Film Review: Monster Dog (1984)

SYNOPSIS:

Alice Cooper plays a pop star who takes his band to his hometown to shoot his latest video. They are greeted by the sheriff (whom he’s known since a kid) that warn him that there’s been several murders in the area where the bodies were ripped to shreds. The police think it’s a pack of wild dogs, but Alice knows different.

REVIEW:

Alice Cooper is in Monster Dog, but the weird thing about the film is that Cooper didn’t even dub his own voice. Since this is primarily a Spanish film, directed by Claudio Fragasso (who did a lot of work with Bruno Mattei, and even wrote the screenplay for Troll 2!) and starring many actors who didn’t speak Spanish, Monster Dog was dubbed later in English – without Cooper, who is ironically the only reason someone would actually seek Monster Dog out at all.

There’s a lot of things that Monster Dog does poorly, so many in fact that it almost turns into a film that, like Troll 2, is so bad that it’s fun to watch. Naming things off the top of my head only, there are two music videos featured in this film, both songs written by Alice Cooper, as well as gunslingers who look like they’ve been transported via time warp from a really bad spaghetti western. There are “vicious” dogs that actually look very nice once you get to know them, and there’s an insane amount of hairspray going on. Monster Dog is an ‘80s film through and through, but it’s also incredibly muddled in its attempts to capture a werewolf-genre film.

The characters are all poorly sketched to begin with. Actually, we’re not even really sure who they are besides part of Cooper’s troupe of music video producers. Cooper plays a rock star named Vincent Raven, a flagging one who wants to capture the perfect music video back home at his grandiose mansion. So everyone tags along, and his housekeeper even gets the mansion into proper order by throwing a party, making sandwiches, and then being viciously attacked by wild dogs. Because, you see, Vincent’s home town has a wild dog infestation, apparently a common problem in the area, as we know it is in many places…

The plot holes are apparent right from the beginning. Why go to the house if there’s such a dog problem, and put everyone at risk? Why not question that fact that the housekeeper has gone missing, even though he’s put together a nice party right beforehand? And once Vincent reveals that his father was murdered in a horrendous mob attack after they believed he had a disease that made him turn into a werewolf, who in their right mind would want to relive that terrible experience by returning to the area?

These are questions that go unanswered, and the plot simply decides that the viewer must suspend disbelief because there are werewolves and that’s not realistic either. But the problems just keep getting worse. Soon, we’re forced to watch a really boring music video that doesn’t make sense; some cowboys come in to kill Vincent because they believe he’s the werewolf; Vincent proceeds to blow their heads off. It seems Monster Dog gets its movie monsters confused; the cowboys need an invitation to come into the house like they’re vampires or something, but nothing comes of that afterwards because they simply get killed. It feels like there was more to this idea, but Monster Dog decides to forget it.

By this point, however, it’s apparent that the film isn’t going to get any better, so the viewer better just roll with it. At least there’s quite a lot of gore to make things interesting; however, the werewolf change sequences aren’t the best considering they don’t get much screen time, and even the big dog himself is rarely shown besides a couple of quick glimpses.

The idea of the werewolf himself is ultimately farfetched; at first, the film tries to make its characters and the audience think that Vincent is the monster dog, but by the end of the film we know that this couldn’t be the case. And instead of having someone memorable transform like a spy in their midst, the true beast turns out to be some weird dude that we only met at the beginning of the film, a Crazy Ralph persona meant to warn the group away from the mansion in the first place. It’s a real letdown to learn that the werewolf is such an unimportant character.

The real problem with Monster Dog is that it never knows what beast it wants to turn into. As a werewolf film, it’s especially lacking on the creature effects front because the werewolf never turns up. The characters never drive the film because they’re mostly transparent, and the multiple instances of Alice Cooper’s songs dubbed over bad music videos make the film seem like an overly long commercial for Cooper’s musical career.

Monster Dog (1984)

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About Ryne Barber

Along with doing reviews for HorrorNews.net, Ryne also writes for his own horror blog The Moon is a Dead World (http://www.themoonisadeadworld.net).

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