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Pig / 1334
This release consists of two short, black and white films directed by Nico B., whose company Cult Epics has issued the disc. The first is titled "Pig" from 1998, a 22-minute collaboration between Nico B. and Rozz Williams of the gothic band Christian Death. Williams portrays a man wearing a pig mask who drives a Jaguar out into the desert, picks up without any apparent resistance a man whose head is wrapped in gauze (James Hollan), drives him to an abandoned house and tortures him. He uses several tools in the torture and consults a book of collages titled "Why God Permits Evil" whose front cover is recreated on the disc's slipcover. The seemingly willing victim eventually appears to panic by this point, as he starts being cut and pierced among other things.
I'll refrain from getting into too much more detail, but needless to say it isn't for the faint of heart. The truly unsettling part is that Rozz Williams committed suicide shortly after shooting was completed. "Pig" was initially released as a limited-edition DVD back in 2002 with a number of extras that unfortunately aren't included here. It was later included on a DVD collection of short films titled "Cinema of Death".
The film is essentially a silent movie, with no dialogue or sound effects, but the soundtrack is filled with droning music and sounds including some distorted and backwards voices- what I have heard sometimes called experimental or "noise music" having heard some of this type on a local college radio station.
I'm one of those viewers who is hard to shock or offend- I've seen a few films that I found disturbing, but this isn't one of them although I imagine it would disturb many others. "Pig" appears to have more of a purpose than just to show someone being tortured as well, although I couldn't figure out exactly what that purpose was. I would like to see the supplemental material on the previous DVD release that might have put it more in perspective (my main question would be: Why the pig mask?) but as it is here I simply appreciated the odd music and sound as well as the sheer audaciousness of the torture scenes.
The second film, "1334" from 2011, runs 17 minutes and while not as graphic is a bit harder to follow. The title refers to the year the Black Death began to spread across Europe, and the film is said to be Nico B.'s response to Rozz Williams' suicide. It opens with actor Bill Oberst Jr. recreating the suicide in the same location where it actually happened. The rest of the film shows a man (Dante White) learning of the suicide and coming to terms with it- at least that's how I perceived it. He appears to argue with a wife or girlfriend, and a cloud of fog comes into their house. Much of the footage is shown as negative (with white as black and vice-versa) and a number of seemingly random images are cut in as well. The sound structure is similar to "Pig" except for one sonic recreation of a telephone being dialed onscreen.
I'm not quite sure what to think of this one- it seems like it was very personal to those involved in its production, but after several viewings I could not figure out the significance of many of the events and images save for the beginning and end. I did find it a good film to just look at and listen to, without worrying too much about the meaning behind it- sort of like a well-made music video, although to call "1334" that would be an insult.
Both films are presented in 4x3 and appear to have been transferred from 16mm sources. On Blu-Ray they appear just as a well-projected film would, with the film grain in sharp focus. For some reason, a standard DVD is also included (possibly to play in the minivan for the kids?) This still looks fine, with the main difference being the film grain isn't as sharp.
Audio on both discs is in standard Dolby Digital, with the choice of 5.1 or 2-channel. As described above, the sound is rather unconventional but goes well with the visuals. "Pig" begins with a heavy amount of bass, basically a constant low sound for a minute or so as the killer first leaves home and drives out to the desert. This disc should definitely be played as loud as your speakers and neighbors will tolerate!
The initial DVD release of "Pig" is said to have included a commentary track and interviews, but unfortunately this release includes no extras. There is an interesting booklet included however that includes some thoughts from Nico B. on each film and their production (he comments that due to Pig's subject matter he had a hard time finding a film lab that would print it) along with reprints of each film's script.
This release certainly won't be for everyone, but I personally appreciate most films with unusual structures and which aren't afraid of upsetting viewers. I didn't quite "get" parts of the second film "1334" but the basic theme (dealing with a friend's suicide) was rather clear. Both of these films should be viewed at a high volume with no outside distractions.
Jesse Skeen is a life-long obsessive media collector (with an unhealthy preoccupation with obsolete and failed formats) and former theater film projectionist. He enjoys watching movies and strives for presenting them perfectly, but lacks the talent to make his own.