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By James Whittington, Sunday 18th February 2018
The 1970s saw a rise in the "nature runs amok" genre of cinema. Thanks to movies such as Frogs and Night of the Lepus (both released in 1972) and obviously Jaws in 1975 the idea of animals turning against us was a nice idea though some movies had more impact than others.
Dogs, from 1976 is a rare gem of the genre. Starring our very own David McCallum, an actor who adds a lot of gravitas to the movie, the film is a bloody affair that's more downbeat than I recall.
Man's best friend has turned against its owner and has started to hunt in packs and chow down on human flesh - in the streets, in the corridors of a university and even in the shower... no one is safe from being mauled by a vicious gang of blood thirsty four-legged fiends!
With a supporting cast that includes Linda Gray, a few years before she become known as Sue Ellen in Dallas, and Hill Street Blues regular George Wyner, the film is played completely straight especially in scenes where the animals are shot or killed. The plot does have some similarities with other such films in the genre such as a person in charge who won't listen to the heroes of the piece, but it does have enough originality to rise above these tropes. There's plenty of sequences of people running aimlessly away from the baying hounds with plenty of blood splashing around, and there is some fine moment of tension. The shower attack is very well done with knowing nods to Psycho.
Even though this was only one of a handful of features from director Burt Brinckerhoff, a man who would spend most of his time directing American TV shows, it's a well-paced piece and a shame that the rumoured sequel, Cats never surfaced. It moves along at a decent pace with McCallum proving he can "do" very mean and very moody very well whilst the cast of canines are as varied and vicious as you could want!
88 Films has given Dogs an excellent transfer, I bet it didn't look or sound this good when it was originally released and though there's some hiss on the mono soundtrack this only adds to the retro fun! By the way, this is the first time the film has been available in the UK since its VHS release. Forming part of their 88 Vault range the extras include The Making of Dogs - Featurette, How American Cinema Changed Hollywood Forever - Documentary, Theatrical Trailer and a TV Spot.
If you want a good Saturday night in with your mates with a cracking B-movie kind-of-a-thing then Dogs is for you.
For more info click here.
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