(1975) dir. L.Q. Jones
Sometimes, the apocalypse isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I’ve had for a long while a fascination with the post-apocalyptic science fiction films regarding nuclear war that symbolized a mentality of the Cold War. Maybe this is due to my growing up in this era and having fed off of a lot of the images and notions associated with the results of WWIII. By the 1980’s, there were several notable films in this genre, the best being ones that are low-budget and pretty much just out-and-out Cult films.
Well, A Boy and His Dog, which I had seen back in the day on cable, is surprisingly early for this vision. Adapted from a Harlan Ellison novella, it’s not just post-WWIII, it’s post WWIV. And most notably, it’s a young Don Johnson playing a free-wheeling young man with two things on his mind: sex and survival. And in that order. Lucky for him he has a psychic relationship with a dog, who helps him hunt down women. It’s funny what’s left after nuclear devastation, huh?
The characters banter, but they are more unlikeable that I think they are meant to be. The dog, who is erudite and intelligent in contrast to Johnson’s hormonal boy, is a little too snotty. And Johnson just lacks charm.
The other quite strange scenario besides the semi-The Road Warrior (1981)-like above ground world, is this bizarre underground world in which a total cartoon of Americana is kept alive with creepy pancake-made-up faces, and a group of elders who need fresh genetics to keep them healthy. It’s social criticism, but so weird that it’s hard to know exactly what to make of it.
The best part of the film is the end when the female love interest of Johnson’s (who is not really a love interest, but a sex object and opportunist) tells Johnson to leave the starving dog and live with her because she loves him. The boy must choose between his woman and his poor, hungry psychic dog. And he chooses to kill the girl and feed her to the dog. Not exactly the most humanist ending, nor the most lacking in misogyny, but it adds a subversiveness that gives the film more character.
It’s kind of a little ahead of its time. But it’s also pretty lame, I’d have to say.