Recap #9 – Full Moon Blowout: Monster Dog (1984)

Monsterdog

Title: Monster Dog

Released: 1984

Director: Claudio Fragasso (credited as Clyde Anderson)

Description (from IMDB): A rock star returns to his childhood home to shoot a music video while a pack of wild dogs are on the loose killing off the local residents.

The Nostalgia Factor


Oh my God, where to start? I saw this movie for the first time when I was around 18. My local Hollywood Video had it in their horror section and I was like, A werewolf movie with Alice Cooper? Hell yeah, sign me up! This movie is terrible. And I love it. I wish more people knew about it, because it definitely deserves to be on all y’all’s favorite bad movie lists. I’m not gonna waste any more time in this nostalgia section, because I’m chomping at the bit to get on with the actual recap. So here we go!

Recap


First off, I want you to know the level of cheese you can expect here, so here’s what the DVD title menu looks like:

monsterdogmenu
This is . . . not an accurate depiction of the monster dog. Or any dog.

You have been warned. We open with a good minute and a half of opening credits. In a movie that only clocks in at 83 minutes, it spends an unconscionable amount of time trying to pad that run time. The credits fade into another couple minutes of the Alice Cooper – sorry, Vincent Raven – music video, “Identity Crisises.” No, I didn’t misspell that. That’s actually the name of the song, and amusingly enough, the end credits of the movie spell it “Chrises.” Jesus Chrises, amirite? I’m not going to recap the music video other than to point out that at the lyric “sometimes I’m looking for clues,” Alice Vince holds up a lacy bra. So, I guess it was a sexy crime? (I highly recommend watching this music video. It’s delightful cheesy trash.)

When the music video is over, we find out it was a tape being shown to Vincent Raven: Rock Star Who Is Totally Not Alice Cooper, Except He Totally Is. Also, Vincent is Alice’s actual real first name, so that works out well. Anyway, Vince and his crew are in a shitty old van headed back to his hometown that he hasn’t been back to in 20 years. I guess they have a whole video bay in the van, because Vince’s girlfriend and video producer, Sandra, pops the videotape out of the deck and asks what he thinks. He thinks it stinks. I disagree. I doubt he gives a shit what I think, though. We find out that his record label also thinks it stinks, and that’s why they’re sending him to his old homestead to film something with a little more punch. I’m not going to ask how that’s possible if this is the first time he’s even seen the video, because this movie desperately needs a reason to get people to the creepy old house, so we need to just roll with this nonsense, okay?

This might be a good time to point out that none of the voices you hear in this movie are the actors. Every single line from every single actor was dubbed by a completely different voice actor. This becomes one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever witnessed toward the end of the movie, but right now I just want to mention that the guy dubbing Alice Cooper sounds like Jerry Orbach doing a Humphrey Bogart impression. I was unaware of any of this the first time I saw this, and thought that was actually what Alice Cooper’s speaking voice sounded like. I’m sorry, Alice.

Vince tells us that the only person left at the old homestead is Joss, the old caretaker. Joss, huh? Is it Joss Whedon? Did he retreat to live as a hermit after everyone finally caught on to his toxic brand of fake feminism? Vince fondly remembers how ancient Joss was already before he left home, and how he used to shake so bad that the neighborhood kids would ask him to make them malts. Ahh, the good old days of mocking an old man’s palsy! Good times.

We see an old house with a “Welcome Home, Vincent” banner strung over the porch, then go inside to see an old man putting out trays of food. I assume this is Joss. He looks like the love child of Tom Selleck and Danny Trejo. He hears a banging noise and goes to investigate, and I swear every sound in this movie is dubbed, because he closes a banging door that in no way looked like it was banging. Maybe the door was just too shy to bang in front of an audience. Joss hears dogs barking and goes outside to find a pack of dogs on the porch, barking and growling at him. I wonder if the dogs were allowed to perform their own lines, or if the filmmakers brought in other, better, dogs to dub their lines as well. Joss and the dogs just stare at each other for a bit, then the scene ends.

