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John’s Horror Corner: Man’s Best Friend (1993), a “must love dogs” Sci-Horror mixing Cujo (1983) and The Fly (1986).

May 29, 2021

MY CALL:  This movie remains very entertaining, and it’s a lot funnier than I remember. Basically this is less R and more hard PG-13 lite horror comedy. But most importantly, I don’t think there has ever been another movie like it.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Man’s Best FriendWell, for horror movies for dog lovers, I’d go for Dogs (1976), The Pack (1977), The Thing (1982), Cujo (1983), The Fly II (1989) and I Am Legend (2007).

Around the same time that John Hammond was splicing frog DNA into the genetic code of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993), so too was Dr. Jarret (Lance Henriksen; The Visitor, Pumpkinhead, Harbinger Down, Hellraiser VIII, Near Dark, Piranha II) blending a cocktail of chameleon, jaguar and anaconda genes into his rottweiler.

When an ambitious journalist Lori (Ally Sheedy; Short Circuit) aims to do an expose’ on test animals by breaking into a scientific research facility, the genetically engineered dog Max wanders into Lori’s care during her escape. Lori quickly learns that Max is a phenomenally well trained and protective animal.

Despite being rated R, this sci-horror comes off as a rather light horror movie. Most of Max’s antics are funny as he terrorizes Lori’s boyfriend, tampers with his car’s brake line, or climbs up a tree and swallows an old lady’s mean old cat whole like a boa constrictor unhinging its jaw! And while there’s a good amount of blood, almost no flesh-rending gore occurs on-screen.

Probably honoring Cujo (1983), Max picks up a pretty gnarly open wound on his face. And we have some obvious parallels with Dr. Frankenstein and his monster—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) feels like a good match. But even more than the blatant parallels to the family dog-turned-killer Cujo, Max and his relationship with Lori reminds me of a canine version of Seth Brundle’s “Brundle-Fly” (The Fly). Just like Seth Brundle, Max finds love and understanding before coming apart at the seams and becoming the very monster that his lost love must see dispatched in the end. The acid urine attack on Lori’s boyfriend further strongly parallels events of The Fly (1986).

This movie has great pacing, there’s a lot of fun and excitement, and the ending is cute, too. The ending reminds me of the end of Critters (1986).

This is not a great film of any genre… but it’s still really entertaining. But most importantly, I don’t think there has ever been another movie like it. I guess I’d call this is a really good nostalgic flick, because it holds up very well. Writer and director John Lafia (Child’s Play 2) did well with this one. It’s a shame he didn’t do more.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2021 7:41 am

    I remember thinking this movie would be balls to the wall insane. But man it made me laugh, especially the scene where Max gets laid. I do remember a pretty good face melting scene done with piss though.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2021 9:18 am

      Yeah, balls to the wall it certainly was not. More like a neighborhood problem on one little block. LOL. But yeah, it was charming and it held up really well for me.

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