Sporting a very shaggy dog look himself or a bad imitation of Moe Howard, in need of a haircut and shave, leading man David McCallum is pitted against man’s best friends in this thriller that came to theaters as one of the many knock offs hoping to cash in on the astounding world wide success of Jaws.
David has joined the faculty at a college in what seems to be a small isolated town, actually the shooting location is Chula Vista, California. He’s brought along his girlfriend, Sandra McCabe and makes friends with a fellow prof. played by George Wyner. Not fully fleshed out in the script is the fact that the military is conducting some sort of off screen experiments which are beginning to have an effect on our furry friends. Wyner is a Science teacher who is currently teaching the topic of pheromones to his students. (look it up). Think of ants working together to get their tasks done.
What would happen if the same thing was working with our four legged pals. Worse, what if they decide to turn on their masters. Cattle are being slaughtered in the fields just outside of town and while we know what’s doing the attacking, the local law enforcement are stymied but the science profs, Wyner and McCallum have their suspicions. Things are going to escalate when the rancher himself is killed the next night prompting a bunch of “good old boys” to stake out the territory the following night. Bites and blood are sure to follow.
All hell breaks loose when a group of mutts performing at the town dog show get more than a bit cross. What’s a crowd to do? How about run. That’s sure to trigger some attacks. I’ve yet to know a dog that doesn’t love to chase after people. Sure there’s nothing at all to worry about, our college Dean plays it Murray Hamilton style and puts in a friendly call to the Governor but isn’t looking to rile any feathers at the state capital. There’s just no way dogs like his prized Irish Setter can be turning around and biting the hands that feed them.
Once the entire town knows what’s going on, the college campus becomes the main backdrop as Wyner and McCallum have rounded up the students to take refuge in the library. Not quite making it that far are some of the townsfolk including an old gal, a motorcyclist and enjoying a hot shower, a just staring out Linda Gray who would go on to play Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas and all it’s reincarnations. It’s not Psycho famous but doesn’t end all that differently. Have to wonder if Miss Gray shies away from showers ever since as Janet Leigh was known to profess.
Just because McCallum and a shotgun toting Wyner have the students safely indoors doesn’t mean the danger has past. There is still plenty of bloodshed to follow and like any horror flick looking to make a buck, the camera zeroes in on the cute kitty cat at the freeze frame ending. Though these filmmakers never followed up on that promise, we did get Milton Subotsky delivering The Uncanny the following year anyway which featured Peter Cushing delivering tales of Kitty Cat terror.
Sure it’s just a movie and I know that the customary quote about no animals being harmed accompanied the closing credits but man do I hate to see what appears to be intended violence delivered at man’s best friends. I love dogs too much and treasure the memories and happiness my own have brought me since childhood. So those shotgun blasts never sit well with me. It’s actually odd to see actor George Wyner carrying a shotgun around. He’s done so many roles but I always associate him with stuffy office types and playing the lawyer hounding Fletch for his alimony payments.
Way down the cast list I noticed the name Lance Hool. Producer Lance Hool? Yes, it’s one and the same. After an aborted acting career, Hool would move into the production field finding success in the action genre working with Bronson, Norris and even Denzel.
David McCallum plays the hero just fine as is to be expected having become famous as Illya Kuyakin on the Man From U.N.C.L.E. Having never seen the show as a kid, McCallum came into my viewing world as a member of The Great Escape and his short lived Invisible Man TV show in the 70’s. That, and the fact that he was married to Jill Ireland before she moved on to live the rest of her all to short life with Charles Bronson.
Dogs is out on blu ray if you can find it from Scorpion Releasing. While McCallum isn’t interviewed as part of the bonus material, there is some fun stories about the production from some of the lesser known actors who all seemed quite excited to be working with as well known a figure as McCallum was at this time. Thankfully George Wyner took the time to sit in and offer up some information as well.
In the end this is another of the many animals on the attack films that populated movie houses in the late 70’s and just one year after this one, Joe Don Baker would be facing off against more of our furry pals in The Pack.
Here’s a bonus shot of Big Sam trying his best not to attack me. He was so docile I’m pretty much trying to hold him over me as he’s attempting to get away from this rough housing situation and go find his big comfy pillow. A true gentle giant he was.