Friday, April 25, 2014

Mongrel (1982)

Mongrel (1982, directed and written by Robert A. Burns)

Review by Goat Scrote

      It was easy for me to get suckered into watching "Mongrel" because I'm a foaming, rabid lunatic when it comes to killer dog films and the related subgenre of "killer humans who think they are dogs" movies. Oh shit, did I manage to give away the big twist in the first sentence of the review? That's some tragic irresponsibility on my part. It's true, "Mongrel" is not about a mongrel at all. It's painfully apparent right from the start even though the movie spends most of its energy building up toward a big reveal that the obviously crazy guy is obviously crazy. Who could possibly see a twist like that coming?

How did I fall into a pile of ketchup and mustard

      The gore is super weak and the production values are all around pretty bad. At one point we are told that someone has had their throat ripped out when we're looking right at the victim and there's hardly even a blob of red paint on his neck. The kills are mostly off camera, even when we are ostensibly witnessing the murder. The discordant electronic score (by Ed Guinn) is kind of interesting but it's not something most people would listen to for pleasure since its purpose is to create anxiety and to make you feel unpleasant. Useless trivia: Composer Guinn had an acting role as a truck driver in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974). The best moments in the movie are when the "Deep Throat" pinball machine is on the screen, because it is an impossibly bitchin' relic of a very strange era in U.S. culture.

Four Boners and you get a free ball

       At the end they finally get around to showing the villain in action and that part of the movie is decent. The final 15 minutes includes some exciting suspenseful moments, but it's way too little, way too late. Most of the time all we get is an unseen menacing presence. The noises it makes sound nothing at all like a snarling mongrel, but sound very much like somebody wrestling with indigestion over in the next stall. Just imagine what watching this movie would be like if it didn't have a "Deep Throat" pinball machine. The horror.

Warning, this pinball machine may give you gonorrhea

       So there's this Texas boarding house, see, and there are a bunch of jerks, a pornographic pinball game, and one mean-ass mongrel dog all living there together. One of the jerks, a guy aptly named Toad (John Dodson), teases the dog with raw meat. Toad ends up with the stitches he so richly deserves, but the dog is shot by house bully Woody (Mitch Pileggi). The two biggest douches in the house see this as an opportunity for comedy. Toad and Woody use the mutilated corpse of the dog to play a prank on one of the other residents. This misadventure ends with accidental electrocution of the target. Later on, the douches bully everyone into keeping quiet about exactly how the accident happened and dump the rotten dog corpse in the back yard. Jerry, the timid new tenant, witnessed the earlier dog attack and when he comes home to find the dug-up corpse in the yard, the sight really freaks him out.

Believe it or not Mitch would go onto worse shit like Return Of The Living Dead 2

      The poor kid is more than a little high-strung to start with and he went through a traumatic dog attack as a child, so this latest experience leaves him unhinged. He starts by horribly mutilating the sweet new house puppy. One by one, the other tenants start dying off, while Jerry complains about some kind of monster that is roaming the house at night. Since the actual mongrel gets killed off very thoroughly right away, and everyone else living in the building is just a garden variety neurotic, Jerry's the only real suspect throughout the whole movie.

Puppy Before
Puppy After
      There's one scary shot of his face in crazed-dog mode and they could have shown a lot more of that, but it's flashed up almost subliminally. As abysmal as his dog act is throughout most of the movie, for a brief moment on screen, Jerry's twisted other self comes across as a scary human monster! They might as well have just gone for the gusto right from the start and showed Jerry's dark half but… no.

Kiefer Sutherland stole my vampire act for The Lost Boys 

      Even after he is revealed as the killer we spend the rest of the movie watching Jerry from behind, which makes him really kind of non-threatening again. He chases anyone who comes into the house and kills people with his bare hands and his teeth. It's a horrifying premise but the kills are never even slightly graphic. In the end, the landlord (Aldo Ray) shows up with a shotgun and blows Jerry away just as he is about to kill his own best friend, the one person who has been super-nice to him through the whole movie.

Is this the face of a killer?

     The pinball game shows up between 10 and 15 minutes in. The big prank starts at 34 minutes. The first murder is about 50 minutes in. The reveal and the climactic killing spree starts at 72 minutes, and there is absolutely no shame in skipping to that part without being punished by the rest of the movie.

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