Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monster Dog(1985)d/Claudio Fragasso

Let the record show that I'm a huge Alice Cooper fan from waaaaay back.Some of you out there may have already gathered that from the review I did of The Nightmare last October.His legendary career spanning some forty years is overbrimming with dizzying highs and nauseating lows.Unfortunately,tonight's entry definitely falls into the latter category.After two stints in rehab nearly pulverized his musical legacy,by 1984,hard hearted Alice found himself at the bottom of the bargain bin looking up.With his albums being panned,the shock rocker turned to genre writer/director Claudio Fragasso for a film vehicle that would draw the brakes on his plummeting skid towards mediocrity.Not a good move,Coop.Luckily his collaboration with the man responsible for such non-classics as Rats:Night of Terror,Zombie 3,Hell of the Living Dead,and Troll 2,wasn't the final nail in Alice's artistic coffin,as he bounced back the following year with a successful heavy metal reinvention of his musical persona,and even scoring soundtrack work and a few cameos in some genre films,while this Spanish production thankfully sank into a quagmire of forgotten z-grade celluloid trash.Drawing positives from this mess,the two songs "Identity Crises" and "See Me in the Mirror" he provided for the soundtrack,though unavailable on any albums(save for the superior boxset "The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper"),are excellent.Sadly,the rest isn't appetizing to even a mangy,starving mutt.
Sometimes I'm...a dead ringer for Bob Cratchett?
Vince Raven is a top tier rockstar(played by rockstar-on-the-downswing,Alice Cooper,and badly dubbed by someone who is obviously NOT Alice Cooper)returning to his hometown to shoot a music video with a small crew in a conversion van,like so many of the biggest celebrity musicians were doing in the mid-eighties(cue eyeroll).Only,Raven's hometown holds few good memories for him since his father was afflicted with a rare heart disease that caused him to not only fly into a primal rage,but display characteristics of lycanthropy(!),ultimately getting him brutally eighty-sixed by the superstitious townfolk.After maneuvering the seventies vehicle through what seems like an eternity of atmospheric dry ice...err,umm...fog,Raven is stopped by the local sheriff and deputy who warn of a ravenous pack of wild dogs that have killed several times already,then break his balls about both his crazy rock n' roll,and his crazy daddy that they had to murder years ago.Further on down the soundstage...uhh,err...ominous night road,the van hits a dog,and when Raven's crew gets out to investigate,they stumble across a bloodied senile lunatic who's patterned himself a little too closely to Crazy Ralph from the Friday the 13th series.Dogs,wind,moon,death...whatever you say,claret chin.When they finally arrive at the mansion,it is barren,with no sign of Joss the caretaker to be found,save for some sandwiches he has made,and a "Welcome Home Vince" banner.Pull out all the stops for the rockstar.
"¡Le todo condenan!" says Crazy Ralph's Spanish cousin,twice removed.
After some momentary visions of Vince in werewolf makeup that makes The Werewolf(1956)look like The Howling(1980),the crew's attempt at shooting a gothic video in the mansion is interrupted by Joss's lifeless body crashing through an upstairs window and onto the terrified leading lady.Raven,still decked out in his slightly embarrassing video duds and makeup sets off to look for whatever did in his shaky handed malt-maker.While he's gone,a carload of scruffy local rabble pull up outside the mansion,looking like extras in a Leone western rip-off,and vowing to plug the rock n' roller fulla holes,and free the town we never get to see from the grip of moon-based mayhem.At this point,the pack of wild dogs lay siege to the huge house,led by what looks to be nothing more than an oversized Mardi Gras-style papier mache' head,and brutalizing both vigilantes and video crew alike.When it looks like curtains for Sandra(Victoria Vera),Raven's girlfriend/video director,who's barricaded herself in a room,Vince shows up out of nowhere,and mysteriously the dogs cease their attack,and lie at the two survivors feet as they tip toe out to safety,where Vince is clawed by the titular giant head before blasting it,and revealing through off-screen metamorphosis that the werewolf was....drumroll...the bloody geryatric whackjob.Raven,now caught up in the throes of the curse,pleads for Sandra to shoot him before he transforms into something unintentionally silly,and luckily,she does just that,as he languishes in mid-sub-par,south of the border change-o-head transformation.Bloodied and exhausted,the female survivor stumbles off,almost looking like she's been raped(she's not the only one who feels violated,believe me),before a reprise of Raven's earlier video takes us to credits.Thankfully,it's all over.
Have you seen yourself in the mirror lately,Alice?
If you can get past the fact that very little happens for long periods of time...arond ninety minutes worth,to be precise,and a hokey script full of corny speeches like:"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.",you might just get a few kicks out of this.Alice Cooper treads dangerously close to wooden cigar store indian territory with this performance,and face it,if you're a rockstar in real life that can't convince people you're a rockstar on the big're pretty much effed,buddy.The effects are piss-weak,the supporting cast is relatively uninteresting,and the pacing is bound to have you yawning and looking at the clock on the wall repeatedly.I can't recommend this to anyone,save the hardest core Cooper completists.

...More like papier mache' dog.


Balberith said...

Even though you gave this a piss rating, I still want to see it. Alice is great, and though he appears a bit washed out, I would want to see the performance.

beedubelhue said...

The two songs he provides are definitely the highlight here.Otherwise,it's guilty fun kicking the Coop while he was down,knowing he didn't stay down very long afterwards.

Keith said...

I just came across your blog. I really like it a lot. I definitely plan to come back more often. Have a good weekend.

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beedubelhue said...

Thanks for the kind words,and the words I didn't quite comprehend,as someone who doesn't speak a lick of the Asian languages.Good to be back on the beam!

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