Saturday, 5 April 2014


‘Dogs’ is a slight entry in our never ending catalogue of films about nutty dogs and other killer creatures but it scores extra points for featuring a murderous cocker spaniel, and for having a really stupid freeze frame ending.

David McCallum plays Harlan Thompson, an extremely hairy English academic stuck in a mid-western US town. He is bored, separated from his wife and drinks heavily which only fuels his growing contempt for college politics and the ignorance of his students. With his beard and shaggy bowl cut, McCallum resembles an old English Sheep Dog, obviously hinting at the animal within all of us. He also wears double denim and puts on a Michael Caine accent, but we have no idea what that is all about.

When a series of nasty cattle mutilations extend to human fatalities, it soon becomes clear that the attacks are down to a pack of dogs. These aren’t wild animals, however, but pets – pampered pooches gone psycho. Theories abound: pheromones, perhaps, collective consciousness, maybe, or could it all be down to that top secret government facility up on the hill that drains all the power and emits an eerie, high frequency noise? These are all red herrings, really, as the sudden betrayal of man’s best friend is never adequately explained, and nor is their seemingly ability to be everywhere at once (there are only about half a dozen dogs in total). What is apparent, however, is that they like students, and the fatter and slower the better (they also like ladies in showers, but then who doesn’t?) 

Our favourite part is the following exchange between Harlan and his estranged wife (who is a very poor actress). Harlan bursts in, shotgun in hand, and grabs his wife by the arm:

“Get your things together – we're leaving!”

“The dogs?”

“Yes. And it was hideous!”

“What happened?”

“I'll tell you in the car, there isn't time - now, come on, get some things. You got something I can drink?”

Luckily, she has ('in the kitchen, over the dishwasher'), and he’s going to need it, because the silly cow has left all the windows and doors open, and the pack (who seem to be very clear about their specific targets) are on their way.

The film doesn’t so much conclude as just STOP – no climax, no exposition, no explanation, not even an explosion - just the shocked survivors driving out of town and hearing radio reports of other attacks in the area. It’s not particularly satisfactory, but at least it’s enigmatic - then the camera zooms in on a passing cat and ruins everything by attempting a shock conclusion (and a hint at a sequel) which is just deeply shit. It’s an embarrassing ending to what had, until then, been an unspectacular but quietly entertaining piece of hokum. 

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