Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Zombie Dog


The Film That Never Was?!

Zombie Dog:  A Man’s Best…Fiend!—"U.N. Owen”—somewhere in Portland?

    This is a film review…of sorts.  My title for the producing company is my own and is from a quote of the villain’s name in Agatha Christie’s, Ten Little Indians or, And Then There Were None, meaning unknown.  The title of the film is the only written reference at the beginning or end of the film…no cast or crew list, nor any indication of a producing organization.

    This odd journey of mine, most of which needs to be kept under wraps, this is not as sinister as it sounds.  Sometimes the best publicity for an event is no publicity at all…just occasional leaks of a mysterious…whatever…out there.  And there is quite a precedent of such a campaign.

    During prohibition, there were Speakeasy’s, which were establishments hidden away that served alcohol, but the only way you could find them, was through a trusted somebody, who knew somebody, who knew the location and password and which the newbie was sworn to secrecy.  Some years ago, I was taken to such a place in Portland that followed this formula…an elevator in a downtown parking lot, down an unidentified hallway, to a bare door that had a small, sliding window in it.  Low lighting and good food but with no publicity or contact info given…quite a clever idea, I must say.

    There is also a theatre in Portland in which, as a reviewer, I must sign a release to not reveal its actual location.  And, the Indie film of some years ago, The Blair Witch Project, claimed the film that was shown, was of actual tapes of a group of students researching a legendary witch, and the group was never seen again.  Actually, it was a group of college students that made the low-budget film and because of the phony pre-release story, made millions internationally.  And so such marketing can work wonders.

    An acquaintance of mine broached me with a similar request, to review a film but not to give away the location or any info on it (since none was on the screen, that went without saying).  The reason for such a request, besides the obvious marketing stunt, was because they wanted publicity but more of a grass roots or underground sort, and felt I was a man that would keep the secret, as well.  They are not mistaken.

    The style of the film is similar to Film Noir, with dimly lit sets, flashbacks, voice-over narrative, B&W, and dark subject matter.  And since this doesn’t appear to have expensive production values, also lends well to this genre.  It resembles the film of a graphic novel, Sin City, which employs the same values.  Also, has a kinship with the movies of Val Lewton, a low-budget filmmaker of the 40’s famous for atmospheric films, notably, the famous, Cat People.

    The film begins with a small-town, newspaper reporter, from a different era, typing out a story late at night, and his voice narrating the flashbacks of what led to this moment.  It seems that an unusual number of killings have been happening, in which the victims have been found with mutilations resembling attacks by a wild animal…notably a wolf or large dog(s).

As the story goes, it is discovered that the town dump on the outskirts has had some odd canisters dumped there, with the letters A&O Enterprises stenciled on them, and a greenish fluid leaking out.  It also seems a pack of wild dogs have been seen lurking about, scavenging for food in this dump.  And, to add to the confusion, a hermit is known to make his home there and may know secrets best kept under wraps.  Add some men-in-black, an industrious cub reporter and a money-bags, who owns a mysterious factory in town, and you have the makings of a pretty good, but typical, thriller.

What is unusual about this flick, is the “motives” for these deaths (or assassinations).  Also, the fact that you rarely see the “villains” in question, rely more on shadows, glowing eyes, and pretty good sound effects and mood music to enhance the suspense (ala, Lewton’s style).  Obviously, I can’t tell you the outcome but will give you a hint…best be kind to animals, as the alternative could be deadly!

    Again, the sparse sets, low-lighting, B&W and relatively unknown cast points to an Indie film, but with an unusual plot outcome, with some above-average writing (ala, Roger Corman’s Poe classics) and an inventive marketing campaign, this could succeed in time.  There are precedents for this type (as mentioned above) as an Indie film made in the 70’s, The Witch Who Came From The Sea, deemed too controversial for the 70’s (deals frankly with incest and sex abuse of a child), when it was made, and thought to have been destroyed, a “new” copy of the film was “discovered” this century.  So, manipulating an art form, to gain attention to their product, has been known to be profitable, as well as garnered a certain amount of respect for its artistic merits, as well.  Personally, I wish them well!