Monster Dog (1984) Blu-ray Review

Alice Cooper’s cult classic 80’s werewolf thriller finally sees its digital debut on Kino Lorber Blu-ray!

With the announcement this week that Alice Cooper will be bringing his ghoulish shock rock theatrics to the Louisville Palace on August 7th, it seemed like the proper time to take a look back at one of his most unusual, and more honestly most infamous projects, the Italian/Spanish werewolf flick, “Monster Dog” (1984), recently released on Blu-ray after many years of obscurity by Kino Lorber.

The last official US release of “Monster Dog” was a 1986 VHS tape that came in oversized clamshell packaging from Trans World Entertainment, which according to Cooper himself was never meant to be seen on American shores. Produced during what is generally considered the lowest point in Cooper’s music career, after his 70’s smash success with both The Alice Cooper Band and as a solo artist, but before he reinvented himself as a horror icon during the 1980’s slasher horror craze, the film’s Spanish production company promised Cooper that the movie would only play in limited overseas markets.

“Monster Dog” was directed by the infamous Claudio Fragasso (under the pseudonym of Clyde Anderson), who is the man responsible for what is considered one of the worst movies of all time, the staggeringly incompetent “Troll 2” (1990), which became the subject of the documentary, “Best Worst Movie” (2009), and a cult hit for all the wrong (best) reasons.

The movie appears to have been shot in English in an attempt to give it the appearance of a Hollywood horror production, but for some unknown reason, Alice Cooper’s own dialogue was overdubbed by another actor in postproduction, with the exception of vocals on two songs Cooper wrote for the movie. The first of which, the catchy and addictive “Identity Crisis,” was shot as a music video that both opens and closes the film, and the second, “See Me in the Mirror,” plays during a mock video shoot of Cooper’s fictional rock band during the film.

Cooper plays theatrical rock star, Vincent Raven, who is traveling across country with his production crew to his ancestral home, a creepy Gothic mansion in the middle of nowhere, where he plans to shoot his latest music video. The local law enforcement warn the group about a series of savage attacks by a pack of mad dogs which may or may not have something to do with a curse placed on Vincent’s father 20 years prior.

Let’s get this out of the way. “Monster Dog” is awful; amazingly, gloriously, hypnotically awful. In the wonderful world of shock rock vanity films, KISS has the beautifully terrible “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” and Alice Cooper has “Monster Dog.”

This movie has everything a drooling 80’s horror fan could want. It has Alice Cooper, a creepy location, werewolves, gory death scenes and gooey practical effects. Awash in 80’s music video design, the movie is bathed in shafts of unnatural light coming from unknown sources in rooms inexplicably filled with copious amounts of fog. The “monster dog” of the movie’s title is little more than an over-sized hand puppet that is most effective when least seen.

The plot rambles from Gothic horror to jarringly become a Spaghetti Western halfway through when a dusty gang of ornery desperados comes to the mansion looking for mob justice and Alice suddenly becomes a shotgun toting gunslinger dealing in frontier style vengeance.

If you’ve never seen “Monster Dog,” you’re in for a punch-drunk Euro horror treat, but if you’ve only seen “Monster Dog” on VHS, you’ll be blown away by Kino Lorber’s 1080p high-definition, 1.85/1 widescreen presentation. The original Trans World VHS transfer was always too dark and muddy looking. I suppose one could argue that may have helped disguise some of the lesser polished werewolf effects, but I can say with a degree of confidence that “Monster Dog” has probably never looked this good in any theatrical or home video presentation.

This may be my most dubious recommendation in Louisville Halloween history, but Alice Cooper’s “Monster Dog” hurts so good.

The Phantom of The Ville

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