Razorback was the feature-length debut of Australian director Russell Mulcahy. Before making his film debut here, Russell Mulcahy had established himself as one of the most stylish of the MTV generation of directors with his groundbreaking videos for quintessential 1980s groups like Duran Duran indeed, Mulcahy directed the very first ever MTV clip with The Buggles Who Killed the Radio Star? (1981). Mulcahy would go on from the modest international success of Razorback to become a regular genre directors through the next two decades. (See below for Russell Mulcahys other films).
Returning to his native Australia fresh from his successes in music video, Russell Mulcahy united with Mad Max 2 (1981) cameraman Dean Semler to make Razorback. Razorback is a film that belongs to the two of them. Mulcahy transforms the desolate outback locations into an eerie shadow-land of surreal imagery. This is never more apparent than the razorback attack that takes place during the prologue, where the scene comes with childrens swings blowing in the breeze, with scarecrows and wire fences outlined against vermilion sunsets and the bloated shadow of a weathervane covering a whole house as it turns in the light of an approaching storm. Australian cinema always seems to have had a quasi-mystical relationship with the Outback and this is none more evident than here. Mulcahy and Dean Semler transform Gregory Harrisons trek across the desert in the middle of the film into something set in an alien world one of burnt landscapes that change from oranges and ochres to blues and purples, and comes filled with forests of ghostly trees eerily floating out of filigreed tendrils of mist, even one tree with a wrecked car inexplicably caught in its branches.
Not to give the impression that Russell Mulcahy is merely a director of pretty images. The razorback attacks have an aggressive, vibrant visual energy and the climactic confrontation in the slaughterhouse is a genuine seat-hanger. The razorback itself looks incredibly mean, although even Mulcahys quick cutting fails to disguise the fact that it does not move much. Some amusement might be found by Australian audiences who are bound to notice the prologues seemingly straight-faced cobbling of the infamous Lindy Chamberlain baby-snatched-by-a-dingo murder trial the same story that was filmed with Meryl Streep as Evil Angels/A Cry in the Dark (1992).
Gregory Harrison is imported for American marquee name value but is unmemorable. There is always a certain broadness of playing in Russell Mulcahys films, with the film here being captured in a large part by David Argue and Chris Haywood as the two psychopathic slaughtermen whose disturbed behaviour is chillingly conveyed.
Russell Mulcahy went onto become a major genre director. His big breakthrough success was the fantasy film Highlander (1986), which launched a long-running franchise. Subsequent to that, Mulcahy made the awful Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), the revenge drama Ricochet (1991), the mystical radio superhero adaptation The Shadow (1994), the revived mummy film Talos the Mummy/Tale of the Mummy (1998), the serial killer thriller Resurrection (1999), the tv mini-series remake of On the Beach (2000), the tv mini-series of Jules Vernes Mysterious Island (2005), the tv mini-series The Curse of King Tuts Tomb (2006), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) and The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008). Mulcahy also wrote/produced the killer shark film Bait (2012).
Screenwriter Everett de Roche has written a number of other Australian genre films including the excellent Natures Revenge film Long Weekend (1978), Patrick (1978) about a psychic coma patient, the stalker psycho-thriller Snapshot/The Day After Halloween (1979), the interesting Harlequin (1980) about an enigmatic magician, the psycho-thriller Roadgames (1981), the killer chimp film Link (1986), the Aboriginal childrens fantasy Frog Dreaming/The Quest (1986), the psycho-thriller Heart of Midnight (1988), the ghost story Visitors (2003), the Backwoods Brutality film Storm Warning (2007), the remake of Long Weekend (2008) and Nine Miles Down (2009) about a mineshaft to Hell.