Released by: Cult Epics
Released on: January 29, 2013.
Director: Nico B.
Cast: Rozz Williams, James Hollan/Bill Oberst Jr.
Year: 1998/2012 Purchase From Amazon
Filmmaker (and founder of Cult Epics) Nico B. was close to Rozz Williams. When the musician and artist (best known for his work with Christian Death and Premature Ejaculation) took his own live in 1998 it understandably left a mark on those who knew him. Before Rozz passed away, however, Nico did finish their first film together, Pig. Years later, the director would return to his past with Williams for a sequel of sorts, 1334. While Pig was released on VHS and then on special edition years ago, it’s been out of print for some time. Cult Epics now reissues the infamous movie with the sequel on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.
As a point of comparison, when thinking of Pig, it falls somewhere in between what Jorge Buttgereit did with Schramm and the Nine Inch Nails video for Broken. It's very much its own beast though, and in its own way defies any sensibilities the aforementioned films may have had and throws them out the window.
The film is essentially the very loose story of a killer and his willing victim, who head out to Death Valley in California where they find an abandoned house. Here the killer produces from his suitcase all manner of strange devices, and a book entitled 'Why God Permits Evil.' The killer pages through this book, which is a collection of collage art taken from all sorts of strange sources and we see that the victim has had the word 'PIG' carved into his chest with a knife. From here, he is tortured, pierced, and scarified before the two of them become one.
This film is gritty, unsettling, and freakishly disturbing but at the same time those who appreciate how art and horror can blend together will likely find it effective and thought provoking. The unification of the two leads at the end of the film is almost touching in a sense, as it seems to bring an end to their collective suffering, but it's very repulsive at the same time. There is no English dialogue in the film, only a few seconds of Russian (which is not subtitled – it was explained in the commentary on the first DVD release but that’s not been carried over to this reissue) and there are also no real sound effects to speak of.
Thick with 'Dadaist' symbolism and ripe with homoerotic overtones, Pig is basically a one way ticket to Hell captured on film. Functioning as a standard narrative film, it isn't particularly interesting or effective, but in all fairness, it isn't that type of movie nor should it be evaluated as such. Essentially what we have here is a series of powerful and disturbing images set to an ambient, and at times, industrial soundtrack. It provokes a reaction, it wants to take a hot poker and stab you in the brain and upset you – for the most part, it works. It's a very stark and bleak look at the relationship of a killer and his victim seen through the eyes of someone who is able to interpret such things as art, be that for better or worse.
The second short on the disc is 1334, made in 2012 and once again directed and shot by Nico B. Here Bill Oberst Jr. plays Williams as the movie shows us in rather obscure and almost surreal ways what happened to some of those involved with the making of Pig. It’s not as shocking or as antagonistic as the first film is but it is an interesting sequel of sorts. At only seventeen minutes long and shot in the same high contrast black and white style of the first movie, it has an interesting rhythm to it that makes it an interesting companion piece.
If nothing else, it effectively serves as the filmmakers expression of grief at the loss of his friend – even the title, 1334, ties back to Ross’ work with Christian Death (it also ties into the year that the bubonic plague killed scores of people across continental Europe). The short tackles Williams’ suicide head on in the opening scene and then depicts in unusual ways different occurrences related to his death in the aftermath of the first movie. Like the first movie, it’s not necessarily an easy watch or a movie meant for mainstream tastes but it is quite well made and eerie in its own fascinating way. The movie also benefits from an excellent score and some genuinely unsettling set pieces. Ultimately it compliments Pig in wholly appropriate ways, and it is certainly a worthy follow up.
The AVC encoded 1080p fullframe transfers present the two movies in their original aspect ratios. Detail is generally about as good as the source material is going to allow for. Given the 8mm and 16mm roots, grain can be heavy at times but this sort of adds to the aura of the movies themselves. Detail is pretty solid, contrast looks very good and texture is frequently quite impressive. There are no issues with compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction.
Both movies contain Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks, there are no lossless options, sadly. With the said, both movies sound pretty good here. The stereo mixes are probably truer to their roots, the films sound good in 5.1 with their respective scores spread out throughout the sound mix rather well.
As far as the extras go, none of the supplemental content from the original DVD release has been carried over, which is unfortunate as there was some good stuff there. Going some way towards making up for that, however, is the inclusion of a booklet containing writing on both films from Nico B. in addition to some script pages and miscellaneous notes on the movies and the occult references that they contain.
The Final Word:
Grim and unsettling but well made and rather compelling, Pig and 1334 make their Blu-ray debut without all of the extras from the past release but in very nice shape and in high definition for the first time. These aren’t films for all tastes but anyone with an interest in avant garde cinema or in Rozz Williams/Christian Death ought to check them out.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!