You may have seen our recent interview with director Adam Mason ahead of his return to Frightfest with his new found footage offering, ‘Hangman’. In the run up to our favourite festival and of course after seeing a sneak preview of Hangman [and loving it] we have decided to take a look at Mason’s film that never managed to get an official release [let alone a Frightfest appearance] and how it still managed to gain notoriety online with horror nuts searching forums to find an online screener link of the infamous, ‘PIG’, somewhere in the ether.

Any horror fan will know and celebrate the fact that the genre is about pushing boundaries and many fans, although admittedly not all, will seek out with glee the film that is a bit nastier, a bit bloodier, always wondering if there is anything that hasn’t been done and if it really is possible to overstep the boundary and make even the toughest and desensitised audiences recoil. Some of us are more willing to admit it than others, but it’s undeniable that there is an innate interest in the macabre amongst all human beings. From horror films, to tragic accidents to graphic documentaries and new stories – no matter how much we know we shouldn’t look, we just can’t look away.

There are a lot of discussions that can net out from the umbrella term of ‘horror’ and those who make and / or enjoy it – from voyeurism, to sexism, porn to consumerism, horror often taps into the most basic and fundamental theories of the human condition. In recent years strong sexual overtones in violent films has become more prevalent and the line between necessities to facilitate plot versus flagrant titillation is becoming blurred.

Whilst it is easy to say ‘pushing the boundaries’ with extreme violence may seem like depravity for the sake of shock factor there is the possibility for it act as a metaphor or commentary of reality – and the latter is what I think Mason’s PIG ultimately aims to do.

PIG is an interesting study in depravity. Hardly the most shocking film ever made, it does pack quite a punch for the uninitiated – particularly as the camera never cuts away from the bizarre and brutal on goings. Instead we are assaulted from start to finish with every imaginable kind of taboo. It’s relentless but this stretched out feeling of ‘when will it end’ is undoubtedly as a result of the one-take ad-hoc approach of this no-cut gore fest.
He covers, rape, misogyny, cannibalism, murder all with the background noise of a radio show that cleverly highlights sexism in relationships all in about an hour and a half – and yet there is still time for a psychopathic protagonist to shower and sip a Chablis every now and then.

pig_grande1

Whilst I thought PIG was an impressive piece for a then up and coming director I was stumped by a few things and wondered if I was reading into it too much – was it really metaphor or had I simply just been subjected to a slew of sexist scenes that mixed torture, death and cannibalism with a very overt sexual overtone that was made purely for those that find their kicks in such depravity?

PIG did not get an official release, instead Mason released it for free online for a limited time. Again I couldn’t figure out if this was a clever marketing tactic to create a buzz about his film, as of course many people would assume that perhaps it’s so violent he couldn’t land an official release. I was left pondering, did he release PIG online for a different reason? And was it linked to the content, or more specifically the metaphor behind the film?

Fortunately, I was able to find the answers to my questions.

If self-deprecation was a sport, Adam Mason would probably win – then apologise. When I interviewed him for the release of ‘Hangman’ I took the opportunity to ask about PIG – he told me he hadn’t watched it since he made it but was willing to walk down memory lane albeit whilst cringing and answer my questions about how this film became simultaneously notorious yet unseen, and now completely unavailable. I knew from his other films and briefly chatting to him in our interview that there had to be more to PIG than just the violence seen on screen from this thoughtful and somewhat non-conforming Brit director.

Here’s what Adam had to say about PIG:

“I made PIG when I’d just been really fucked over on the distribution of Blood River – one of my other films.  It was held up in all kinds of bullshit and I decided to make a movie for no money and release it for free on the Internet just to prove how easy it could and should be to get a movie out there.”

So that explains its brief internet appearance, but what about its content?

“I was sick of the horror world at the time… Sick of what I saw as a perverse kind of titillation dressed up as entertainment and aimed purely at [as he describes the type of audience] pigs.  This was pre paranormal activity when everything coming out were akin to Hostel (which I suppose I contributed to with Broken and The Devils Chair unfortunately). So I decided to make a film squarely from the point of view of a pig, aimed at the pigs who watch that kind of stuff.  The one shot thing came out of not wanting to cut away at any time because I figured that was what people who revel in watching violence, especially sexual violence against women wanted.  The radio stuff was to reinforce the blatant misogyny of the character and anyone who could actually sit through that shit.  Or that was the plan anyways.  The way it ended up coming out was so absurd it almost finished up as a comedy!”

Adam thoughtfully continued, addressing the potential future release of the film:

“I wish I hadn’t made it, but I’m proud of it from a technical point of view and I think Andrew’s [psycho protagonist] performance in it is next level. I don’t think we will ever release it.  Actually the only existing copy of it resides on a hard drive in my office.  Andrew and I have been thinking about destroying it in some kind of desert-bound ritual, KLF style.  The only thing stopping us is the fact no one would care…”

PIG is absurd, harrowing and at time laughably bizarre. I’m not sure if a general audience would necessarily ‘get’ Mason’s point, which is essentially sticking a mirror up at those who enjoy the depravity and misogyny in horror to the n’th degree. That said, I don’t think he actually cares if anyone ‘got’ it or not and I have massive respect for him throwing such a radical and entertaining film out there for free to make a point about sexism and misogyny within the horror genre.

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.