So yesterday I mentioned I Spit On Your Grave and my strong distaste for the phrase used in referring to that subgenre. But as I was looking around for Ebert’s review, I came across a couple lists of such movies including one I’d heard of but never got around to watching: Pigs (1973).
A little background—I Spit On Your Grave is 1978. I can’t find any evidence to support this, but I have a nagging idea that some place, some time, I read that the movie was in fact made fairly well before this and ran into screening problems until 1978. It certainly has an early to mid-70s look. My point is, it looks earlier than 1978 putting it closer in time to Pigs (which I’m confident still predates ISOYG).
Anyway. Pigs tells the story of Lynn (whose last name is either Hart or Webster *shrug*). She is sent to a mental institution for stabbing her father to death after he’s raped her (which we thankfully don’t actually see). She escapes and ends up at an outta the way rural diner run by a man named Zambrini who incidentally keeps pigs to which he feeds stolen corpses. Like ya do.
It seems that his sus domesitcus herd accidentally developed a taste for human flesh when they accidentally et a drunk who accidentally passed out in their vicinity. Since then Zambrini has been supplying them with dead bodies.
Right. So Lynn, not knowing any of this yet, goes to work for Zambrini. Ain’t long afore she draws the attention of local dirtbag/oil worker Ben. They go out drivin’ one evening, and Ben gets more than a little handsy but is staved off by the just in the nick of time arrival of the local sheriff Dan.
But Ben must now pay for his assault, and Lynn lures him to her room in the back of the diner where she takes a straight razor to him. I’m pretty sure she slits up the ol’ twig n’ berries, but that shot isn’t exactly definitive. Zambrini stumbles upon the aftermath, gets Lynn cleaned up, and hacks Ben up for feedin’ time. This of course leads to an investigation.
Whilst all that’s goin’ down, a dude from the hospital Lynn am-scrayed out of shows up offering to take her back to where everyone loves and misses her, and at first she agrees. But then she has one of her weird, semi-hallucinatory episodes that occur a number of times throughout the movie, and ends up stabbing him to death (it all involves her father whom she thinks is still alive when she calls him on the phone and talks to the “We’re sorry” recording).
In the final act (trough fulla spoilers ahead), Lynn turns on and kills Zambrini, chops him up, and feeds him to his own pigs. She then strips and leaves her necklace hanging from a post. The next day, sheriff Dan is piecing all the deaths together as some guy loads the pigs up. The final shot is Lynn picking up a male hitchhiker and saying “You remind me of my daddy.” Incidentally, this is not the ending described on Wikipedia, which is weird.
None of this is as interesting as it sounds. It’s a sick idea, sure, but what little gore there is looks very 70s and just ain’t enough to support the plot. And the pigs, though prominent in the promo material, are incidental at best. Pity.
Oh and there’s a couple familiar faces as well. A doctor shows up played by Walter Barnes who I remember as the fat, useless sheriff from High Plains Drifter (also 1973). Marc Lawrence is Zambrini, and placing him bugged me right up until he gets stabbed. Then it hit me. He was Vinne “The Cannon” DiMotti in The Big Easy (1986). Whew! If I didn’t figure that out, I’d have never gotten to sleep last night.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out though, the Lynn’s Circe-like men into pigs concept (well, in this case men inside pigs) as well as the Horses Of Diomedes justice of Zambrini getting fed to his own oinkers. Nothin’ like some mythology references with your Z-movie horror. Like my granddad useta say, can’t beat education.
SKULLS- 12 (it’s either that or 2, but I’d argue ya gotta see this)
BODIES- 5 (and a dog, booooo)