by Evan ODell 5/18/09
(1984) Directed by Russell Mulcahy. From a novel by Peter Brennan and screenplay by Everett De Roche. Starring Gregory Harrison, Arkie Whiteley, Bill Kerr, Chris Haywood, David Argue and Judy Morris.
Winner of three awards including Cinematographer of the Year, Dean Semler, from the Australian Cinematographers Society, and from the Australian Film Institue, Best Achievement in Cinematography to Dean Semler and Best Achievement in Editing to William M. Anderson. This may mark the first time a well known music video director was given his own film. Mulcahy made videos for Duran Duran and Elton John. He also made the first two HIGHLANDER movies as well as RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION. The screenplay excised the diamond story from the novel, effectively making it all about the giant razorback.
This was perhaps the most successful giant animal movies in the wake of JAWS, though admittedly it came ten years later. A full-sized, animatronic razorback was created at a cost of a quarter million dollars and only gets one second of screen time.
I had wanted to see this movie for ever. The buzz surrounding it seemed almost legendary. It was good, but the first thing that strikes me about this movie is all the visuals of rot, decay, filth, and death. Like the set dressing in TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, they help set the mood in a very visceral way. There are so many sights of skinned kangaroos, filthy pig wallows, broken and rusted farm equipment, animal bones, and dirty grizzled locals, it gets under your skin. The Director of Photography, Dean Semler, does a great job of making the outback seem alien, especially during an almost psychedelic dream sequence, and through out all the blue-tinted night shots. The music by Iva Davies of Icehouse was also highly effective.
Jake Cullen (Bill Kerr) is the outcast in the kangaroo hunting town of Gamulla, Australia. The old man claims he lost his grandson to a giant boar that must weigh over a ton and he's devoted his life to killing it. Beth Winters (Judy Morris) is the American animal rights reporter there to cover the story of possible kangaroo extinction. After a chance encounter with Jake, she catches sight of the giant razorback on the ridge in the distance. When she runs afoul of the local degenerate kangaroo slaughterhouse workers, that leads to an up close encounter. When husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) comes looking for her, he goes along on a kangaroo hunt with the same degenerate workers and is left behind when he spoils their hunt. After a rather harrowing night, he runs into grant researcher, Sarah (Arkie Whiteley). She tells Jake about the boar sighting and he's off. But the boar gets braver and fiercer with each new encounter with the other white meat, man.