We switch to the sheriff and a deputy out on the road, complaining about the weather (it’s a dark and drizzly night – actually, it’s a blue night. They got their money’s worth with the blue filter on this movie). Vince and company get stopped by this roadblock, complaining about there being so many roadblocks and surmising it must be because of the mad dog attacks. I . . . is this something that would merit roadblocks? The deputy recognizes the famous rock star and Stans out for a minute, but the sheriff don’t give a fuuuuuck. Either because he knew Vince as a kid or because he “can’t tell one of these newfangled songs from the other.” Possibly both. Sheriff starts to say something about Vince’s dad, but Vince cuts him off. Well, nothing suspicious about that, carry on! Sheriff asks them if they know about the dogs, then tells them there have been five deaths so far. One of the girls in Vince’s crew, Angela, says that at the last roadblock they said there were only two deaths. Nah, this pack of wild dogs is ruthless! They’ve killed three more people – a family, who were somehow both butchered like hogs and ripped to pieces. That sounds like someone doesn’t actually know how you’re supposed to butcher a hog. The sheriff mentions that it’s just like last time, and that people around town haven’t forgotten the stories about Vincent’s dad, and nobody fucking asks him what he means because we’re only ten minutes in and we can’t tip our hand yet.

Oh, no, I spoke too soon. While they’re driving to the house, Sandra asks Vince what the sheriff was talking about. But he refuses to answer because we’re only eleven minutes in and we can’t tip our hand yet.

Meanwhile, the sheriff and deputy go wandering into the woods by the side of the road, following the sound of howling, because they’re idiots. The deputy finds the sheriff dead and bloody, then gets attacked by what I can only describe as a Monster Dog. Hey, that’s the name of this movie!

On the road, a German Shepherd dog (probably not Monster Dog) runs in front of the van and Vince hits it. They get out to check on poor doggie. The dog is still alive and has absolutely zero blood or other visible injuries on it, but Vince grabs a rock and bashes its brains in anyway to put it out of its misery. While the effects crew didn’t bother to put any fake blood on the dog so it would look even the slightest bit injured, they remembered to put blood on the rock Vince smashes it with – before he hits the dog with it. Because fuck continuity! Then they show the dog again and there’s still no blood on it. Also, you can see the dog move. Hrumph. No cookie for you, doggie.

As they’re heading back to the van, an old man in shredded, bloody clothes pops up out of nowhere and starts spouting a bunch of cryptic shit about how “he’s back” and “he’ll control the hounds now” and “you’re all going to die!” So, this is the werewolf movie version of Crazy Ralph from the first two Friday the 13th movies? Awesome! I love when shitty movies rip stuff off from better-known shitty movies! I haven’t mentioned it yet, but one of Vince’s crew is a dude who looks like bootleg Griffin Dunne from An American Werewolf in London, right down to his puffy vest. This director knew exactly what to steal from whom.

Vince grabs a big wrench out of the van and goes into the woods to search for bootleg Ableist Term Removed Ralph, with Sandra in tow because she ain’t afraid of no ghosts werewolves! They spot the Monster Dog puppet head behind some trees and promptly nope the fuck out, running back to the van and driving off. Fuck the blood-soaked old man, he can take care of himself!

The crew finally gets to the house, but Joss is nowhere to be found. Maybe he’s busy writing a Batgirl script where she’s constantly called a whore and made to do sexy-dances for men’s pleasure?  While wandering through the house, Sandra happens upon a painting of Little Kid Vince and Mom and Dad (who looks exactly like Grown-Up Vince.) This portrait is practically another character in this movie, so pay attention to it, mmkay? Vince opens the window and looks at the full moon, then says he’ll be right back and goes upstairs with a shotgun. There are cobwebs all over the fucking banisters, so Joss was apparently a really shitty caretaker in addition to being a shitty feminist.

The rest of the crew digs into the sandwiches Joss made before his staring contest with the pack of dogs, and Angela is now channeling every “DOOM! DOOM! YOU’RE ALL DOOMED!” character who has ever appeared in any movie, ever. Angela is a real fucking drama queen, I tell you what. Later that night, she’s in bed asleep with the two other women in the crew – yeah, they’re sleeping three to a bed. Why the fuck isn’t Sandra sleeping with Vince? Are the men all sharing a bed as well? What the fuck is going on with these sleeping arrangements?! Sorry, it’s weird. Anyway, Angela is having a nightmare about Bootleg Ralph, then wakes up with him in her room and Sandra and the other woman, Marilou, dead in the bed next to her. Not-Ralph chases her down the hall, telling her they’re all doomed and all going to die. She locks herself in a room and grabs a knife, then Not-Bootleg Griffin Dunne (the other guy in the crew) grabs her, bleeding and dying, and Bootleg Griffin Dunne falls out of a closet, dead, pinning her to the floor. Angela yanks the door open and prepares to stab the old man, but he’s not there anymore. But don’t worry, he grabs her as soon as she makes it down the stairs, and she stabs him a whole bunch of times! Then she finds Vince sitting in a rocking chair like Norman Bates’s mother, and when he turns around, his face looks like the Wolfman’s!

