Film Review : A Boy and His Dog

, in Films, Science Fiction

World War IV blasted the surface of the Earth to a barren wasteland across which roving bands of scabby bandits compete for sparse food supplies . Vic (Don Johnson!) is a young man who has teamed up with a telepathic dog to survive - Vic finds food for them both while the dog make itself useful sniffing out women (in short supply) for Vic to rape.

Yes, rape. What is it about 70s Science Fiction and rape? I have noticed this trend - up until the late 60s scifi was all space ships and aliens with heroic main characters. Not that they all portrayed woman as equals and complex characters in their own rights, but the protagonists at least had good intentions.

Then sometime just before 1970 somebody decided that scifi had to be all dark and twisted and a lot of stories started to appear where the main character basically rapes people. Sometimes this can work as social commentary but often it just comes across as exploitative and nasty. Was this a reaction to feminism? I don't know, but it sure is irritating. Thankfully, not too many of these stories got made into films.

A Boy and His Dog almost gets away with the rape device since Vic is not very successful and is eventually taken advantage of by his supposed victim. A second point in the film's favour is the humorous script and a light touch. Nothing is treated particularly seriously as the gormless Vic gets into one bizarre predicament after another in his quest for sex. Indeed, the general plot of the film and particularly the closing scene point to the whole exercise being conceived as the world's most elaborate shaggy dog story, with the joke being on the audience. The second male lead actually being a shaggy dog may also point to this interpretation being correct.

What could have been a horrific and repellent story is redeemed by a well realised film that is a ropey in some places but pitched so perfectly that its flaws can be overlooked.

Recommended, but only if you like this sort of thing. Otherwise avoid.