Razorback


1h 35m 1984
Razorback

Brief Synopsis

After the disappearance of his wife, who was filming a documentary in Gamulla, Australia, the husband discovers that she was taken by a giant Razorback. It is now a battle of man against beast.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Release Date
1984

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Synopsis

After the disappearance of his wife, who was filming a documentary in Gamulla, Australia, the husband discovers that she was taken by a giant Razorback. It is now a battle of man against beast.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Release Date
1984

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Articles

Razorback


"It has only two states of being... dangerous or dead." So declared the posters for Razorback (1984), an Australian horror thriller that has been described as Jaws (1975) in the outback. Instead of a shark, the predator is a particularly nasty species of wild boar known as a razorback. But unlike many other Jaws knockoffs, this film was well received as clever, stylish and beautifully filmed.

It was produced independently by James and Hal McElroy, who had paid the eyebrow-raising sum of $200,000 for the novel by Peter Brennan. They negotiated distribution with Warner Brothers, which had just distributed another Aussie indie to great success, The Road Warrior (1982).

To direct, the McElroys brought on 29-year-old Russell Mulcahy, a top director of music videos who had never made a feature film. Mulcahy later said that it was his video for Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" that specifically caught the attention of Hal McElroy. Working with ace cinematographer Dean Semler, Mulcahy brought his video stylistics to this film, with an atmospherically dusty look, mist effects, flashing lights, imaginative use of sound and fast editing. He used these effects in part to imply the monster without actually showing too much of it. It was a technique, he said, that he picked up from Jaws and Alien (1979).

"I loved those films," Mulcahy recalled in a 2016 interview with Paul Rowlands (www.money-into-light.com), "and I learned from them that the less you see, the better, although I didn't have the advantage of being able to hide my creature in the ocean or on a spaceship... The creature was very basic. We had an animatronic head that looked pretty good in close-up. We had a mechanical boar which unfortunately had been built before I had even come on to the film and had cost some stupid amount like a quarter of a million dollars. It's in the film for about two seconds. The most effective shots of the boar...were of a real pig running around with a blanket on it and some rubber tusks. I said to Dean, 'Just shake the camera a lot.'"

He also remembered the first day of the shoot as very nerve-wracking: "We were in the Outback, in a little town near Broken Hill. I woke up at 3 or 4 am, and went and sat on the hill in the dark. I started thinking, ''What have I got myself into? I'm making a 35mm anamorphic feature film. There's 110 pages of a script.' I ended up throwing up.

"We started shooting and I think I realized at that point that the whole thing was like a rollercoaster. There's that moment when the rollercoaster goes up--creak, creak, creak--and that's when you start throwing up, and the nerves and the butterflies in your stomach start happening. Then the rollercoaster goes over the edge, and as long as you're prepared during the creaky ride up, and you have a good concept and a good group around you, you'll be okay."

Razorback marked the beginning of a successful feature career for Mulcahy, who went on to direct cult items Highlander (1986) and its sequel, as well as Ricochet (1991) and many works for television.

By Jeremy Arnold
Razorback

Razorback

"It has only two states of being... dangerous or dead." So declared the posters for Razorback (1984), an Australian horror thriller that has been described as Jaws (1975) in the outback. Instead of a shark, the predator is a particularly nasty species of wild boar known as a razorback. But unlike many other Jaws knockoffs, this film was well received as clever, stylish and beautifully filmed. It was produced independently by James and Hal McElroy, who had paid the eyebrow-raising sum of $200,000 for the novel by Peter Brennan. They negotiated distribution with Warner Brothers, which had just distributed another Aussie indie to great success, The Road Warrior (1982). To direct, the McElroys brought on 29-year-old Russell Mulcahy, a top director of music videos who had never made a feature film. Mulcahy later said that it was his video for Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" that specifically caught the attention of Hal McElroy. Working with ace cinematographer Dean Semler, Mulcahy brought his video stylistics to this film, with an atmospherically dusty look, mist effects, flashing lights, imaginative use of sound and fast editing. He used these effects in part to imply the monster without actually showing too much of it. It was a technique, he said, that he picked up from Jaws and Alien (1979). "I loved those films," Mulcahy recalled in a 2016 interview with Paul Rowlands (www.money-into-light.com), "and I learned from them that the less you see, the better, although I didn't have the advantage of being able to hide my creature in the ocean or on a spaceship... The creature was very basic. We had an animatronic head that looked pretty good in close-up. We had a mechanical boar which unfortunately had been built before I had even come on to the film and had cost some stupid amount like a quarter of a million dollars. It's in the film for about two seconds. The most effective shots of the boar...were of a real pig running around with a blanket on it and some rubber tusks. I said to Dean, 'Just shake the camera a lot.'" He also remembered the first day of the shoot as very nerve-wracking: "We were in the Outback, in a little town near Broken Hill. I woke up at 3 or 4 am, and went and sat on the hill in the dark. I started thinking, ''What have I got myself into? I'm making a 35mm anamorphic feature film. There's 110 pages of a script.' I ended up throwing up. "We started shooting and I think I realized at that point that the whole thing was like a rollercoaster. There's that moment when the rollercoaster goes up--creak, creak, creak--and that's when you start throwing up, and the nerves and the butterflies in your stomach start happening. Then the rollercoaster goes over the edge, and as long as you're prepared during the creaky ride up, and you have a good concept and a good group around you, you'll be okay." Razorback marked the beginning of a successful feature career for Mulcahy, who went on to direct cult items Highlander (1986) and its sequel, as well as Ricochet (1991) and many works for television. By Jeremy Arnold

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 1984

Released in United States Fall November 1984