Monster Dog (1984)

MonsterDogPosterMonster Dog was written and directed by Claudio Fragasso. Claudio was a frequent collaborator with Bruno Mattei, but he also had a decent-sized body of work he did on his own. Beyond Darkness, Troll 2, and Night Killer all demonstrated what he could do without Bruno’s help.

With Monster Dog, Claudio tells the tale of a monster dog that is terrorizing the countryside and who may have some connection to music superstar Alice Cooper. Regardless of who else is involved, fans of the big name talent associated with this project will probably figure that his abilities can overcome the obvious obstacles the movie suffers from. But alas, I am sad to report that the unfortunate presence of Cooper was even too much for Claudio to overcome!

Alice plays Vincent, a rock singer whose gimmick seems to be looking really tired. He’s also one of these singers who wears make up during his videos. Let’s just close the book on this business of guys needing to wear eye shadow and fake eyelashes when they sing. Elvis didn’t do it. Frank Sinatra didn’t do it. Bing Crosby didn’t do it. But I suppose it’s okay if you’re someone like Cher.

So Claudio is saddled with some make-up wearing old geezer who insists on singing not one, but two different numbers during the movie! His first number thankfully comes at the beginning of the film when the audience is still at its strongest.

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And you will need every ounce of Claudio-love to get through the opening minutes when Alice croons the instant un-classic, “Identity Crisis” in a music video where he assumes different personas. The James Bond bit is probably the worst, but he also dresses up as Sherlock Holmes, Jack The Ripper, and Billy The Kid so there’s really something for everyone to hate.

The second number is called “See Me In The Mirror” and is less annoying simply because a dead guy interrupts the filming of the music video.

I’m not sure if it’s a compliment to Claudio or an indictment of Alice that the music video they were shooting for “See Me In The Mirror” felt very authentic. Alice is decked out in leather and looking into a mirror while some chick in a wedding dress is walking down the stairs.

It’s one of those hideous dirge-like ballads that heavy metal guys periodically feel compelled to do for some reason. Why can’t they leave the ballads to the professionals like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard? At least they have the good taste to not film their videos in a run down Italian villa.

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Oh yeah, there’s also apparently some dogs on the loose eating the locals. The locals blame Alice for some reason even though he just rolled into town to make a video at his ancestral home.

Apparently, Alice’s dad was killed years ago for allegedly being Monster Dog! But now, Monster Dog has returned to command all the dogs in the county! And that command is to kill! And bite! And eat! And pee all over your rugs!

Claudio does make the best of a bad situation and gamely gives us everything he has to bring us what we expect out of a Claudio Fragasso movie! There’s the total reliance on a fog machine and blue lighting that would make Lucio Fulci envious! There’s also the guy who has half his head blown off!

And a long and fairly pointless dream sequence always spices things up and allows for extra kills without hiring extra actors since guys who get killed in a dream can then be killed again in real life!

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And there’s those little touches like the local cops setting up roadblocks because of the dog attacks. Some of you are no doubt snickering and thinking, “yeah, in case the dogs are driving cars and picking up hitchhikers to slaughter!” But guess what, funny man? Monster Dog does turn up in a car! So those cops knew exactly what they were doing! Except for when they wandered around the moors and got eaten!

Claudio even goes so far as to have Alice’s voice dubbed by the guy who dubbed all the Italian horror and action movies of the 1980s! It’s a technique that allows the viewer to close his eyes and pretend that we aren’t watching a movie starring some shock rocker, but instead a movie featuring an Italian guy with a beard!

Still, Alice ultimately gets the best of Claudio when at the 79 minute mark, the movie portion of things concludes, but we are then treated to another airing of “Identity Crisis” over a montage of scenes from the movie! Claudio gives his best effort, but this thing is totally rabid and needs the Old Yeller treatment pronto!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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