A Boy and His Dog: 1975

ABoyandHisDog

-Review by Paul Ewbank-

Ooooh boy. This is…um…yeah. This is quite a film.

So Liz and I are up at her folk’s place in Yorkshire for half term week. We figured we’d pass the week in style with a host of fine ales, card games and classic post-apocalyptic films we’d acquired. One such film was a 1975 adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog. Hearing that it was based on a tale by Ellison, a magnificent old bastard of whom I am a great admirer (and whose grisliest work is reviewed here), I was keen to give this one a view. Ellison has a pretty varied cannon of work so I had no idea what to expect, but even so this film has totally knocked me for six. I’m still a little dazed, to be honest. Seriously, you need to check this thing out.

So it starts out pretty much the way I expected: badly. I’ve never really gotten on with very old films. Something about the dated style of filming and shoddy effects really makes suspension of disbelief a challenge for me. And A Boy and His Dog was no exception. So world has been ravaged by nuclear war and Vic, a boisterous young lad and Blood, his dog, wander the desert wasteland in search of food and adventure. Oh, and Blood can communicate with Vic telepathically. Maybe this is explained in the book, but knowing Ellison, probably not. Hearing a gruff, intellectual voice and trying to attach it to a grubby mutt takes quite a bit of getting used to. Vic, for his part, is interested only in getting laid, so uses Blood’s acute sense of smell to locate potential females to…have his way with. There’s a lot of this in the early part of the film; post apocalyptic free-for-alls are dangerous places for women it seems.

Telepathic dog and rapist protagonist aside, the opening half of A Boy and His Dog is fairly mundane. Vic meets a girl, tries to do his thing with her but hesitates, presumably feeling a tad guilty. So he instead fends off a bunch of other roving bandits and then the girl decides she loves him after all and so they bone anyway. She then suggests running away with her, leaving the dog, and for a moment I thought this was gonna be a “romance verses bromance” film along the lines of Ted or something. Boy, was I wrong.

(From this point on I will be spoiling the actual good bit of the film)

So after a bunch of other stuff Vic finds his way to the Land Down Under (I thought they were talking about Australia for a while), a subterranean civilisation of which this girl, Quilla, is a part. When he gets there…some really weird shiz starts going down. Seriously, I thought the film had skipped or there’d been a glitch and we were now watching something else. One minute Vic is sneaking through some piping, and the next he’s in a bath, being vigorously scrubbed by some guy in a pin striped suit and white make-up while a bunch of girls in 1950’s attire watch. Then there’s a scene with a marching band and a big garden party and suddenly Vic is wearing a straw hat and then we skip to a bunch of people in a church telling people they are sentenced to go to “the farm”. I genuinely had no idea what was going on. I still don’t , really. After a while we see Vic again, and the ‘committee’ reveal that they sent Quilla to lure him down under so he could ‘fertilise’ some of their women and thus help repopulate the earth.  He eagerly accepts, only to be strapped to a hospital bed and, for want of a better analogy, milked while a line of brides are married next to him.

…Yeah. But it gets better. Quilla comes back and rescues him, suggesting that they overthrow the committee and rule the down under world themselves. Vic is unimpressed, thinking only of Blood, who he left on the surface. After some trouble with a local android enforcement officer, they escape, to find Blood dying of starvation, having been waiting for Vic all this time. Quilla tells him that it’s too late, and they should leave Blood and get away.

What follows is possibly the greatest ending to a film ever.

After Quilla suggests leaving Blood, Vic looks up at her in this strange kind of way. We then cut to a bonfire and hear Blood saying that he has eaten his fill and is feeling much better. Pan out and we see the dog bandaged in white fabric, and other bits of Quilla’s dress scattered about. Vic and Blood then set out once more, laughing and joking. Yep. they killed Quilla and ate her. I’m not kidding, that’s genuinely the end of the film. I was laughing for ages. What the hell?

A simple description does this films insanity no justice. You gotta see this. The first half is pretty boring (apart from a couple of cute buddy moments between Vic and Blood, and some stuff about monsters called Screamers, which is never explained), but after that it just goes ABSOLUTELY MENTAL. The whole underground bit is totally bizarre and comes out of nowhere, leaving you absolutely speechless. And then the ending…man, did that really happen? Did someone really think to end a film like that? So, uh, so summarize: this isn’t a very good film by any stretch of the imagination. But you gotta see it. Just for the sheer WTF insanity of it and the utterly hilarious ending. I just…yeah.

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