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Sunday, March 27, 2016

PIGS (Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray/DVD Combo) - Of Pigs and Circus Performers

Marc Lawrence is an accomplished actor who has made over 200 film and television appearances throughout his lengthy career. He also made his way behind the camera and sat in the director's chair a number of times, mostly TV episodes but twice for a feature film. PIGS and Nightmare in the Sun. Today we're going to take a look at PIGS. Vinegar Syndrome has offered a Blu-ray/DVD combo on a moderately obscure picture that has the potential to affect its audience with some very unusual shots and story components that scream cult classic creeper. It's not so much a Horror picture as it is a "what the fuck am I watching" picture. That doesn't mean it's a true shocker; you won't be flabbergasted or feel the need to bath your eyeballs with Dawn dish detergent. It simply means that PIGS is part psychological mind bender, part independent, artsy experiment. 

The previous DVD release of this picture lacked extras which is made up for in abundance with this release. The alternative opening and ending provide a way to view the film from a completely different angle. I almost like to take each alternate take and recombine it with the full picture and treat them as a wholly separate picture. It's just a game a play, and if you truly enjoy PIGS you can actually get more pig for your poke. Two separate trailers are included under two titles. Three separate interviews are provided that may offer some incite for viewers who need a clarification as to what they just watched; one with Toni Lawerence, actress, composer Charles Bernstein and cinematographer Glenn Roland (audio only). The traditional artwork is used for the front cover with a reverse option provided by Doc Terror favorite, Chris Garofalo aka Quiltface Studios. I love his stuff, and I love his take on this one. Garofalo also recently did the cover for The Bees released by Vinegar Syndrome. I would have actually preferred the original artwork to have been a different poster choice from the original release.

PIGS looks fantastic with its new transfer from the 35mm interpositive with select shots sourced from 35mm theatrical prints. VS provides excellent restoration and clean up to a cult film that may not have received love elsewhere. The new transfer is clean with good black levels and color saturation though the actual film itself includes shots that have content related imperfections (nothing to do with the transfer itself). Some light damage here and there, but it has been restored without overly relying on digital methods that could have created a negative experience for the viewer. 

What I love about PIGS is the element of mystery that underlies what might have been a rather straight forward kill by numbers picture. There are times where you are made to believe that that kills you see on screen are nothing more than nightmarish images, and yet at other times you'd be hard pressed to find any other explanation than cold blood murder. It's a balancing act that keeps this slowburner moving albeit at a snail's pace. There's nothing hot or flashy about PIGS. It takes great liberty with the way it portrays scenes involving the titular pigs giving it an artistic quality that borders on avant garde. This keeps the film from becoming stale while you wait for an almost humorous and not entirely satisfying finale (check out the alternate take, which I prefer). 

Garofalo's sexy alternate cover
Perhaps it most important to know what you won't be getting with PIGS. This isn't a straight forward Horror picture. No blood guts. Not excessive blood. This being the first time I've spent with the picture I think think I was hoping for a Herschel Gordon Lewis Crayola red, gorefest. It isn't scary. It isn't gratuitous or explicit. Another part of me expected to see Anthony Hopkins feeding a wealthy, deformed man to a group of oversized hogs. This was simply not the case.

If you're a fan of a the storytelling style used in The Witch Who Came From the Sea, you'll be able to appreciate PIGS. Not for the overabundance of nudity or black humor. Simply for the balancing act between Lawrence's need to be an artist and his need to get ideas across in a plot that isn't altogether obvious. Make no mistake. This is not a killer animal movie. Most of the advertising around it wants you to believe that you'll be watching murderous pigs in some kind of Food of the Gods or Day of the Animals like feeding frenzy. This is a murder thriller. 

You can purchase PIGS from Vinegar Syndrome now: https://vinegarsyndrome.com/shop/pigs/
This disc can be purchased as a part of the March package from VS included several titles at a cost savings: https://vinegarsyndrome.com/shop/march-2016-package/

From Vinegar Syndrome:

Lynn Webster is a mysterious and beautiful young woman with a deadly secret. After arriving in a secluded California town, she takes a job as a waitress for Zambrini (Marc Lawrence), an elderly former circus performer who runs a small cafe, complete with a pen of 12 hungry pigs. Local legend has it that his pigs only eat human flesh and that in order to satisfy their growing appetites, Zambrini has begun to murder drifters. Soon the sheriff (Jesse Vint) begins to get suspicious of the strange goings on at Zambrini’s farm and grows closer and closer to discovering the shocking truth of the pigs.

Directed by character actor Marc Lawrence and starring his daughter Toni as Lynn. PIGS is a suspenseful and atmospheric psychological horror film featuring claustrophobic camerawork by Glenn Roland (Ilsa She Wolf of the S.S.) and a haunting score by Charles Bernstein (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cujo).

Vinegar Syndrome presents this classic of 70s independent cinema newly restored and in its original director’s cut for the first time on home video.

Director: Marc Lawrence
1973 / 81min / English / Color / 1.85:1

Features Include:

• Blu-ray/DVD Combo | Region Free | 1.85:1 OAR
• Newly scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm interpositive with select shots sourced from 35mm theatrical prints
• All extras on both Blu-ray and DVD.
• Featurette w/ actress Toni Lawrence
• Featurette w/ composer Charles Bernstein
• Audio interview w/ cinematographer Glenn Roland
• Promotional artwork gallery
• Alternate ‘Exorcism’ opening sequence
• Alternate ‘Daddy’s Girl’ opening sequence
• Alternate ‘Daddy’s Girl’ ending sequence
• PIGS original theatrical trailer
• LOVE EXORCISM theatrical trailer
• Reversible cover artwork by Chris Garofalo
• English SDH Subtitles

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