Pigs [AKA Daddy's Deadly Darling]

Poor thing, let Daddy help you clean up that mess
★★
☆☆
Released: 
1972
Director: 
Marc Lawrence
Starring: 
Toni Lawrence, Marc Lawrence, Jesse Vint, Paul Hickey, Katharine Ross
The Setup: 
Crazy woman lands with father figure who chops up the people she kills and feeds them to pigs.
Discussion: 

This was recommend to me a while ago, and only now made it to the top of my list. This movie was written and directed by Marc Lawrence, best known as an actor who specialized in mobster-type roles, as a vehicle to catapult his daughter Toni to stardom. Keep that in mind, and by the end we'll discuss what a twisted father-to-daughter valentine this turns out to be.

We open with a woman, Lynn, who was raped by her father, then murdered him. We don't actually see any of this. We meet her when she's talking to a psychologist, and learn that she doesn't believe her father is dead. She has mental problems. She's locked away in the asylum when she watches a middle-aged doctor and a young nurse start to go at it. While this is happening an odd sing-song nursery rhyme is heard. She steals the guy's car keys and escapes. Please do not ask me—or anyone—how she got out of her cell or the institution. As she drives she years an oddly perky [odd for this movie, that is] song that goes "Somebody's waiting for you, somewhere down the road… keep on driving, keep on driving."

Meanwhile, out at this café/farmhouse/pig farm, this guy has just arrived back home with a corpse. He carries on a little conversation with his friend the corpse, apologizing to him, then cuts him up and feeds him to these pigs. Soon who should happen to show up, but Lynn, looking for work as a waitress in the café. This, it turns out, is a live-in position. She is not there five minutes when the guy—he's Zambrini, btw—shows her to her bedroom and bids her goodnight. You know, of all the café/farmhouse/pig farms in the world, she has to walk into that one. What are the chances that a psychotic patricidal young woman would happen on the ONE eatery where the owner just happens to dig up corpses to feed to his pigs? I guess when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

But what of Miss Macy? She's the busybody that lives… somewhere in town, it's hard to tell where, but we do keep hearing that Zambrini lives miles from anyone else. Anyway, she hears pigs grunting around outside her window, and calls the police, whereupon she makes wild allegations that Zambrini either kills people or digs up corpses and feeds them to his pigs. By the way, every so often in here, we hear the squealing or grunting of pigs, often intercut with quick flashes of the pigs themselves.

Lynn periodically hears the pigs squealing, then they abruptly stop, leading one to wonder if we're supposed to think she's just hearing them in her head. She has a dream in which Zambrini comes in to her room and kills her with a razor. Then follows about 30 full seconds of human/pig screaming, and she wakes to find him shaving with the same razor. She goes to work at the café where this oil worker Vin tells her that the waitresses around there disappeared and get fed to the pigs. He says Zambrini is crazy, and that he once fell 50 feet and died, but woke up at the morgue. Zambrini tells her never to mind, and she seems not to.

So Lynn drives into town where she calls her dad. We only hear her side of the conversation, but he is apparently pleading with her to come to him, and she tells him she loves him but "I just can't be with you right now." And you start to think "Wait a minute—isn't her father dead? Is she just having a conversation with herself?" You think I sound thick, but this whole thing is filmed and edited in such a bizarre way you really can't be sure of anything. It's also astonishingly DARK [and I don't mean in tone], and nearly every scene begins with a strange editing glitch [seems to be purposeful, though] that repeats the first second of a new scene. Sometimes the editing just goes all haywire anyway. It's TERRIBLY avant-garde.

SPOILERS > > >
Anyway, despite the fact that Lynn is NOT very attractive, she is portrayed as irresistible to every man in sight. First this guy comes in to the café and insists on a date, then she goes on the date and he is coming on to her really hard, virtually molesting her. She transfers to the car of a cop who stops them, then he starts coming on to her. They go to bed, and then she slashes off his dick and cuts up his face.

Soon Zambrini comes in and finds Lynn all upset and talking like an eight-year-old, and he does what any surrogate dad would do—cuts the guy up and feeds him to the pigs! Then he cleans up the whole mess so Lynn can go on with her denial that anything ever happened. I wish my parents were supportive like that, don't you? Again, you have to marvel at the amazing coinkidink that these two should end up finding each other. You know, there really is someone out there meant for each of us.

So there are more men—since Lynn is so irresistible, you know. Apparently her father thinks so, for all the lingering shots he took of her quite ample cleavage. Soon Zambrini is worried that maybe Lynn really is nuts [although he has a few problems of his own that could stand the attention of a mental health professional], and starts [!] to be concerned. We can finally make out the lyrics of the nursery rhyme: "Papa bear, tell me who do you love, one little girl, soft as a glove." Things end in a way that is fitting and not entirely surprising.
< < < SPOILERS END

Okay, so let's talk EXTRA-TEXTUALLY: Here we have this movie that a father wrote and directed for his daughter—so he thought up this story himself, which I think is the primary odd thing. Okay, so he wrote a story for his daughter in which she is raped by her father and kills him, but is so scarred by the whole thing [and 'loves' her rapist father so much] that she cannot accept his death and remains in an infantilized state of denial that he is dead. Then she meets this surrogate father-type who protects her by getting rid of the evidence of the men she has killed when they became sexual with her. WHAT is going on here? What does it all mean? This whole circumstance behind the making of this film is actually more interesting than the film itself. Especially when combined with the number of shots, as mentioned earlier, that feature Lynn's rather prodigious bosom. The picture I come away with is that the daddy Lawrence, the director who plays Zambrini, feels such guilt over his longings for his daughter that he invented a story in which the daughter gets revenge on him, and he punishes himself by imagining how much his lusts for her has made her a damaged person. And can I mention one shocking fact that blew my mind when I found it out? Toni Lawrence, the daughter here, was married to Billy Bob Thornton from 1986-1988!

Other than the swirling miasma of incestuous intimations, not much going on here, I'm afraid. The movie itself is mildly amusing, but is fairly low-key on thrills, zilch on scares, zilch on gore, zilch on direction, and not really that much [that adds up to something] on subtext. I was hoping for some statement that not only are the men getting fed to pigs, but they themselves are pigs, little lust-crazed monsters who want nothing from a woman but sex, but it doesn't really come together. This movie certainly is a curiosity, and not unpleasant, but not so much worth the time and effort, ultimately.

Should you watch it: 

If you like incest subtext in your horror films.