Director – Tony Wash (Skeletons in the Closet, It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To)
Starring – Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses, Spider Baby), Joe Estevez (Horrorween, Max Hell in Frogtown), Robert Z’Dar (Easter Sunday, Maniac Cop)
Release Date – 2019
Rating – 2.5/5
Tagline – “Pack it tight”
I hate giving a negative review for an indie movie. Making a movie is a daunting task to take on and it’s an even bigger task for indie filmmakers that have to secure funding on their own along with any other problems that surface when you are not being backed by a big production company.
A few months back I came across the trailer for High on the Hog after I was preparing to buy the horror anthology Skeletons in the Closet. This exploitation action film stars Sid Haig, Joe Estevez, and the late Robert Z’Dar. While I was ordering Skeletons I decided to go ahead and pick up a copy of High on the Hog as well to check out.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows farmer Big Daddy (Haig) who owns a farm where he has several young ladies and a mute working for him. They secretly grow and sell pot in order to survive but when a bad batch of pot makes its rounds killing people the FEDs get involved. A young agent trying to make a name for herself goes undercover and is caught by Big Daddy. He kills her and feeds her to the hogs. Her disappearance prompts her partner, Agent Dick (Estevez), goes to their small town to bust them. The mayor (Z’Dar) refuses to give him a warrant so he goes over his head and lies in order to obtain one. The FEDs decide to seize the property the night Big Daddy is having his annual pig roast and a shootout ensues.**Spoiler Alert**
I love exploitation. If I had to pick I would choose Blaxploitation all day but I really enjoy all exploitation cinema. I love the old look, the damaged film, the pointless nudity, and the cheap action. There has been a trend the last decade or so where modern movies try to capture that look and film of old grindhouse films. Some accomplish the task while others fail miserably. High on the Hog tries and shoves the look down your throat. The visuals of bad film, missing scenes, and so forth run the entire length of the film and only ruin the flow of the story. They look horrible and not authentic which makes it even worse that we see it so often.
The acting in this one is top notch. Sid Haig shows that he has not lost a step and delivers a fantastic performance. Also, Joe Estevez delivers a solid performance as well. The viewer really hates his character which means he is doing a job well done. It was also cool to see Robert Z’Dar who passed away in 2015. This makes me wonder when this film was actually filmed. Haig has changed his looks since filming of this as well which makes me wonder why it was shelved for a handful of years.
The story for this one has so much going on but fails to put it all together. This grindhouse inspired action film centered around a gentle marijuana farmer and a crooked federal agent could have worked but the over use of visual effects to make the film feel authentic mixed with scenes that feel repetitive made the film miss it’s mark.
Finally, those of you wanting blood and gore will not find it here. We do get one cool death that is worth mentioning involving Sid Haig but other than that the blood is lacking. The film is also full of horrible looking visual effects. Mostly gun shots and horrible grindhouse effects. Overall, High on the Hog is a film that has big shoes to fill and can’t pull it off. The movie makes use of it’s great cast but the story can’t go the distance. I do not recommend this one.