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Cult Epics presents
Pig (1998)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: May 14, 2002

Stars: Rozz Williams, James Hollan
Director: Nico B.

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (extremely graphic violence, surreal imagery)
Run Time: 00h:43m:00s
Release Date: April 09, 2002
UPC: 063390010103
Genre: experimental

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Months before his suicide, singer/musician/writer Rozz Williams (best known for his work with the bands Christian Death, Shadow Project, and Premature Ejaculation) collaborated with underground filmmaker Nico B. on a short film that was to be an exploration of dark fantasies and imagery. Pig is the end-result of that collaboration; a surrealistic, graphic, and intensely detailed look into the mind of a non-descript serial killer and is entirely without dialogue. Before the film actually saw an audience, Rozz Williams confessed that the project helped him get some things out of his system, namely murder fantasies. Because of Williams' feelings about the movie and his eventual suicide, Pig is a rather frightening look into the final state of mind of the artist, and carries with it a disturbing message.

Running about 20 minutes, Pig is a disjointed, heavily-stylized, black & white piece depicting a serial killer (Williams) journeying out to an abandoned house in the middle of the desert where he proceeds to ritualistically murder an unidentified man (James Hollan). You never actually see the faces of the characters, but the film is definitely not for the faint of heart or the remotely squeamish. Using strange imagery, the film attempts to make many metaphors out of the mind and soul of a killer. Although it is described as a detail of the relationship between murderer and victim, I'd actually say that's reading too much into the film. Whatever Nico B. and Rozz Williams' intent, it is extremely abstract and open to numerous interpretations. In many ways, the film reminded me of the work of controversial artists like Peter Sotos who essentially glorify destruction, murder, and just about every other loathsome quality in people. That's not meant as a criticism, though, for although the film was not really to my taste, I still respected the effort. It is indeed a work of art that does not compromise on the final message.

Figuring heavily into the mix is the abstract artwork of Rozz Williams himself, primarily in the form of collages and dadaist object collections seen throughout the scenes, and Williams' own soundtrack; a DAT recorder collage of ambient and experimental sound work with found material (similar to artists like Hafler Trio or Zoviet France). The most important piece of work is Williams' bizarre, made-up book entitled "Why God Permits Evil"; a hacked-up collection of images which the killer uses as a guide for his progress. Overall, Pig is an impressive experimental effort that moves very far off the beaten path, and should be found suitably disturbing by even the most hardened fan of challenging art. In all honesty, however, I found it to be a bit forced; much of it felt too much like Rozz Williams screaming out, "Look at me, I'm weird and creepy!" Luckily a fatal flaw—running overlong—is nicely avoided by ending just as it starts to wear thin.

As the symbol of Rozz Williams' last productive moments on Earth working in any artistic capacity, I'm guessing Pig reveals more about him than perhaps any other single element of his life. He knew he was going to kill himself, I think he was just waiting for when he felt the proper time had come. Judging from the movie, he probably considered this to be a venue for getting a lot of stuff out and into the open. Williams' seemingly endless fascination with Nazi symbolism, serial killers, and related topics basically comes to a head here. In the end, I see him as someone who was greatly talented but, for some reason, spent most of his energy trying to offend and shock people. That said, though, Pig seems to say more about Rozz than all his years as a Gothic music icon, and I wonder exactly where his career would have taken him had he lived.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As Pig was filmed on what appears to be 16mm, handheld stock, the source has numerous in-camera flaws (scratches, holes, etc.), but this was most likely intentional to give a certain look to the movie. The transfer on the disc itself is excellent, showing no signs of being effected by heavy grain or other source issues. There's very little shimmer or pixelization, and the disc runs as a constant 10mbps.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The soundtrack seems to be a Dolby 2.0 mix that makes good use of the surround channel. As the only audio during the film is the score by Rozz Williams, it receives full attention. The front speakers take most of the soundtrack, while the surround speakers are constantly fed a small amount of the frequency range so that the soundscape enfolds the viewers. This is an effective way of presenting the sound work and it allows for a very hypnotic aspect.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Nico B.
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Audio excerpts from Rozz Williams' final interview.
  2. Photo Gallery
  3. Original test footage
  4. Rozz Williams memorial video
  5. Reproduction of "Why God Permits Evil" booklet.
Extras Review: There are a host of features that help to flesh out the story of how Pig was made and its context as the final project of Rozz Williams. Things begin with a full-length audio commentary by director Nico B., which reveals some interesting trivia about the making of the footage, but isn't particularly enthusiastic or in-depth. In Nico's defense, however, I would imagine doing a very calm, calculated commentary for a film like this is very difficult. In a sense, I'm not sure a commentary is really needed. A reel of unused footage (which runs about 2 minutes) presents a few visual moments that were shortened or completely removed with chapter stops for each. There is optional commentary by Nico B. for these scenes as well. The original version of Pig is also featured on the disc (when it was a slightly different project known as Pigman); the version in which the concepts and style were explored but were not going to be the final project. This also features optional commentary by photographer Ignacio Segovia.
The rest of the extras focus on Williams' involvement. Audio clips from Rozz Williams' last interview (with John Ellenberger of Golgotha Magazine) run about 2 minutes and are presented with the interviewer's voice edited out. In the phone interview, Rozz briefly touches on why he's doing Pig and discusses the subject the serial killers. The interview features a nicely presented series of photos and collages that go along with the topics nicely. Nico B.'s memorial film for Rozz is featured in its entirety (about 15 minutes), and is a sort of visual retrospective of Williams' life, work, and controversy set to music which, I assume, is Christian Death. A gallery of still photos (about 5 minutes) features ambient audio by Rozz Williams which was apparently found after his death on the same DAT tapes used to score Pig. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the disc's general presentation is that the keepcase contains a complete, 40-page reproduction of the "Why God Permits Evil" book used in the film, which features artwork by Williams.
The disc is finished off with a section of biographies that is a bit thicker than most DVD bio sections. Rozz Williams' bio, in a morbid stroke, contains the complete contents of his suicide note, while the bio of Nico B. includes a list of all of the places where Pig received a theatrical screening as well as a few glimpses at reviews for the film.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

Pig is a very intriguing bit of surrealism. It manages to be very disturbing and artistically impressive by doing very little, despite being a bit heavy-handed with some of its imagery. Despite Rozz Williams' reputation in other fields, his work here on this project is actually more interesting and impressive than anything else I've seen him do. This is highly recommendable as a piece of art, but certainly must be endured with an open mind.


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