RABID DOGS (1974) – The Dungeon Review!

rabid dogs

I woke up Saturday morning with the Bava Flu. It is an affliction with only one cure; watching a Mario Bava film. My fever was pretty intense however so I had to make it a triple bill! First in the queue was Bava’s 1974 Crime Thriller Rabid Dogs. This is not my first viewing of Bava’s film, but it had been several years since I last watched this sleazy, violent Euro-Crime gem.

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After some very cool psychedelic credits Bava takes us right into the action mid-crime. A quartet of criminals escape the scene of a messy robbery with a bag full of money but not before one of them is shot dead. After killing a female hostage and threatening the life of a second the police allow the remaining trio to flee. With the second hostage in tow they manage to elude the police. An unfortunate man waiting at a traffic light with his sick child becomes the criminal’s new getaway vehicle.

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Boom! Bava doesn’t mess around! We get bloody violence immediately! A shootout, a stabbing, a car chase and innocent people dead in the first twenty minutes. The pacing becomes a slow and steady boil for the balance of the film. At this point we get a more intimate portrait of our douchebag criminals. These guys are bad ass pieces of shite. The ringleader Dottore is the most level-headed of the group and appears to be the brains behind the operation. His control is limited where his two cohorts are concerned. Bisturi also known as the Blade gets stabby when he is cornered and Tretadue also known as Thirty-two is a loose cannon who loses his mind at the sight of breasts. Both men are pretty unsavoury,

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Rabid Dogs is a claustrophobic journey through sweaty men hell. These are three seriously sweaty guys; you can almost smell their body odor! They terrorize their involuntary driver Riccardo with threats against him and his sick child. Riccardo is so bloody calm it is almost a bit unnerving. His sick child spends the entire film sleeping. It is Maria their female hostage who takes the most punishment. There is one indignity Maria suffers that is particularly ugly. Maria needless to say is pretty hysterical and does a lot of crying and begging for her freedom inspiring the men to nickname her Greta Garbo. Maria has no misconceptions about what the trio are capable of after watching Bisturi stab her friend to death before being dragged along on this joy ride.

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Rabid Dogs is well-cast and everyone is top-notch in their roles. George Eastman (aka Luigi Montefiori) who plays Tretadue (Thirty-two) however is a particular standout. George Eastman is so good at playing bat-shit crazy sons of bitches! He’s tall as a building and built like a brick wall and he’s got some crazy eyes!! I can hear that crazy bastard cackling right now!

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A good chunk of Rabid Dogs takes place inside of a car; Bava builds some great intensity within these confines. The cloying and sweaty constraints of a vehicle are the perfect compliment. Each scene has the potential to burst into violence or a random psychotic episode. These three men are teetering on the edge, desperate for a way out. Wanted for robbery and murder getting caught is not an option.

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Rabid Dogs is one of my favourite Euro-Crime flicks; it is well made, perfectly cast and acted, intense, violent, sleazy not to mention a cool soundtrack from Stelvio Cipriani. It also has a killer finale!! Rabid Dogs gets my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.

Check out my friend David’s delightful screencaps for Rabid Dogs here.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Mario Bava

Starring: Riccardo Cucciolla, Don Backy, Maurice Poli, Lea Lander, George Eastman, Maria Fabbri, Erika Dario

4 Responses to “RABID DOGS (1974) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. conradw58 Says:

    Cracking great review as always! I have the Bava flu a lot myself. And to think this well made thriller went unseen for years! P.S-Happy birthday to John Waters today! : )

    • I can’t believe Rabid Dogs didn’t surface until the 90s! I totally forgot about Mr. Waters birthday!! I think I got one tweet in about it before midnight though! Shame on me!

  2. lrstreet Says:

    I’ve really been slacking on completing Bava’s stuff but this sounds awesome! I might have to push myself to get back on my Italian horror kick sometime soon.

    Great review!

    • Thanks Lindsay! Bava has long been a favourite director and I revisit his horror stuff often; the non-horror titles less so which I have no explanation for!

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