Then Angela wakes up. For real this time. Boo. She’s a screamer, and all the guys come running into the room. Bootleg Griffin Dunne is shirtless and so freakin’ hairy that I think we might find out in the ultimate twist ending that he’s actually the werewolf. When Angela tells the crew that Vince turned into a werewolf in her dream, they all think it’s hilarious and start howling, including Angela, whose half-life for trauma seems to be zero. Vince is not at all amused, because he is a grumpy old man who wishes these damn punk kids would get off his lawn. (Alice Cooper was in his mid-thirties when this was filmed, but he looks about fifty. Thanks, drug and alcohol addiction!)

Yet later that night, Sandra comes across Vince in the Norman Bates rocking chair, reading a book about werewolves. Sandra is annoyed by this, then . . . well, let me just let her tell you.

Oh, bullshit, Vince! The year 2000 is just around the corner. I am a recognized expert in electronic videos and you are the hottest rock n’ roll star – in the world! You’re making records, videos, movies – on high-tech electronic equipment of fantastic sophistication. You can get on a plane tonight and be in Australia tomorrow. And you’re scared of werewolves!

The writing in this movie is just so good, y’all! The year 2000 is just around the corner! She’s a recognized expert in electronic videos! I’m crying, guys. Seriously. Someone help me type through these tears of laughter!

Vince finally tells her the story we’ve all been waiting to hear – 20 years ago, a pack of wild dogs roamed the area, savaging anyone they encountered. The townspeople blamed Vince’s father, who had a heart disease that made him act like a werewolf or some such shit. As far as I’m aware, there’s no heart condition associated with lycanthropy, but there are these conditions. Enjoy! So, convinced Vince’s dad was the cause of all their troubles, the townsfolk stabbed him to death with pitchforks, doused him with gasoline, and set him on fire. I’m probably not supposed to find this as funny as I do, right? Vince and Sandra talk about running off to a Polynesian island, then share the world’s most awkward-looking kiss. Sandra walks off, looks at The Portrait again, only this time she sees the Monster Dog lurking in the bushes beside the painted family. She gasps, “Oh, no!” and then nothing comes of it. Meanwhile, Vince stares pensively at the full moon instead of getting laid.

Remember what I said earlier about this movie desperately trying to pad out its already-pitiful run time? We’re now treated to three minutes of the crew setting up for another music video shoot. Vince does his own makeup, but instead of making himself up as Alice Cooper, he’s decided today feels more like a Zombie David Bowie day. Now we get several additional minutes of the actual music video shoot for “See Me in the Mirror,” which is a cheesy and creepy vampire-inspired song. In a werewolf movie. For the video shoot, they have bought all the fog machines, and they’re gonna use them, dammit! Angela the Drama Queen is their actress, appropriately enough, and she descends the staircase in a wedding gown while Vince sings the song and various other crew members use various lighting tricks to make fake lightning effects. Angela keeps looking up and seeing the silhouette of a man pressed against the windows on the upper level, and then at the end of the song, the glass breaks and Old Man Joss falls down to the floor while Angela screams. He of course lands on top of her.

The whole crew runs upstairs to investigate while Angela thinks she sees Not-Ralph and wanders outside and into the wilderness. The others finally realize she’s missing, and Vince takes off to look for her while Sandra decides to call the police. Just as she picks up the phone, we cut to a guy who looks like the live action version of Ned Gerblansky from South Park up on a telephone pole cutting the wires. Hold up. It’s daytime? It’s pitch-black inside the house! What gives?

Live Action Ned is part of a crew of four dudes, led by Redneck Captain Quint from Jaws. He loads a gun and tells no one in particular that this is a bullet that will pierce Vincent’s heart. Oh, good. It’s a lynch mob. I mean, a bullet is kind of boring compared to the stabby-stab with the pitchfork that Vince’s dad got, but okay. I guess they don’t have the time or the energy to full-on Rasputin poor Vince.

Bootleg Griffin Dunne and Not Bootleg Griffin Dunne (these dudes are so unimportant that I’m only halfway sure their names are Frank and Jordan, but I have no idea which is which) are packing up the van so everyone can leave by nightfall when Redneck Captain Quint rolls up with his crew. He walks up to the porch, chuckling in a not at all menacing manner, asking about Vince and whether or not they’ve seen the dogs, then laughing at the tiny little shotguns the guys have. He wants them to invite his crew in and Not Bootleg Griffin Dunne is stupid and thinks they’re okay, and Sandra isn’t stupid but changes her tune in an offscreen ADR line. Or maybe it was the other woman, Marilou, speaking. It’s really hard to tell in this movie.

