Monster Dog (1984)

Somehow, Claudio Fragrasso and Alice Cooper made a movie together and no one talks about it. Well I am! How does this movie not get talked about more often? It’s completely deranged! If you think that all Fragrasso did was Troll 2 (well, I can go way deeper than that, thanks to my devotion to his works like Night Killer and Shocking Dark), good news. He’s ready to blow your mind all over again.

Vince Raven (Alice!) starts the film in a music video for his song “Identity Crisis.” Soon, he’s taking his girlfriend Sandra and a film crew to his childhood home to shoot another video.

Before they get there, the house’s caretaker is preparing a party for Vince. He hears the howls of some wild dogs and is soon attacked by them. The next morning, our hero makes his way home when he’s stopped at a barricade by two police officers. It turns out that there have been some attacks in town and they advise Vince to not even go home, but if he does, to lock the door and have weapons. As soon as the van drives away, a dog kills both of the cops. But not just any dog — a Monster Dog!

The van then hits a car and instead of watching the dog suffer, Vince smashes its head with a rock. if that’s not rough enough, a blood-covered man appears from the woods telling everyone that they’ll die, except for Vince.

Angela keeps having bad dreams, such as the bloody man from the woods killing everyone and Vince reading a book on werewolves which reveals that he is the Monster Dog. Later, she finds him in the same chair as her dream, reading the same book and he reveals that his father was a werewolf that was blamed for the deaths in town. He was then stabbed, covered with gasoline and burned alive. What a vacation!

Soon, they are recording the video for “See Me in the Mirror” when the caretaker’s body crashes through a window and lands on Angela, who runs in fear. Vince follows just as a carload of armed men arrives at the house and takes everyone hostage. Angela runs back into the house just in time to get shot by one of the men, then wild dogs invade and bite everyone and anyone they can.

Two of the girls, Sandra and Marilou run upstairs, as the dogs give chase. Vince is somehow able to control the dogs, appearing in the midst of fog as if he were in a music video. Everyone is able to make it to the car, but Marilou is killed by the Monster Dog, which also attacks Vince.

It turns out that the dog was the old man from the woods, who has now transformed Vince into the next generation of Monster Dog. Sandra finds him and he asks her to kill him before he transforms. So she does, then we see another music video for “Identity Crisis.”

This movie is inane, it makes no sense and it’s gorgeous. I loved every single second of it, loudly applauding nearly every twist of its plot that made less and less sense the longer the story went on. I also love that everyone’s lines are dubbed, including Alice Cooper’s, who speaks English.

Here’s another reason to love Fragrasso. When the dogs chase the girls up the steps, that was supposed to be a single take, which was a hard shot to get. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that the dogs had been deprived of food so the actresses were worried that they’d be attacked, as they had their clothes packed with warm meat. And then, halfway through the shot, the still photographer ran out of film and yelled “Cut!” instead of Fragrasso, who went full shithouse, grabbed a shotgun and began firing it into the air as he chased the photographer around the set, dogs barking and snapped and running with him.

So how did this all happen? Well, Alice Cooper had been an alcoholic for most of his adult life and then got into cocaine. His career and health paid the price, so he got sober in 1983 as his record label dropped him. Unsure of what to do next, he was offered this movie and decided to do it, but was promised that it would never come out in America. Oh Alice — don’t trust an Italian filmmaker.

Fragasso edited a cut that he liked in Spain, where this was shot, then headed home to Italy. That’s when the producers took it to America and dropped twenty minutes of footage, changed the dialogue and added the music video at the end. Frgassso had no idea this was happening and was obviously crestfallen. Luckily, the Japanese version has his cuts and the recent Kino Lober release has all of the deleted and altered scenes.

Alice said of the film, “I didn’t want to do a heavy budget movie. I said if I do one of these I want to make sure it’s sleazy. I want it to be really cheap. I said, “How many people do we get to kill in this?” They told me it would never get released in the movie houses, and I said, “Great. It should just be one of those movies you can rent at the video place.: And they said that’s what it would be, so I did it … I got a lot of money for it [laughs]. I think I was the biggest part of the budget.”

I’d recommend grabbing the Kino Lober blu ray of this movie. It’ll entertain the hell out of you!

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