Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Film Review: MONSTER DOG (1984, Claudio Fragasso)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 81 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Alice Cooper.
Tag-line: " Twenty years later, the nightmare begins again and now it's Lou's turn to pay..."
Best exchange:"Listen, werewolves DO exist." –"Oh, bullshit, Vince! The year 2000 is just around the corner. I am a recognized expert in electronic videos and you are the hottest rock n' roll star - in the world! You're making records, videos, movies - on high-tech electronic equipment of fantastic sophistication. You can get on a plane tonight and be in Australia tomorrow. And you're scared of werewolves."

"You look like a couple of queers to me! Queers make...MY STOMACH TURN!" What we have here is a rather curious specimen. An ‘American’ werewolf flick (starring Alice Cooper as a rock star named "Vincent”) made by Italians- to be precise, Claudio Fragasso, the same Italian who was the brains behind such made-up sequels as TROLL 2, EVIL DEAD 5: LA CASA, TERMINATOR II: SHOCKING DARK, and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3: NIGHT KILLER.

Here, using the sobriquet "Clyde Anderson," Fragasso skulks around like a thief in the night, peddling his plagiaristic Italo-trash to the unsuspecting. Right off the bat, let me say this: MONSTER DOG is no TROLL 2. It certainly has elements of TROLL 2, like creepy villagers' laughably ominous warnings, overuse of the line "I can hardly believe the nightmare is over," a lot of talk about pissing (“You was more full of water than the Hoover Dam!”), and the mention of “hospitality” a few times (!).

"You was more full of water than the Hoover Dam!"

There's plenty of driving scenes to pad the run-time.

The vanity plate. (Alice's real name is Vincent Furnier.)

The eponymous MONSTER DOG. Rick Baker, eat your heart out.

wears stodgy sweaters and dubbed by somebody who sounds kind of like Kermit the Frog. Later, when it briefly turns into a Spaghetti Western, Alice is wearing eye-makeup, a ruffled shirt, and toting a shotgun in time for a Castellari-esque shootout.


The eponymous "Monster Dog" is papier-mache and lots of imagination, fog machines work serious overtime, heavily-sedated killer canines look less like hell-hounds and more like sad-sacks, and the shittiest 80's A/V equipment you've ever seen is referred to as "hi-def electronic equipment of incredible sophistication." The high point is probably the Alice music video "Identity Crisis-es" (which features Alice as James Bond:

Billy the Kid:

Sherlock Holmes:

and Jack the Ripper:

and ties into his masterful 1983 Multiple Personality Disorder concept album, DADA) which serves as the film’s opening and closing scenes. Except at the end, it's been re-edited to act as a kind of greatest hits of “memorable” scenes from the movie. Since this is theoretically better than watching the entire movie, I have posted it below:

Let me add this up: TROLL 2 + Alice Cooper, divided by dubbed Alice and a damned sluggish 81 minutes = 3 stars.

-Sean Gill


Mr. Gable said...

Not gonna lie, only clicked on this post because it has Claudio Fragrasso in the title. That guy is amazing. Troll 2, Robowar. I'll watch anything this man does...and a dubbed over Alice blasphemis as that sounds awesome.

Sean Gill said...

Thanks for stopping by! It's certainly not as mind-blowing as some of the Fragassos out there, but if you're an Alice Cooper fan you've pretty much got to check it out, if only for the music videos of "Identity Crisis-es" and "See Me in the Mirror." The dubbing is pretty perplexing, but par for the course in a Fragasso flick. And why it turns into a spaghetti Western halfway through is anybody's guess.

Chicken's good said...

This movie was actually a LITTLE better than I thought it'd be!

Identity Crisis is the catchiest song I've heard in a long time. It's easily the best part of the movie, as you say.

Not only does it kinda tie into AC's DaDa, but did anyone else notice Alice was wearing what was essentially his "Special Forces" makeup about halfway through the movie until the end? Has anyone else even heard of that album?! One of his best, says I! It's a bit toned-down here, but it was a pretty neat and unexpected surprise.

Sean Gill said...

Chicken's good,

First off, I appreciate your handle, Chicken's good. I like chicken.
And that's right– I'd forgotten about the Special Forces makeup! I personally adore the album Special Forces– certainly one of my top 5 favorite Alice albums. It as well as DaDa seem to have been written off and forgotten by the critical establishment, when the fact of the matter is that they're clever, fun, dramatic, incredibly well-written, and probably the height of the 'concept album' as it stood in the early 80s.