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Kill, Ubu, Kill!!! Bad Dog.
Let’s start this review with a SPOILER ALERT!!!! I will be giving away vital parts of the plot in this review. Actually, I’ll be giving away the whole damn movie. There’s just no way around it if I want to address certain issues that I had with this film. Now, I’m sure that there is going to be at least one person that’s going to say, “No! You can’t do that. It will ruin my viewing experience!”. And to that I reply, “Quit yo bitchin’!!”. The movie is 12 years old. If you haven’t seen it by now, that’s your own damn fault. Besides, it’s not like you are really being deprived by not seeing this one.
Released in 2002, Rottweiler is the story of Dante, and his search for his missing girlfriend. He, however, has no memory of where she is. Hot on his heels is a cybernetic Rottweiler willing to kill everyone and everything that gets between it and it’s prey. Think Man’s Best Friend, but with a grill like the RZA.
The film was directed by Brian Yuzna. Yuzna should be a name known to most horror fans as he was the producer on Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, From Beyond, & Dolls, as well as a co-producer on Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. He would later go on to direct/produce the Re-Animator sequels, Society, Return of the Living Dead 3, and both Dentist films. I prefer to think of him as the guy that turned Mickey Rooney into a laughable hypocrite when he cast the one-time “Biggest Star in America” in Silent Night, Deadly Night 5.
The film takes place in Spain in the near-future. 2018, to be exact. Now, I do not know if we have any readers from Spain (or anywhere else, for that), but I hate having to break the news of the hellhole that this movie projects their country to become in the next few years. Maybe “hellhole” is a strong term. As far as I can tell, the worst that happens is that the place becomes over-run with drugs and prostitution. Oh, and dance floor lighting. It’s basically a rave, just with better music. And unlike raves, you actually have to pay the whores here.
The film opens with Dante, caged up in the back of a prisoner escort truck, looking like he just had the dog shit beat out of him. Dante is played by English actor William Miller. Miller looks quite a bit like former Creed front man, Scott Stapp. Sadly, he also has the acting abilities of Stapp .The majority of the other actors in the film are Spanish, so they have been poorly dubbed over. Too bad that no one thought to dub over Miller. And before anyone asks, no, I will not reference back to the beginning of this paragraph just to make a “My Own Prison” joke.
Dante is chained to another inmate and taken off the bus. As the other prisoners exit, a rather large scorpion crawls up the pant leg of one of the inmates and stings him. The prisoner dies and drops to the desert floor. WTF, scorpion? Killing off Johnny Cage wasn’t good enough for you?
The inmate chained to Dante uses this distraction as a chance to make a break for freedom, dragging Dante along for the run. The Rottweiler gives chase and succeeds in catching them. Dante is freed when the dog rips off the arm of the other inmate. With the other inmate’s severed arm still in tow, Dante runs for the hills. I’ve never been to Spain, but I imagine that most of the country is one big cluster of hills judging from the number of times that Dante runs off into them. I say “most of the country” as we already know that the remainder is now one big whore infested Rabbit in the Moon gig. Are Rabbit in the Moon still around?
Now, this is where the film starts having more flashbacks than a hippie that did waaaaay too much brown acid, man. Normally, flashbacks serve to clarify part(s) of the back story or are used for character development. In this film, they are used to muddle things even more than they already are. I would have thought that the hallucinations that Dante has throughout the movie did a good enough job of that. What fun is there in having any concept of why things are happening the way that they are? For this particular flashback, we find Dante and his girlfriend, Ula, on a boat with a few other people. A patrol boat approaches and opens fire on them. Dante, Ula, and a few other non-essentials jump over the side into the water. End flashback and we’ve really learned nothing.
Dante is found by the dog and it’s handler. He’s shackled to the dog as the handler takes a nap. Using a rabbit that hops into camp as a way to distract the dog, Dante lunges for the handler’s shotgun. He shoots the shackles and then pumps 2 shots into the handler’s gut. He bashes the dog’s head in with the shotgun, steals the handler’s nice, clean cowboy boots, and makes his getaway once again into the amalgamation of hillside that is Spain. Dante may not remember what happened to his girlfriend, but he sure as hell remembers line dancing, and these babies will surely help him boot scoot his way to freedom.
Dante comes across 3 men that have set up camp in the hills. They offer him food, whiskey, and what I’m pretty sure is a joint. Dante coughs up a lung after one toke. Bitch, please! Scott Stapp would have killed that thing in one pull and then followed it up with a liter of Jack and an 8-ball of coke. Scott didn’t need others to “take him higher”.
