Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rottweiler (Spain, 2004)

After initially wetting his toes as the producer of Stuart Gordon's first three and still best films (Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986) and Dolls (1987)), Brian Yuzna entered the realm of horror film direction in 1989 with Society, a flawed if not perversely entertaining horror film with a socially satiric edge. Since then, Yuzna has regularly been involved with numerous films of varying levels of success as producer, writer, director or some combination thereof.
As a director, he's experienced highs such as Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and lows such as Progeny (1998), but no matter how bad any of his films are or are not, they almost always tend to be interesting, if not highly watchable and entertaining — particularly for fans of low budget and b-films.
A long-term resident of Spain, the films he actually directs are slowly but surely featuring less and less Anglo actors and are resorting more and more to the dubbing that so-many a bad-film lover treasures in true Euro-trash. Rottweiler falls squarely within this neuvo euro-trash sphere: with the exception of one early-dead escapee, all roles seem to be filled by Spanish-speakers. The primary source of the film is likewise Spanish: although credited to a story by the Spanish novelist Alberto Vázquez Figueroa, in all likelihood Rottweiler is probably based on his novel El Perro, which was already filmed in Spain as a political thriller in 1976.
This time around, however, Yuzna and his scriptwriter (Miguel Tejada-Flores, who did the script to the much better Screamers in 1995) have converted the dog into a canine Terminator and thus moved away from political allegory and towards sci-fi trash. And don't have any doubts about it, Rottweiler is indeed trash, but as simple as its storyline is, Yuzna milks the film for all it's worth. (Hell, if he can’t fit in another human to be shredded by the dog, then he’ll at least include a chicken!) OK, if you wanna toss in some intellectual claptrap, you might draw comparisons between the character's name (Dante) and his continual journey to find his gal (and redemption) with that old Italian classic we all had to read in school, but since (among other things) this flick's lost woman is called "Ula" and not "Beatrice" the comparison doesn’t go far.
Set in 2018, Rottweiler kicks off with Dante arriving at a chain gang and promptly escaping chained to another prisoner, but before the film has the chance of becoming some sci-fi version of The Defiant Ones (1958), the dog makes mincemeat of the black prisoner and then conveniently concentrates on his soul food lunch long enough for Dante to escape. The rest of the film flips back and forth between flashbacks of how Dante got in his situation — he and his fellow anti-establishment gal Ula (Irene Montalà) got their thrills by putting themselves in dangerous situations; unluckily, while accompanying illegal immigrants entering the land by water, they run afoul of Borg (Paul Naschy), an evil symbol of capitalism and the danger turns real — and Dante's quest to get to the city Puerto Angel, where he now thinks Ula is. Quickly caught by a chain gang guard and the dog, Dante manages to kill both and escape again, but five minutes later the dog is revealed to be a canine terminator that never stops...
In the end,
Rottweiler probably isn’t a very good film, but anyone who has the slightest fear of dogs will probably cringe in their seats and there are a few nice aspects to it — among others that the relatively defenseless hero ends up even more defenseless as one point and spends a good 10 minutes on the run both barefoot and nude (that’s what I call realism — not like in the much better sci-fi flick Larva in which a hot bit-part babe manages to get her bra back on before she goes on the run) and, best of all, a totally downer of an ending (more realism — sorta). All in all, considering that the flick is just one 91-minute-long chase film in which an innocent man on the run is pursued by a robo-dog bent on killing anything and everyone that crosses its path, Rottweiler zooms by quickly and effectively. And for a b-film, what more can you ask?

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