29th Oct2014

‘Rabid Dogs’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Lea Lander, George Eastman, Riccardo Cucciolla, Don Backy, Maurice Poli, Maria Fabbri, Erika Dario, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Francesco Ferrini, Emilio Bonucci, Pino Manzari, Ettore Manni | Written by Alessandro Parenzo | Directed by Mario Bava


Mario Bava for me is a director I mostly know for horror films and his importance to not only Giallo but the slasher genre.  Now that Arrow Video have released Rabid Dogs on Blu-ray I see a new side to him, one that may have come too late for movie fans to fully enjoy but one that showed how good a director he truly was.

When a robbery goes wrong  a gang of crooks are forced to take a woman prisoner and end up hijacking a car taking the man inside and his sick son prisoner. Refusing to get out and allow the man to take his son to the hospital they force him to help them escape into the countryside.

Rabid Dogs is a film that sat unwatched by audiences for decades. Not only affected by the death of Mario Bava but also hindered by the bankruptcy of the company who owned it, court cases ensued and the film that was made in the seventies didn’t see the light of day for way too long. Knowing how such troubles can affect movies I’m sure the main worry for the audience, but thankful for the most part Rabid Dogs is a good film and better than you would expect. With elements that remind me of The Last House on the Left, but not extreme it’s a tale of characters that we don’t really like doing things that remind us just how evil they are.

Arrow Video do warn us at the start of the film that the picture quality varies and this is noticeable as it moves from very good to suddenly what feels like VHS quality at times. This isn’t something that affects the enjoyment of the film too much and it is interesting to show just what a difference is in the print. Two versions of the film are available of the film showing different edits and even different scenes. I prefer the original version though as the update to the film score and certain changes to speed up the film are too noticeable for me. The score in Rabid Dogs is one of the highlights of the film, so it’s strange that it was updated for Kidnapped but this is one of the choices that were made to seemingly try and improve the film.

Special features for Rabid Dogs are interesting, especially the commentary by Bava biographer Tim Lucas. He provides plenty of facts about the film and really puts into context what it took to finally get the movie released and available for the fans. It is interesting just how much this film was a change for Mario Bava and how he was using it to reinvigorate his career. It’s a real shame that he didn’t get to see the release, especially that after all the years it remained unavailable there is still an audience out there that not only want to see it, but once they have seen are positive about what they have just seen.

As I said before, I see Mario Bava as more of a horror director but his name is enough to catch my attention and hopefully most horror fans will be the same. Bava shows what he does best in Rabid Dogs and although he would have probably made changes during the editing process he still created a memorable movie that has a refreshing feel to it.  This isn’t a film about happy endings, this is about looking at the evils that men do. I won’t spoil the ending, but I found it refreshingly surprising which makes Rabid Dogs something of a hidden gem just waiting for fans to find, and find it they should.

**** 4/5

Rabid Dogs is available on dual format Blu-ray now, courtesy of Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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