Not surprising that this wild tale is based on a true story (Fuller’s modus operandi usually) — it is violent and charmingly crude
Never released in the US in theater – and it does have a movie of the melodramatic feel to it—but don’t be fooled- there is talent all over the place working on this film. It is, of course, directed by Sam Fuller- one of the greats (whose regular milieu was low-budget and the shocker “B” movie arena). It has a great score from Ennio Morricone (who worked a lot- lots of IMDB credits), co-written by Curtis Hansen (who would go on to direct and write LA Confiddential 15 years later) and shot by Bruce Surtees (who would do Dirty Harry, Lenny and Risky Business in 1983 the following year here)
The titular dog character is rescued by Kristy McNichol and then he saves her from a rape (yes this is Sam Fuller, no half-measures- he’s wielding a sledge hammer most of the time) and she’s attached. He’s been trained to be racist though.
There’s the melodrama of her story and the dog. But it also plays like a serial killer movie or Jaws-like monster movie. There’s also the social aspect rehabilitation of the dog which Fuller has hit before (this is very much the director of Shock Corridor). I also see a war reading of the film—like the dog was trained to kill (and be racist in this case), a soldier, and you have to unlearn the behavior.
Slow-motion photography used effectively and often—Fuller and Surtees’ main visual tool during the attacks like a Woo film—at 25 minutes with the fake Hollywood backdrop- a solid sequence—another one at 43 minutes of the dog attacking again.
At 90 minutes – it is the equivalent of a pulp fiction modest little page-turner- a fascinating film
At the finale we have the bars from the arena making shadows in the sand—at 82 minutes another longer slow-motion sequence. This is the year after Chariots of Fire with the slow-motion so maybe that’s a reason (I didn’t see much in Fuller’s The Big Red One just two years before in 1980). But the slow-motion photography set to a rousing Morricone score is great cinema (and reminiscent of The Untouchables and Casualties of War from De Palma—who used a ton of slow-motion and worked with Morricone often)
The final archiveable film and last film in the US made by Fuller
Highly Recommend – top 10 of the year quality film
[…] White Dog – Fuller […]