The leader of the hill people (we’ll call him Lothar) asks Dante how he plans to repay them for their “generosity”. They want the boots. Dante refuses, but instead of the expected fight, the other men just laugh it off and go back to their meal. When Dante awakens the next morning, the boots have been taken. At least these guys were kind enough to leave him a weathered pair of shoes in exchange. Scott Stapp can’t afford shoes. Poor bastard is living in a Holiday Inn somewhere, singing his songs in the hopes that someone will toss him some flip-flops.
Another flashback to Dante and Ula swimming from the boat. They swim to shore with a few others only to find guards beating and/or shooting the other escapees. A Humvee pulls up and out steps the character of Kufard, played by the late Spanish horror legend & “El hombre lobo”, Paul Naschy. It’s never really explained what Kufard’s role is in the downfall of Spain or just how important a figure he is in the new government. It’s actually never really explained just what happened to turn Spain into the dystopian foam party that it has become. Dante and Ula try to explain their presence by saying that they were playing a game of “infiltration”, which is just a nice way of saying “breaking and entering for shits and giggles”. It can also be used in statements like, “Yo, dawg. I infiltrated yo Mom last night”. Kufard, clearly amused, replies, “I like games. You infiltrated my world, so I’ll infiltrate yours!!” You know that lame joke that I just made about banging up your Moms? Yeah, you’ll get a better idea of just how appropriate that joke was in a few. Keep reading along. You can flip the page when you hear the chime.
Back in current time…. future time? The next morning (yeah, that works), Dante is bathing in a nearby stream. Our pal, Rotty the Wonder-Mutt, recovered from his Christian rock beatdown, appears at the water’s edge. As this is the first time that we see the dog in a daytime scene, it is also the first time that we fully notice that the dog has been green screened into the shot. Seriously? I know that it’s a low-budget movie, but they couldn’t just film the dog running around outside? Maybe, if they had spent the money casting the lead singer of a less successful band? I’m pretty sure that the singer from Semisonic was available.
Dante, still naked from his bath, rises from the water and starts yelling at the dog. Yes, folks. A naked man standing on the side of a stream trying to smack talk a robotic dog. Twigleberries flopping in the breeze.
Cut to flashback #239. Dante, just after his first encounter with Kufard, is standing outside of the Hummer. We can hear a woman moaning from inside the vehicle, but we do not see Ula. A prostitute in a bad blonde wig and white dress, looking like a dime store drag version of Marilyn, walks up to Dante and asks him for a lighter. She asks him if he’s alone. He replies, “no”, and she begins to laugh at him. Don’t fret, Dante. If I had a dollar for every time a prostitute laughed at me, I’d be able to get Scott Stapp a room at the Hilton.
The flashback ends as Rotty dive tackles Dante into the water and bites him on the ass. Dante once again makes his escape, but this time not into the hills. No, the hills have eyes and those eyes really didn’t want to see Dante’s danglers.
The next scene opens on a young girl, Esperanza, standing outside of what appears to be a cellar door. Someone forgot to build a house around this cellar, but we will let that slide. Who can worry about things like that at a time like this? When our poor Spanish friends are having bigger issues, like unjust imprisonment and a shortage of Vicks inhalers.
Once again, the movie doesn’t bother answering questions like “What is in this cellar?”, or “Why does she need to go in there?”, or “What the hell does this have to do with a delusional naked man?”. Since she is too frightened to go into the cellar, Esperanza’s mother goes in for her. The girl instead goes to tend to the hanging laundry. She finds Dante instead. I get the director’s attempts to misguide us into thinking that it’s actually the dog waiting for her, but what’s with the growling that we hear? Mom arrives with a shotgun and escorts Dante, at gunpoint, into her house. Mom quickly becomes my favorite character in the movie when she gives Dante some damn pants.
After identifying him as an escapee, she sends Esperanza to feed the animals while she takes Dante into the bedroom to tend to his wounds. She warns Dante that “there will be trouble” if he is still around when her husband (whom we never see) returns from wherever he is. She reinforces this threat by disrobing and mounting Dante like he was the rocking horse out in front of Kmart. Don’t act like you never rode that thing.
She tells Dante of how Kufard forced her into prostitution before she met her husband, a former priest. She cries to him of how she refuses to let her daughter fall into the same fate that she did. Touching moment, sure, but it may have been a little more poignant if she hadn’t said all of this while still bouncing away like Qbert.
