||A Boy and His Dog
1975 - NC-17 - 97 Mins.
|Director: L.Q. Jones|
|Producer: L.Q. Jones, Alvy Moore|
|Written By: L.Q. Jones from a story by Harlan Ellison|
|Starring: on Johnson, Susanne Benton, Jason Robards, Tim McIntire, Alvy Moore, Helene Winston, Charles McGraw |
|Review by: James O'Ehley
Yes, the title is ironic.
The “boy” is a pre-stubble and MIAMI VICE Don Johnson and “his dog” is Tiger, the original TV Brady Bunch’s dog.
The year is a post-apocalyptic 2024. World War IV, being a full exchange of nuclear weapons, lasted a full five days the opening scrawl informs us. Immediately we know that this is a movie made in the 1970s not because of its social commentary, but because decades later Hollywood would no longer assume that their audiences are literate and movies such as JUDGE DREDD would have an opening text scrawl accompanied by a voice-over reading aloud whatever is scrawling across the screen!
Johnson plays Vic, a loner whose needs are pretty low on the Maslow hierarchy, namely survival, food and sex. His dog is named Blood.
Incidentally they can communicate telepathically and the dog can also “sense things” and thus helps Vic scan for potential enemies as well as women to rape. Vic isn’t a very nice guy, but then again so is everybody else in this world in which law and order has collapsed completely. In fact, the most human character is probably the dog, who incidentally is a whole lot smarter than Vic.
The plot kicks in when Vic is lured to an underground society which is the exact opposite of the world Vic and Blood inhabits: repressive, totalitarian and rigidly structured. There he becomes involved in a half-baked plot to get rid of the so-called “committee” that rules this fascist society.
If any of this sounds familiar, then you have probably read the novella by sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison on which it is based. Being a 1970s movie the tone is mordant, vicious, witty and black-humored. With its dark subject matter and its intelligent true science fiction premise, A BOY AND HIS DOG will probably never get made today. It is simply too off-beat.
Well-acted with some funny dialogue, the only thing that lets A BOY AND HIS DOG down is its cheap production values, especially tinny sound and poor print quality. The recently re-released DVD however goes some way in rectifying this. Do not, I repeat not, watch this movie on pan ‘n’ scan VHS – you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. In fact I ritually burned my VHS copy after receiving my new DVD.
A BOY AND HIS DOG has deservedly built quite a cult following since its original release and clearly influenced the MAD MAX movies, particularly THE ROAD WARRIOR. If you’re the type who liked A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, then this movie is for you.
However, if you’re allergic to poor production values and prefer Hollywood’s current glitzy and empty-headed cinematic output, then you are advised to stay clear of A BOY AND HIS DOG.
The rest of us can however check out a true science fiction classic . .