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Pig Hunt (2008)
Review Mitch Davis: Fantasia Film Festival + Anton Bitel: Frightfest London
From Jim Isaac, director of JASON X, comes what's almost certainly the wildest American horror film of the year. It's a killer monster pig film. It's a psycho-hog biker film. It's a city-dwellers-ambushed-in-redneck-hell film. It's a hippie sex film. Baby, it's PIG HUNT! And you could just tell it's coming from the man who put Jason in space! This time, he's gone indie and worked outside the Hollywood system to create an exploitation hybrid without limits that's funny, tense and surprising, with one seriously cool monster pig at its center and enough unapologetic raunch and violence to make a studio executive's eyes bleed.
Deep country bliss turns into punishing green hell when John, his girlfriend and a group of buddies head out from San Francisco for a getaway weekend of pig-hunting (!) at the middle-of-nowhere ranch of his recently deceased uncle. They learn about a ravenous 3,000-pound black boar that resides in the area. It's known as the Ripper and, well, it's a freaking 3,000-pound black boar! Before they even reach their destination, they rub a heavily armed local gang the wrong way. They arrive at the ranch and it's been vandalized. A red spray-painted message warns that "death walks on all fours." No matter, John and the gang are going pig-hunting! Another word would smash into spoiler territory, but you should know that the film evolves in radical, crazy ways and by the time the credits roll, you'll have seen a violent mash-up that crosses paths with everything from DELIVERANCE, GRIZZLY and THE ROAD WARRIOR to your favorite stoner death-cult pics! Most astonishing of all is how it takes you there, gradually treading away from the character-driven and plausible into something so outlandish and supercharged it will rocket you clean through the roof. Isaac calls it "cinematic punkabilly" and we can definitely vibe with that. Watch out for an off-the-hook performance by Primus's Les Claypool, who got so into his role that he actually broke a finger during a take and kept right on going!
From Fright Fest London -- Anton Bitel "... the very best was reserved till last, and those who had stayed the distance were rewarded with perhaps the finest horror film to have been made this year. To say that the latest from James Isaac (whose previous features have been the space-set Jason X, and the execrable Skinwalkers) begins with a veteran hunter being pursued and attacked in the woods by an unseen behemoth with the unmistakable snort of a hog, would be to conjure the spectre of Russell Mulcahy's Razorback (1984) but Pig Hunt is so much more than just a cheap porcine creature feature.
In fact, the crazy yet utterly coherent way in which Isaacs keeps wrong-footing the viewer is half the fun. On the one hand, it is a monster movie through and through, but that hardly explains the masculine rites of passage, the Deliverance-style clash of urban and rural, the naked hippie psychedelia, the Orwellian allegory of human bestiality or, most crucially of all, the oblique but insistent exploration of the US' questionable embroilment in Iraq. To say much more would be to ruin the surprise, so let's just leave it at this: Pig Hunt is viscerally exciting enough to wake the dead, and yet politically and morally engaged enough to gore its way right into your brain. What more could anyone want from a horror movie? To quote one of the film's final lines (itself pointedly quoted from one George W Bush), "Mission accomplished"."