Rotty, devoted mutt that he is, arrives at the home and proceeds to kill the family’s animals. He then chases Esperanza to the house and attempts to bust through the door to get to her. Mom gives up her “pole position” and runs to the kitchen. She blasts a hole in the door trying to hit the dog. Dante takes the gun and sticks it through the hole in order to shoot the dog again, but Rotty grabs the gun in its maw and eats it. They return to the bedroom, smell of shame still lingering in the air, and escape through a window. Rotty follows them out and Dante tries to get the dog to follow him. Instead, he chases down mom and daughter. Mom manages to get Esperanza into the cellar just in time for the young girl to watch the dog rip her mother to shreds, her blood dripping through the bars onto the girl’s face. Dante manages to rescue the girl and traps the dog in the cellar. As we are only just over halfway through the film, it’s a very safe assumption that the dog will get out.
After fleeing through the never-ending hills, Dante uses a fallen tree branch to stop a passing prisoner transport truck. When the driver stops to move the branch, the 2 sneak into the back. Not one to be stopped so easily, the dog jumps onto the top of the truck. The young girl, rattled from watching the dog turn her mom into kibble (delicious, slutty kibble), stares at a flower clutched in her hand. In one of the biggest eye-rolling, groaner moments of the film, another flashback kicks in when Dante realizes that the flower is a Forget-me-not.
Flashback once again to outside of Kufard’s Hummer. Ula gets out of the car and adjusts her top. It is now clear that it was she that we heard moaning earlier. It was clear earlier, but that’s not the point. Seems that she’s just given up the goods in exchange for something that’s never fully disclosed. The only hint we get is when she says, “Let’s get out of here before he changes his mind”. Dante actually asks her what happened in the car. Ula beats me to the punch when she says, “What do you think happened?”. I, personally, like to believe that she was trying to talk Naschy out of starring in Tomb of the Werewolf. As if his prior comments weren’t stupid as shit, Dante then has the cojones to tell her that she sounded like she was enjoying it. Nothing makes a rape victim feel better than telling them that they liked that shit. The big question poised here is what does it say about Dante if he believes that forced sex with Paul Naschy is more of a thrill for her than being with him?
The female guard riding in the prisoner transport hears the noise on the roof. She removes an access panel and is greeted by Rotty. He warmly welcomes her by eating her face. The driver slams the brakes, knocking the dog off of the roof. Dante bolts from the truck. One guess where he’s heading. If you said anything other than “the hills”, then you are probably illiterate and haven’t actually read any of the 2,000+ words before this.
He leaves the young girl in the truck for the guard to find. It’s never said what becomes of her, and honestly, no one cares. No one ever cares about the orphaned children of dead hookers.
After a few scenes that do nothing but pad out the running time, Dante finally returns to the beach where his last flashback ended. Kufard arrives in a helicopter. Not fully explained how he knew that Dante would be there at that moment, but there’s only 10 mins left in the movie, so who really gives a shit? He informs Dante that Ula is dead. Actually, she’s been dead for a whole year. To the date, to be exact. Seems that after Dante accused her of enjoying Wolfman throwing her the bone, Ula attacked Kufard for turning Dante against her. She scratches 3 long marks down his face. For this, he feeds her to the dog. And I do mean “feeds” her, for within seconds Rotty is ripping her heart from her chest. Her body is still on the beach, buried under only a few inches of sand. They managed to find a beach free of tides. Go figure.
I’m going to turn on bold and italics just so that we are all clear on this: Dante watched as the “love of his life” is raped and then ripped to shreds right in front of him…….. and he just kinda forgot about it. Ooops! I’m calling “bullshit” on this one. I mean, FOX cancelled Married with Children 17 years ago and I’ve been crying like a baby about it ever since. Some things you can forget. Your wallet, your keys, your anniversary. Hey, that shit happens. What happened to Ula? Yeah, that’s not some everyday bullshit.
After a fight on his helicopter causes it to crash into the side of a building, Kufard dies. Dante manages to jump from the helicopter before the explosion, but Rotty doesn’t. The dog, now a mechanical skeleton after the fire of the crash burns it clean, lunges through the flames at Dante for one final attack. The two fall into the flames. In the final sequence, we see some firemen dousing the fire. There lies the skeletons of Dante, Ula, and Rotty. Just before the final credits roll, the same scorpion from the beginning of the film is seen crawling on their bones. Which can only mean one thing…..