Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dogs (1976)

Dogs (1976)
a.k.a. Slaughter

D: Burt Brinckerhoff
C: David McCallum, Sandra McCabe, George Wyner

Paranoid the next door neighbors pooch is giving you the stink eye? Well, Fido just may be sizing you up.

It's all in the timing in Dogs. When a few cows and the dude that owns them turn up mutilated in a small town in California, college professors Harland Thompson and Michael Fitzgerald (McCallum and Wyner) academically stand around and talk about what animals could do such damage. Lucky for them, Fitzgerald had just been giving a lecture on what may very well be the cause...pheromones! Unlucky for them, they appear to be in a town whose common practice appears to be letting their four-legged companions collectively run free. When the bodies start piling up, Thompson and Fitzgerald take their theory to the mayor, and he promptly does what any good mayor of a small town should do. Opts to ignore the problem in the towns best interest. Which, incidentally, is a confidential government accelerator that for whatever reason this town has been chosen to test.
Dogs runs into the problem that countless other killer dogs on a blood thirsty rampage because of pheromones or a linear accelerator movies run into: Fluffy cute dogs that were bred to be cute and fluffy, aren't frightening. Granted, there are some breeds in Dogs that can certainly scare if they wish too, but there are those who just don't make the cut.

The characters range from McCallum's terrifically unexciting professor (I imagine a painted rock with a voiceover accompaniment would have had the same effect) to dislikable townsfolk, to a large group of college kids who do not possess a shred of common sense. Wyner's performance as Professor Fitzgerald, while not Earth shattering, is human, and welcome. Its hard to care for our human fodder when they're losing a personality contest with a Doberman.

The film does occasionally muster up some nice atmosphere, used most effectively in a sequence involving a posse vs. the pack. It's also worth mentioning that we're treated to some effectively eerie background baying here and there throughout the movie. Enough so that I almost forgot that the film I was watching wasn't all that good. As for attack scenes and blood shed, the pooches rack up a nice body count tearing into any and everyone in their path, highlights being a full scale assault on a large group of college kids and a Norman Bates-esque shower scene with a young lady and a Doberman. Even then the numbers should be higher, as far too many people in Dogs outrun the determined mongrels with relative ease. That being said, for those that do get dropped, most of the onslaught plays out the same way. Dog leaps out at unknowing dumb bastard, latching onto his/her arm. There's some violent shaking, followed by growling and screaming, and then cut to completely mutilated body seconds later. The state of the canine casualties would perhaps be better suited to a pack of dogs carrying metal rakes and blow torches.
The end result is a film that takes itself very seriously, and aside from a few moments that work, Dogs is a some what sub-par addition to the much beloved Nature-Run-Amok genre.

In the beginning...

I could have gone ahead and started a political blog. Perhaps covered my favorite sports teams or fashion trends. Done a daily update of who's crotch was out when they left their sports car/limo/SUV. A tactful "who's in rehab today" blog, maybe.

Instead I opted to appeal to a wider audience. A mass market. Something that everyone cares about, and flocks to on a daily basis.

The nature-run-amok genre.

That's correct.

Animals and insects have been throwing down the gauntlet on humans for decades. Rarely it's a championed piece, often it's media that slides into the unknown oblivion of the Nature-run-amok genre.


Well, probably still...

But that's what this is all about.

Animals and insects attacking, large and small.
Angry or engineered.
In great numbers or a lone threat.
Books or movies, you'll find it here.


You're already excited.