Robert William Pickton is a Vancouver-born serial killer and former pig farmer who may be the most prolific serial killer in Canadian history. He left a butcher’s apprenticeship to begin working full-time at his family’s pig farm and eventually inherited it. He started killing in the early 80s and may have killed as many as 49 women before he was arrested in 2002.

Why did he become a killer? One theory is that he was strangely devoted to his mother Louise despite her loving the pigs more than he and his brother David, sending them to school in clothes that smelled of pig feces. Once their parents died, the brothers stopped worrying about the farm and more about their charity, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society, which really was just a front for raves and parties in a converted slaughterhouse that were filled with Hells Angels and sex workers.

In 1997, he was charged with the attempted murder of Wendy Lynn Eistetter, stabbing her multiple times before she could get the knife off of him. He was eventually cleared of charges. The police started watching him at this point, noticing that some women never came back from the farm. Today, they think that he may have fed their bodies to his pigs or worse ground them up and sold them to the public.

He wasn’t convicted of first-degree murder — I mean, the cops found a gun that had a dildo with a hole in it so he could literally shoot a cock gun and videotape testimony of Robert talking about injecting washer fluid into women — but was convicted for second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years. This was the longest possible sentence for second-degree murder under Canadian law at the time he was sentenced. Canadian courts also decided not to charge him for the other murders and stayed his case.

Pig Killer has Jake Busey as Willy and Lew Temple as his brother David. We meet Willy as he unwinds at a bar, then picks up an Asian hooker (Bai Ling!?!), kills her and then has sex with her. The film does not pull a single punch, including showing male members but not in any way that anyone normal could be turned on by. While he’s doing this evil deed, he imagines his mother (Ginger Lynn Allen) berating him.

Seriously, if the title and that intro and the above paragraph didn’t stop you, turn back and run.

Two cops, Oppal (Michael Paré) and Scneer (Robert Rhine) are on the trail of this serial killer but can’t connect the dots. While they’re searching, Willy is planning a big party and also killing women left and right, ending up on a colision course with Wendy (Kate Patel), a runaway who has already overdosed, barely survived and left her family for the streets.

Busey is really great in this, creating a character that is in no way sympathetic but is riveting to watch. However, this movie in no way flinches from the violence of this story, whether that means feeding bodies to Willy’s prize pig Balthazar or injecting a victim in the eye with cleaning fluid while assaulting her from behind in a scene that had to make Fulci try to sit up straight in his grave and say, “Wow. Really?”

I haven’t had to take a shower after watching a movie in some time, so this is some kind of feat. Instead of the true crime films that we can just walk away from and not consider the horrors that have been committed, this shoves your face in the mud and blood and pus and starts stomping on it.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

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