JUNE 12, 2010
I hate when Blockbuster’s description for a film is way different/better than the actual film. For Rottweiler, they made it sound like a typical “back from the dead to get revenge on the killers” tale (think Dark Night of the Scarecrow), albeit with a dog that was fitted with robotic parts. In short, awesome. But it’s actually about a guy who is looking for his girlfriend, only to be continually hunted by a dog. In short, not terrible, but that’s about it.
The main problem with the movie is that it’s trying to present this oppressive future (2018) and they had about 79 cents for sets and costumes and such. You can’t just SAY that you’re in some Escape From New York-esque world, you gotta show it. Luckily, for the most part our guy and the dog are running around in hills and deserts and rivers, but when he finally makes it to civilization, all we see is some dingy nightclub and a few guys in body armor. The future!
Worse, the movie unfolds like a 1st season episode of Lost, where we are following not only a present day scenario but also seeing flashbacks that show how the characters ended up in that scenario. But there’s no whhhhhhhhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr to let us know that we’re in said flashback (or coming out of it), and they take place in the same sort of locales, so it gets confusing which is flashback and which is present. Not helping matters is the dog’s constantly changing appearance - sometimes it has metal teeth, sometimes not. Sometimes we see its POV in a blue tint, other times sepia, etc. Plus, they use a real dog for the most part, but an animatronic puppet for close-ups, which never quite looks right as the jaws sort of awkwardly rub over the intended body part instead of actually chomping away.
I will say one thing though: I never knew where the story was going. The script is constantly switching gears - he’s on the run from a bounty hunter on minute, then he’s seeking shelter with a bunch of dudes the next. Then later on he seeks aid at the home of a woman and her daughter, where the woman proceeds to more or less rape him as the daughter (the little girl from Pan’s Labyrinth, actually) is menaced by the dog in the next room. Add that with all the flashbacks, including some featuring Paul Naschy as some sort of evil tycoon, and you have a movie with far more going on than just a killer dog.
I also liked the ending, as it rectified a problem I had with the movie throughout, which is that the dog just wanted to kill him, but by running he kept getting other folks killed (including the girl’s mother - right in front of her!). It’s one thing for a lone Good Samaritan to be dispatched as the result of trying to help a group of people, but another for so many to die in order to aid the further escape of one dude. Plus he’s sort of a dick even before all of the dog stuff, so he’s not really the best hero. The ending at least ensures he doesn’t go unpunished for dragging so many people into his mess. Nor does he go unpunished for assaulting my eyes - he spends about 5-7 minutes of the film completely naked, with several frontal shots. Though I guess that’s only fair given all of the female nudity that horror films have offered guys over the past 30-40 years. And he looks kind of like a cross between Terrance Zdunich (Repo’s Graverobber) and Josh Holloway, so enjoy, ladies!
The DVD has a few extras, including some brief interviews with the cast, DP, and FX guys (all in Spanish with subs, except the FX dudes who speak English). Nothing particularly exciting, though the behind the scenes footage (18 minutes or so) is worth a look for seeing how they worked with the dog, covering the little guy in blood and other appliances (he doesn’t seem to mind) and trying to get him to follow directions. Oddly, director Brian Yuzna barely appears, which is a bummer as I think he’s an interesting guy. Not a big fan of any of his films, but he’s interesting to listen to (as evidenced on the Re-Animator DVD) and has had a very eclectic career AND life (born in the Philippines, raised in various areas of Central America, and eventually moved to the States). Plus the movie is from Fantastic Factory, which is his own company, so I would think he’d have some interesting insight, as few directors are also involved with putting a film together as well as being heavily involved with getting them distributed. Oh well.
One final note - the film is based on a book (“El Perro”, which I remember enough to know is “The Dog”). If it’s translated into English I wouldn’t mind reading it. The concept of melding an “in the near future” backdrop with a Terminator-esque killer dog is pretty awesome, and I’m sure the flashback structure worked better on paper as well. But if it’s only in Spanish then I will have to skip it, as I pretty much only remember “perro” (and “gato” - cat).
What say you?