FilmFilm Review

Film Review: Jake Busey in ‘Pig Killer’


One thing you can say about this extreme film is that the lead is perfectly cast. Out-there actor Jake Busey (Starship Troopers) stars as Robert “Willy” Pickton, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized Canada for decades before he was finally apprehended. Writer/director Chad Ferrin pulls no punches in his depiction of the murderer’s activities.

Pickton picked up prostitutes, drugged them, raped them and fed them to his pigs. And that’s exactly what we see. The opening credits immediately set the tone. Bloody limbs and pigs.

Pickton lives in a trailer on a pig farm in the middle of nowhere, which is the perfect locale for him to perform his nefarious deeds undisturbed. His favorite pig is a huge boar named Balthazar, and he seems to get an extra thrill by letting the swine observe him as he commits his crimes.

Interspersed with all the mayhem are bits and pieces of Pickton’s life story. Raised by an abusive father and incestuous mother, it’s no wonder that he grew up with such a twisted perspective. Rather than going over the top (as his father, Gary, might have), Busey opts for a more subtle approach to the character — but not by much.

There are other interesting choices in the casting. ‘80s porn star Ginger Lynn Allen plays Pickton’s perverse mom, and she literally throws herself into the role. Michael Paré (Eddie and the Cruisers) is Detective Oppal, a cop on the Pickton case. To his credit, Paré manages to deliver his lines without the dazed “what am I doing here?” look that often happens when actors think they are slumming.

The film has a definite ‘70s exploitation vibe to it. If the filmmaker had added grain and scratches to the visuals, it’d be total drive-in sleaze — with the sleaze turned up to 11. It’s actually well-crafted, with competent cinematography by Jeff Billings and an appropriately skeezy production design by Matt Rumer.

The score by Gerard McMahon (supplemented with other source material) is an odd duck. It runs throughout the entire film and never stops. Sometimes it’s so loud that it drowns out the dialogue.

The special effects by Joe Castro, Jake Porath and Angie Shell, are truly shocking, with only a couple of obvious fake heads (and other body parts) showing up. This may have been an intentional choice, because cheesy prosthetics are a requirement to evoke memories of the drive-in grinders of yore. It’s counterbalanced by some stomach-churning splatter as Pickton tears his victims apart with a rotary saw.

Pig Killer is not recommended for all audiences, but if you’re one of those viewers who likes to challenge yourself on how much you can take, it may be your cup of guts. It is now available on DVD and VOD.