Having given the backwoods slasher film an Aussie makeover in Charlie’s Farm (2014), writer-director Chris Sun brings home the bacon in his latest film – the outback creature feature Boar, in which a monstrous feral pig threatens a country town and an awesome local cast including John Jarratt, Nathan Jones, Hugh Sheridan and Simone Buchanan.
“Right after Charlie’s Farm was completed, I knew Boar was going to be the next picture I wanted to do,” Sun tells STACK, although the film’s bumpy road to the screen would take some three years.
“We first started building the marquettes of the pig in December of 2014 and didn’t start shooting until late 2015. With independent films, sometimes you have hurdles you have to overcome and Boar, unfortunately, had some major hurdles. If not for those hurdles there would have been two or three more kills in the film, but I had to use the budget we had to accomplish the end result.“
While Sun describes the drawn-out production process as “a pain in the arse,” he adds that shooting Boar was amazing fun and allowed him to run amok. Although having a 600kg monster hog as the star did lead to some long days on the set.
“You’d plan for an eight to ten-hour day and you knew if the pig was going to be on set, you were gonna be charged overtime.”
A huge fan of practical effects, Sun reveals that the 14-foot star of Boar, which took six months to build, could be operated by three men inside, with another controlling the eyes and finer movements via remote.
“These days all the movies are CG-fests; Boar takes you back to the ‘80s where you saw handmade props still working well in the entertainment industry.
“For me it was all about being as practical as possible. But then how do you make a 14-foot piece of fiberglass run? That’s where the CGI comes into it, to enhance some of the practical effects. Some kills in particular we had to go full CG, but I think they still work and the fans still enjoy the combination of practical and CGI shots.”
The director also has nothing but praise for his human players, many of whom he cast against type.
“Bill Moseley is always cast as the badass like Nathan Jones, so it was important to make them both loveable characters,” he says. “And everyone knows John Jarratt as Mick Taylor, and he plays an awesome character [in Boar]. When I first spoke to Hugh Sheridan over Skype, I said ‘Mate, I want you to be a prick – the boyfriend that no girl wants.’ And he was just so into that and had so much fun with it. He really nailed it.”
He also singles out Simone Buchanan, whose character was killed in the original script, but the actress so impressed Sun on set, he decided to spare her.
“Sometimes a director gets a lot of the credit, but because of my cast, there are some magical moments there that I can’t take credit for.”
Nathan Jones in Boar
Of course this isn’t the first time a monster pig has rampaged through the outback in an Aussie movie, and Sun is quick to confess his longtime love affair with 1984 cult classic Razorback.
“Razorback is one of my favourite films of all time! Even actors I’ve worked with, like Bill Moseley, know how much I love it. Bill actually bought me a German Razorback poster.
“Here’s a funny story a lot of people don’t know: Razorback has inspired my film career in many, many ways. In my first film, Come and Get Me, the character Johnny was inspired by Benny and Dicko from Razorback. It’s funny how Razorback always has an influence on my moviemaking, from the comedy to the crazy characters that appear in my stories.”
He also notes that despite the influences and similarities, including a big pig and a cameo by Razorback star Chris Haywood, Boar is a different kind of beast.
“It’s more modern and there are a lot more kills. Razorback was more suspenseful with beautiful shots; Boar is more in-your-face comedy and aggressiveness.
“Boar was actually inspired by An American Werewolf in London and Jaws, he adds. “Jaws is all about the POV shots, so I put those in Boar. The American Werewolf aspect is the element of comedy, and the moors, with Roger Ward cruising through the outback.”
Having put his own unique spin on Ozploitation in Come and Get Me (2011), the revenge thriller in Daddy’s Little Girl (2012), the outback slasher in Charlie’s Farm and monster movie with Boar, which sub-genre of horror does Sun plan to tackle for his next project?
“Right now I’m having a dabble at a ghost script called House for Rent, which of course again will have all practical effects. It’s like Evil Dead meets Flatliners meets 13 Ghosts. I still believe I’ve never made a scary film. Most of my films are comedic, so House for Rent will be very serious.”
Boar is out on DVD & Blu-ray on August 15