Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rottweiler (2004)

I've always kind of liked horror filmmaker Brian Yuzna. Yeah, he's not in the same echelon as people like David Cronenberg and George Romero, and a few of his films are real clunkers, but the best of Yuzna's work is filled with a vibrant, maniac energy. He loads his flicks with outrageously over-the-top sex and violence, and his best films ("Society" and the two "Dentist" films) have welcome flourishes of jet black humor. Yuzna got his start in film as the producer of Stuart Gordon's "Re-Animator" in 1985, and the producer and co-writer of Gordon's "From Beyond" in 1986. Yuzna starting directing films soon afterwards with the low-budget "Society." Since then, he's really only directed a handful of films, more often serving as a producer (oddly enough, he and Gordon also co-wrote "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." The two continue to collaborate, most recent on "Dagon" (2001) and "Beyond Re-Animator" (2003), both produced in Spain by Yuzna's Fantastic Factory). Sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s, he relocated to Spain, which has been his base of operations ever since.

Why all the background? I don't know, why not? "Rottweiler" is definitely among the best of Yuzna's directorial efforts. It's an odd mix of sci-fi and horror, and has the prerequisite violence, sex and general mania that characerize Yuzna's work. Set in some kind of barely explained, semi-dystopian near-future, Dante, a young American wakes up in a Spanish prison camp, suffering from a blackout as to exactly how he got there, though he does recall it has something to do with he and his girlfriend being apprehended while venturing into some kind of restricted area as part of a live-action role playing game. Dante is placed on a chain gang, from which he and another prisoner escape during the chaos when another prisoner is bitten by a scorpion. They head off into the woods but are pursued by some kind of cybernetic rottweiler, which kills the other prisoner. Dante continues to run, and all kinds of plot and other happenings occur (in addition to the escape, he is also trying to find the girlfriend), with the rottweiler in close pursuit the whole time. Things come to a head as Dante discovers what actually happened during the period of time he can't remember following his arrest, including the actual fate of his girlfriend, and he faces a final confrontation with the rottweiler and it's owner, a sadistic policeman played by Spainish horror legend Paul Naschy.

"Rottweiler" is a load of grisly fun. It reminded me alot of the little-seen (at least in the States) Spanish sci-fi/cyberpunk/dark comedy "Atolladero" (1995), which also featured robotic dogs (and Iggy Pop!). Fans of this sort of thing will find plenty to enjoy in Yuzna's film, but of course it's a total popcorn movie, stylish and entertaining but not terribly substantive. But that's cool, sometimes we can just sit back and have some fun, right?

Until next time...

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