Jake (Bill Kerr) is putting his grandson to bed in his home in the Australian Outback when he is disturbed by a noise from outside. Grabbing his rifle, he goes to investigate when suddenly a huge boar appears from the darkness and smashes into the house, barging through and taking the child with it. There is a court case because nobody believes Jake's story, but there's not enough evidence to convict him. Move forward two years and American reporter Beth Winters (Judy Morris) is sent to the area of the Outback where Jake lives, looking for details on the extermination of the kangaroo population for the pet food trade, but she finds more than she bargained for...
Russell Mulcahy will forever be known as the former director of music videos, and more specifically the former director of Duran Duran videos (guess which band blares from Beth's radio?). Razorback, his first feature for the cinema, did nothing to dispel the style over substance accusations, but at least the film was easy on the eye and moved along at a decent pace - for a horror movie it looked a lot slicker than a lot of the similar product around at the time. It was written by Everett de Roche from Peter Brennan's novel, and while it started out as a cheeky variation on the infamous Dingo Baby Case, it quickly settled into an Australian Jaws.
If Jaws were a ginormous boar, that is. There's another influence here, and that's Psycho because of what happens to Beth about a day after arriving in the small town with her cameraman. The locals are suspicious, in more ways than one, at her intentions to expose the pet food factory's dubious methods, a factory run by two brothers, Benny (Chris Haywood) and Dicko (David Argue) Baker, who don't take kindly to Beth's manner of showing up and secretly filming their operations. In fact, they dislike her so much that they run her car off the road at night and, in one of the nastiest scenes, threaten to rape her.
However, something stops them, something large and with tusks that rams their Mad Max 2 lookalike truck and sends them packing. Beth isn't so lucky, and effectively disappears so that soon after her newlywed husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) follows her to discover what he can about her predicament. In the grand tradition of importing American stars for non-American films (although Carl claims to be Canadian, we're not fooled), Harrison proves to be a convincing fish out of water, but a bland presence overall, with the Australians out acting him, although to be fair they have more (boorish?) character eccentricities to work with.
There may be the by now well-worn ecological theme with its monster taking its revenge on behalf of nature, but this is the most half-hearted aspect of Razorback. The film is more intrigued by the alien nature of the landscape - it looks like planet Mars in many shots, as the dream-delirium sequence demonstrates - and how paradoxically alluring and repellent it can be. What this means is a host of carefully filmed views mixed with the rough talking locals for colour. A strange combination of the glossy and grimy, what really lets it down is the obviously immobile giant boar model, which might as well be a Volkswagen Beetle for all the menace it projects. Still, Mulcahy's eye for the scenery is a bonus and the film works up a fair amount of tension. Music by Iva Davies.
Australian director with a flashy visual style. A former music video director - most notably for Duran Duran - Mulcahy made an impact in 1984 with his first real film, the Outback creature feature Razorback. 1986's fantasy thriller Highlander was a big cult hit, and its success led to a foray in Hollywood in the 1990s, which included thrillers Ricochet and The Real McCoy, the superhero yarn The Shadow and the sequel Highlander II: The Quickening. Subsequent work has largely been in TV.