Friday, June 26, 2015

Deadly Dogs, vol. 1

by Goat Scrote

     I'm very fond of dogs, both the real and cinematic kind. I'm only a little bit ashamed to declare that I enjoy movies like "Balto" and "The Adventures of Milo and Otis". Here on ToG I've already admitted to being a fan of much weirder things than cutesy movies about dogs. I have also loved scary movies all my life, and I've had a special love of killer animal flicks ever since movies like "Jaws" and "Prophecy" scared the piss out of my impressionable younger self.
     To sum it all up, I have a strange idea of fun which led me to compile a list of movies featuring one or more killer canines as a principal element. Then I set out to watch as many as possible in order to figure out which ones are nummy treats and which ones are turds. I'll be posting brief reviews for many of them, in no particular order, a few at a time.

Man's Best Friend (1993)

     The Dog(s): Max, a super-powered genetically modified organism based mostly on Tibetan Mastiff DNA.
     Mainly a ripoff of: Frankenstein

     Summary: Mad scientist Lance Henriksen creates Max in a lab. Snooping reporter Ally Sheedy liberates the sweet-seeming GMO. She is unaware that Max understands English and has an array of unusual abilities. He has also already killed at least one person. Max is psychopathically possessive of his mistress and he doesn't want to share her with other living things. He also has a vendetta against mailmen, paperboys, and cats, as you'd expect. 
     The animal action is good and plentiful. Max is portrayed as an actual character with personal motivations which change and develop. This sets him apart from most of the critters in the animal-attack genre, where they are commonly a one-dimensional threat. In the end Max really just wants to be loved.

     Best Scene: Max chases a cat up a tall tree, climbs up after it, and gulps down the astounded feline whole! A close runner up is the scene where the jealous dog pisses caustic acid in the face of Ally Sheedy's boyfriend. Only a truly mad scientist would weaponize urine.
     Dishonorable Mention: The deceptive poster art shows a cyborg Rottweiler instead of Max. This movie has no other perceptible flaws. None worth mentioning, anyhow.
     Recommendation: This movie is fun to watch, even though it's very light on blood and guts and not all that scary. It's a personal B-movie favorite because of its juvenile sense of humor and because Max the super-powered killer dog could eat a dozen Cujos for breakfast.

Dogs (1976, aka Slaughter)

     The Dog(s): Common domestic dogs of all kinds get organized and turn against humanity.

     Mainly a ripoff of: The Birds

     Summary:  The dogs are forming a collective, hive-like intelligence thanks to some sort of scent-based pheromonal communication. Interesting premise, boring movie. A biologist tries to save the day and fails miserably, played by a beardy David “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” McCallum. McCallum's hair is the real star of the show. How did he get those tresses so shiny and silky soft? The dogs are even more adorably fuzzy than he is. They must use the same conditioner.
     These canines are clearly more interested in milk bones and frisbees than devouring human flesh. It’s so precious when they swarm like that! During most of the "kill" scenes, nothing can hide the fact that they are just play-wrestling and having a good old time. The animals basically win in the end.

     Best Scene: A massive assault on the poorly-chosen human refuge, which has plate glass walls, begins a little after an hour and twenty minutes in. It ends with a huge pile of bloodied corpses and one dazed survivor.
     Dishonorable Mention: Around the hour mark, Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing on the TV show "Dallas") is killed in a shower attack scene which pays extremely clumsy homage to an entirely different Hitchcock movie. Also worth a dishonorable mention, the movie freezes on a final image of a hissing domestic cat as the credits roll to imply that they will be the next species to turn.
     Recommendation: Start at around 60 minutes and watch through until the end credits. You'll see pretty much all the bloody and exciting parts of the movie without having to endure the dull buildup.

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978)

     The Dog(s): A cuddly German Shepherd with a pedigree tracing back to Satan Himself.
     Mainly a ripoff of: The Omen, Rin Tin Tin

     Summary: Animal-attack and Satanic movies were both in vogue during the '70s, and “The Omen” successfully combined both, so it was inevitable that someone else would try to exploit both niches at once. This limp, bloodless TV-movie fails to scratch either itch. Evil cultists purchase a bitch in heat and summon the devil so that, it is implied, Old Scratch can make sweet love to her. This is Phase One in their plan for global Satanic dominion? No wonder they keep failing. The devil-worshippers give away the resulting litter and the story follows one of the chosen families, as Rosemary's Puppy dominates minds, corrupts souls, and telekinetically murders anyone standing in the way.

     Best Scene: The climactic battle between pure-hearted master Richard Crenna and the devil dog. The dog's completely ridiculous "true form" is on display, and whatever budget the movie had is blown on a series of campy camera effects. Somehow, it's still not clear how destroying a handful of suburban families was supposed to lead to the thousand-year reign of the Prince of Darkness.
     Dishonorable Mention: The scene in which the dog tries (and fails) to telepathically force his master to plunge a hand into the whirling blades of a lawnmower. It's a gruesome thought reduced to laughable absurdity. The camera cuts back and forth between the dog and master. The former is relaxed and adorably non-threatening, the latter is doing his level best to convince the audience he’s in a raging psychic battle of wills for possession of his fingers.
     Recommendation: Watch the Satanic ritual at the beginning and the battle at the end if you're in the mood for some cheese. Skip everything in between because life is precious and you won’t get that time back.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...