Director: Brian Yuzna

DOGS. 1976
Director: Burt Brinckerhoff

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Rottweiler Oh boy, a bad script helped along in its badness by second-rate puppets & animatronix that never look even slightly like the actual rottweiler. Who could ask for more? Well, we get more, like actors who can't act, a love story that makes no sense, & meaningless flashbacks for padding.

Set in the near future, our hero Dante (William Miller) escapes from a prison chain-gang so that a robot rottweiler can pursue him through the whole movie until Dante remembers, "oh right, the girlfriend I was wasting time trying to find was killed the day I was arrested & I forgot."

The girlfriend (Irene Montala but who cares) gets to have a name from a poem by Poe, i.e., Ulume, & of course Dante gets to be named Dante to imply this cheezy one-note movie has some relationship to an epic poem about a journey through hell.

There's no moment in the film when it gets any cleverer than pseudo-meaningful character names, but we do get intimations that cheapo fog FX & a scorpion like kids can buy in pet shops are emissaries of the devil or some such tommyrot that never actually ties into anything.

Robo-rottweiler eventually gets burned up in a very handy conflagration & the last battle is between Dante & the dog's robot skeleton. It's almost a cool ending & it's even almost cool that it's a simpleminded rip-off of The Terminator. But only almost.

The most I can say for Rottweiler is I wasn't 100% bored. Director Brian Yuzna occasionally makes a good movie (he directed the very funny Bride of Re-Animator for instance), but he's definitely not the equal of his best pal Stuart Gordon (director of the original Re-Animator, the rich & extraordinary Dagon & perhaps his best film, King of the Ants).

By contrast, from Yuzna we get nothing of such genius, but only idle time-wasters like The Dentist which is a good movie compared to Rottweiler. So will I be making a point to watch more of his bad movies as they are issued? Well, yeah.

Dogs David McCallum plays Harlan Thompson, head of the physics department at an improbably isolated university, performing secret government "linear excelleration" experiments. This may or may not be connected to the increasingly odd behavior of the town's dogs.

The acting in Dogs (1976) is fairly awful except for McCallum, so the viewer has to work harder than should've been necessary to believe formerly well-behaved dogs are forming vicious packs to attack livestock & eventually people.

In packs the dogs increase in intellect & are learning to plot & plan with vicious intent. When alone they revert to being pets.

The notion of your own dog eager to kill you is a theme that should have emotionalism because we love our dogs & expect unconditional love in return. And it shoudl have real terror because dogs really could kill us if they wanted to. But this take on the story failed to understand the story's potential.

The cinematography isn't at all bad for a mid-70s cheapie, but not good enough to make up for the film's misfiring horror gags.

DogsThe gore FX are very tentative, so the level of exploitation success is low. The story is pumped up with sciency gobbledigook which isn't the least bit convincing & a poor substitute for making the dogs scary.

The only thing that could be more manipulative than a horror story with cute doggies going psychotic would be a horror story in which tiny wee children are threatened.

Therefore we are treated to a kindergarten dog show gone bad. This could've been great in a seedy sicko sleezy sort of way, but it was developed without any impact at all, neither frightening nor funny.

By the time the story gets round to the whole town absurdly running through the streets at night, as though from Godzilla, & the poodles & such yapping & running about with their tails wagging, it's really gotten too stupid for words.

"They seem to have developed abnormal strength," Harlan purports to observe, though what we or shown doesn't even live up to the potential ferocity & strength of an ordinary dog.

As a silly variant of Alfred Hitchcocks The Birds (1963), but with no more than a dozen dogs, this film goes through the motions with exceedingly little suspense. It might frighten children or drunks & would surely marginally spook someone who already has an unreasoning fear of dogs. Nobody else.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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