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Rottweiler (2005)

Starring William Miller, Irene Montala, Paul Naschy

Directed by Brian Yuzna


WARNING: THIS FILM CONTAINS A GRATUITOUS SCENE OF A CHICKEN IN PERIL.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, and yes, I’m talking about a cluckin’, struttin’ chicken. An innocent bystander who comes out of this movie saving the most face. All others walk away dripping with egg, or dog crap if you want me to break into the worst flea-bitten puns to describe Brian Yuzna’s latest Fantastic Factory fiasco – a company, for the record, which has only impressed me with Stuart Gordon’s Dagon and not much else. If you want to reach, and I mean reach, for something positive to say about this canine catastrophe, one could rightly say that it’s “different” (I gotta use the quotation marks). Just, er, “different” from the rest of the run-of-the-mill detritus that fills the dog-run-amok sub-genre.

Man’s Best Friend it’s not. But it shares the same principal idea: a pesky half Terminator-ized pooch scampers through the movie’s running time hellbent on shredding anyone who stands in its way until it reaches its primary target. In this case it’s not a clueless Ally Sheedy but William “I’m not Stuart Townsend” Miller as Dante, a thrill-seeker who, with his girlfriend Ula, ventures out to permeate Spain’s border as part of a game called Infiltration and are subsequently caught. The country, mind you, has been dominated by a wealthy, chauvinistic businessman (Naschy at his slimiest). Did I mention this is all set in the year 2018? Knowing that makes this bitter pill easier to swallow because setting shit in the future pretty much let’s you get away with anything. But it’s also a tired plot device which is here coupled with an uninspired flashback story structure as Dante escapes from a prison camp, goes off searching for his woman and tries to piece together the details of what happened the night he was caught. Ridding himself of the prison guard and titular mutt tracking him early on in his journey, Dante roams the land meeting a variety of characters, none of them very interesting, all of them, however, prime meat for the rottweiler who Dante left for dead. What he doesn’t know is that Rott (we’ll go by his nickname here on out) has a wicked hard-on now to taste Dante’s flesh squish between his silver incisors (oh, they give off a metallic “clang” every time Rott gnashes his maw, yes they do).

Since Dante is pretty much leaving his scent on anyone he encounters, Rott has no choice but to follow his animal instincts. Thus, he takes out anyone with that “Dante stink” that’s fevering his brain. This results in a choice scene with a little girl left in a storm cellar while she watches her mother become chow; too bad it’s quickly trailed by said sequence with the victimized chicken when Rott becomes trapped in the cellar. You see, the chicken just so happens to be walking by the locked entrance door; he notices something trying to get out then, WHAMMO, the cellar door bursts open and the camera crashes in on the chicken’s reaction as it goes “Cluck, cluck….BRAWK!” Moments later, the chicken’s dead.

And Rotten is left lying on the floor laughing his ass off.

Going further in the plot crunch is fruitless from this point on as the flick continues with its by-the-numbers revenge scenario. Dante finds his man, faces off with Rott, and well, who really cares? The writers try to flesh out and humanize the skimpy plot with themes of love and fate. It’s just the wrong place at the wrong time, fellas. Sorry. Empathy for Dante went out the window with the pizza I was eating during the chicken scene. Here we have a man who puts himself and his girlfriend at risk, now he’s paying the price. Can I empathize with that? Not entirely; so, if redemption is the true theme here, then Yuzna and company missed the mark. Perhaps less emphasis, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, could’ve been taken off the surprisingly vicious sexuality running through the plot. It’s jarring to say the least and it literally throws off the film’s vibe, from the first time Dante stands outside an SUV listening to his gal get humped by Naschy inside to the “horny farm wife” sequence involving our hero who succumbs to this desperate women’s desires.

Maybe I’ve missed the point entirely. If I wanted something about a dog and a whole lotta powerful subtext, I would’ve turned to Sam Fuller’s White Dog, which Rottweiler doesn’t dare tread in the same park as. All I’m sure of is that I’m tired of falling for the works of Brian Yuzna. I blindly charge in forgetting my total disdain for Faust, Progeny and mild disappointment over Beyond Re-Animator and get suckered into traps like Rottweiler. Just do yourself a favor, don’t be like your devoted Rotten one and keep any curiosity you might’ve had for this one on a leash.

Unless you’ve got a thing for terrified chickens.

0 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit