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dog days

dog days

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Monster Dog


Monster Dog
1984
Claudio Fragasso

Vincent Raven (Alice Cooper) is taking has band back to his ancestral home to film a new music video. His family isn’t a popular one, since his dad was allegedly a werewolf and local suspicion runs rampant that Vincent will is one too. Vincent starts to have odd visions, and all the while local dogs are becoming aggressive pack hunters.

Monster Dog is basically a traditional werewolf film, and a traditional werewolf is film is often a mystery about the identity of the monster. Monster Dog is not different in this respect; the viewer is led to believe that Vincent Dawn will become a fanged master of all the local mutts, but is he really the one killing people? The movie does manage to string this question along for most of its running time and it even offers a solution that almost makes sense. So what went wrong?

Maybe he just needs some eye drops?
I think it comes down to a couple things, firstly this directed by Claudio Fragasso, the man who gave us the unhinged classic, Pieces (1982) and the unhinged not-so-classic Troll 2 (1990), so no need to worry about logic or story. Many Italian genre films of this period eschew logic for tone, leaving the movie one of two options, keep the story simple (Demons 1985), or jump into a convoluted twisting mystery where the solution makes no more sense than the question (i.e. most giallos). Monster Dog goes for a moody and weird tone, but also tries to create a tangled, ‘who’s really a werewolf?’ story and ends up just being confusing.

The second issue, and arguably a much larger one for some people, is the fact that Alice Cooper’s entire dialog has been dubbed over by another actor. The film was originally intended for a Spanish audience and Alice’s original vocal track was dubbed over in Spanish. They probably had no money to get Mr. Cooper back in the studio for a redub.

"Yay, it's almost over!"
The movie opens with a music video by Vincent Raven that is quite terrible. The song’s title is ‘Identity Crisis’ which I guess is clever, but perhaps too on the nose. The score aims for the epic synth horror sound of Goblin but falls very short. You can’t just throw a bass guitar, and some choir sounding synthesizers together and expect magic to happen.

Monster Dog isn’t a total loss. I think the actual monster is a unique design that leans away from the a more wolf-like appearance into something stranger. The actual prop is a little stiff, but it works on screen just fine. I also like the fact that the creature can exert control over the local dog population. It is an interesting take on the mythos. The movie doesn’t skimp on the blood and gore, offering plenty of messy attacks. That is one place Fragasso rarely dissapoints.

Monster Dog never touches the off-the-wall heights of Pieces or the sub-basement lows of Troll 2, (I'll just throw in a random plug for my favorite Fragasso related film right here: Terminator II: Shocking Dark), but it does manage to entertain the viewer with the barest competence. I will promise you that will never see another werewolf movie like it.

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