullen (Bill Kerr) is babysitting his grandson at his house in the Australian outback when a massive razorback boar attacks him, smashing through his house and dragging away his grandson to devour alive. Jake is accused of murdering the child and while his account of the events are met with high skepticism, he is acquitted due to lack of evidence. The event destroys his credibility and reputation however and he vows revenge on the boar.
Two years later, American wildlife reporter Beth Winters (Judy Morris) journeys to the outback to document the hunting of Australian wildlife to be processed into pet food at a derelict factory. Beth gets video footage of two thugs, Benny Baker (Chris Haywood) and his brother Dicko (David Argue) illegally making pet food out of animals and is chased down by them by car. They catch up to her and attempt to rape her only to be chased off by the same boar that killed Jake's grandson. Beth attempts to take shelter in her car, but the hog rips off the door, lacerating her groin with its tusk before dragging her out to be eaten. With no witnesses, her disappearance is subsequently ruled an accident resulting from falling down an abandoned mine shaft after leaving her wrecked car.
Some time later, Beth's husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) arrives in search of her and encounters Jake, whom Beth interviewed during her initial report. Jake refers him to the local cannery where he meets Benny and Dicko whom he convinces to take him along on their next kangaroo hunt, only to be abandoned by them when he spoils a potential kill. Carl is then attacked by a herd of wild hogs, spurned on by the giant boar, who chase him through the night and force him take shelter atop an abandoned windmill. The next morning, the hogs succeed in knocking over the windmill, but Carl is saved by landing in a pond at the windmill's base that is too deep for the hogs to cross over.
Once the hogs leave, Carl attempts to make his way back to civilisation, all the while suffering from dehydration induced hallucinations before finally reaching the house of Sarah Cameron (Arkie Whiteley), a friend of Jake who has been tracking and studying the local hog population and the only one who believes his story of the giant razorback. While recovering at Sarah's house, Carl forms a friendship with her and learns that something has been causing the wild hogs excess stress, leading them into unusual behavior such as increased aggression and cannibalizing their own young. Meanwhile, after learning that Carl had seen the razorback, Jake sets out for the pumping station and manages to shoot it with one of Sarah's tracking darts. He also finds Beth's wedding ring in the boar's scat which he returns to a grieving Carl, who resigns himself to returning home.
After overhearing a radio conversation suggesting that Jake knows what really happened to Beth Winters, Benny and Dicko, fearful that Jake is attempting to implicate them in her death, attack him at his camp, breaking his legs and leaving him to be killed by the razorback. His remains are later found by Sarah and Carl, along with marks in the dirt made by Dicko's cleaver. Realizing that the brothers were responsible for both his wife and Jake's death, Carl attacks Benny at his and Dicko's hideaway, interrogating Benny by lowering him into a mine shaft before letting him fall down it. As Sarah rounds up a posse to hunt down the razorback using the tracer Jake shot into it, Carl corners Dicko at the cannery when the razorback suddenly appears and mauls Dicko before Carl can shoot him. The razorback then chases Carl into the factory when Sarah suddenly arrives and is seemingly killed by the boar, who continues to pursue Carl even after being impaled through its throat with a broken pipe. In its maddened rampage, the razorback ends up damaging the cannery's generator which sends the machines running out of control as Carl lures the boar up onto a conveyor belt that throws it onto a giant fan, chopping it to pieces. After shutting down the machinery, Carl finds and rescues Sarah, who had merely been knocked unconscious, and the two embrace.
- Gregory Harrison as Carl Winters
- Arkie Whiteley as Sarah Cameron
- Bill Kerr as Jake Cullen
- Chris Haywood as Benny Baker
- David Argue as Dicko Baker
- Judy Morris as Beth Winters
- John Howard as Danny
- John Ewart as Turner
- Don Smith as Wallace
- Mervyn Drake as Andy
- Redmond Phillips as the Magistrate
- Alan Becher as Counsel (credied as Alan Beecher)
- Peter Schwarz as Lawyer (as Peter Schwartz)
- Beth Child as Louise Cullen
- Rick Kennedy as Farmer
The movie was directed by Russell Mulcahy and mostly shot in Broken Hill, New South Wales. Director of photography Dean Semler was hired on the strength of his work in Mad Max 2. Some commentators have written that the film may have been inspired by the 1980 death of Azaria Chamberlain, whose mother was wrongfully accused of murder after a dingo snatched the infant.
The razorback boar was an animatronic. Effects man Bob McCarron designed a total of six boars for the film, one of them designed to ram vehicles. The shoot used one of the first batches of a new fast film stock developed by Kodak, which resulted in quite high-resolution shots. Mulcahy originally considered Jeff Bridges for the role of Carl, but producer Hal McElroy considered he had too little international appeal.
Razorback came out in Australia on 19 April 1984 and grossed $801,000 at the box office. The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. in November 1984. It grossed $150,140 at the box office.
The film was released on home media in Australia by Umbrella Entertainment on 21 September 2005. It was presented in 2.40:1 Widescreen, and included a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack and the original 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtrack. Special features include the 70-minute featurette "Jaws on Trotters", an audio featurette interview with actor Gregory Harrison, four deleted scenes from the VHS release with extra gore, a photo gallery, and an original theatrical trailer, plus two extra trailers for Roadgames and The Chain Reaction.
The UK release contains a 5.1 DTS track, biographies, a still gallery and a 25-minute featurette that contains interviews with several production crew.
Razorback received lukewarm reviews from critics.
Several critics compared the film to the classic natural horror film Jaws. Both movies use their special-effects monster sparingly, the better to build suspense and hide the technical shortcomings.
Often noted was Russell Mulcahy's music-video-informed style: fast cutting, filters and strobe lighting. The New York Times ascribed a "bizarre, almost Dali-esque character" to the visuals.
Clint Morris of Moviehole called it "Jaws with a wiggly tail! Ferocious and Fun!" Chuck O'Leary of Fantastica Daily gave a positive review, saying "The atmosphere of the Australian Outback makes this a decent oversized-creature-on-the-loose thriller."
(1984 Australian Film Institute Awards)
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Everett De Roche||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Dean Semler||Won|
|Best Editing||William M. Anderson||Won|
|Best Original Music Score||Iva Davies||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Tim Lloyd||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Bryce Walmsley||Nominated|
|Australian Cinematographers Society||Cinematographer of the Year||Dean Semler||Won|
|Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival||Grand Prize||Russell Mulcahy||Nominated|
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