Friday, July 29, 2011

bad/awesome flixxx review: The Plague Dogs (1982)

"Just a proposition, bonny lads. If ye'll hunt with me, I'll keep ye right, and ye'll have yer meat, we'll run through the night and follow me feet..."- The Tod

"Have you ever thought, Rowf... that we won't need food when we're dead? Or names for that matter... I wonder who the buzzards will like best... You, or me... I hope you make sure we're properly dead before you start, old rip-beak!"- Snitter

"Something's been burnt in there. It's a death place. Bones, hair..."- Rowf

HUGE SCORE in Richmond! I found this super rare cartoon film on a recent trip up there. It's another heavy, and I'm not talking Combat Shock heavy. I'm talking about most people that are sensitive especially where animals are concerned would have a hard time watching this. Its not for kiddies. And, there's nothing BAD that happens, its just about a sad situation concerning animals that are being experimented on in the early eighties in a national park in England. Whew, one of the first scenes made me cringe for sure. But, all in all, its a film about freedom, true freedom, and experiencing the opposite, only to escape and relish the moments, wondering where your place is now that you are free. Funny, because my feeling and that description would fit another film I (finally after 17 years) watched the other day. When the old librarian and Morgan Freeman are released after so long in THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, its a similar feeling. They'd been locked up so long, they didn't know what to do, or where to go. A hell of a tale, from the author Richard Adams, and the same director Martin Rosen who directed Adams other film adaptation WATERSHIP DOWN, I present to you THE PLAGUE DOGS!!!

In the beginning of this film we have some dudes at a research facility making a black lab (Rowf) swim until he eventually drowns and then they resuscitate him. It's implied that that this has been done numerous times because he is able to swim longer each time. He is super bummed. He hates the "whitecoats". His neighbor in the cages is a little fox terrier named Snitter with a bandage on his head. One night the guy who feeds them accidentally leaves Rowf's cage unlatched. Snitter is a schemy nosy little guy and he sneaks under the wire between their cages. Rowf is ready to give up hope of ever living a normal life again, and wishes for death. Snitter informs him that they can leave his cage, and goads him to follow along. They snoop around the facility knocking over rat cages and making a mess, until they reach the incinerator. They jump down into it in hopes of escaping. They finally do escape right before one of the night dudes throws another dead doggie in to dispose of him.

They are excited to be away from the whitecoats, but realize quickly that they aren't in a regular neighborhood. Snitter says they should seek out a master like his old one, and begins to have flashbacks of how he ended up in the facility in the first place. It never says what really happened, but apparently his first master was hit by a car, and Snitter blames himself and figures that their are flies in his head that caused the damage. They try to become sheep dogs by mimicking two dogs out in a field, but are run off by the dogs, and warned that those dogs master would shoot them if they stuck around. They kept searching and found shelter in a cave high up on a canyon overlooking the sheep's fields. Living in the cave they met a sly old fox with a funny accent called "The Tod".

The Tod convinces the boys to hunt with him, helping him catch and kill the sheep that he could never do by himself. Only he does it in a meticulous manner hoping to stall the shepard from finding out for as long as possible. He then gets pissed when Rowf kills a sheep without his say so, and storms off saying they'll be dead soon. The shepards ARE pissed and launch a small investigation after hearing that 2 dogs escaped the facility. The dogs soon stir up more and more trouble, and the news catches wind of the trouble. The compound that trouble, Snitter accidentally kills a man who would have probably adopted him, by stepping on the trigger of his gun. Now the news really picks up and the facility starts to feel the pressure. They send an assassin after the dogs, and spread rumors that the dogs may be carrying the bubonic plague (or maybe they actually were, maybe someone else spread those rumors, it was hard to tell where that came from).

The Tod helps the boys again when the assassin is almost upon them, and the hunter falls to his death. They eat the hunter because they were starving to death. When the army is called in to find these dogs that may have the plague and have killed at least 2 humans, its a race for survival. The Tod helps them hop a train before being caught himself, and then they make it a few stops down and race for the sea. Snitter swears he sees an island and tells Rowf to swim for it, but then he assumes its just the flies in his head again, and gives up beginning to drown. Rowf finally spots the island and tells Snitter to keep swimming, as a heavy fog rolls in. The movie ends not telling you whether or not they make it to the island or if Rowf was just holding out for a little bit longer. HEAVY! Heavy shit man. I don't think a bunch of buddies could sit through this one. Its a tearjerker.
They didn't make many copies of this film, and the super rare version only had 8000 made. Who knows how many are left out there, but if you like heavy stuff, animated masterpieces, or are an advocate of proper treatment of animals, this one may be for you. Or not. I dug it.

1 comment:

  1. I had to watch this movie in parts because I just couldn't sit through the whole thing without tearing up. Powerful stuff.