Razorback (film)

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Razorback
Razorback movie.jpg
Razorback poster
Directed byRussell Mulcahy
Produced byHal McElroy
Written byEverett De Roche
Based onRazorback
by Peter Brennan
Starring
Music byIva Davies
CinematographyDean Semler
Edited byWilliam M. Anderson
Distributed byGreater Union Film Distributors (Australia)
Warner Bros. (North America)
Release date
2 November 1984 (1984-11-02)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryAustralia
LanguageEnglish
BudgetA$5.5 million[1]
Box officeA$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 terrorising the Australian outback, killing and devouring people.

Plot[edit]

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 carrying off his grandson to devour alive. Jake is accused of murdering the child and while his account of the events are met with considerable scepticism, he is ultimately acquitted due to lack of evidence for accountability. 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 run-down 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 subsequently chased down by them by car. They catch up, force her off the road 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, drags her out and eats her. With no witnesses, her disappearance is subsequently ruled an accident resulting from having fallen down an abandoned mine shaft after leaving her wrecked car.

Some time later, Beth's husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) travels to Australia 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. He pretends to be a Canadian visitor and convinces them 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 pigs, spurred on by the giant boar, who chase him through the night and force him take shelter atop a windmill. The next morning the pigs knock over the windmill but Carl is saved by landing in a pond at the windmill's base, in which the pigs fear to swim.

Once the pigs 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 studying the local pig population and the only one who believes his story of the giant razorback. While recovering at Sarah's house, Carl learns from Sarah that something has been causing the wild pigs excess stress, leading them into unusual behaviour such as increased aggression and cannibalising 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 faeces which he returns to a grieving Carl.

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 with bolt-cutters 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. Realising that the brothers were responsible for both his wife and Jake's death, Carl attacks Benny at his and Dicko's lair, interrogating Benny by dangling him over a mine shaft before dropping him into it. As Sarah rounds up a posse to hunt down the razorback using the tracker 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 impaling its throat on 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.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The movie was directed by Russell Mulcahy and mostly shot in Broken Hill, New South Wales.[1][2] 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 accused of murder after a dingo snatched the infant.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

Release[edit]

Razorback was released in Australia on 19 April 1984 and grossed $801,000 at the box office.[6] 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.[7]

Following various VHS video releases, the film was issued on DVD in Australia by Umbrella Entertainment on 21 September 2005. It was presented in 2.40:1 widescreen with a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack and the original 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtrack. Special features included the 70-minute featurette "Jaws on Trotters"; an audio interview with actor Gregory Harrison, four brief pre-release deleted scenes with extra gore, sourced from VHS tape; a photo gallery and an original theatrical trailer.

Razorback was subsequently released on DVD in various other countries, including the US, UK, France and Germany, though they only contain varying quantities of the Australian disc's extras.[8] The US release was by Warner Home Video, as part of the Warner Archive Collection, and only contains 2.0 stereo audio and the theatrical trailer.[9]

In 2014, Umbrella Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray with all of their prior DVD's extras and an additional 84 minutes of cast and crew interviews. The disc is region free and features a remastered HD transfer, but is in 1080i 50Hz with the supplements being in PAL 576i, causing compatibility issues with 60Hz only equipment. This release is currently OOP.

In August 2018, Umbrella Entertainment released a newly remastered edition Blu-Ray featuring a 4k transfer of the theatrical cut and a VHS sourced uprez of the uncut version. In addition to porting over all previous supplements, newly produced extras include a new audio commentary by director Russell Mulcahy and the retrospective "A Certain Piggish Nature: Looking Back at Razorback". Like the previous 2014 Umbrella Blu-Ray, the 2018 remastered version is also region free, but this time around the main feature and all other content are formatted in 1080p 24fps for greater compatibility with 60hz equipment.

Reception[edit]

Razorback received lukewarm reviews from critics.

Several critics compared the film to the classic natural horror film Jaws.[10] Both movies use their special-effects monster sparingly, the better to build suspense and hide the technical shortcomings.[11]

Often noted was Russell Mulcahy's music-video-informed style: fast cutting, filters and strobe lighting.[12][13] The New York Times ascribed a "bizarre, almost Dali-esque character" to the visuals.[14]

However, most reviewers found the plot somewhat rote and predictable,[15] and there were complaints about the performances.[16]

Anna-Maria Dell'oso, film critic for the Sydney Morning Herald gave the film a negative review, writing, "Razorback is a spectacularly ghastly movie, one of the great Australian embarrassments of the year".[17]

Patrick Goldstein, film critic for the Los Angeles Times described the film as a "true delight for any horror film fancier who enjoys the prospect of man tested by a deadly and inscrutable force of nature".[18]

Clint Morris of Moviehole called it "Jaws with a wiggly tail! Ferocious and Fun!"[citation needed] 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."[citation needed]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Award
(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
Ron Purvis Nominated
Peter Fenton Nominated
Phil Heywood Nominated
Greg Bell Nominated
Helen Brown Nominated
Ashley Grenville 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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schembri, Jim (July 1984). "Russell Mulcahy". Cinema Papers. pp. 139–141.
  2. ^ Schembri, Jim (12 July 2008). "Russell Mulcahy". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  3. ^ Blackford, Russell; McMullen, Sean; Ikin, Van (1999). Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction. Greenwood Press. p. 128.
  4. ^ Cettl, Robert (2010). Australian Film Tales. p. 64.
  5. ^ "Jaws on Trotters": The Making of Razorback (DVD featurette). 2005.
  6. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  7. ^ Razorback at Box Office Mojo
  8. ^ "Razorback DVD comparisons". DVDCompare.net. Retrieved 29 Jan 2017.
  9. ^ "Razorback (DVD)". WBSshop.com. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  10. ^ Buckmaster, Luke (2014-11-13). "Razorback Rewatched – the outback creature feature sold as Jaws on trotters". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Stratton, David (1990). The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry. Pan MacMillan. p. 302.
  12. ^ "Razorback Review". Empire. 2000-01-01.
  13. ^ Shelley, Peter (2012). Australian Horror Films, 1970–2010. McFarland. p. 84.
  14. ^ Canby, Vincent (1985-09-13). "Screen: 'Razorback'". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Review: 'Razorback'". Variety. 1983-12-31.
  16. ^ Flanagan, Kevin (2011). Studies in Australasian Cinema Vol. 5. Intellect, Ltd.
  17. ^ Dell'oso, Anna-Maria (1984-04-21). "Super-pig takes on the Animal Rights fanatic". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-01-03 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (1984-11-20). "'Razonback' - A Boar But Not A Bore". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-01-03 – via Newspapers.com.

External links[edit]