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Pigs (1973) Nic's 31 Halloween Horror Movies for 2019 Film #8

Nic Brown

The common pig. A typical fixture at many farms and the source of the almost universally loved delicacy that is bacon! However, there is a somewhat darker side to Peppa Pig’s mature kin. Pigs are omnivores, meaning they’ll eat pretty much anything that doesn’t eat them first, and if they’re hungry enough they will definitely not only eat a human, they’ll eat the entire person, bones and all. This isn’t to say that there is a huge risk of the pig population rising up and hunting us down for dinner, but it does mean that they make a convenient plot device for getting rid of bodies in movies.

In the 1973 film Pigs, the movie opens with farmer Zambrini (Marc Lawrence) taking a special treat to his dozen or so hogs. He’s back from robbing the local morgue where he’s obtained a fresh corpse. He chops the body up and feeds it to the pigs, apologizing to the dead man but explaining he has no choice. His pigs accidentally killed and ate a drunken drifter and now they crave human flesh.

The scene changes to a Volkswagen bug driving through the desert the next day. The woman behind the wheel is Lynn Hart (Toni Lawrence) and she’s wearing part of a nurse’s uniform. She stops the car long enough to ditch the remnants of the uniform in the bushes by the road. As she drives off, she smiles as though a huge weight has been lifted from her. Lynn doesn’t drive far before she encounters a small roadside café that’s part of a farm. She enters the establishment and meets Zambrini who, reluctantly, gives her a job and a small room to stay in. Meanwhile, Dan Cole (Jesse Vint) the local sheriff, is taking complaints from two old women who live near the farm. They claim that Zambrini’s pigs have been escaping at night and coming onto their property. They also claim that there is something wrong on Zambrini’s farm and that the eccentric farmer is killing people and feeding them to the pigs. The sheriff doesn’t really buy the idea that the old man is a killer, but he promises to speak with Zambrini about the pigs getting loose.

At the café Lynn has settled into her waitressing job, which isn’t too hard since there are rarely many customers. However, one customer is Ben Sharp (Paul Hickey), a local oil rig worker. Ben warns her that there’s something wrong with Zambrini. He tells the young woman that when Zambrini was in the circus he suffered a tragic accident that left him clinically dead, but they revived him. Now Zambrini has retired to work on a farm and all the locals think he’s strange. Lynn seems not to mind Zambrini’s back story. But she does mind that Ben won’t take no for an answer when it comes to her going on a date with him. Lynn finally accepts after a lot of pressure and that night they go to a movie. On the way back, Ben parks the truck on the side of the road and starts getting handsy with Lynn. She’s upset and obviously has no interest, but Ben is forcing himself on her and it appears he may rape her.

Just as Ben is about to make ‘may rape her’ into ‘is raping her’, the sheriff pulls up to see what’s going on. Lynn makes a quick break for it and gets into the sheriff’s car. She doesn’t tell him about Ben’s advances; she just says she wants a ride back to the café/farm where she’s staying. Lynn has been acting stranger and stranger even as the sheriff starts showing interest in the beautiful young waitress. Finally, he leaves and Lynn, oddly, decides to call Ben. She apologizes to him for how she behaved and asks him to come over the next day so she can make it up to him.

Ben is excited to come and let Lynn make things up to him. He’s even more excited when she invites him into the bed with her. The pair are making out hot and heavy when Lynn reaches under the sheets towards his crotch. Ben is enjoying her attentions to his special place when she snaps her hand up. There is a spurt of blood under the sheets and Ben screams. Lynn pulls out the straight razor she used on him and finishes the job.

Zambrini hears the commotion and comes in to find Lynn hugging herself and speaking gibberish on the floor. Ben is dead and the walls are covered in blood.

If Lynn had come to almost any other farm she’d have been arrested and that would be the end of it. Only Zambrini has his own murderous secrets to keep and plus, he likes the pretty young drifter. So instead of calling the sheriff, Zambrini cleans Lynn up, puts her in his bed to rest and cleans the room up. What happened to Ben? Take a guess. Now the question becomes one of how long can these two broken people keep their deadly secrets?

An independent release written and directed by star Marc Lawrence, Pigs is a film of many titles. Among the many titles the film has had: The 13th Pig, Daddy's Deadly Darling, Horror Farm, Daddy's Girl, The Strange Exorcism of Lynn Hart, The Strange Love Exorcist and Roadside Torture Chamber. The film had a decent cinematic run in 1973, with the distribution company serving bacon at the film’s premiere.

Despite its humble origins (Lawrence mortgaged his home to make the film) it is actually an interesting film. Lawrence’s Zambrini is a quirky, lonely man who’s not quite a villain despite his habit of feeding the recently deceased to his pigs. Toni Lawrence (Marc’s daughter in real life) gives a good performance as the mentally unstable young drifter woman Lynn. While the film is somewhat slow at times, it takes enough unexpected twists to keep the viewer interested. Don’t go in expecting Silence of the Lambs. Take Pigs for what it is, a low budget horror/thriller and you won’t come out of the film disappointed. After all, the film was ultimately purchased by Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma Studios for distribution so you know that it may be entertaining, but it isn’t going to be too deep. Check out Pigs for yourself and see if this film will bring home the bacon for you.

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