Razorback (Australia 1983)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/6/13
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Cinematography: Dean Semler
Cast: Gregory Harrison, Bill Kerr, Arkie Whiteley, David Argue

A brilliantly shot low budget horror picture from director Russell Mulcahy and cinematographer Dean Semler. It's just a shame that the source material is so weak. Jake Cullen (Bill Kerr) is a professional kangaroo shooter in the Australian outback whose grandson was killed by a monstrous wild boar. His obsession with the elusive beast borders on insanity, and the townsfolk regard him as a deluded maniac. But the demonic razorback shows up again when an American reporter shows up to do an exposé on kangaroo slaughter. When she goes missing, her husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) travels to Australia to investigate, and gets way more than he bargained for. While the giant boar is certainly dangerous, the murderous lunatics who work at the local meat packing plant are far more of a threat, and Carl spends most of his time dealing with them. He finds an ally in a boar researcher named Sarah (adorable Arkie Whiteley), and together they confront the giant razorback menace.

The film looks absolutely fabulous, and Dean Semler's rich cinematography is awe-inspiring. The first five minutes of the film are spectacular and create an incredible sense of mood and atmosphere. Most big budget movies don't even come close to this level of brilliance. Mulcahy's clever direction shows hints of genius that would later bear fruit in the ground-breaking "Highlander" (1986), and he and Semler make an excellent team. (but what happened to him after that?) And then there's the story... It's like the "Cujo" of wild boar movies, which really isn't that interesting. It doesn't help that the creature itself looks embarrassingly awful, and no amount of trick photography can get around that. While there's mention that the boar population is suffering from a mysterious disease, there's no explanation of how this giant aberration came about, or what motivates it. The boar is just a convenient plot device for mayhem and mutilation. The acting is fair, with Bill Kerr giving the most solid and convincing performance of the bunch. Arkie Whiteley (the blonde cutie from "The Road Warrior" (1981) ) is stunning and sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the cast of dirty mongrels. She's a welcome beauty, but sadly ends up being utterly useless. Overall, if you have an eye for beautiful cinema and a fondness for bad horror, "Razorback" is definitely worth a look.