Plot: Jake (Bill Kerr) found himself the prime suspect in his own grandson’s death, but he was released on a lack of evidence. He claimed that a massive boar, also known as a razorback, was responsible for his grandson’s disappearance, but no one believed him even after the case was dismissed. Soon however, a second person vanishes under odd circumstances when American reporter Beth (Judy Morris) goes missing, in the middle of her report on the diminishing kangaroo population. Her husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) ventures to Australia to search for Beth, which leads to him on a tragic hunt for answers to her fate. He hears stories about a boar from locals, but it seems more like an urban legend than fact, especially when some of the residents are highly suspect themselves. Is there a brutal beast lurking in the outback and can Carl piece together the mystery before it’s too late for him as well?
Entertainment Value: As someone who has an affection for when animals attack cinema, the premise of Razorback holds immense promise, as it is essentially Jaws in the outback. The premise seems to be inspired by the infamous “dingo ate my baby” real life controversy, but the influence from Jaws is more than evident, with a giant boar on the loose instead of a vicious shark. I also think there’s some Mad Max vibes, with the wild locals, insane drivers, and general chaos, so this is a potent mix that draws from some terrific sources. Razorback is a skillful thriller, with an emphasis on atmosphere and mood over cheap scares or bloodshed, so don’t expect to see our boar-ish friend all that often. But when the boar is around, the special effects are fun and the scenes more than deliver, so the payoff is there. I’m sure some would prefer a flashier approach with more boar scenes, but I think Razorback is able to rise above the genre pack thanks to director Russell Mulcahy’s more deliberate tactics. There’s enough horror elements to please genre fans, but also enough effective thriller threads to make sure this has appeal even beyond the horror fanatics. The visuals, the great locales, the special effects, and perhaps most importantly, the atmosphere all contribute to make Razorback one of the better films in the when animals attack arena.
This one is light on sleaze, with one topless scene, but there is some humor involved in that as well, which is welcome. There’s also an attempted rape at one point, but no skin is seen in that nasty sequence. Razorback has a good amount of violence, though not much blood is splashed around in most instances. The boar is a true force of nature and the movie conveys that well, as it unleashes impressive destruction on anything in its path and that includes human victims. The boar attacks yield some red stuff, a couple scenes more than others, while the boar itself is damaged as well, with a brutal pipe sequence and then a nasty final farewell. There’s also hammer assault, slapping around, a hook attack, and some gun shot wounds, as well as a large number of animal carcasses in the slaughterhouse scenes. Not a blood soaked gore ride, but there’s ample violence and some nice bursts of crimson. The dialogue is fun at times, with the outback locals the best source of wild and memorable lines. Not a lot of wackiness, but some good lines here and there to spice things up and add some edge. As for general craziness, we have a giant boar on the warpath and some colorful locals, but overall this one takes a more serious slant on the genre.
Overall Insanity: 3/10
The Disc: Umbrella Entertainment launched Razorback on Blu-ray, with a new 4k scan source that looks fantastic and should delight fans, as it is a considerable upgrade over previous DVD releases. The image is clean and sharp throughout, with a natural look and much enhanced detail levels. I do think the movie looks quite dark at times, so some detail is lost in the shadows, but overall, Razorback looks terrific in this new scan and fans should be thrilled. Umbrella has layered on some impressive extras as well, such as the original uncut version of the movie, presented in a VHS style presentation, due to the lack of source materials. I know some will be let down by the tape source, but it is nice to have the original cut of Razorback and given the absence of better materials, you can’t fault Umbrella’s effort here. You can also listen to Russell Mulcahy’s audio comments, then find even more production insights in the feature length documentary Jaws on Trotters, which is packed with worthwhile behind the scenes content. Even more stories can be found in an audio interview with Gregory Harrison and several extended talks from Not Quite Hollywood. There’s also a critics panel discussion, still photos, and the film’s trailers.