Dog Day After-Apocalypse
In a post-nuke setting, a young Don Johnson (!) and his talking dog (!!!) are roaming the wastelands, in search for food and women. Just when you thought you’ve seen it all in this dry & dusty genre, A Boy and his Dog come along…
A Boy and his Dog is a downright awesome and quintessential Sci-Fi/cult/black comedy classic and you will undoubtedly rank it high among your list of favourites, but only IF your interest & taste in cinema surpasses the everyday type of mediocre and politically correct mainstream blockbusters and IF your sense of humor is as black as the winter night itself. Based on a short story by novelist Harlan Ellison, the film belongs in the Sci-Fi sub category of post-apocalyptic movies, but there’s far more than meets the eye.
The apocalyptic theme and the nuclear wasteland setting may perhaps come across as familiar, but the character drawings and particularly the comical approach are something entirely unique and simply delicious! The year is 2024, World War IV -- which only lasted five days -- tore every form of civilisation to pieces and whatever’s left of the earth’s population, is licking its wounds. We follow the remarkable survivor Vic (Don Johnson) and his dog Blood (tiger from The Brady Bunch, no kidding), with whom he has an unexplained telepathic connection. The duo spends the days prowling for food and pursuing female survivors in order to still Vic’s sexual hunger. What makes the formula truly exceptional, however, is how Blood provides deeply cynical commentaries on everything they encounter and especially on Vic’s sexual frustration. They do eventually spot a lonely female (Susanne Benton)at a ramshackle adult theater, but she turns out to be on a mission to recruit fertile young man and lure them back to “Down Under”. This doesn’t refer to Australia, but to a middle-earth lair where a strange and creepy collection of freaks (with white-painted clown faces) managed to preserve some sort of community. Now they’re dying out, however, and need sleazy Vic to impregnate their girls.
A Boy and his Dog is bluntly divided into two main chapters; one above ground and one underground. The odyssey through post-apocalyptic landscapes isn’t exactly original (remember all those Last Man on Earth flicks including ?), but the wisecrack and darkly humorist interactions between Vic and Blood give a whole new ambience to the concept. The second half, taking place underground in the society called Topeka, lacks the wittiness of Blood’s dog persona, but this gets more or less compensated by the sheer weirdness of the new characters and the genuinely unsettling atmosphere hanging over the underground society. The clown make-up is ghoulish and their leader -- stupendous role of Jason Robards -- is a menacing kind of dictator who sends all violators of the law to a place called “The Farm”, whatever the hell that may be (as we never get to see it).
A Boy and his Dog is a terrific film that I would recommend to every open-minded fan of cult cinema. The only minor defaults are occasionally abrupt editing and a shortage of settings, but you could easily blame the poor production values for this. The picture and sound quality look perhaps a bit dated, but the ideas and the courageous elaboration are still extremely progressive and remain quite shocking even to this day. If you don’t believe me, just wait until you witness the out-and-out amazing end twist! Seriously, if I wasn’t sure of it already, the ending would definitely convince me to interpret A Boy and his Dog as one of the biggest sleeper-masterpieces of the 1970′s.