We all have those films whose titles we recognize, but that we’ve never actually seen for one reason or another. For those video store kids among you, perhaps the cover didn’t welcome you strongly enough or it scared you a little too much? Perhaps the subject matter just wasn’t up your alley? Whatever the reason, catching up with classics, underloved gems, and even turds that you’ve missed across the decades can be fun. Yes, I named this column Retro Patrol and it totally sounds like a cheesy nostalgia-fueled cartoon. No, I’m not sorry. This site is named The Schlocketeer, after all. You knew what you were getting into when you clicked on it. Now let’s go on Retro Patrol and enjoy the cinematic delights of…
Monster Dog (1984)
Directed by Claudio Fragasso
Produced by Carlos Aured
Screenplay by Claudio Fragasso
Starring Alice Cooper, Victoria Vera, Carlos Santurio, Pepa Sarsa, Pepita James, Emilio Lender, Barta Barri, Louis Maluenda, and Ricardo Palacios
aka The Bite, Leviatan, or Los Perros de la Muerte
Vincent Damon Furnier, better known as “The Godfather of Shock Rock”, Alice Cooper, stars in this Italian shocker. That alone, along with the Italian horror factor, made Monster Dog an instant watch when I finally got the opportunity to sit down with it. Toss in the fact that Cooper is starring as a riff on himself nam>ed Vincent Raven, is mucking about his killer dog-infested childhood home, and potentially dealing with a familial wewolf curse? I was so in the bag for this that I was willfully suffocating.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Monster Dog is a classic. It’s a pretty scrappy ’80s Italian horror production filled with bad acting and enough cheese that you could open a pizza parlor with, after all. It is, however, just simple good fun. Sure, the FX get wonky at times, but that’s part of the charm, as far as I am concerned. Add in some offbeat music videos (both set to catchy tunes), Cooper as a surprisingly solid lead, and plenty of atmosphere? Well, now you have a recipe for my enjoyment.
This trashy little gem comes courtesy of Italian garbage maven Claudio Fragasso. A frequent collaborator of directors Bruno Mattei and Joe D’Amato, Fragasso is probably best known as the man who made “the worst movie of all-time”. No, not Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959). We’re talking about Troll 2 (1990), the subject of the popular documentary Best Worst Movie (2009).
As amusing as Troll 2 can be, I find it a shame that it lies at the center of Fragasso’s popularity for many. While not a top tier talent like Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Michele Soavi, or Lucio Fulci, That said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit of a fan of some of his other works. Beyond Darkness (1990; aka La Casa 5), Zombi 4: After Death (1989), and Scalps (1987) all come to mind, I can now add Monster Dog to that list.
I’m beginning to wonder if I have a secret thing for Alice Cooper-laced horror films as well. After all, Prince of Darkness is one of John Carpenter’s most underrated flicks and Cooper’s theme song for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) is an all-timer. Although he does feature in both Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (2012). Perhaps I spoke too soon? Regardless, Monster Dog is a lot of schlocky fun and I can’t wait to add it to my collection.