“Surprisingly good remake”
Eric Hanezzo’s remake of Mario Bava’s original gets a UK DVD release courtesy of Metrodome after its big screen premiere at Frightfest last year.
Four men rob a bank, crash their getaway car, make a mess of their substitute getaway van, lose one of their number to “Les Flics” (this is a French film, after all) and end up in a battered old Volvo with their sexy hostage (Virginie Ledoyen).
The Volvo’s driver (Lambert Wilson) says he’s on the way to the hospital because his near-comatose four year old daughter (out flat on the back seat) is due a transplant. The three remaining villains don’t care and insist he take them over the border. Their attempts to get there lead to death, more death, a village full of people dressed as bears, even more death, and a nihilistic ending.
Mario Bava’s 1974 original may have been groundbreaking for its time, but RABID DOGS 2015 does a very creditable job indeed of giving us a version for the 21st century. The robbers are a bit stereotypical (angry / crazy young men dressed in black with only a passing acquaintance with a razor) but the acting is really very good, from both them, their hostages, and some of the bit part players (the gas station attendant and the lady with the stroke who can only communicate by ringing a bell are splendidly bleak character turns).
And then there’s the music. Laurent Eyquem manages to have his musical cake and eat it with some seriously pulsating and effective synthesiser work that both riffs on Stelvio Cipriani’s original (and extremely memorable) 1974 themes while giving it an assured identity all its own. I haven’t heard soundtrack work quite like this since Rob’s score for MANIAC (2012), and I wasn’t at all surprised to see Rob had supplied some of the additional tracks to this as well.
Hanezzo’s direction is slick and self-assured, moving seamlessly from the exciting opening robbery and car chase, through the claustrophobic atmosphere of the middle act, to the outright weirdness of the final half hour, with the interior of the car being progressively lit with red filters as we journey with what remains of the vehicle's passengers to a very special kind of hell indeed.
Metrodome’s disc offers no extras but there are two sound options, and those synths really deserve the 5.1 mix cranking up. I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting much of this one at all but it’s actually very good indeed. Even if you think the Bava original can’t be bettered you owe it to yourself to check this one out, otherwise you’ll be missing one of the best movies French crime cinema has given us in the last couple of years.
The remake of RABID DOGS is out on UK DVD from Metrodome on 22nd August 2015