Written by: George Pacheco on April 7th, 2016
BluRay released: March 23rd, 2016
Approximate running times: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Pigs is a cult slice of Seventies cinema from the earlier part of the decade, and yet another example of how this period was such a fruitful one when it came to bizarre, left-of-centre filmmakers with unique stories to tell.
The film was released in 1972, and has gone under many titles over the years, thanks to a wide array of footage shot by director Marc Lawrence, in an attempt to appeal to as many popular subgenres as possible. Whether it was capitalizing on the Satanic cinema craze with the title Love Exorcism, or amping up the sexploitation angle with the title of Daddy’s Deadly Darling, it seems as if no cut of Pigs could be seen as the full, definitive version.
That is, of course, until Vinegar Syndrome got their talented hands on multiple 35mm prints of Pigs, assembling here what is truly the most complete presentation of the film for a much appreciative home video audience. Lawrence’s work had seen releases on VHS and DVD in years past, most notably from Troma as well as a cheap flipper disc from EastWest, but this version of Pigs trumps all others in absolutely every respect, from content to AV quality and beyond.
The film itself follows a highly disturbed, yet tragic woman by the name of Lynn, who is on the run and taking shelter in a ramshackle cafe, run a mysterious man by the name of Zambrini. The cafe also happens to have a pen of pigs on the premises with a taste for human flesh, a taste for which Zambrini has began to satiate with drifters who cross by his place. Meanwhile, people are starting to ask questions about Lynn, who is also starting to become unraveled at the seams, just as her relationship with Zambrini, the cafe and a curious sheriff is heading towards a violent and tragic conclusion.
Marc Lawrence cast his daughter Toni as the lead in Pigs, and the actress delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance, one which balances her natural beauty and talent with a palpable sense of danger and vulnerability. It’s truly a shame that Toni Lawrence never achieved a similar level of cult fame as so many of her grindhouse counterparts, as the camera of cinematographer Glenn Roland simply loves her, from head to toe. Low budget B movies of the day didn’t always benefit from the greatest acting, but Toni’s work here is truly memorable, and a sight to behold.
There’s is such a feeling of tension and atmosphere to the setting here, from the location of the cafe to Charles Bernstein’s creepy musical score, while Marc Lawrence’s direction keeps things moving at a fine pace. The aforementioned cinematography of Glenn Roland is full of tight, claustrophobic shots of faces and upper bodies, giving Pigs a disorienting and uncomfortable feel. Some may say that the film was Marc Lawrence’s way of making some money after tragically being blacklisted in Hollywood-after a prolific career-thanks to McCarthyism, but if this is the case, then the director can rest easy knowing that Pigs has endured some forty years after its filming to become a true, must-see cult classic.
Vinegar Syndrome gives Pigs all the love it deserves on this excellent release, one which is destined to top many lists at the year’s end. First of all, the 2k scan of the film is wonderful, taken a 35mm interpositive cut which incorporates other prints of the film to present the most complete cut of Pigs to date. Although it’s evident when these others prints have been injected into the film, the fact that Vinegar Syndrome have gone the extra mile to give Pigs the proper respect missing from prior home video releases is much welcomed.
The audio track is also solid throughout the disc, right down to the extra footage culled from the “sexy” and “Satanic” cuts of the film, featuring some humorous dubbed in dialog. Speaking of which, this release of Pigs features alternate opening and closing sequences from these cuts, complete with an exorcist priest and a sexually charged, possessed version of Lynn. Original trailers for the film under the title Pigs and Love Exorcism are also presented, alongside original promotional artwork and articles for the film.
Finally, on camera interviews with both Toni Lawrence and Charles Bernstein are presented here, alongside an audio interview with Glenn Roland, presented over footage from the film. Lawrence is particularly forthcoming about working with her dad, his trials coming up in the business and her own acting history. It would’ve been nice to have Lawrence do a commentary track or go into more depth about her career after Pigs, but hey, we can’t have everything!
Bernstein is another fun interview, as the famous composer recalls meeting Marc and how he was approach to work on the score. He delves into his recording process, the movie’s complicated release history and how Pigs was one of his earliest feature film composing credits. Finally, Glenn Roland’s interview is a more nuts-and-bolts, but no less fascinating discussion about how he recalls working on the film, and the Lawrence family.
It’s truly a great time to be a cult film fan, thanks to the hard work of labels like Vinegar Syndrome, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty here with Pigs, just as they have in the past with all of their releases. If you see one new film from this golden era of grindhouse, make it this one.