40 – A Boy and his Dog (1975)

“Now let’s run through the modern Presidents.”

“Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy…”

Full disclosure here, I had never saw L.Q. Jones’ A boy and his dog, until the other night, this is the first of the films covered so far that was new to me, I only knew it starred Don Johnson, and a dog, and was set in a post apocalyptic world. So it met the criteria, so I waded in, now the other thing I will mention at this point, I was very tired when watching this film, which resulted in me waking up the next day thinking I had dreamed it all. To say A boy and his Dog is surreal, is an understatement and a half!

 A Boy and His Dog is based on a novella by Harlan Ellison, the movie takes place in the year 2024, in an alternate timeline, after not one but two additional world wars have been initiated by humanity — the latter of which leaves the Earth devastated by nuclear missiles. As a result, a large part of the movie presents a familiar desert wasteland setting that has come to be associated with post-apocalyptic tales over the years.

The opening scene is interesting, as we see our hero, a young, pre-Miami Vice Don Johnson who plays Vic, an 18-year-old nomad who lost his parents in the war and now must forage for food to survive. We see him overhearing the rape of a woman,by a gang of men, he is guided by a voice, the viewer is not sure who is guiding him yet, until his dog comes into shot, and we realise it has been the dog that has been telling him to keep under cover. This is his only companion, a highly intelligent, telepathic dog named Blood… yes, that’s right, a telepathic dog, who will help him find food, and also sniff out females to relieve his sexual frustration.  The way the dog speaks and then when the theme tune kicks in this reminds me of the Disney films of the seventies, real life animals speaking to each other. The fact that the dog is the same dog that starred in The Brady Bunch may well add to this, it gets more surreal!

The post apocalyptic world we see is very much similar to that of Mad Max, a barren wasteland, with society broken down to an unlawful state, another of our apocalyptic motifs.  It has been argued that the film is misogynistic, in the wasteland, we see a woman raped, then one disguise themself as a boy to avoid rape. I would argue that L.Q. Jones is only applying the apocalyptic motif here, that society has broken down, rules have gone. This is not a view he holds, only an expression of just how far society would break down after an apocalyptic event.

The movie does not rely on special effects and visuals, and in fact, almost seems to make it a point to show as little as possible. For example, horrifying mutants called “screamers” roam the countryside, and although Vic and Blood have a close call with them, they are never shown on-screen. This may be one reason why it still holds up today, but it’s also why the movie may not play well to fans of big budget sci-fi films like Transformers and The Matrix

The film becomes even more surreal, when Vic goes “down under” a society that lives separate from the barren wasteland underground, similar to the caves in Dr. Strangelove. where the last remnants of civilization are living under strict totalitarian rule and wear creepy mime makeup. This section of the movie plays out a little like A Clockwork Orange meets Hell Comes to Frogtown, and asks the question: which form of society is actually more savage? As with many science-fiction films from back in the day, there is a rather sinister twist ending, and although it strays from the original source material, it seems to fit the tone of the film.

A sad fact of the movie is that L.Q. Jones the director, never again would direct a film, only one episode of the tv series of The Incredible Hulk. This is another film that is more for the apocalyptic movie aficionado than for the general film watcher, i love the juxtaposition of the Disney type music, and dog talking set against a barren savage wasteland, and similarly the character of the young Vic, juxtaposed with the cynical nature of his dog. A boy and his dog is hard film to get a hold of, but will fill another hour and a half before the real apocalypse

I love this trailer!!

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