By C. Michael Forsyth
“Jaws” with a giant pig might not sound like a promising premise for a horror movie. Yes, I know that wild boars can be highly dangerous, but I’ve just never found pigs scary. Sooey me.
Indeed, when the movie “Pig Hunt” arrived on the shelf of our local Blockbuster, I thought that it had a lot of “Night of the Lepus” potential. (That’s the 1972 bomb about giant rabbits, for you young’uns).
But “Pig Hunt” turns out to be so much more than a mere Man versus Nature movie. It’s “Jaws” meets “Deliverance” meets “Road Warrior” meets “Helter Skelter.”
The fun begins when ex-soldier John Hickman (Travis Aaron Wade), his three buddies and his girlfriend embark on a pig-hunting trip on John’s uncle’s property in the remote Northern California woods. They are not dissuaded by rumors of a rampaging 3,000-plus pound boar dubbed The Ripper – and even their discovery of a pair of human hands in the belly of one of its PIGLETS is not enough to send them packing.
It’s not long before things go awry and the party must battle John’s creepy cousins, an army of crazed hillbillies from Hell and a band of Manson Family-like hippies…all BEFORE they face the man-eating Ripper.
Sure, there are elements of this picture we’ve seen before. Even “Aliens” is sampled, when John’s girlfriend Brooks is face to face with the monster. But what I love about this movie – and why I give it a four oink rating – is that it combines the elements of the flicks it rips off in an engaging way. And most of the borrowings have the feel of loving tributes by filmmakers that really know their horror movies.
Even minor characters are given personality. When the vengeful rednecks come after our heroes they transform into a “Road Warrior” type armada. Each of the unnamed backwoods bad boys sports a unique look, including one I’ll call The Preacher, who wears a collar and spouts prayers before offing his enemies.
The dialogue is crisp and sometimes hilarious. When one of the hillbillies does battle with a black hippie sporting a huge gurkha knife, he taunts him, “Come on, O.J.”
You could quibble about Wade’s performance as our hero. Yeah, he’s supposed to be the strong, silent type, but he shows absolutely no emotion throughout the film until he finally goes toe to toe with the Ripper.
And there are a few stereotypes. It’s not really a spoiler to tell you that one member of the hunting party – weak, panicky, flabby, over-citified Quincy – isn’t on hand when the closing credits roll. The only question is whether he’ll receive the full “Deliverance” treatment before he bites the dust.
But most of the characters are well drawn. One treat is that Asian-American Brooks (Tina Huang), who initially comes off as the annoying Yoko Ono of the band, emerges as a spunky, resourceful heroine.
All in all, “Pig Hunt” is an entertaining, testosterone-fueled rollercoaster ride. It offers yet another reason not to ever set foot in the woods. On the other hand, we should bear in mind that white water canoeing actually became MORE popular after “Deliverance” came out. Maybe “Pig Hunt” will do the same thing for the fine art of boar hunting.
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