Three of the Bad Dudes go inside, leaving Live Action Ned (guys, I just discovered Live Action Ned’s name is actually Ed! I was close!) on guard outside, where he shoots the tires out of the van. With a shotgun. Which does no visible damage because this movie clearly didn’t have the budget for either bullets or flat tires.

Of course the Bad Dudes attack everyone as soon as they’re inside. Sandra holds her shotgun on Redneck Captain Quint from approximately two inches away so that he’s able to grab it from her with no real trouble. They find Joss’s corpse and tell Sandra he’s another victim of her boyfriend, and she acts like she has no idea what he’s talking about even though she hasn’t suffered any head trauma that I’m aware of. It suddenly occurs to her that these are the same guys who killed Vince’s dad back in the day. They debate about the existence of werewolves, and apparently werewolves can control and command packs of dogs. Good to know. Sandra points out that she saw the monster dog while she was with Vince, so it can’t be him. The Bad Dudes think she’s lying and tell her she must be the creature’s sweetheart, then have a good uncontrollable laugh about that. Um, what? They literally called Vince her boyfriend a few minutes ago, now they’re surprised that she’s with him? I . . . don’t understand the hilarity.

Vince finally catches up to Angela in the woods and runs back to the house with her. Live Action Ned (who was inside during the last scene, but now has remembered he’s supposed to be their lookout) runs inside and tells the Bad Dudes that Vince is coming. Vince and Angela pound on the locked front door, then Ned opens the door and Captain Quint shoots his silver bullet into Angela’s stomach. This was a stupid strategy, especially if he only has the one silver bullet. Not only did he shoot the wrong person, but he missed the heart completely! Fail, Redneck Captain Quint.

Vince leads three of the Bad Dudes on a chase around the property while Live Action Ned stays behind to kill the rest of Vince’s crew. Live Action Ned is apparently a major homophobe, because his go-to insults for the two guys are “queer” and “faggot”. He’s a delightful individual. Sandra stabs him through the foot with a fireplace poker, and the two guys grab him in some awkward fight sequence.

On the roof, where it is broad daylight and sunny, Vince uses a clown doll as a decoy for the Bad Dudes, and they shoot the shit out of it. This is the only time I’m on board for anything these assholes have done in this movie. Kill the clown doll! Kill it with fire! Meanwhile, out front of the house, where it is blue and foggy (did the director have stock in blue filter and fog machine companies?) a pack of dogs is starting to gather. Inside, Sandra wants to shoot Live Action Ned, but the others convince her that they are better than that. On the roof, Vince didn’t get that memo, because he shoots all of the Bad Dudes, starting with the two generic ones I don’t have clever names for.

One of the guys inside (honestly, they’re so interchangeable that I’ve lost track of which one) opens the front door to go find Vince and is immediately attacked by the dogs. (I’ve read that these dogs weren’t fed for two days and the human actors’ clothes were stuffed with canned dog food. This seems . . . inadvisable, to say the least.) The dogs go attack Live Action Ned, who throws a lantern at them and somehow manages to set himself on fire. I guess no one taught him about Stop Drop and Roll, because he throws himself through a window instead. The dogs go back to mauling Not Griffin Dunne, whose ugly sweater must be bleeding, because that is literally all the dogs have gotten hold of. Bootleg Griffin Dunne is alive but injured, and I think the other guy is dead, when the dogs suddenly stop. These dogs are clearly looking to where their trainers must be, with this look in their eyes that says, “Am I a Good Boy? Do I get a treat now?” Feed those poor puppies for fuck sake!

Something much bigger than any dog is shaking and rattling the front door, and it opens to reveal the Monster Dog! And also a lot of blue light and fog. I guess the Monster Dog travels with a lighting crew. Bootleg Griffin Dunne jumps up and shoots it til he runs out of shells, then wraps his jacket around his arm (I don’t think Monster Dog is familiar with dog training etiquette) and holds the shottie like a club to beat this thing to death with. Um. Monster Dog is, like, seven feet tall. Good luck with that.

The girls run upstairs, with the regular dogs chasing. It’s kind of nice to see the werewolf and the dogs working together. Most werewolf movies have you believe they’re enemies, but here all is right with nature. The girls lock themselves in a huge bathroom, and Marilou somehow gets her hair caught in the door, allowing a Doberman on the other side to bite it and pull it. Aw, it’s okay, that just means he likes you! Sandra grabs a pair of scissors and cuts Marilou’s hair, then the dog crashes through the wall that’s at a right angle to the door but doesn’t come in for some reason. These action sequences are confusing, guys. Sandra decides she’s totally going to murderize this dog with the scissors she’s holding, and flings open the door to find Vince! Also, there is blood all over the bathroom door, and I have no idea where it came from. Getting your hair pulled doesn’t create streaks of blood like that, so . . .

