So, the dust has settled after yet another stunning Frightfest takeover of Glasgow... did we all have fun? The general mood this year was pleasantly upbeat, with very few complaints about the programming - for everyone who hated Lords of Salem there was Hellfjord; if Byzantium didn't float your boat, Bring Me The Head of Machine Gun Woman was there to even the keel. However, the fun is over for another few months, so to tide you over we thought we'd launch a print and then give you a sneak peak at another coming very very soon...

FrightFest Originals Blog Archive


ABC's of Death
The Wickerman

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FFO's tenth print is Razorback by Luke Insect. Luke actually designed this prior to starting work on Hostel, but due to the monolith in the room that was Eli Roth coming to visit, we pushed this one back. Some might say this was unfair, whereas others might say "What the fuck is Razorback?" Jaws on Trotters is not the answer. Instead, it is a wildly underrated Australian gem that launched Russell Mulcahy as a "proper" director. Apparently Duran Duran videos don't count. Alan Jones and Kim Newman both appear as talking heads on the wonderful Anchor Bay release, which is a must buy, but for our own take on the film, please do read Andrew Tupling's thoughtful intro:

When Peter Brennan’s novel of the same name was published back in 1981, we were in the dying embers of the Jaws-led, animals being crazy and nasty genre. It took another three years for the film to come along, and by then people had probably see just about every kind of animal attacking – bees, bears, killer whales, dogs, cats, eagles….we probably hadn’t seen a giant pig attacking, though, and by stripping the nonsense in the book (diamond smuggling, the mob, multiple, worldwide locations etc.) fleshing out the more interesting characters and topping things off with some astonishing visuals, you’re left with the kind of film which stands the test of time nearly 30 years on. Sometimes, opinions on such things can be corrupted by an element of nostalgia, and it’s true that Razorback was as much a part of my formative VHS experiences as Gremlins, American Werewolf & The Terminator were – but so were any number of dreary slashers or films with lurid covers which promised a wealth of boobs and/or gore and inevitably disappointed (I still haven’t forgotten you, Steel Claw) No, take away the tint of nostalgia and you’re left with the same opinion – Razorback is a genuinely good film.

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If you were to read the novel (it’s long deleted from print, and hasn’t even turned up as an e-book to date) then you’d struggle to see much of a connection. The aforementioned diamond smuggling thread takes up the bulk of the story, and the pig turns up a few times as a bit of an afterthought. When making the film, producer Hal McElroy made two choices which worked in favour of this being one instance of the film being better than the book – he had prolific screenwriter Everett De Roche re-work the bulk of the story, get rid of the mob, the diamonds and the trips to various other continents. De Roche kept the story in Australia (save for one brief scene) and made Razorback, at its core, about what it should be about – a big pig. The second choice was hiring Russell Mulcahy, fresh off filming music videos for Duran Duran, The Buggles, Elton John and probably most famously, Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, to direct. These days it’s probably no big deal when an untested director is hired to direct a film off the back of his/her work on music videos, but back in the early 80s it didn’t happen – to the best of my knowledge, this is certainly one of the first – if not the first – time such a thing occurred.

Set in the small outback community of Gamulla (a word which apparently means ‘guts’ in the Aboriginal language) we’re introduced to Jake Cullen in what still ranks as one of my very favourite opening three minutes to any film. If you ever had cause to picture a home in the outback in your mind before, that’s where Jake lives – just watch it (you can find it on YouTube) and see. Jake is looking after his grandson when the razorback attacks, destroys his home and takes the child off into the dark. Years later, still bitter and largely shunned by the community, Jake dedicates his waking hours to (largely fruitlessly) tracking down the razorback and killing it so he can get some kind of justice. Animal rights campaigner and journalist Beth Winters comes to town to shoot footage for a piece on kangaroo hunting and antagonises many of the locals, not least unhinged local cannery owners and brothers, Dicko& Benny Baker. After less than 24 hours in town, Beth disappears and so her husband Carl comes to town in search of answers and sets a chain of events in motion which brings all concerned into the path of the razorback…

