Genre: Action/ Poliziotteschi/ Drama/ Suspense
Director: Mario Bava
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
In it’s heart, Rabid Dogs is essentially a road movie. There isn’t a whole lot of action, and most of that is kind of blah by modern standards. Mario Bava’s direction is never more than workmanlike. Yet Rabid Dogs still manages to entertain.
After Doc (Maurice Poli), Thirty-Two (George Eastman), and Blade (Don Backy) rob a pharmaceutical company payroll, they take a young woman, a young boy and a middle-aged man hostage and drive around, trying to elude police roadblocks and reach their safe house.
The young boy is unconscious. The man, Riccardo (Riccardo Cucciolla) says that his son is sick and needs an operation — he was driving to the hospital when he was carjacked by the gang. The woman, Maria (Lea Lander) was an innocent bystander who was snatched by the gang beforehand.
You see, earlier, the police had the gang cornered until they took hostages. You’ve seen this situation a thousand times, but how often do the criminals make good on their threat to kill? The cops back off and the gang gets away, with Maria in tow.
Hmmmm. A suspense thriller that takes place almost entirely inside a car — how boring does that sound? Rabid Dogs escapes that fate, for a couple of reasons. After you see Knife cut a woman’s throat in cold blood, you could believe that it’s possible that he would kill a kid. At one point, he offers to cut off the kid’s balls and give them to Maria for earrings. This sort of thing does wonders for suspense.
The other factor that livens up Rabid Dogs is the Italian mileau. Other than in an Italian film, I can’t recall watching crooks enjoy themselves so much. Think about it. You’re trapped in a tiny European car on a hot day with hostages, trying to evade the police. Sounds pretty miserable, doesn’t it? Yet, Knife and Thirty-Two carry on like teenagers, joking around, making obscene suggestions to Maria — they even sing. My guess is that these guys bring the party with them wherever they go. They’re full of life and that’s fun to watch. As always, the Italian language is wonderfully expressive, a delight.
Another plus is the rollicking, disco-tinged score by Stelvio Cipriani, which adds welcome atmosphere.
Even so, by the end of Rabid Dogs, I was definitely getting stir crazy, locked up in that car with the cast. For that reason, I was all set to give Rabid Dogs a Worth A Look rating until a last minute dramatic twist bumped it into the Recommended column.