The Film (3/5)
I had no sense of humor as a kid. If a film sucked, it sucked, there was no other way of looking at it. MONSTER DOG was a film when I rented it with a group of friends at the age of 12, got turned off 20 minutes in, and never got turned back on for 20 years until the Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber in conjunction with Scorpion Releasing ended up on my doorstep. I remember the thought of a werewolf film starring horror-rock icon Alice Cooper seemed almost too enticing, and rented it immediately upon seeing it on the shelf at my local Video Library. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with the work of Italian trash auteur Claudio Fragrasso (or his various pseudonyms in the case of Monster Dog, Clyde Anderson).
Monster Dog stars Alice Cooper as Vince Raven a rock star who goes back to his rural hometown to shoot a music video at his late parent's mansion. Before his arrival a series of murders begins blamed on a pack of wild dogs lead by a "Monster Dog" or werewolf. As Vince and the crew try to shoot their video they are intrerrupted by wild dogs, and pissed off locals, as Vince and his girlfriend Angela try to figure out what is going on around them.
This is going to sound strange, but I had unusually high expectations for Monster Dog. In the last few years, I've come around to the trashier side of Italian horror having previously ignored it in favor of the more solid material the genre offered. Fragrasso has thus become a firm favorite as the co-writer of Bruno Mattei's Rats: Nights of Terror and Hell of the Living Dead, and the director of the infamous Troll 2, and Zombi 4: After Death. When I put on Monster Dog, I expected something as bizarre as the aforementioned titles. What I got was a tiny bit more serious, much better directed, and certainly not as "bad" as I remember.
No one will ever mistake Monster Dog as a great werewolf or monster film, but the film is a solid little chiller from Fragrasso with decent atmosphere, and an interesting setting. There is some cheesiness that is simply inherent in the premise, and Fragrasso’s execution, but it's overall a solid affair. The cast at least fit there roles on a visual level, but they are badly dubbed (even star Alice Cooper is post-dubbed here). There is violence, and gore, though not to any great extreme, but what is here is solid, and reasonably well done. I guess in the end I will say I do recommend it to horror fans, but if fans of Fragrasso are expecting something along the bonkers lines of Troll 2 or After Death, they should have their expectations in check.
Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing present Monster Dog in a quite excellent 1080p AVC encoded 1:85:1 transfer. The transfer as presented has deep inky blacks, excellent fine detail, and nicely reproduced colors throughout. There is some moderate, but natural grain throughout.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA track in English. Unfortunately, there is no subtitle option available. Dialogue and score are decently clear for the most part, though I did find myself having to juggle the volume a bit throughout the presentation.
Kino Lorber and Scorpion have really outdone themselves with their release of Monster Dog. This is a film most people expected wouldn't get a release on Blu-ray at all, let alone a nice special edition like this. The main extra here is entitled Lord of the Dogs and is a 43 minute documentary look back on the film with Fragrasso, and some of the cast. We also get deleted scenes, trailers, and a still gallery.
No one is about to make the mistake that Monster Dog is quality cinema, but it is a fun way to kill an hour and a half. It is quite a bit more restrained than I am used to from Claudio Fragrasso, but I still had quite a bit of fun with it. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good, and has a nice slate of extras. RECOMMENDED.