• Crazy Dog

    Directed By: David Petrucci
    Released By: One 7 Movies
    Released On: September 9, 2014
    Cast: Giuseppe Schisano, Marco Bonetti, Tinto Brass, Franco Nero
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    The Movie

    Crazy Dog (Original title: Canepazzo) begins in 1983 as a man is stalked and killed by a sickle wielding serial murder dressed all in black, and in typical Giallo fashion, wearing black leather gloves. Marco, the son of the man who was murdered, grows obsessed with needing to solve the mystery of his father's murder, and that provides the catalyst for this 2012 throwback to the 70s Giallo and debut feature film from Italian indie director David Petrucci (Hope Lost).

    Marco is a traditional protagonist for a Giallo film; he's an amateur detective, and although he doesn't witness his father's murder first-hand, he makes it his mission to reveal the killer's identity without the help of the police. Any number of Giallo protagonists fit this basic description, and Marco doesn't break the mold here. To find the identity of the killer, Marco pays a visit to a criminologist named Raul Chinna, who has made his career out of studying the Crazy Dog murders. The interview between Marco and Chinna, as they discuss the history of the Crazy Dog killings, provides the frame narrative for most of the movie. This narrative involves another amateur sleuth, a journalist named David Moiraghi, who becomes obsessed with piecing together the links between the Crazy Dog murders. Each of which is distinct, except for the killer's trademark of leaving his nom-de-gore, Cane Pazzo (Crazy Dog) on or near the body of his victim. David's investigation quickly leads to him being targeted for murder by Crazy Dog, and he becomes drawn deeper into a bloody web of intrigue. It would be intriguing, at least, if this movie weren't so goddamned boring.

    Stylistically, Crazy Dog draws heavily from the Giallo films of the seventies. Or at the very least, it attempts to mimic the style of those older, but better films. The summary on the back of the DVD claims that the movie is particularly informed by the work of Sergio Martino (Torso, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), but honestly, I don't see the connection. Even when they dipped into some sleazier territory, Martino's films had a lot more style and class to offer than Crazy Dog. This film has a much trashier aesthetic, and it's not improved by its its cheap, digital camerawork either. Sure, the killer wears leather gloves, but visually this bears little similarity the stylish films it claims to be inspired by. Perhaps Martino's films had a bit of a looser, almost cinema verité quality than the precisely composed films of Dario Argento, but I think the connection between Martino's work and Crazy Dog is very tenuous. Really, the quality of the film-making on display here is really unworthy of such a comparison. At its best, Crazy Dog has the look of a low-budget foreign independent feature, and at its worst, it looks like a haphazardly constructed student film.

    There are a lot of strange sequences in Crazy Dog that don't go anywhere, and just feel like they're there to pad out the already brief 83-minute running time. There are also a lot of free form montages that knock the movie's sense of pacing completely off the rails and leave it feeling aimless and self-indulgent. The dialogue isn't especially well-written, and it's full of cliches, so there isn't much to pay attention to in the way of dialogue either. In the second half of the film, the action slows right down to a crawl as David meets more people that Crazy Dog wants dead, including some gangsters connected to a Mafia boss he had previously murdered (played by Tinto “Loves the Ass” Brass). Eventually, David's sanity is called into question, but is this just another red herring, and do you even care by this point?

    Fans of Italian genre cinema might appreciate the cameos from Tinto Brass (Caligula, All Ladies Do It) and legendary actor Franco Nero (if you're visiting this website, chances are good that you know Django). Nero's monologue is arguably the highlight of the movie, but even so, these performances don't really add a whole lot to the film except a reminder that there are better movies you could probably be watching instead of Crazy Dog. I don't want to be too hard on it, since it is a debut. Crazy Dog has an interesting premise, and it has a lot of elements that I would enjoy if it were handled differently (an amateur detective, gratuitous shots of nude Italian women, a killer who wears black leather gloves, etc). The problem is that Crazy Dog doesn't know how to adequately use the language of film to put these elements together into a satisfying whole.


    Crazy Dog appears for the first time on DVD in North America courtesy of One 7 Movies in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The quality of the video presentation here is all over the map, and mostly, it's pretty bad. It is hard to tell which is more responsible for the low quality visuals, the film-making or One 7 Movies, but considering my other criticisms regarding the cinematography, I'm going to blame the source. Crazy Dog never really sticks to one kind of aesthetic. Is it a polished looking digital feature? Maybe for a few minutes. Then it becomes a gritty, under-lit feature that looks like it was shot on Hi-8. These are indulgences that the director is ulimately responsible for, and the result is a film that doesn't look very good on DVD. It probably won't ruin your enjoyment of the movie if you like the story or what it has to offer, but the presentation here is barely adequate in the age of HD independent cinema.

    On the audio side, there's not much to say either. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track really just sounds like 2.0 stereo to my ears, as there isn't a lot of depth or layers to the audio mix. The Italian dialogue is clear, and the English subtitles are easy to read, but the whole sound mix is a little on the quiet side. There's an ambient electronic soundtrack that sort of fades in and out of the film but there isn't a lot of music present and the sound mix that is here isn't great. The film never uses audio in a way that really increases dramatic tension, and it definitely lacks the funky and progressive sounds that you'd associate with 70s Italian cinema.

    Extras include a picture gallery of behind the scenes photos, and an original trailer.

    The Final Word

    One 7 Movies came out with Crazy Dog around the same time as their reissues of vintage Italian films Top Model (L'Attrazione) and Prince of the Night (starring Klaus Kinski), but I honestly can't see why they chose to release this newer film. Those films would have been of interest to collectors of lesser-known vintage Italian films, but Crazy Dog is a modern Giallo throwback that just doesn't deliver the goods. Unless you are absolutely desperate for a new Giallo, Crazy Dog isn't worth 83-minutes of your time.