A Boy and his Dog

Starring: Don Johnson and (the voice of) Tim McIntire
Arrow Films/Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP 15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 07 February 2005

The year is 2024, and following World War IV the Earth has been reduced to a desolate wasteland. Vic is a young nomad, wandering the land in search of food. His telepathic dog, Blood, depends on Vic for food, but Vic needs Blood to find something far more precious: women to lay. When Blood psychically sniffs out a particular female, she lures Vic to an underground world where the old ways of life have been re-created. However, there is a catch...

Does my use of the word "lay" seem a bit misanthropic to you? Well, that's the tone of much of the dialogue between Vic (Don Johnson) and Blood (voiced by Tim McIntire).

The portrayal of women as little more than victims ripe for sexual conquest or, even worse, rape or murder is partly an indicator of the movie's age (1974) but it does also help to drive home the degenerate level to which humankind has stooped in the aftermath of World War IV. Vic's animalistic view of life - driven entirely by the desires to eat, sleep and screw - is in fact rather more refined than the behaviour of many of the other desert-dwellers he encounters. By deliberate contrast, Blood is by far the more cultivated of the two travellers. Indeed, he is responsible for what little education Vic has had.

Based on a novella by Harlan Ellison, this is a rather eccentric story. The presence of a telepathic dog might have tipped you off to that fact. Things get even stranger when Vic ventures into the underground "utopia". Seventies sci-fi is full of bizarre futures, from the soulless sheltered world of THX-1138 to the artificial social boundaries of Zardoz. There are elements of both THX and Zardoz in this movie, as the clown-faced, bible-bashing denizens of the subterranean realm seek to exploit the virile savage Vic for their own ends.

Featuring an energetic early performance by future Miami Vice star Don Johnson and an excellent vocal turn by Tim McIntire, this is an enjoyably cynical little movie once you get into it.

However, Arrow and Fremantle's presentation leaves much to be desired. The source print has clearly not been cleaned up at all, and shows much dirt and some evidence of minor film damage. Worse still, the sound is awful: the higher pitched sounds crackle annoyingly throughout the movie. There are no special features, not even - as I have come to expect from Arrow/Fremantle - any subtitles.

It's hard to choose a mark out of the ten for this product. It's a good movie, but I expect a better standard of presentation than this on a DVD.

Richard McGinlay

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