Directed by Brian Yuzna
Produced by Julio Fernandez
Written by Alberto Vazuez Figueroa
Director of Photograpy Javier Salmones
Music by Mark Thomas
Cast: William Miller, Irene Montala, Paulina Galvez & Paul Naschy
2004/98 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/Spain/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
Nature running amok films have been around since the 1950s and filmmakers and audiences never seem to tire of them. For some reason, audience love to see animals, both those who are naturally docile and naturally ferocious, goes nuts and kill a bunch of people. From sharks to bees to giant rabbits, we've seen all manner of creature spread violence across the screen. And yet, there haven't been that many films dealing with dogs, an animal which many people already fear. The newly released ROTTWEILER hopes to fill this canine horror niche.
ROTTWEILER is set in the year 2018 and opens in a "Containment Camp" in Southern Spain, where we later learn that illegal immigrants are brought. Here, we meet a prisoner named Dante (William Miller), who suddenly becomes the unsuspecting accomplice in an impromptu escape by another prisoner. When that prisoner is mauled to death by one of the camp's guard dogs (a rottweiler), Dante flees into the mountain on his own. As Dante runs, we learn that he and his girlfriend Ula (Irene Montala) were captured by the evil warden Kufard (Paul Naschy) and separated. Dante is now determined to find Ula again.
After an encounter with one of the prison guards and his dog, Dante now finds himself pursued by the bloodthirsty animal. Despite help from others, Dante is unable to shake the ferocious dog and realizes that he must face his pursuer if he hopes to survive.
Brian Yuzna will forever hold a place in the horror pantheon as the producer of RE-ANIMATOR. But, I’ve never been impressed with the films which he has directed, and ROTTWEILER is no exception. (It’s interesting to note the similarities in the basic concepts of this film and Stuart Gordon’s FORTRESS.) This movie is simplistic to a fault and the result is a very dull film.
ROTTWEILER is based on a novel entitled “El Perro” by Alberto Vazquez Figueroa. I’m not familiar with the book, but I can only imagine that it contains some inner-monologue moments from Dante and perhaps even the rottweiler. But, we get none of this in the film, unless you count Dante’s flashbacks. Instead, we get a film that contains a noticeable lack of dialogue and many, many shots of Dante running through the forests and mountains. (This may also have something to do with the fact that English doesn’t appear to be the main language for most of the actors.) I would also hope that the book contains more story, as ROTTWEILER presents us with Dante, his backstory, a dog, and little else. There is a plot-twist at the end, but thanks to a lack of character development, it will mean little to most viewers. And I won’t go into how the first few minutes of the film seems to be taking place from the point-of-view of a scorpion...
OK, so the story leaves a lot to be desired, but we get a lot of doggie violence, right? Well, not really. The odd-looking rottweiler appears to have metal teeth, and at the end, we (sort of) learn why this is. At this point, many viewers will be laughing at the film or rolling their eyes. To the film’s credit, the animatronic dog, complete with scat-tissue looks good, but it’s never intimidating. Yes, there are some gory attack scenes, but these can’t make up for the dull parts. The best part of ROTTWEILER is actually the nice wilderness locations used in the film, which contrast well with the prison’s industrial complex. Oh, and those anxious to see famed Spanish actor Paul Naschy in action will most likely be disappointed, as his part is merely a cameo.
Years ago, Siskel and Ebert used to call the worst film that they saw “The Dog of the Week”. ROTTWEILER would have fit into that category very nicely.
ROTTWEILER prowls onto DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks fairly good, as it’s clear and free from overt grain. However, the image isn’t always sharp and gets quite fuzzy at times. Also, the picture is overly dark in certain scenes. On the plus side, the colors are good. The DVD’s Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track sounds fine, as it offers clear dialogue and music reproduction. Surround sound and subwoofer effects are used sparingly, but, as one would hope, the growling of the rottweiler does a fine job of filling the speakers.
The ROTTWEILER DVD contains a smattering of extras. First, we get four Cast & Crew Interviews, with actor William Miller, actress Irene Montala, animatronic experts Vincent Guastini and Greg Ramoundos, and director of photography Javier Salmones. The Miller, Montala, and Salmones interviews are in Spanish and contain subtitles. The only other extra is 19 minutes of “Bonus On-Set Footage”, which is essentially behind-the-scenes video shot on-set and on-location which shows Yuzna and the actors at work. There is no real narrative here, but the participants do occasionally comment to the camera.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©