AMAD-Horror Edition: Pig Hunt

2 Oct

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Oct 3rd,2009–

cinemagrade b-Sou-eeeee! You boys just took a wrong turn! Right through the wild backwaters of cinema and into the dingy, scat-littered lair of Pig Hunt. This is one crazy movie. Expecting some sort of Sy-Fy channel opus about a cgi giant hog, what I found instead in Pig Hunt was an off-kilter action flick with plenty of beasts, babes and ‘billies of the Northern California variety. James Isaac isn’t a director that inspires confidence–his only other movies are Jason X, Skinwalkers, and House III: The Horror Show–but his newest is actually so crazy, so demented and over-the-top insane that it achieves a kind of grandeur. Absurdity and oddness for its own sake are the mark of Pig Hunt. If John Waters ever made a horror movie it might feel a lot like this.

The plot—I guess that’s what you would call all of this—follows John (Travis Aaron Wade) and his girlfriend Brooks (Tina Huang), along with a handful of other buds as they venture out on a boar hunt near his dead uncle’s cabin the North Californian mountains. Once the gang are out in the woods they run into old childhood friends of John and in classic Deliverance fashion they manage to bring the wrath of the local hillbilly clan down upon their heads. With an insane pack of hicks driving motor-bikes, dune buggies(no, really) and various pick-up trucks in hot pursuit, the beleaguered hunters are forced to turn and fight. Of course, none of this would be half as odd if it weren’t for the crazy drug cult of young nymphs, poet/activist Byron Bain as the hippie hog worshiper, and the magnificently huge  mutant boar himself, The Ripper.

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Eschewing typical horror movie conventions about people lost in the woods, Pig Hunt is actually a relatively intelligent and obsessively grotesque little movie. You can’t see most of the intelligence without looking for it, but the gore—half-eaten horse heads, decapitations, disemboweling, pig-slicing—is right up front and center. Surprisingly though, it’s not so gratuitous that it feels out of place with the gritty, hard-edged style of the rest of the picture. 

 The entire thing is so eccentrically cast, including Primus front man Les Claypool as the preacher-billy, that each new face, whether recognizable or not, is a surprise. Throw in some shockingly good and exhilarating chase sequences that play like The Road Warrior in the boonies and you have a film that keeps reinventing itself every 10 minutes. It’s not high-brow stuff, but there is unpredictability to the film that is refreshing. At any given point I couldn’t accurately tell you what would  happen next.

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Isaac’s movie is never in doubt of what it is and what it wants to be, and better yet it has no delusions of being something important. However, skill and beauty abound; the damp, green foothills and swamps of the region are captured in a lush cinematography that transforms even rotting carcasses into compelling compositions. This isn’t a slap-dash Troma job; there’s as much observation and detail going on here as there was in Boorman’s wilderness film some 30 plus years ago. When our heroes stumble upon the marijuana fields, with the nymphs rising out of the water like dryads in a fantasy painting, I was surprised how serene it all seemed. Contrast that against the chaotic hillbilly attacks where screaming men in gasmasks, wielding crossbows and pitchforks with Barbie heads on them, come tearing through the underbrush on motorcycles.

And what of the hog; the Ripper? Well, he’s always there stalking about in the background of the story, much like the titular swine of Razorback. Strangely, Razorback too focused on the human savagery of backwater locals, contrasting them to the primal forces of nature. I actually think I prefer Pig Hunt; it’s far more out of its mind. The Ripper is also an animatronic puppet—not one lick of cgi in this bad boy—although he’s far more goopy and snotty than his Australian uncle ever thought of being.  When he appears he’s both appropriately grotesque and imposing. With coming at the end of such a gonzo feature, he works perfectly.

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In the end, it’s hard to really praise Pig Hunt as a film that has itself together, but then the screwball approach is what energizes it. I will say there is great fun to be had with it, especially if you are into the giant monster genre or the ever popular crazy hick genre. This one is less brutally sadistic and more gleefully zany. There are deep lakes of dark humor here and interesting unlikely choices on the soundtrack. Hunt also specializes in sequences of downright bizarre randomness like a homeless vet carrying around a dead dog, or the  stone-faced shop keeper who actually draws a map for directions on the front of a  centerfold pic he has lying around.

It dawned on me while watching Pig Hunt that this is the kind of movie Eli Roth tries to make—quirky, dark and transgressive comic-book horror. But for me Roth can’t ever shake the smug, pretentious air and junk like Cabin Fever has the stench of trying-to-hard all over it. Pig Hunt, on the other-hand eases so effortlessly into its role as quality trash that it takes a few seconds to realize it’s a bit more than that.

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The line-up for the next five days:

Oct 4th–AMAD: Trick ‘R’ Treat

Oct 4th–AMAD: Sauna

Oct 5th– AMAD: Night of the Demon

Oct 6th–AMAD: Kaidan

Oct 7th- AMAD: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark 

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5 Responses to “AMAD-Horror Edition: Pig Hunt”

  1. Xiphos October 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    GIANT PIG! I’m in but Droid, or whatever name he will be using here, might be upset by the content. Great review.

  2. scrawlerjarv October 2, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    GIANT PIG!!!!!

    FOR THE WIN.

    Fucking great. I have to see this.

  3. scrawlerjarv October 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm #

    Razorback-

    One of my problems with this is that the Razorback itself looks kind of rubbish. It’s still cool though.

    Damn it. I wish I’d used Razorback when I was setting this up and Jarv and GIANT PIG were both taken.

    I was certain I’d get GIANT PIG this time.

  4. The Great Fatsby October 2, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    WHERE CAN I GET THIS?

  5. goregirl October 2, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    We will DEFINITELY be seeing this one!

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