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A Boy and His Dog (1975) - Blu-ray Review

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A Boy and His Dog (1975) - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

A Boy and His Dog is the perfect post-apocalyptic movie.  The dark humor from science fiction author Harlan Ellison (writer for Star Trek, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Outer Limits) is striking and solid and, in spite of this being a short story adaptation, largely intact.  Rich with commentary and pregnable mood, the 1975 film written and directed by L.Q. Jones hit it big with critics while failing miserably with audiences.

Maybe the film-version story of Vic (Don Johnson) and Blood (a “talking” dog) was, as its author suggests, too misogynic for its own good.  Maybe, in a world where The Walking Dead is so insanely popular, it was just too far ahead of its time.  Either way, A Boy and His Dog – now remastered for High-Definition – deserves an appreciative audience.

The southwestern United States is now a total wasteland.  Thanks to WWIV – which lasted all of 20 minutes – the entire world has been reduced to kindling and ash.  Bodies are littered across the open highways.  Rough background for a comedy, right?  And aligning the look of the picture with the humor, most of L.Q. Jones’ movie is appropriately dark in humor and madly demented.

Eighteen-year old Vic (Johnson) traverses the charred terrain in search of food for his telepathic dog.  Blood (voiced by Tim McIntire), in return, sniffs the area for women that Vic can have sex with.  It’s a symbiotic relationship; one of the best there is.  But there’s danger at every turn.  If it’s not marauding gangs of evil-doers its deranged villagers and their sepia-toned porn.

Yet, the stakes get higher than ever before when Vic – thinking he has scored the ultimate gig - is ensnared in an underground rural town’s twisted plan to repopulate the earth with his sperm.  It is Blood and Quilla June Holmes (Susanne Benton), a woman who has more of a mischievous plan than Vic, to the rescue.

Much has been written of the film’s treatment of women.  And, yes, if you are a woman and you do happen to see A Boy and His Dog chances are you will be completely disgusted by Vic and the cute, hairy butt of his dog.  Rape and murder are commonplace in this America.  And the strongest woman presented on the film is, ultimately, chopped up into dog food.

Now, acknowledging the film is science fiction and not reality, I see the humor in choosing to feed a smartass dog over the company of a woman.  But many – including its own author Harlan Ellison– feel Jones went too far in the final moments.  Well, that’s all up to you.

To its credit, the film – which co-stars Jason Robards – doesn’t belabor with too much detail about any of the occurrences.  We get what we need to understand the situation and then we move on.  The dog guides us through a brief history of this timeline.  We get history lessons delivered with humor.  This includes that controversial ending in which the rural town – named Topeka – is not destroyed, but the woman is.

The satire is blunt.  The social commentary is deadly.  It’s harrowing, offbeat and, yes, awkward.  Yet, A Boy and His Dog is a brave testament to conceptually interesting films that manage to remain faithful to their own standards and, thanks to a tremendously awful and awesome ending, remains a cult classic and one of the best science fiction films ever made.

{2jtab: Film Details}

A Boy and His Dog (1975) - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 91 mins.
Director
: L.Q. Jones
Writer: L.Q. Jones
Cast: Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Jason Robards
Genre: Comedy | Sci-fi | Thriller
Tagline:
The year is 2024... a future you'll probably live to see.
Memorable Movie Quote: "A putz? What's a putz? It's somethin' bad, isn't it? You better take that back or I'm gonna kick your fuzzy butt!"
Distributor:
Shout Factory
Official Site:
Release Date:
November, 1975
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 6, 2013

Synopsis: A post-apocalyptic tale based on a novella by Harlan Ellison. A boy communicates telepathically with his dog as they scavenge for food and sex, and they stumble into an underground society where the old society is preserved. The daughter of one of the leaders of the community seduces and lures him below, where the citizens have become unable to reproduce because of being underground so long. They use him for impregnation purposes, and then plan to be rid of him.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

A Boy and His Dog (1975) - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 6, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); DVD copy

The Shout! and Scream Factory people have delivered another gem with this release.  The 1080p encode offers a terrific image with appropriate grain levels and beautifully preserved colors. It appears that some scratches and other blemishes have been removed without compromising a strong attention to texture and detail. While there are still uneven moments in the presentation, this is a worthy upgrade from the DVD release.  The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track also represents a distinct improvement over prior mixes of the film, particularly in the gunfights, which now boast considerably greater sonic gravitas.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • The audio commentary by writer-director L.Q. Jones, cameraman John Morrill, and critic Charles Champlin is a loose and lively affair that offers the usual production anecdotes, which have, in this case, the benefit of being actively interesting.  You might actually learn some new swear words.

Special Features:

This is nice but brief assortment of supplemental material that definitely doesn’t disappoint.  Things get started with a great conversation between the director and the author of the short story.  It’s the other highlight of this release; the first being the new transfer.  This near hour-long conversation is hilarious and thought-provoking and it’s funny to hear the two argue over the ending of the movie…which they still disagree about.  There are some Radio Spots for collectors, too.  The original trailer rounds out the release.

  • In Conversation: Harlan Ellison and L. Q. Jones (51 min)
  • Radio Spots (4 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

{2jtab: Trailer}

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