Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Hole In The Head: Pig Hunt

This review originally appeared on the San Francisco Appeal.

Pig Hunt, a local production, was easily the best film I saw at this year's Another Hole in the Head festival. Set in the woods around Boonville, it's a horror flick that features scary rednecks, evil hippies, AND a giant wild pig (referred to as "The Ripper," "Hogzilla," and "Pigfoot" throughout the course of the movie). You get your money's worth with this one.

The fun starts in San Francisco, as John (Travis Aaron Wade) and three of his friends take off for a weekend of hunting at his uncle's cabin in Boonville. John also brings his girlfriend Brooks (Tina Huang) along, and gets all kinds of grief from his friends for bringing a "ho" along on a "bros" weekend. Of course, before the weekend is through, they're all pretty glad to have her around.

The number of horror movies that begin with a bunch of people venturing out into the woods for the weekend is probably too large to count, but Pig Hunt recognizes this, and relishes in its reverence for and references to other movies, including Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Apocalypse Now, Evil Dead, and Jaws, among others. But despite the obvious influences, Pig Hunt still manages to surprise. While the movie includes a lot of the requisite T & A, it was refreshing to see a female character (Brooks) who's a lot tougher than most of the men around her, and even though she is, of course, put in peril, I don't recall even hearing her scream for help once. It was also nice to see a monster that was more than just some computer generated code. The movie's not perfect--there are some jarring edits here and there, making the transition between different settings a little puzzling, and the ending includes a final shot that's a bit of a head scratcher--but it's a whole lot of fun.

Writer Robert Mailer Anderson spoke briefly before Saturday night's screening. The town of Boonville and the drive-in at Ukiah were a big influence on him and his cousin, Zack Anderson, co-screenwriter movie, and he talked about the film's decidedly Northern California (or "Up Cal," as he called it) feeling. They'd always wanted to do a movie about Boonville, and realized the only way to get the feeling right was to make it a horror movie. Anderson also revealed that one of the rundown cabins featured in the film (the one you first see Les Claypool's scary patriarch character standing in front of) was actually a place he had lived in, and was also where Alice Walker wrote the book The Color Purple. Anderson wasn't able to stick around for a post-film Q&A, but he and some others involved with the film are supposed to be around for tonight's screening. It's worth checking out. Get yourself some pork chops beforehand and make it a theme night

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