Film Review: Pigs (1972)

SYNOPSIS:

Driven permanently insane by her sexually abusive father, runaway Lynn (Toni Lawrence) hides out in a small town and lands a job at the local diner owned by creepy pig farmer Zambrini (Marc Lawrence). Zambrini (who feeds corpses to his pigs) takes a liking to man-hating Lynn, who has the habit of killing any man who puts the moves on her. With help from the hungry pigs, Zambrini and Lynn neatly dispose of her tasty victims.

REVIEW:

Lets face it, a movie with a title like “Pigs” that has the Troma logo stamped on it conjures up a certain set of images. I took one look at the cover of Marc Lawrence’s “Pigs” (which features a close up of a pig with blood oozing from its mouth) and instantly pictured a midget in a rubber pig costume running around town stabbing people and eating their remains. I looked forward to a marvelous sh*tfest in the tradition of such greats as Troll 2, Nail Gun Massacre, and Slugs. Well let me tell you straight up that “Pigs” was not what I expected at all.

The world of b-horror can essentially be classified into four groups: 1) So bad/trashy that it RULES and is funny/wild, 2) so bad that it’s just plain bad and mostly unwatchable, 3) somewhere in the middle of those two and mostly ends up just forgettable and boring, and 4) the unexpected gem. “Pigs” falls on the higher end of the third group. Not quite trashy enough to be funny (although it had a few moments), and not quality enough to be good. As shocking as it may sound it comes closer to the fourth group then you may at first imagine.

The storyline doesn’t have to do as much with “Pigs” as the title would have you imagine. (After some digging I found the original title was “Daddy’s Deadly Darling” which is far more fitting). The movie follows the path of escaped mental patient Lynn who has spent the last few years locked up in the loony bin for killing her father during his attempt to rape her. After getting blasted with shock treatments she eludes authorities and hits the road.

She comes upon the home/business of Mr. Zambrini who is a former circus performer forced to retire due to injury. He spends his lonely days with only his den of pigs to keep him company. Oh…and incidentally he has taken up the habit of stealing corpses from the cemetery which he feeds to his pigs, because “they got the taste for it”. Eventually Lynn’s instability boils to the surface and she kills some of the locals while sinking back into her psychosis. Zambrini has taken to her and protects her by feeding her victims to his pigs in an effort to hide the evidence.

As weird as I feel typing these words, a somewhat believable sweet chemistry is established between Zambrini and Lynn. Not as shocking as it may seem given that Zambrini is played by the films director Marc Lawrence, and Lynn is played by his real life daughter Toni Lawrence. They are both characters who are on the run from reality and in Lynn’s case she runs right off the deep end into insanity.

For what it’s worth I was engrossed watching “Pigs”. I could not turn it off and let me tell you this: Watching low budget movies from the 60’s and 70’s can be incredibly grueling more then any other era because nowadays technology allows for low budget sh*t to be at minimum audible and viewable to look at. Prior to the start of pigs there is a pretty funny prologue of Lloyd Kaufman describing this is as a digitally “restored” version of this movie but I can guarantee you that is not truly the case. The print is INCREDBLY degraded and looks more like they simply videotaped it off of channel 9.

The bottom line here is that the script of “Pigs” is actually pretty engaging, yet the movie itself is horribly executed. It’s not outrageous enough to be “funny” save for a few moments. The closest thing to real camp is the movie opens with about 30 minutes of exposition clumsily shoved into about 5. Watching “Pigs” actually reminded me a lot of watching “Don’t look in the Basement” just in that it was also an engaging story only to be made with the lowest of budget and resources. The difference is that the shlocky nature of “Don’t look in the Basement” actually worked for it by creating a surreal alternate universe for the characters to inhabit. While “Pigs” had it’s share of blood and was in fact “creepy” I would have much rather preferred the midget in the rubber pig outfit.

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