October 11, 2018
Going Beyond Genres with Killer Pigs and Fish People
Umbrella Entertainment continues to be a friend to genre film fans in Australia and around the world, and their Beyond Genres line only confirms it. Some upcoming titles touch on science fiction and fantasy, but the two entries below are all about the horror. And they couldn’t be more different…
One involves a giant rampaging pig, and the other sees a murderous cult of fish people terrorizing a young couple.
Australia is a dangerous place, and if the snakes, spiders, sharks, and drunken diddlers don’t kill you something else will. In this case, that something is a big wild boar. The beast steals an infant from its crib — no stealth mission here, it simply plows through the house’s walls and snags the child on its tusks — leaving the baby’s grandfather on the hook for its disappearance. Like the tragic dingo case from the 80s, the man goes on trial despite his defense being “an animal did it!” The small community is rocked again when a visiting journalist is killed by the beast, but while they’re hesitant to fully embrace the truth the woman’s husband arrives intent on staying until he finds it.
He finds it.
Russell Mulcahy’s animal-on-the-loose romp is one of the genre’s most stylish as he shoots it with the visual flourish of MTV music videos in their prime. It’s an unusual look for a genre film and downright unique for an animal attack movie. Artistic lighting and a dreamy score create an off-kilter atmosphere at times, but the action and terror still manage to come across with a visceral energy. It’s not a scary film — big pigs are fun and exciting but far from terrifying — but it’s one of the great animal attack flicks because it’s thrilling and just so damn memorable.
Gregory Harrison (Trapper John, M.D.) plays the American arriving in search of answers about his wife, and he’s paired with locals willing to take on the beast. It creates an engaging dynamic as the clash of cultures brings personality and humor in the down-time between moments of violence and drama. The film builds well to a confrontation between man and animal that finds some nearly epic thrills with its final set-piece, and it remains the greatest killer pig movie of them all. (All being roughly six or so.)
Umbrella’s new Blu-ray features a transfer sourced from a restored 4K master, and it looks as spectacular as you would hope. The film’s vibrant palette and striking cinematography shine and bring this monstrous tale of nature run amok to life. The disc includes some killer new cover artwork, trailers, an image gallery, and the following extras.
- Commentary with Russell Mulcahy & Shayne Armstrong
- Audio interview with actor Gregory Harrison [30:56]
- Jaws on Trotters [1:13:43] – Feature length making-of exploring the film’s production through interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
- Interviews with cast & crew by Mark Hartley for Not Quite Hollywood [1:24:41] – Full interviews with Gregory Harrison, Judy Morris, Russell Mulcahy, Everett De Roche, Hal McElroy, and Bob McCarron
- Grisly deleted scenes [2:30] – with optional commentary
- Razorback: The VHS Cut [1:35:00]
- A Certain Piggish Nature: Looking Back at Razorback [24:10]
Buy Razorback on Blu-ray from Amazon.
Paul has made a bundle on the stock market, and while he’s happy about it he’s also been unable to truly enjoy the windfall. His girlfriend takes charge, though, and gets him on a sailing trip with friends, but the vacation hits trouble when bad weather crashes them onto rocks. It gets worse. Paul and his lady row to shore in search of help, but things only grow stranger as they meet the locals. The people look odd and act odder, and they’re hiding a secret involving old gods, mermaids, and a slimy cult.
Paul should have listened to his gut instead of his girlfriend.
Director Stuart Gordon’s greatest successes came with his H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, but while Re-Animator (1985) is his most popular, Castle Freak (1995) is his most cruel, and From Beyond (1986) is his best — yeah, I said it — Dagon is… his fourth. It’s the most “mixed bag” of the lot as the visuals impress with gooey effects, fun creatures, and cool set-pieces, but the performances drag much of it down. There’s just no real personality here in the heroes or villains, and while our eyes are never bored the same can’t be said for our minds.
Curiously, it’s probably the most Lovecraftian of the films in the broad sense as it moves closer to his ideas of old gods, tentacled beings, and powers beyond our imagining. From Beyond touches on them too, and interprets the themes a bit better, but Dagon finds creatively engaging visuals in its more direct adaptation. It’s ultimately a fun, wet romp into cult-ish madness.
Umbrella’s release won’t set the world aflame with its picture, and it’s a shame as the film’s visuals would benefit greatly from a new transfer. It’s fine, but there’s no real upgrade from earlier editions. As it stands the disc includes trailers and the following extras.
- B-roll/Making Of [4:16]
- Interview with Macarena Gomez [12:50]
- Interview with Stuart Gordon [17:26]
- Interview with Raquel Meroño [14:17]
- Interview with Ezra Godden [20:15]
- Interviews from the Set with Stuart Gordon and Ezra Godden [6:06]
Buy Dagon on Blu-ray from Amazon.
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