Movie: Movies about psychopaths and the end of the world have been around since the dawn of film. In recent years, movies such as 12 Monkeys, The Cell, and a host of others have entered the stream of consciousness of popular culture, and thereby became the target of the low budget independents who don't exactly copy the mainstream hits so much as borrow liberally from them in their quest to tell a story (or, in the worst case scenario, make a quick buck). One such movie is a recent release from the folks at Vanguard, Mad Dogs.
The movie centered on a man who has been visiting a psychiatrist for years. He heard voices in his head that had nothing to do with a set of headphones and after all the treatment he has received, he's told that the pills were placebos and the voices were, in a sense, all in his head. After his doctor goes on vacation, the man, Rabbie Burns, starts hearing the voices again but this time, they're even clearer and more specific. They tell him that in 36 hours, the world will end if he can't convince the world's leaders to stop certain experiments. Needless to say, everyone takes him for a lunatic until a couple of people sign on to assist him.
From the beginning, Rabbie is overwhelmed, not truly believing the voices himself until they explain, in great detail, why things are taking place as they are. One of the beings calls himself The Supreme Being, in reference to God, and Rabbie's attempts to prove, or disprove, the guy's status fall hilariously short. The movie's title, Mad Dogs, refers to a plague effecting all the canines in Britain and if you have a lot of patience, you'll see the way the disease is worked into this fairly obscure movie.
Okay, English science fiction is often a bit more cerebral than you'll find coming out of Hollywood. Some people think that's a good thing and others think it's just another way to mask some of the deficiencies of writing or budget. I'm on the fence since if the ideas are properly executed, this can work. In the case of Mad Dogs, it was spotty at best. The general themes about control, Pandora's box, and delegation of representational power to those you have no true contact with all had lots of potential but usually they weren't hit on very well.
Too often, the movie looked almost like a storyboard version of what I suspected they intended to do, a fact supported by the use of the cheesy Black & White moments of contact by the "voices". For me, the agonizing dialogue and lack of polish killed the enjoyment I could have had so I'm going to rate this one as a Skip It with no replay value. I didn't care about the lack of budgets, the weak special effects, or the other problems so much as the basic flaws mentioned above.
Picture: The picture was presented in non-anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 ratio. The fleshtones were reasonably accurate and the grain about what you'd expect from a second tier horror movie on late night cable television. The video noise varied with the scenes, usually not overly noticeable, and the slightly soft focus probably helped keep it from looking much cheaper. I didn't see a whole lot of edge enhancement or compression artifacts although each was on the DVD more often than I liked.
Sound: The audio was presented in 5.1 surround sound English but most of the sound came from my center speaker. The separation between the channels being pretty much nonexistent, the dynamic range was nothing special either. The sound effects and other audio aspects of the movie were low budget but about what I expected from this low budget feature from England.
Extras: There were no extras on the DVD.
Final Thoughts: Was this the worse movie I've seen in the past twelve months? No, it wasn't but it came really close to it on a regular basis. The lack of extras, the basic flaws in direction and acting combined by the writing made it hard to watch even once. The flawed premise didn't help and I suppose I have to keep in mind that Vanguard has released a host of really entertaining movies over the last year so I can forgive them this one.