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A Boy & His Dog (1975)

Reviewed by Tom Ender

“A rather kinky tale of survival”

Like some other movies I’ve recommended, this film isn’t going to suit everyone. It has extremely dystopian themes, violence and sexual situations. That said, in my opinion it is still a very good film. Those who will like it will probably like it very much. This review should help you to decide if you will belong in that group.

The movie begins with an unattributed quote. “WW IV lasted 5 days. Politicians had finally solved the problem of urban blight.” Subsequent scenes depict H bombs exploding and the resulting desolation. The scenes and situations in this film somewhat resemble those in the later Mad Max films: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. However, this film was made first and is grimmer than the Mad Max films.

The year in the movie is 2024. Vic (Don Johnson) and Blood (a sheep dog) are partners who can communicate telepathically and roam the post-apocalyptic desolation. Vic is an 18-year old “solo,” a single “rover” not attached to a gang, only to his dog partner. Blood is not a typical dog. He is a very intelligent canine who is actually the “brains” of the partnership. He can also sense the presence of female humans – and some other very important items – a very sought after ability. Vic and Blood have a very close relationship, but it does have its share of friction and entertaining repartee.

After Vic, in a daring escapade, steals some canned food for their dinner from other thieves, they take in a movie at an encampment which caters to young male rovers living in the wasteland. During the movie (which appears to be a hash of old black & white “stag” films), Blood detects a female human in the audience. After some “discussion” Blood tells Vic how the female is dressed and they wait for her to leave. Obligingly, she does, not much later.

They follow her to an abandoned building, which has often been plagued with “screamers” (radioactive zombie-like creatures), but Blood does not detect any present now. Following her in, