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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 8/13/98

Rabid Dogs
1974 (1998) - Spera Cinematografica (Lucertola Media)

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Film Rating: A-
This is a tight and enjoyable road trip into the deepest, darkest side of the human condition, and the ending will just blow you away.

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C/B-/A+
The sound is mono, but nice. The video isn't as free of noise as I'd like, but these extras -- they'll knock your socks off. Well written and even more well researched, this is the work of some people that respected Mario Bava as an artist.

Overall Rating: B-
It's a movie saved from obscurity and backed up with brilliant extras. The print isn't all that, but we still get to see this unbelievable film. Bravo.

Specs and Features

96 mins, unrated, letterboxed widescreen (1.66:1), single-sided, single layered, Amaray keep case packaging, essay by Tim Lucas on Mario Bava, the film and the reconstruction, stills and original poster reproductions, trailer, interactive menus, scene access (11 chapters), Italian (mono), English and German subtitles


Wow. That's all I have to say about this movie. Okay, fine -- I'm lying. I'd never give up a chance to rattle on about a movie, so I won't start with Rabid Dogs. But still, wow. If anybody out there loves movies in general, loves DVD and loves movies that grab on tight and won't let go -- you have to buy this movie now. The back of the DVD says it best -- "Imagine Quentin Tarantino remaking Last House On The Left inside a speeding car". That summation is quite appropriate, and yet it seems kind of vague -- isn't it. Especially since some of you out there have no idea what Last House Of The Left is. So I'll tell you: Last House On The Left is from horror maestro Wes Craven. It's about two young girls who are kidnapped, raped and murdered by two escaped convicts and a woman. Apparently they do these horrifying acts right next to the home of one of the girls, and when they go to the house -- they find the girl's parents who enact a painful revenge. Even if Rabid Dogs seems more simplified, it's more than Last House, and it's more than what Tarantino is capable of. Although, if Tarantino wanted to make a few bucks, he could bang this remake out in about three weeks with about a $100,000 budget.

Rabid Dogs is a tale told in real time. Four lowlife criminals rob a bag of payroll cash from a group of men. The cops are quick to get there so, smartly the baddies run. Their driver gets shot and killed and their car is destroyed. What's a group of psycho killers on the run to do? Take hostages, that's what. And so they do. The rest of the movie takes place, like the box says, inside a speeding car. In the car are: Doc, the leader and a man who likes his eyewear. 32, the psycho killer rapist type, who has a 32 centimeter, uh -- anyway, and Blade -- the knife wielder of our psycho circus. Their victims are: a crying woman named Maria who suffers endless torture at the hands of 32 and Blade, a sick child laying comatose in the back seat and a scared man driving the car. The film is tightly wound and builds to a shocking conclusion, that I won't spoil.

Directed by Mario Bava, the macabre mind who brought us Black Sabbath and Diabolik, Rabid Dogs is the only film that Bava made that took place in the real world. It's also a film that's lucky to be seeing the light of day. With the help of Lucertola Media and the Video Watchdog himself Tim Lucas, we can all (or at least those of us with DVD players) witness a mean spirited and well-rounded caper film. It's great to see a movie that you know nothing about, and no one else does either. This is a virgin flick, and it was a joy to witness it unfold. Recently saved from never being seen by one of it's lead stars (Lea Lander who played Maria), Rabid Dogs is being seen for the first time since it was competed almost 25 years ago. There's another "Wow!" for ya.

On DVD, it's quality is even par. There is compression noise throughout the film, not as much as say Anchor Bay's Halloween or any of the other Anchor Bay titles, but enough to be noticeable. Not distracting mind you, but noticeable. The extras more than make up for it -- they are a film lovers dream. Every aspect of the film is covered -- its history, the history of its cast and crew, even the history of its reconstruction are listed in a heavy essay section. Written by Lucas, it explains his involvement and his wishes for the audience. It's nicely written, and my hat goes off to this fine researcher and fellow Bava fan. The sound is a straight mono and it's crisp and clear. No problem, but then again no big deal.

Bottom line

Like Ganga and Hess, Rabid Dogs is a movie that only DVD viewers can get. It's also an example of the great service being done with DVD. Here's a movie, that if it wasn't saved and put out on DVD, might never have been seen by audiences. DVD owners are a lucky bunch, and we owe it to these smaller companies like All Day and the German Lucertola Media. Viva lost classics. Viva DVD.

Todd Doogan
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