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Rabid Dogs (Blu-ray Review)

Rabid-DogsAfter their armed bank robbery goes haywire, three criminals take their hostages—a young woman, a father, and his sick daughter—on a berserk, blood-spattered road trip. Rabid Dogs, the chilling remake of the 1974 Mario Bava cult classic Kidnapped,  makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut June 14th, 2016 from Scream Factory, in conjunction with IFC Midnight. Starring Lambert Wilson (The Matrix Reloaded, Dante 01), Laurent Lucas (Calvaire) and Virginie Ledoyen (The Beach , The Backwoods), Rabid Dogs comes loaded with over two hours of bonus feature, includingthe feature-length “Making of Rabid Dogs”, interviews with the cast, and an effects, weapons, and production design featurette. Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com.

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Film 

On the main avenue of a crowded city, Sabri, grips the steering wheel of his car, eyes fixed anxiously on the bank entrance opposite… Then, there’s a sudden explosion, and three masked men race to the car, loaded with stolen cash. Unfortunately, everything is about to go wrong. With the cops right behind them, the car crashes and their boss is killed. Sabri and his accomplices are forced to run. The desperate criminals will stop at nothing to make their escape. Taking a young woman and a father and child hostage, they embark on a crazy, violent road trip that not all of them will survive…

Rabid Dogs is one of my favorite Mario Bava films.  Its the one where he entered that niche Italian crime drama subgenre back in the 1970s.  Also known as Kidnapped, the film was sorta incomplete for a good number of years before seeing a proper version put out there.  The film is a very strong, tense and raw thriller that packs a whallop with its final reveal at the end.

This remake, coming from France, is apparently a really big fan of that original film, in that it really doesn’t feel the need to create a whole lot of new stuff to it.  The new Rabid Dogs is a slicker, more polished and modernized version of the Bava original.  That’s about where any differences in the two films lies.  The plot is the same, the beats are the same and the every turn is pretty much spot on.  Its not quite a Gus Van Sant Pscyho copy, but there isn’t a whole lot of reasoning for this film to exist.

Why I’m not giving it a crappy rating is that the script and original story are so strong that it still makes for a damn good movie.  Plus, the original is a rough Italian film from the 1970s and that’s a spot that causes a few issues.  First, its not the easiest film to just pick up and check out the original (and a proper, too).  You have to go to a boutique label to find it on disc and its probably not found anywhere streaming.  Add in to that, those Italian films of that era can be a tough watch for someone.  They require some training and experience to sort of “get” and enjoy straight away.  So I’m okay with this film just being a straightforward remake, just tightening up the ship.

Overall, if you liked the original, you’ll probably enjoy running through it with a slicker look and prettier cast this time around but won’t take much after.  For those who have never seen, I’m okay with you checking out this one as you’ll get what’s going on just the same as the original.  Especially if you’re not one for revisiting older, low budget foreign films.  I prefer the original, and while this adds nothing new to it, its harmless.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Being a new film, its shot with a very crisp and slick aesthetic.  The image is a bold and detailed one.  This is well saturated image that features strong detail, especially on vehicles and clothing.  

Depth:  Definitely above average dimensional work here in the film.  Spacing is solid and movements come on very smooth and slick.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich, deep and come on pretty strong in dark interiors and nighttime sequences.  No crushing, but some details can be lost in the dark.

Color Reproduction:  This is a kinda void of color feature as everyone wears black and gray, and are stuck in a bleak looking car interior for most of the film.  However, when colors are abundant they pop across as pretty bold and strong.  

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural in appearance and maintain that look from scene to scene for the whole duration.  Facial features like sweat, wrinkles, stubble and makeup look great in close ups and medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a finely balanced 5.1 mix that is loud and in your face when it needs to be and also nails the quiet moments of the film.  The interior of the car is well represented and sounds a bit impressive.  Effects are layered and full sounding.

Low Frequency Extension:  Car crashing, fire and loud weaponry get a thump from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Mainly a front heavy mix, there is some nice ambiance and personality at times in the rear speakers.  Front speakers portray good placement as well as movement.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clean and clear.

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Extras 

Rabid Dogs comes with a DVD copy of the film.

The Making of Rabid Dogs (HD, 1:33:21) – A full on documentary of the film’s production.  Features a lead narration from the director, this chronicles the production with behind the scenes, on set footage, interviews and such.

Cast Interviews (HD, 41:38) – Six interviews that took place on set during the filming.

Special Effects and Production Design (HD, 14:10) – A couple of separate pieces chronicling different action/effects heavy set pieces in the film.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:43) 

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Summary 

While I have written here that Rabid Dogs really brings nothing new to the original story, I did find it neat to revisit it and see it fit into a more modern setting in both terms of place and filmmaking.  I must mention, the opening credits sequence and score of the film are quite spectacular.  This Blu-ray is also spectacular for those who pick it up.  It has a great presentation with both audio and video and you get a full on feature-length documentary about the creation of this film.  A definite pick up for those curious and interested.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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