Hog Wild (1980) AVCO Embassy Pictures/Comedy RT: 95 minutes Rated PG (language, violence, sexually suggestive scenes) Director: Les Rose Screenplay: Andrew Peter Marin Music: Paul Zaza Cinematography: Rene Verzier Release date: June 1, 1980 (US) Starring: Patti D’Arbanville, Michael Biehn, Tony Rosato, Angelo Rizacos, Martin Doyle, Claude Phillippe, Matt Craven, Jack Blum, Keith Knight, Michael Zelniker, Robin McCulloch, Sean McCann, John Rutter, Bronwen Mantel, Karen Stephen, Stephanie Miller, Mitch Martin. Box Office: N/A VHS-only
I remember seeing the commercials for the PG-rated Hog Wild back in spring 1980 and thinking that it looked really good. As per usual with the overprotective parental units, I didn’t get to see it at the movies. It only played for a week before disappearing from theaters and the collective conscience of American moviegoers. I had all but forgotten about it until I learned that one of my movie-loving friends had a VHS copy of it (thank you Jeff!). I finally got to sit down and watch it this past weekend. I didn’t realize that Hog Wild is a Canadian production, part of a subgenre of exploitation flicks known as “Canuxploitation” (Canadian exploitation movies). It’s part teen comedy, part biker flick. It predates Porky’s by a couple of years and doesn’t feature nearly the same amount of nudity and sex (duh, it’s rated PG!). I might have liked it better when I was 12, but middle-aged MG 24/7 thinks it’s just okay. It’s interesting from the standpoint of finally seeing a movie that sank into obscurity many years ago. I don’t see a DVD release in the immediate future which makes me glad that I keep a working VHS player on hand. How else do you think that I got to watch The Wild Life and Surf II? This is as good a time as any to announce that I will now be reviewing titles that are only available on VHS. Now that I finally have my screening room organized, I can sit and watch movies that I haven’t seen in years.
While I have already reviewed a handful of not-on-DVD titles like Get Crazy, Electric Dreams and Without Warning, my first official VHS-only review will be Hog Wild. Such titles will be denoted by a VHS-onlyafter the star rating (see above).
Rich kid Tim Warner (Biehn, The Terminator) has just been kicked out of military school for a misunderstanding involving a girl in his room. His father (McCann, Tommy Boy), an Army colonel who obviously sees his son as a constant screw-up, sends him to the local high school where he runs afoul of a tough biker gang. Led by the unintelligible Bull (Rosato, SCTV and SNL), they call themselves the Rustlers and terrorize the other students at the school. All except for Vern (Knight, Meatballs), a nerdy fat kid who really wants to join their gang. Tim makes things harder for himself by falling for Bull’s main squeeze Angie (D’Arbanville, Modern Problems). Tim doesn’t exactly back down when threatened by the Rustlers, but he doesn’t stand up for himself either. He endures indignities like having food dumped on his head in the school cafeteria and the gang running his car up the flagpole (how did they even manage that one?). Needless to say, his father urges him to be a man and stand up to these creeps. Tim and his friends finally reach the breaking point after the Rustlers crash their beach party, handcuff the guys in their underwear and ride off with their girlfriends. It’s pretty standard stuff, right down to Tim and Bull competing against each other in the climactic motorcycle race.
For what it is, Hog Wild isn’t too bad. It’s not too good either. It isn’t particularly funny even though it contains the same basic elements that would come to define teen comedies in the 80s. It’s produced by Pierre David and Claude Heroux, the team behind such memorable Canuxploitation classics like Gas, Dirty Tricks, Visiting Hours and Going Berserk as well as a few of David Cronenberg’s early films (The Brood, Scanners and Videodrome). Hog Wild also features three supporting actors from the 1979 comedy hit Meatballs: the late Keith Knight (Larry Finklestein), Jack Blum (Spaz) and Matt Craven (Hardware). I like that director Les Rose (Gas) references the 1971 biker classic Angels Hard as They Come in the scene where Bull rides his “hog” (biker slang for motorcycle) into the local movie house. This town also has a sheriff (Rutter, Black Christmas) who’s as inept at his job as he is in the bedroom with his bored wife (Mantel, City on Fire). Although it’s set in an unnamed American town, it was filmed entirely in Montreal which means that the crew had to replace all signs written in French with ones written in English. Hog Wild is typical low budget Canadian B-movie fare. It’s the type of cheapie movie that used to show up on the late show on the UHF channels throughout the 70s and 80s. It defies The Atkin-Chaykin Principle by NOT featuring either Harvey Atkin or Maury Chaykin. Overall, it’s a very mediocre little movie that will be of interest only to die-hard movie buffs. I’m glad that I finally got to see Hog Wild and even gladder that I had a chance to write my review before forgetting about it as I likely will once I’ve completed this final sentence.