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Don't Be Scared

The SF Film Society U.S. premiere of Robert Mailer Anderson's

Days before Halloween, the U.S. premiere of Pig Hunt (created by director Jim Isaac, co-writers Robert Mailer Anderson and his cousin, Zack Anderson, executive producer Nicola Miner) received its SF Film Society debut at the Clay Theatre.

Filmed locally in just 31 days (in SF and at Robert and Nicola's Boonville property) on a shoe-string budget of $6 mil, this wild cinematic ride pays homage to different filmic styles -- from horror, punk-a-billy and political commentary to such seventies-era films as Deliverance.

"Mostly," said Anderson, "This film is inspired by Boonville, and Zack and my's misspent youth at the Ukiah Drive-In!"

Among the hometown crowd lined-up around the block to cheer on their pals: Noir Film Festival Director Eddie Muller, Pig Hunt co-producers Bradley and Chris James and Daniel Lurie, filmmaker Geoff Callan and author Daniel Handler who repeatedly (and loudly) chanted, "Pig Hunt!"

Also in attendance? Beauteous blonde Vanessa Getty, to whom Robert offered the role of lead hippie chick for the film's hottie female cult members.

"But I realized I have other callings in my life," teased Vanessa, who did help out the crew by hooking them up with her Cannes connections for a screening there.

For Stanlee Gatti (among a long list of locals thanked in the credits) viewing the film was a case of de´ja` vu: "In the cult's hideout are props Robert borrowed from my warehouse. I'd see a swag of fabric and remember, Oh I used that at Summer's (Tompkins Walker) wedding!"

The lead character -- a monstrous three-thousand pound, animatronic wild boar dubbed The Ripper -- was created by former ILM wizards who've formed their own creature shop, Kerner Optical. They also created a model of Anderson's head -- which meets a grizzly fate in the film.

The film's awesome soundtrack was corralled and created by Primus bass player Les Claypool, who also appears in the film along with legendary bluesman Charlie Musselwhite.

Actor Nick Tagas, who deftly plays one of Pig Hunt's creepiest characters, said the guts and gore was, especially, for him a bit much: "I'm a vegetarian and a hardcore Maryana Buddhist, and here I am in the film cutting up a pig!"

But this film ain't all a monster mash. As Eye For Film online reviewer Anton Bitel recently wrote of what he calls "perhaps the finest horror film to have been made this year":

" ... Pig Hunt is so much more than just a cheap porcine creature feature. On the one hand, it is a monster movie through and through, but that hardly explains the masculine rites of passage, the Deliverance-style clash of urban and rural, the naked hippie psychedelia, the Orwellian allegory of human bestiality or, most crucially of all, the oblique but insistent exploration of the US' questionable embroilment in Iraq. To say much more would be to ruin the surprise, so let's just leave it at this: Pig Hunt is viscerally exciting enough to wake the dead, and yet politically and morally engaged enough to gore its way right into your brain. What more could anyone want from a horror movie? To quote one of the film's final lines (itself pointedly quoted from one George W. Bush), 'Mission accomplished'."

"Here we are in 21st-century California --the greenest state in the Union and our main industry seems to be tourism," said Anderson to the crowd during a Q&A, expressing his hope that the film also presents a sensibility most Nor-Cal in nature. "But our main export to the world at large should be our politics!"

The film is dedicated to Robert's wife, Nicola and their four children: Dashiell, Lucinda, Frances and Callum; as well as to Robert's late mother, Marilyn Frances Kinsel.

Anderson also has a small role in the film, as one of the rednecks who terrorize the naive city-slickers who've come to Boonville for a weekend of pig-hunting. And he proudly wears his 1986 Anderson Valley High Panthers football jersey throughout.

Anderson is awaiting word on obtaining a distributor for the film. But he is cautious in his enthusiasm.

"We've got a weird animal on our hands," said Anderson, with a slice of wry. "But we're hoping for a good response after our screenings with the Weinstein Company's Dimension Films division, Anchor Bay or Lion's Gate.

Otherwise," teased Anderson, "Pig Hunt may end up an exclusive purchase in the Cabela hunting catalog!"

However in disputation of that particular niche, when credits rolled amid wild clapping and standing 'O's, even the cultured and urbane Ned Topham had joined the lusty chant of "Pig Hunt!"

See photos from this party