Razorback remains stunning to look at today – this is film which belongs in Australia every bit as much as The Road Warrior or Wake In Fright, and it won’t come as any real surprise to anyone familiar with those titles to find out all were shot in and around the same isolated NSW mining community of Broken Hills. The music video influences are clear but never overly stylised to the extent they would be today if, say, a Marcus Nispel was to tackle the project. The outback looks so alien, desolate and harsh that we could almost be watching a film set on the surface of another planet at times. The use of lighting compliments the locations perfectly too, especially during the night scenes, and a special mention also has to go to the wonderful score composed by Iva Davies of Icehouse fame, but Razorback isn’t all about style – it’s equally at home with the grittier, nastier action sequences, and most of the characters are fantastically drawn –Bill Kerr’s Jake Cullen is the heart of the film and Crocodile Dundee played absolutely straight, the gone before her time Arkie Whiteley (who died of cancer aged 37 in 2001) makes an attractive and spirited heroine who doesn’t really get a great deal to do, Gregory Harrison is as close to a weak link as we get, which is unfortunate for a lead, but drifts between tough & vulnerable reasonably well despite frequent bursts of poor decision making, and both David Argue & Chris Haywood are clearly having as much fun playing deranged, hicksploitation outcasts Dicko & Benny as we are watching them.

Of course, Razorback isn’t perfect by any means – one review I read long ago which has always stuck read that it ‘was a very good film whenever the pig isn’t on the screen’ and to an extent, that’s true – the razorback can look tatty and unconvincing up close, but it’s only really in the final 10 minutes that this gets to be noticeable. For most of the film it’s kept in the shadows or on the horizon and only seen in short bursts which works in the film’s favour – the old adage of less is more come to mind – the razorback is always around in spirit and is the driving force of the film, but it doesn’t need to be constantly chasing everyone to be effective. The film also wanders a bit from time to time – it’s not too long by any means, and nothing ever comes close to dragging for anywhere near long enough for you to think about losing concentration, but time spent on a few story threads could perhaps have been a little tighter.

Watching now, as an adult, I get different things from Razorback as I did when I was 12 years old – it’s an undeniably bleak and desolate film which bucked the early-mid 80s trend and kept the blood relatively sparse and chose instead to build the atmosphere and tell the story. It’s quite unique for a lot of reasons – the look, the style, the story, and the pig. As monster films go, it’s one of the best. Taken on its own merits it quickly dismisses the shackles of lazy comparisons to Jaws and deserves its place in Australian cinema history.

So there you have it. A fantastic outback chiller with a big pig thrown in for good measure. We here at FFO love this movie, and, along with Dark Age and Long Weekend, would put it up there in the oz -ecoxploitation genre. Luke was remarkably chuffed to get the gig on this one, saying:

"I am a big fan. I was a child of the 80's. I watched Moviedrome religiously (Director Alex Cox's late-night double-bills of cult classics on BBC2). And i'm pretty sure this is when i first saw Razorback. I knew what colours i wanted to go for before i started - burnt orange sunsets, rusty metallic browns - and i decided to do a 'proper' illustration for the big pig itself!

I gave it a kind-of woodcut / lino-print vibe to keep it feeling as organic as possible. As far away from digital computery as possible. But yeah, basically it's all about the big pig!"

So we'll be launching this on 8th March 2013 at a time to be announced on Twitter via @frightfestorigi. 3 Colour Screenprint on Somerset Velvet 300 paper.  £40 per copy shipped to the UK, £50 for a copy shipped internationally.


But we promised two prints...

Suffice to say, this will be released a little later than Razorback, but seeing as we're into March and could all do with a sing-song, how about "Summer Is A-Cumen In" to warm the cockles? Please give a round of applause to Brandon Schaefer for this wonderfully dark, different take on The Wicker Man. We thought failed harvests and animal masks were more fun than yet another burning chap on a hill. We hope you agree - all comments gratefully received below, or just tell us what you think on Twitter.






The next blog will be focusing on Glasgow itself, a couple of new prints we're doing off the back of the fest and details of our first public sale - if you're in London next Saturday, come and visit us at Westminster Convention centre, where we will be selling a few limited prints.

Stay creepy






FrightFest Originals - Original limited edition screen printed film posters from the UK