rabid dogs | mario bava | alessandro parenzo | lea lander | george eastman | riccardo cucciolla | crime | drama | thriller | crime thriller | italy | don backy | maurice poli | erika dario | marisa fabbri | luigi antonio guerra | gustavo de nardo | emilio bonucci
Film: Rabid Dogs (Cani arrabbiati)
Director: Mario Bava
Writer: Alessandro Parenzo
Starring: Lea Lander, George Eastman and Riccardo Cucciolla
This is another Mario Bava film that I had never heard of. I do have to thank Duncan from the Podcast Under the Stairs as this was selected as part of Movie Club Challenge for December 2021. Knowing that Bava was behind this I was intrigued. I did have a bit of a challenge finding this one as it also goes by the alternative title of Kidnapped, which is how I checked this out through my library system. The synopsis here is following a bungled robbery, three violent criminals take a young woman, a middle-aged man and a child hostage. They force them to drive them outside Rome to help make a clean escape.
For this movie, we start with Doc (Maurice Poli) checking under the hood of his car. We see that he and three others are waiting on someone to pass and then tail them. The idea here is they’re going to rob the paymaster for this pharmaceutical company. In the process, Blade (Don Backy) stabs and kills him when he won’t give up the satchel. A security guard is also killed in the process. These criminals don’t get away as easy as they thought. Their driver is shot and killed. The police also know what their vehicle looks like.
Their escape takes them to a parking garage. Two women are taken hostage and a standoff ensues. Blade panics and stabs one of them in the neck, killing her. Her friend of Maria (Lea Lander) is taken. They end up getting a car with Riccardo (Riccardo Cucciolla). With him is his sick son in the back. The plan is to go to a hospital, but that changes when Doc, Blade and 32 (George Eastman) get into the car. He is told to drive out of town.
Intercut with this, we see a woman that we keep cutting back to. She is calling a detective who hasn’t received word yet. This will come back into play later in our story. We are given mostly a tense filled ride as our three criminals hold these three hostages. Not everyone is as they seem and they will do whatever they can to get out of this alive.
That’s where I’m going to leave my recap for this story as I don’t want to spoil where this movie ends up. Where I will start is that this movie is tense. I must give credit to the story that written here. It appears that it is from an uncredited short story called ‘Man and Boy’ from Michael J. Carroll. Parenzo wrote this along with help from Bava himself, Cesere Frugoni and Alfredo Leone helped with the Kidnapped version. Usually when I see that many writers, it becomes a problem. I did read up about money issues and the film wasn’t finished by Bava. Regardless, what I saw I thought worked.
We have such a good idea here. I like the idea of this robbery not going to plan and these criminals are scrambling. Doc seems to the brains of the operation and the two with him are volatile. I like that as we go on, we see that Blade and 32 are best friends. As tensions rise, they lose their heads. Without Doc, they most likely will get caught. It doesn’t help that they have Maria there so when they get bored; they see something they can play with. It doesn’t help when they stop off that 32 buys a bottle of whiskey and drinks pretty much the whole thing, making him more reckless. Seeing this progression of them being more unhinged worked.
Then there are the hostages. Maria is interesting to me. She is the one that is emotional here and I don’t blame her. I’d probably be right there with her with being terrified of the situation. There’s the added dimension that the two wild men might take advantage of her. She is constantly thinking of ways to escape. Riccardo does to, to an extent. I like that Doc and Blade comment on how cool he is a few times. I thought it was interesting as well, but assumed he was a doctor or lawyer or someone with a high-pressure job. The reveal there shocked me. It feels a bit like a cheat, but I will say that it is hinted at throughout this movie. It does make me wonder if this reveal was in the story or not as well as how the child factors in. Going from the title of the short story, I’m assuming it is there.
There isn’t a lot more about the story I can go into without spoiling, so I’ll take this over to the acting. Cucciolla is interesting here as Riccardo. We don’t meet him until about 15 minutes into this movie. His character is calm, cool and collected for the most part. He does have some freak out moments that make sense. I love the reveal for him as it was just icing. Backy is good as Blade. He seems less intelligent and a bit wild so it makes sense with what happens as things go on. Lander is good as Maria. I feel bad for what she deals with. I like Poli as our smart criminal. He is doing what he can to hold his crew together, but it isn’t easy. I also like Eastman. I never realize how big of a guy he is and it is scary to be honest. He’s great as the other wild criminal with Blade. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
The last parts to go into would be the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, we don’t get a lot of them. There is a bit of blood that is a bit bright. I do enjoy that. They do well in hiding the wounds or attacks so I’ll credit the cinematography there. What is interesting is that this movie has a sleazy factor to it, without going too far. You can just feel it and it mostly from the duo of Blade and 32. This movie is shot well, but it doesn’t surprise me for a Bava film. I did read that to save money, due to the low budget, he had to fire the director of photography and shot it from that point himself. He had such an eye so I believe it. The soundtrack is also interesting. They reuse a lot of the same music, but I dug what they did with it. It isn’t a score that I’d listen to all the time, but I thought it fit for the movie we are getting for sure.
So then in conclusion here, this is an interesting movie. There were some issues with it getting completed and released so there’s already that factor to make it more interesting. What I like is that we are getting a sleazy Bava film that isn’t all that sleazy. It is more implied with things said, but the movie stays classy enough despite that. I think what carries this movie is the performances from our group in the car. Doc trying to keep his crew in line enough before they get them caught. There isn’t a lot to the story, but I like where that goes. We don’t get a lot of effects and it doesn’t necessarily need them. The cinematography is great and the soundtrack worked for me. Overall, I’d say this is a good movie and one that I’ll definitely revisit now that I’ve seen it.
My Rating: 8 out of 10