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October 23, 2014

Crazy Dog

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David Petrucci - 2012
One 7 Movies Region 0 DVD

This Fall has seen a couple of the smaller DVD labels offering films that are a bit outside their usual offerings. Crazy Dog is a relatively new film, from two years ago, from a company better known for excavating some of the most obscure European movies from the Seventies and Eighties, stuff from the most forgotten corners of film history. The writeup on the DVD cover attempts to make the case for the film as something in the style of Italian cinema from the Seventies, a blend of some giallo and police thriller, but the film is, for me, nothing like that at all.

What we have is a pretty good mystery, possibly inspired by a true story, although I take such declarations with a grain of salt. Crazy Dog is the name of a serial killer who has murdered a slew of people, seemingly at random. Marco, the son of one of the victims, interviews a criminologist who seems the best informed about Crazy Dog. The criminologist recounts events from twenty years ago, when Crazy Dog struck, and then disappeared, pursued by a freelance journalist.

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The serial killer signs his work, on the body of one victim, the painting of another, and in blood on the doormat of the journalist. The film ends with a flashback tying several of the victims together, but not all of them. The explanations don't entirely make sense, suggesting that when David Petrucci wrote his screenplay, he hoped that the viewer wouldn't notice plot holes the size of craters.

Petrucci tries to goose up interest with cameos by Franco Nero and Tinto Brass. Nero actually has a fair singing voice that should have been used more. Here, he's an abstract painter of sorts and philosopher, like several of Crazy Dog's victims, living in the margins. Tinto Brass, with his ubiquitous cigar, is a mobster who makes a point of getting the respect he thinks he deserves. The inclusion of Nero and Brass is an attempt to provide some tenuous link to the glory days of Italian cinema as a provider of commercially popular, if often critically maligned, films in the Seventies.

Petrucci plays with color, tinting the scenes with the murders, but otherwise, any resemblance to earlier genre films is tangential. There are no extended point of view shots, and the scenes of violence are restrained, so much so that I almost wished that Ruggero Deodato, of Cannibal Holocaust infamy, would have stepped in to show Petrucci how to make the audience pay attention to what's on the screen.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 23, 2014 06:54 AM