• Pigs (88 Films)

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: October 9th, 2017.
    Director: Marc Lawrence
    Cast: Toni Lawrence, Marc Lawrence, Jim Antonio, Walter Barnes, Paul Hickey, Erik Holland
    Year: 1972

    The Movie:

    Directed by Mark Lawrence in 1972 and also known under the title Daddy’s Deadly Darling and Love Exorcism (for more on this check out the extras), Pigs (titled The Thirteenth Pig on the elements used for this transfer!) has the distinction of being one of only two features he helmed. The second feature Nightmare In The Sun, made with Aldo Ray in 1965. The picture also stars Mark Lawrence’s daughter Toni Lawrence, a full decade before she appeared in Soul Survivor. So while this one is semi-obscure, it’s got a bit of a pedigree behind it.

    Toni plays a young woman named Lynn Hart. She suffers from some ‘issues’ and, at the beginning of the movie, escapes from a mental hospital. It seems that some time ago she was raped by her father and in return, she killed him and was locked up for her crimes. Lynn snatches a nurse's uniform, swipes a car and hits the road to get as far away from the hospital as possible. Her travels take her to a small town in rural California where she meets a strange, aging farmer named Zambrini (director Marc Lawrence, our lead actress’ father). He not only works the land but he also runs a small motel and restaurant just off of the highway. He’s kind enough to put her up and Lynn can’t help but notice that behind his house is a ramshackle old pig pen, complete with a small army of hungry hogs.

    Shortly after her arrival, Lynn starts to mingle with the townsfolk but quickly starts playing old tapes and offing any poor bastard who bares even the slightest resemblance to her dear, departed pervert of an old man. When she realizes that Zambrini’s Pigs will east anything tossed into their pen, she finds a quick and easy way to hide the bodies of her victims. Soon enough, and not so surprisingly, the town’s sheriff (Dan Cole) starts to wonder just what the heck is going on around his otherwise peaceful little town. He knows all of this mayhem started when Lynn showed up and so he starts, with the aid of a private investigator hired by the hospital to capture her, snooping around in her business. But will they catch her before she can kill again – and just what exactly is that weird Zambrini guy up to?

    Shot out in the middle of nowhere and set to a strange bluegrass style soundtrack, Pigs is nothing if not quirky. It’s not always good, but it is usually always interesting and often quite atmospheric in its own strange way. Though the titular pigs aren’t used nearly as often or as well as they should be given the title and cover art, there are a few decent murder set pieces here. The real star of the show, however, is Marc Lawrence as Zambrini, a former circus performer now farmer and a man with some seriously strange habits. He latches on to Lynn and soon begins to exploit her for various reasons, and Lawrence really gets into the role here. He plays the weirdo well – sadly the same can’t be said for Toni Lawrence, who tries to emote more often than she should but who often comes across as a bit flat, though there are some scenes where she succeeds in bringing some depth to her part.

    The story is a bit all over the place, shifting tone frequently and jumping back and forth between plot devices. It’s not complicated, mind you, just paced in a very haphazard way. There are some eerie moments here, mostly when the lights go down and the Pigs, ravenously hungry, start to squeal for the meat they know is coming their way. Morbid? Yep. And while the film wears its flaws as obviously on its sleeve as it does its low budget origins, there’s still plenty of weird seventies entertainment value to be had here.


    Pigs was released on DVD by Troma in a fullframe transfer taken from what looked like an older tape master. It kind of looked like shit, but then it was given a new transfer from Vinegar Syndrome that appears to have been used for this UK release from 88 Films. How does it look? It’s a ‘new 2k scan from the 35mm interpositive with select shots sourced from 35mm theatrical prints’ and it blows that old DVD out of the water. The bits taken from the 35mm inserts understandably look a bit less detailed and pristine than those taken from the interpositive but the bulk of the movie looks great. Detail is generally very strong while color reproduction is impressive throughout. There’s plenty of grain here but it’s never overpowering or distracting while only minor print damage shows up here and there. Skin tones look good, black levels are rich enough to work and the transfer is free of any obvious compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction.

    Audio chores are handled by a DTS-HD Mono track. Optional closed captioning is provided for the feature only in English. This track is a bit erratic, with occasionally foley and sound effects higher up in the mix than the dialogue, score or ambient background noises but it works in the context of the story being told. Hiss and distortion are non issues and there’s more depth, range and presence here than there was on the older DVD release.

    The extras on the Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray remain exclusive to that release. 88 Films offers up only a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. As far as the packaging goes, we get some nice reversible cover art offering both Pigs and Daddy’s Little Darling variations and an insert booklet containing a three page essay from Calum Waddell entitled Bacon Bits that offers up some information on the film’s unusual history and some interesting thoughts on the relationship that the film may or may not share to other nature run amok movies. The first pressing also comes with a collectible slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Pigs is a weird little low budget seventies oddity that, while hardly any sort of masterpiece, has enough strange atmosphere and weird characters in it to make it worth a watch. 88 Films’ Blu-ray release is light on extras but it looks and sounds nice. A good option for UK based fans that don’t want to import.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Great review, Ian. I remember seeing this one on Elvira's syndicated program in the mid-80s but haven't seen it since. I avoided the Troma release, but it sounds like I'm going to have to get this one.