White Dog is a film about two things - racism and primal instinct. When these two go hand in hand, we wind up with a film of this caliber. A single woman, while driving on the wet road at night, hits an albino German Shepard. She quickly gets out of her car and throws the wounded pup in the passenger seat. Upon taking him to the mild-mannered veterinarian, she is slapped with a bill and decides to hold onto him. Her Bruce Springsteen look-alike boyfriend eventually convinces her to set up a flyer displaying the beautiful found dog. After tacking them up for the duration of a couple scenes, the poor girl almost gets raped by a home intruder. What makes this scene so amazing, you ask? The suspense and tension builds up like a wildfire and uncorks it in your face. The dog is sitting on a chair sleeping, with a war film in the background. We witness a struggle and the dogs eyes flicker. Cannons and rifles are screaming across a battlefield. When the battle dies down, the man screams. This nice furry dog that we have seen turns into a bloodthirsty hound bent on ripping this man's throat out. Just when you think the rapist escapes, this dog jumps through a glass window.
Upon the man getting arrested, she loves the dog and decides to keep it. While the single woman is filming a scene in a movie, we notice the co-actor who is black. The dog's face contorts into a sheer mask of fury and attacks her viciously. Luckily, she doesn't press charges. The poor woman is confused as to why it attacked her and decides to sleep it out. The scene then cuts to a black delivery driver who gets mauled by the dog then crashes into a store. After a few more incidents, she realizes this is an attack dog.
Seeking help, she runs into a colored gentleman with her dog muzzled and leashed. The dog escapes and begins to try to bite the hapless man. All you can really hear is black people screaming about a "WHITE DOG". So, we find out that when this dog was a puppy, the owner hired black junkies to beat it rendering it hateful of the black skin. Enter Keys, a black lion trainer who decides to use the power of soul and redemption and makes it a personal challenge to try to convert this dog. They way they described this dog's "sickness" made it sound as if it were an urban legend. The final scene in this film is horrifying and basks in it's on brutality.
Now, this film worked for so many reasons. The dialogue is sharp and tactful while the actors are borderline great or decent. The score was composed by Ennio Morricone. It really completes the mood of the film. You'd think the star of this film would be Key's character but truth be told, it is the White Dog that steals the show. These dogs might be the most incredible acting team ever. These dogs jump through glass, attacks black people, and can act rabid on a single whim. They used 6 different dogs in this film to play our vicious lead. Samuel Fuller is a wizard behind the camera. Bizarre angles invade your screen and shows you a scene in an entirely new way. If only one film had the right to display Black Power, it would be this one. It doesn't shove morals in your face, it just explains to you that it is wrong. The film starts of mellow but then turns into a fast paced noirish film laced with scenes of horror.
This film was made in 1982 but was shelved for several years due to the racy elements. Samuel Fuller touched down with his own fears on this film. Just as in The Steel Helmet, he shows his opposition to racism, him being a Jew and all. Many film makers have shown their inspiration and gratitude towards Fuller such as Tarantino, Godard, and Jarmusch. He is truly a relevant director who is talented in his own regards. This film was adapted off of a book from author Romain Gary who wrote the book about his own dog. White Dog is a powerful film that is not ought to be missed. Expect an amazing transfer from Criterion here soon and save your money for this film. White Dog is a brutal, realist film that shows the horrors of mankind in a whole new light. This is easily the best "When Animals Attack" film ever made.