• Monster Dog (Camera Obscura) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Camera Obscura
    Released on: November, 2019.
    Director: Claudio Fragasso
    Cast: Alice Cooper, Victoria Vera, Carlos Santurio, Ricardo Palacios, Pepita James
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    Monster Dog – Movie Review:

    What do you get when you combine the directing skills of Claudio Fragasso, the man best known for Troll 2, and the acting and musical talents of Alice Cooper? Why, 1984’s Monster Dog, that’s what! When the film begins we’re treated to the latest rock video from Vincent Raven (Cooper, clearly dubbed by someone who is not Alice Cooper), but he knows that to follow up that hit he’s going to need the perfect location for his next shoot. As such, he grabs his girlfriend, Sandra (Victoria Vera), and his entourage - Angela (Pepita James), Marilou (Pepa Sarsa), Jordan (Emilio Linder) and Frank (Carlos Santurio) – head into the sticks back to the small town where he was raised to use the massive, rundown family home as their next location.

    On their way in, the local sheriff (Ricardo Palacios) and his goofball deputy stop their van to warn them about some dog attacks in the area. It turns out that in his younger days, Vincent used to sit on the sheriff’s lap and pee on him, but it’s been some time since those days – however, the townsfolk still remember what happened with his father. Vincent sort of shrugs this off and then they encounter the requisite crazy old man (Barta Barri) on their way to the home. Once they arrive and set up, Vincent’s behavior starts to become increasingly erratic, those killer dogs show up and the heavily armed townsfolk that arrive start to make rumblings about a werewolf…

    This one is just as goofy as it sounds, with plenty of fairly horrible acting, a surprisingly laconic Cooper sort of sleep walking through most of the movie and strange dubbing aplenty. It moves at a decent enough pace, however, and it’s pretty strong in the blood and gore departments, so as ridiculous as it all is, the movie doesn’t lack in entertainment value. Cooper plays his character as distant, almost entirely removed from the various horrific set pieces that he and his friends encounter, but it sort of works in that it keeps his character… odd. And given the mystery surrounding his family, he’s supposed to be… odd. But really, he doesn’t have a whole lot of energy here, outside of the music video sequences where he actually looks like he’s having a good bit of fun what with all the costumes and over the top theatrics there.

    Supporting efforts are amusing. Palacious as the requisite fat sheriff isn’t going to take home any awards but he’s fun to watch even if he is just one giant cliché. The same can be said for Barri, who plays the equally clichéd crazy old man character up there with the best of them. Of course, the rock star and his posse pay him no mind, he’s just a crazy old man after all, but we all know how that typically ends in movies like this. The rest of the cast is fairly disposable but Vera and the other ladies in the movie are easy on the eyes even if their characters are pretty flat.

    This is one you go into for the fun factor. It’s tough to take the movie seriously for more than a few seconds but there’s some quality goop and gore, some pretty wonky makeup effects and enough WTF moments in the picture that it easily holds your attention. And on top of that, hey, it’s Alice Cooper in a starring role. You don’t get that too often.

    Monster Dog – Blu-ray Review

    Monster Dog looks really damn good on Region B Blu-ray from Camera Obscura framed in 1.66.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taking up just over 26GBs of space on the 50Gb disc. Although the fog machines were working overtime on this shoot, detail remains impressive throughout and color reproduction is really strong, beautifully so in spots. Black levels are also treated well here and there’s a surprising amount of depth, texture and detail to take in even if those fog machines do sometimes bury the backgrounds. The image is also free of any obvious noise reduction and there are no problems with overzealous edge enhancement or compression artifacts. It looks nice and film-like throughout.

    LPCM 2.0 Mono tracks are provided in English and German with subtitles provided in German and English. No problems here, the English track is clean and nicely balanced. The dialogue is always easy to understand and to follow and the music sounds really tight here. No problems to note with any hiss or distortion.

    Extras start off with a featurette called The Ballad Of Vincent Raven which is a twenty-five-minute interview with the man himself, Alice Cooper. He talks about getting out of the hospital for alcohol abuse and taking the job shooting the movie in Spain to get himself away from rock n roll for a while and to force himself to work sober. He notes that it was fun playing a character that wasn’t the villain and he talks about his love of B and C movies, working with the British cast and the Italian crew, how the film was dubbed, how he was told the movie would only ever be released in The Philippines and just going with the flow on set. He also talks about creating the Alice Cooper character and performing live back in the day and how shock rock isn’t really all that shocking anymore given the current state of the world, writing the two songs featured in the movie and trying to collaborate with Joe Perry from Aerosmith in the potentially haunted house where Jay Anson wrote The Amityville Horror, eventually getting the songs done with some help from a French collaborator, how everyone on the crew smoked which made his clothes stink to the point where they head to be thrown away, how things tended to break all the time on set, dealing with ‘monster dog’ on set and lots, lots more. Alice looks back on all of this with a great sense of humor and he tells a lot of fun stories here.

    Also included is a forty-three minute long documentary entitled Lord Of The Dogs that interviews director Claudio Fragasso, writer Rosella Drudi and producer Roberto Bessi about how and why this movie came to be. Fragasso and Drudi have more to saw here than Bessi but he talks about how he wound up producing the film with Eduard Sarlui after working with him on Warriors Of The Lost World. Fragasso talks about taking on this project after working on Rats while Drudi discusses writing the part basically with Alice Cooper in mind. All involved speak highly of Cooper, noting that he was quite professional and very nice to work with. They also talk about the dubbing in the film, the effects that are featured in the picture and some of the alternate footage that was shot for the movie.

    A Bark From Hell is a three-minute interview with Antonello Geleng, the creature designer who worked on the film. He speaks about meeting Fragasso and his ideas for the monster dog, trying to bring those ideas to life in the film, and how he did what he could before the production left to shoot in Spain (he wasn’t on the set). He seems proud of the visuals he created for the dog and is happy that people still talk about the film.

    That alternate footage shows up in a collection of thirteen-minutes of material culled from a Japanese tape source (with burned in subtitles). Most of this is extended dialogue scenes but there is some additional material shot for the ending included here and a wee bit of extra gore. None of this is super essential material but it’s great to see it included.

    Aside from that, we get English and German language theatrical trailers, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. The media book packaging, which is quite nice, also holds an essay from Christian N. Kellerbach, which is in German only. It’s also worth pointing out that this is a combo pack release, and so a DVD version of the movie is also included.

    Monster Dog - The Final Word:

    Monster Dog is as enjoyable and entertaining as it is ridiculous and goofy – lots of fun to be had with this one! The Blu-ray release from Camera Obscura is excellent, presenting the film in great shape and with a very nice selection of extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Monster Dog Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Toyboy's Avatar
      Toyboy -
      Never noticed till now how much short-haired Alice looks like Jamie Gillis.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      That's a lot of Alice.