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Dog Soldiers: Neil Marshall’s Werewolf Epic of Awesomeness

October 20, 2014

Dog Soldiers movie poster

This line from Dog Soldiers sums up the film.

We are now up against live, hostile targets. So, if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch.

Dog Soldiers is a fantastic cult classic that is minor miracle of practical effects, inventive action and dialogue like this:

[Cooper tries to push Wells’ intestines back into his stomach]

Sergeant Harry Wells: My guts are out Coop!

Cooper: We’ll just put ’em back in then!

Sergeant Harry Wells: They’re not gonna f**king fit!

Cooper: Of course they’ll fit, man!

Dog Soldiers gore

I watched a Dog Soldiers and Descent double feature at my friend’s home in 2006. I knew nothing about the films and could tell by the pleased look on his face that I was in for something good. The experience was a cinema lovers dream because I had zero expectations and was blown away by the creativity, creatures and violence.

The Descent has become a well-known top five horror flick while Dog Soldiers is slowly building a cult audience. The critical acclaim of Dog Soldiers allowed Marshall to make The Descent and that is one of the reasons it should be appreciated.  Dog Soldiers is packed with low-budget creativity that feels like equal parts Aliens, Evil Dead and Predator. It was a blast watching the British soldiers dispatch the werewolves (and vice versa) in creative ways.

Dog Soliders Werewolf

Jump forward eight years and Neil Marshall is still one of my favorite directors. He is a maestro of mayhem and his films are packed with urgency, violence and awesomeness. The Descent, Centurion, Doomsday (Uber guilty pleasure) and his episodes of Game of Thrones are all wonderful. The thing I appreciate most about Marshall’s films is the urgency he instills to the proceedings. You never have time to catch your breath because the action never stops. For instance, this picture from Centurion exemplifies all of his films.

Centurion

Dog Soldiers centers around a bunch of badass British soldiers battling badass werewolves in the Scottish Highlands. They get chased into a country home and proceed to use the limited resources they have (propane, fists, knives, feet).  It proves that a lot can be done with little and practical effects are timeless (E.g. The Thing, American Werewolf in London). Dog Soldiers walks a fine line of humor, violence and suspense. For instance, after a massive kitchen brawl the werewolves get the upper hand and a soldier says “I hope I give you the sh*ts. You f**king wimp.”

Dog Soldiers army men

Dog Soldiers is an action packed spectacle that doesn’t reinvent the wheel. However, it makes the wheel look amazing. It is a fun ride that borrows heavily from other films but shows all the traits of future Marshall films (Lots and lots of violence). The cast made up of Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Liam Cunningham, Emma Cleasby and Darren Morfitt add credibility and acting chops to the monster madness. They are believable tough guys who might actually have a chance in a fist fight against an eight foot tall werewolf.

Dog Soliders Werewolf attack

Dog Soldiers is a fantastic film that you should watch this Halloween. It is urgent in ways many films are not and it belongs alongside genre hits like Evil Dead, Assault on Precinct 13 and An American Werewolf in London. It exemplifies low-budget horror and would make a perfect double-header with The Descent.

Check out Marshall’s other films as well. They are fantastic guilty pleasures that bring the violence and fun.

Doomsday movie

 

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