These three survivors lock themselves in a bedroom, and Marilou goes on a very soap opera monologue about how Vince is to blame for all the deaths. Seriously, no one talks like this. I guess we needed a new drama queen since Angela died.

Time passes, we stare at a full moon again, then Sandra leaves Marilou sleeping and goes downstairs to find Vince silhouetted in blue light with the dogs all around him worshipping at his feet. They don’t attack, and Sandra walks back through them to get Marilou so they can all get the fuck outta Dodge. Or California. Or Spain. I have no idea where this fucking movie is supposed to take place. It was filmed in Spain, released in the director’s home country of Italy, and I swear the license plates are California plates. Everything about this movie’s look screams “foreign”, so if they’re trying to pass it off as California . . . no.

They get in the Bad Dudes’ car since their van had the tires kinda sorta not really shot out, then realize they don’t have the keys and will have to go search the corpses. Vince and Sandra leave Marilou in the car alone, basically telling her not to be such a fucking pussy when she doesn’t want to be left alone. They find the keys, then Redneck Captain Quint pops up and tries to choke Vince out with his shotgun, because of course he wasn’t really dead. Sandra shoots him, then they head back to the car. Nothing like a little murder under the full moon to set the mood.

They drive away, relieved that they’re finally safe, but then Marilou doesn’t answer when Sandra speaks to her. Hmm, she didn’t fall asleep, did she? Nope! Her corpse falls forward into the front seat, and Monster Dog attacks Vince while he’s driving! Seriously, am I the only person who even glances into the backseat before getting in the car? How oblivious do you have to be to miss seeing the corpse of your friend and a hulking Monster Dog? Was there no dog smell? I mean, trust me, I know when my dogs are in the car.

Sandra bails out of the moving car, suffering no injuries other than some serious runs in her stockings, then hears a gunshot. She wanders through the woods, looking for the road, and comes across the car, overturned and rocking. If the deathtrap is a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’! Creepy old Bootleg Ralph again pops up out of nowhere and grabs Sandra to explain that he was the Monster Dog because Vince’s dad bit him back in the day, but now he’s dying and passed on the curse to Vince so that he can be their new king and rule in the House of the Dead forever. Man, can you imagine anything worse than being stuck in an Uwe Boll movie for all eternity? Especially that one. Yikes. (Apparently there’s a longer foreign release of Monster Dog where Not Ralph explains this a little more in depth and coherently, but he gets the point across okay with this cut-down version of his ramblings, too.) Then he wanders off, I guess to die. People enter and exit this movie like they think they’re in a play or something. Exit, pursued by a bear!

Sandra comes across Vince, all bloody and with zombie-face, who yells at her to stay away, then thrusts a shotgun at her and tells her to shoot him. Okay, buddy, which is it? Make up your mind! Next we get the worst werewolf transformation I’ve ever seen. This movie seems to think that werewolf faces look like they’ve been crushed between two cars or something. (I’ve linked it here if you’re curious to see how bad it truly is. Thanks, YouTube!) Sandra waits until Vince has Monster Dog head before shooting him, but I guess the effects budget was all used up by then, because we don’t see much of anything. She throws the shotgun into the woods and has a soliloquy about how Angela was right about the danger and death they would suffer there, then laugh-cries for a hot minute. Have you ever seen dubbed crying? It’s legit one of the fucking funniest things in this movie, where everything that’s supposed to be serious is fucking hilarious. Then she wanders off into the night while the movie again tries to think of a way to pad the run time. It settles on showing us the “Identity Crisises” video again, this time interspersed with scenes from the movie. As you do.

The Wrap-Up


People who insist that Plan 9 From Outer Space is the best worst movie obviously haven’t seen this. It’s so terrible, but so enjoyable. It’s been about seven years or so since the last time I saw it, and it still holds up as some of the most delightful shitty fun I’ve ever had. If you can get your hands on a copy, I absolutely recommend watching it and MST3King your way through it.

 

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One thought on “Recap #9 – Full Moon Blowout: Monster Dog (1984)

  1. Pingback: Recap #9 – Full Moon Blowout: Monster Dog (1984) — Oh God Why?! Nostalgia Reviews – horrorwriter

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