3 out of 5
Directed by: Diane Jacques
Ah, its been a while since I’ve watched a legit no-budget movie. Plenty of low-budgets, sure, but no-budgets are a unique class, perhaps deserving of special consideration. I think that comes somewhat automatically, though: there’s something about watching something that’s been put together with tape and bubblegum that puts you in a different mindset from watching, say, the last MCU offering; in a way, just by committing to the movie you’re agreeing to give it a chance.
And is no-budget flick Hogzilla a good movie, even by way of them special considerations? No, not especially. Leaching off of the press of a circulated photo of a giganto wild hog, director / co-writer Diane Jacques contacted classic B-film host Joe Bob Briggs to see if he’d want to star in a cheapo horror flick centered around the titular creature, a pig puppet was constructed, and here we are. …Kinda. The movie went into some form of unfinished limbo, and was then completed a decade later thanks to the efforts of some Last Drive-In folks (Diana Prince, mainly), having its world premiere on the show, as commentated upon by a disbelieving Briggs. And perhaps mine eyes would’ve been harsher on the movie in 2007 when it was completed, or without the Last Drive-In interruptions, but my main criteria for no-budgets seemed to result in a positive, completely forgetting I was watching in a Drive-In context: that I wasn’t bored.
Because no, Hogzilla’s nigh-plotless setup isn’t good, and the dialogue and direction are there to coast us along as long as possible without having to show anything that would require money, but Jacques seemed to key in on exactly what she could afford, and exactly what type of movie she was making, and then stuck to that. So there’s no bid at creating extra “tension” or “horror,” or trying to be “clever,” and she withholds overt self-awareness until the final scene when someone makes a “What do you think this is, a horror movie?”-type comment. It’s just a dumb movie about reporters traveling to the “wilderness” (i.e. two or so locations in some woods) to capture some ‘hogzilla’ footage, getting warned off of forthcoming dangers by forest-dweller Briggs, and then getting snorted at from a POV hog camera which kills them offscreen, one by one. Best actors or writing on the planet are neither featured here, but they do act competently for the level of what we’re dealing with, and the writing has an oddly practical vibe to it.
Again, there’s something to knowing what you’re working with: here’s your money, here’s your pig puppet, and make the most balanced version of Hogzilla you can, and Jacques did that. Totally not a glowing recommendation, however, I did not not enjoy the movie – it is, at worst, harmless, and at best goofy – even with Briggs and crew commentary aside.