“There’s something about blasting the shit out of a razorback that brightens up my whole day.”
Damn this was a cool film. I’ll add this one to my list of Russell Mulcahy films that I’m a fan of. I’ll never forgive you for Highlander 2, Russell. I convinced friends to go to the theater to see it, do you understand? Friends that never forgave me for forcing them to watch that insufferable turd. Despite that, I can never hate you. Highlander is silly as hell, but it’s also pretty awesome, and hey, that Queen score is alright. As far as I know, I’m one of the only people that saw The Shadow in the theater and enjoyed it. I’ve seen a ton of your work, and yet, I had never seen Razorback, which might be the best of everything you’ve done. How does this sound: creepy hick Ozzies, an outback Captain Ahab and his great white while razorback, rusted junkers coughing plumes of smoke, and rickety shacks. Sort of Mad Max meets Jaws. Sound good? It is.
This should have been a bad film. It’s clearly an attempt to cash in on the Jaws craze and possibly get a bit of that Road Warrior money by enticing audiences to another outback romp. Yet, it works. Part of it is the gorgeous, surreal cinematography – this is a great looking film, one that relishes the desolate nature of the Australian wilderness and every pockmark and filthy crevice of its more colorful, degenerate residents. The other part of it is that it’s just so much fun. Razorback never feels like its taking itself too seriously, and there’s a manic energy of a filmmaker enjoying a chance to flex their creative muscles.
I had assumed that the wild, chaotic wastelands of Mad Max and The Road Warrior were the inspired visions of George Miller, but watching Razorback made me wonder if rural 80s Australia was just kind of like that – there’s more than a little of the Ozploitation apocalypse in Razorback‘s DNA. This is a film of barren, desiccated landscapes, rusted and jerry-built machinery, where morals slip the further one gets from civilization. Nights are ghastly and fog-bound, and the days are scorching desolation. This is a beautiful tour of primeval landscapes and the crumbling remnants of humanity crouched upon it.
Like Jaws, the titular monster here is rarely seen, I assume because of budgetary issues – it seems to be little more than a giant boar head that emerges from the dark, grunting and salivating for human flesh. Like Jaws, that works in Razorback‘s favor – once fully revealed, monsters often lose their power, but here, our brief glimpses keep the razorback a frightening, primordial entity, a part of the punishing land that birthed it.
I may never be able to forgive you for Highlander II, Russell, but I can never forget that you made some kick-ass flicks, too. Scary, fun, and cool, Razorback is a great piece of Ozploitation, gory and dreamlike, and it comes highly recommended.