Sometimes you come across a film that sounds so amazing that it’s too good to be true. Sometimes you here something like “an Italian monster film called Monster Dog that stars Alice Cooper as a werewolf (which really doesn’t even happen until the ending, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at the fucking poster)” and in your mind it sounds like the greatest thing ever, but the movie ends up being interesting for about ten minutes and completely dull the rest of the time. This happens a lot among films like this, but that being said, sometimes the planets align just right enough to give you that awesome piece of shit movie that you want. Sometimes you get something so “What the fuck!?” that it blows your mind. Where does 1984’s Monster Dog fall on that spectrum? Let’s take a look.
It’s important to note that before we get to the actual story, the film takes about a half hour to start, between the long ass opening credits and the full length music video we have to sit through, it was like the filmmakers were trying to procrastinate showing me this film.
Vince Raven (Alice Cooper) is a rockstar who decides to travel with his girlfriend and crew back to his hometown to shoot a music video. Upon returning to Vince’s hometown, they discover that a pack of dogs has been going around and killing the locals. When Vince and co. return to his home and can’t find the caretaker, they start to fear that things have taken a turn for the worse.
For a movie with such a simple set up, Monster Dog is so strange and kind of fucking baffling. Hell, the fact that this exists at all is kind of baffling. It’s an Italian horror film starring Alice Cooper, which begs the question: What the hell is Alice Cooper’s young-Tim-Burton-looking ass doing in an Italian horror film? I couldn’t find any answer or backstory on the matter, but the final product is so hard to explain, I don’t know how I’m going to break it down to you.
Let’s start with the cast. It appears that every single actor in this film is Italian except for Alice Cooper, the problem with that being that the audio dubbing on Alice Cooper is perfectly fine while every single other cast member’s audio dubbing is completely off. This alone makes conversations between characters hilarious. Plus, Cooper just isn’t a leading man. The film doesn’t really seem like a vehicle for his acting career, so why is he the lead? It’s not even that he’s an awful actor, he just seems awkward in front of the camera. When he’s up on stage rocking out, he’s in his element, but he just seems lost in front of the camera, having absolutely no chemistry with any of the other cast members.
But those are the least of what make Monster Dog so odd. The structure of the film itself is jarring to say the least, the first act starting out as a pretty typical 80’s slasher movie, it isn’t until the characters arrive to Alice Cooper’s home that things start to become weird. When they can’t find the groundskeeper, Alice Cooper decides to go off and look for him. After this, the film goes back and forth with extremely boring exposition, then random fucking moments of terror.
For example, we get this mind-numblingly dumb conversation between Alice Cooper and the lead actress about his history with Werewolves. I start to get bored and check my phone (which I don’t like to do), then a few moments later I’ll look up and see some bloody old guy assaulting one of the lead actresses. That’s right, a majority of the horror here is done by a creepy old guy, very rarely are dogs involved. So, I’m just spending the main chunk of this film like
Because even when we DO get dogs, it’s very rarely the coveted “Monster Dog”, instead it’s usually a pack of dogs just sitting and staring blankly with growl sounds effects added in.
Although he may not make much appearance, the Monster Dog is something to see. The transformation sequence at the end is one of the most hilariously shitty-looking transformation scenes I’ve ever seen, which is fitting considering that every time we see the monster dog in action, he’s just kind of moving around as the camera moves dramatically around. There’s not much cool shit that happens with the Monster Dog, which may be the biggest disappointment here.
The Monster Dog may be a let down, but the movie is pretty entertaining with just how weird it is. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is fucking terrible, but it’s just so hilarious to witness. I will say though, there is a scene at the ending with Alice Cooper blowing away dudes with a shotgun and it’s pretty dope. The biggest problem with it though are the moments of boredom. Those moments of terrible exposition are so hard to get through, plus the last twenty minutes of the movie are all-around pretty boring (besides that shootout). That’s what makes this so hard to write about, let alone recommend.
Which brings me to the question: is this film a hidden gem or can it be thrown back into the dump?
It’s a film that I probably wouldn’t watch again because it relies on you not knowing what to expect. It’s not a gem like Orca was a gem. This is a piece of shit, but a piece of shit you have to see not because of entertainment but because of pure curiosity. This is a film for not just anyone looking for a bad film, it’s for people who will sit through just the shittiest of shit, the oddest of odd. It’s not easy to get through, but you just can’t help but keep it on. So I may call this a gem, but be very cautious before giving this one a shot.
Well, this installment of The Dumpster Dive brought something that I didn’t quite know what to expect (which is largely the point of this column) but that is something that it has in common with the next film I’ll be covering. On the next installment of The Dumpster Dive, we’ll dive into the classic Gary-Busey-hiding-in-your-attic flick Hider in the House.