Pigs (1973)

Pigs kind of has everything. It’s an early 70s cheapskate, promising pigs that eat people and a girl with a knife. When the end credits roll, it still kind of has everything. Kind of.

Haphazard and quick moving, Pigs is the directorial debut of the late Marc Lawrence, an actor mostly known for gangster roles in the 1940s before his blacklisting in 1950. Pigs was his second and last job as a director. He also wrote the script, one that kicks off with a father raping his daughter, followed by the daughter murdering her father. Who was the lucky chanteuse to land the leading role? Why, it’s Toni Lawrence, daughter of Marc!

Lynn Hart (Toni Lawrence) is on the lam. Escaping from an asylum after murdering her rapist father, she lands in the moldy backroom of a diner, currently owned by ex-circus kook Zambrini (Marc Lawrence). Zambrini’s diner shares space with his pen of flesh eating pigs. For the rest of the film, Zambrini feeds corpses to the pigs at night, while Lynn makes good with a knife. Soon, Zambrini realizes the advantages of fresh meat and starts using Lynn’s victims as piggy chow. All’s well until Zambrini realizes the truth — you can’t keep a good nutjob down.

Freudian gobbledygook aside, Pigs is a stilted blast of weirdness with a clear disregard for traditional execution. The camera movement is jagged, the soundtrack is often abrasive (random screeches from both humans and pigs), and the editing has a screw loose. Shots sometimes repeat themselves for anywhere from a split second to three. Visually, it’ll keep you guessing, especially when you throw in the dreary locales. While this is all certainly grand, the plot of the film, along with the magnetism of the characters, loses steam about halfway through. Pigs feels like a shoebox version of Tobe Hooper’s later Eaten Alive, but without that flicker of engagement. If there was something more to grab onto, the strange techniques would have had a best friend. Mostly though, they’re the odd kid out.

There’s a spark of cracked 1970s filmmaking and some genuine creeps in Pigs, but not enough to keep it fresh for 80 minutes.

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