Mar 2, 2009

Rabid Dogs

For reasons that I will examine later, Rabid Dogs is largely a film that eschews modern techniques in modern thrillers and demonstrates a remarkable aptitude for creating an illusion of both fear and security. These facets of this killer car ride go hand in hand thanks to the incredible acting effort of Riccardo whose suave demeanor and relaxed, although sweaty, countenance allows for a breath of fresh air every shot or so. That is until the intensity of the score picks up again. The score is what begins building the suspense at the base of the film. It's always there waiting, watching for the opportune time to slowly build up into a foreboding tune of real time tragedy. All these mentioned pieces come together to create a perfect introductory masterpiece to Mario Bava, who has not only inspired Dario Argento, but also inspires me.

As aforementioned, Rabid Dogs is the first film of Mario Bava's that I've seen. I've only heard legends of the director and tall tales of his filmic legacy but never examined the proof that more or less has been in plain sight most of my cinematic ascension. While hunting down various Nature attacks! films, the title Rabid Dogs caught my eye. Personally, my favorite novel is William Essex's The Pack; a novel so ferociously enjoyable that it will take a bite out of you. When eying the title, my cerebral machinations clicked and the two revealed themselves as being apposite with one another and I had to see more. Seeing that it was Bava, I thought to myself "Might as well" and thus was how I became introduced to a passionate, yet angry director. Much of Rabid Dogs deserves to be dissected and analyzed so bare with me.

Rabid Dogs opens ideally with a far-out introduction video highlighting many scenes in a retro-groove fashion of psychedelic rotoscoping. The technical score performed by Stelvio Cipriani is one of the great Italian themes of any era. I'd even go as far as to say this recurring theme tops anything the uber-popular Goblin ever created save for the theme to Buio Omega. After the groovy opening credits subside, the film begins rather abruptly with a robbery and murder of a treasurer. The robbers make their getaway but not without suffering the loss of a partner in crime. After kidnapping a young woman and holding her hostage, the film quickly adheres to a strict rape/revenge storyboard but Rabid Dogs derails quickly and unveils a much more visceral torture for you rather than cheap shock tricks dictating perversions of the flesh.

Stopping to switch cars, the crew of criminals and hostage take refuge in a car helmed by suavester Riccardo who is taking his sick and sedated child to the hospital. His bucolic visage towards being hijacked is rather unnerving and leaves an odor of mischief but you're never quite sure of what's on your mind during Rabid Dogs. You want Riccardo to show compassion and empathy but you never quite get that. Just to create an idea of how he's doing "the proper thing," the incessant female captive begins screaming and struggling which only pisses off her executioners. Using Riccardo as a pawn was a great and formal idea to show desperation as a comparative piece. His overall attitude is that of what you be should show in case you ever wind up in a similar situation. In a fit of bonding, the Doctor even gives Riccardo favors and treats him as a human, not a body shield. Rabid Dogs would serve as an informative PSA summing up with the words "Don't be a hero, kid."

The Italian myth and stereotype normally incorporates the words "greasy." I've never paid enough mind to how these origins came about and the only example that springs to thought is Stallone's wop-classics - the Rambo series. Rabid Dogs takes the close-up of a sweaty face popularized by spaghetti westerns and adds a dash of madness and sexual frenzy to this formula. Our Stallone impersonator Aldo Caponi plays the maniac of the bunch. He's killed before but it seems to be an act he regrets. Later, to prove his virility, he shows signs of desensitization and offers to kill again just to prove that he is a man. He kills later out of compassion for us, the audience, but soon after vomits. I would too if I just forever silenced the most annoying female to ever be immortalized on film that isn't Fran Drescher.

Cohort Thirtytwo is an enormous fella whose preoccupation rests in sexual deviance and staring at nice sets of tits. In many scenes, his stature and figure are artistically dramatized as to show that a struggle would be useless. For most, a feeling of helplessness spreads throughout as we see Riccardo and Thirtytwo stand by each other. The criminal selection for this film is utterly amazing and only initiates the crude atmosphere that ricochets and expands. From each of the three villains, the culmination of the climax could never be expected and can never be forgot. What springs to mind after reading the basic plot summary is a minimalistic version of From Dusk Till Dawn. In case you haven't connected the dots, Tarantino is known for stealing things he likes almost like a child. Seeing as how he is the scribe behind From Dusk Till Dawn, it seems the no film is safe from his legal plagiarism.

Rabid Dogs is a film that I could spend days writing about. Each ferocious angle and note in this film is an absolute hit to me. Rabid Dogs was "lost" for years due to the deaths of producers and lack of funding. After Mario's son, Lamberto Bava, decided to alter the film and title it Kidnapped, the film lost much of the intensity. I can make this factual assumption this because the score was altered and this is a fatal mistake. I've never taken Lamberto Bava as a serious director and his only real contribution towards film was Demons but his reputation still stands as being the offspring of a legend of Italian terror. The twist ending is unbeatable in terms of holding a mirror to the nature of humanity. Nothing screams crime classic like this quintessential car caper. Rabid Dogs is the perfect introductory piece of raw film making from a director whose eye's scream violence and express a fervor for constructing neo-realism.



thebonebreaker said...

Sounds good ~ I will definitely have to check this one out!

Nigel M said...

The score on this film is absolute dynamite- not seen the other version so can't comment(though I do have both versions here somewhere). Not sure the film is a good introduction to Bava (its a bit different for him) but as a work of eurocrime it is as good as if not better than most of the genre classics(almost human, colt 38 special squad and milan calibre 9 etc)