Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Deadly Dogs vol. 3

Deadly Dogs 3
by Goat Scrote

     Another offering for rabid fans of killer dog movies...

Cujo (1983)

Mainly a ripoff of: The book "Cujo" by Stephen King.

The Dog(s):  Just about everyone has heard of Cujo, right? Karl Lewis Miller was the animal trainer for Daddy, the main dog who portrayed Cujo. Daddy developed a case of bloat and died during production. Trainer Miller also worked on "The Pack" (1977).

     Summary: Directed by Lewis "Alligator" Teague. A loveable Saint Bernard contracts rabies, becomes a ferocious, slobbering killer, and holds captive Donna (Dee Wallace Stone) and kindergarten-age Tad (Danny Pintauro) in their disabled Ford Pinto. Those cars really are deathtraps! This premise seems pretty limited as the basis for an entire horror movie but it does have some grisly moments of terror. Cujo's mental and physical degeneration is horrifying to watch.
     Best Scene: Cujo’s first leap at the window of the car always makes me jump, and when he uses his body as a battering ram it's pretty intense, but the scariest moment for me is when Cujo sneaks up behind Donna and actually manages to get into the car. Oooooh shit!

Dishonorable Mention:  A major change to the end of the story robs it of its most painful, gut-punching twist. The revision was made with Stephen King’s approval, but I say screw happy endings.

Recommendation: At its best moments it's really scary, and the depiction of ordinary people under extreme stress is pretty realistic. On the other hand, the non-stop shrill screaming gets on my nerves after a while. If you like killer dog flicks at all you pretty much have to see Cujo. The movie is one of the most intense examples of the sub-genre. It’s also the most accessible pop culture reference when speaking with mundanes. Cujo isn’t just a killer dog, he is the killer dog.

Zoltan... Hound of Dracula (1978, aka Dracula’s Dog)

Mainly a ripoff of: The Hammer films Dracula sequels.

The Dog(s): Once an ordinary dog, Zoltan was bitten by a vampire bat long ago and became an immortal bloodsucking slave of Count Dracula.

Summary: Some Soviets crack open the crypt where Dracula’s dog rests and stupidly pull the stake out. Bad move. Zoltan runs around feeding on other dogs to create a pack of vampiric canines, along with Dracula's vampire servant (Reggie Nalder). The dog feeds from the jugular exactly like Dracula, and the dogs monster makeup is actually pretty good. With such a ludicrous premise you might expect them to go full comedy on this one, but they play it seriously and that ends up being part of the charm of the film.

Best Scene: Zoltan and his vampire pack come after Michael Pataki and Jose Ferrer while they are hiding out in a shack in classic "Night of the Living Dead" fashion.

Dishonorable Mention: Zoltan trips and falls to his death cartoon style after being confronted by a hairy chest and a cross necklace. Uncool. The way the ending unfolds is really unsatisfying.

Recommendation: Kind of dull, but possibly worth a watch for killer dog or vampire genre fans with a high cheese tolerance.

The Pack (2015)

Mainly a ripoff of: Every other trapped-in-a-house-by-monsters movie ever made. Totally unrelated to the 1977 film with the same title, however.

The Dog(s): A pack of large, intelligent, black-furred canines start out eating sheep but soon discover that humans are the most delicious prey of all.

Summary: An Australian family becomes trapped on their isolated sheep farm by vicious killer dogs. They must defend themselves with their wits and whatever tools come to hand. It becomes a bidirectional game of cat and mouse (so to speak) as the pack stalks the family and the family stalks the pack right back. Mom brings up the fact that dogs and even wolves simply don’t act like this under any circumstances known to humankind. This is a big plot hole in most killer-animal movies but the writers sidestep the issue. “Yes this is unrealistic and no we’re not going to explain it, so relax your puckering sphincter, Mr. Scrote, and deal with it.”

Best Scene: A police officer arrives in response to an emergency call from the farm and gets blindsided by the pack, who literally dog-pile on him and then drag away his corpse. The family sees the dogs stalking the unsuspecting officer but they can only watch helplessly when the pack moves in for the kill.

Dishonorable Mention: The writers contrive for all the gun ammunition to be scattered around the grounds of the farm in unlikely places. There are exactly two more rifle bullets in every cache the family finds, doled out like ammo power-ups in a survival-horror video game. This makes little sense from within the context of the movie but on a meta level it’s clearly done so the writers can avoid having Dad resolve everything pretty quickly with his gun.

Recommendation: Genre fans will want to see it for the well-done, realistic-looking dog attacks, although overall it doesn’t really stand out from the rest of the pack. (Ha ha, see what I did there?) It's well-executed with very good cinematography, and I never noticed any obvious CGI or puppetry. It has scares, suspense, and a sprinkling of gore, but it’s also basically a retread of things we've seen before. Even so, "The Pack" was more entertaining than most killer dog movies.

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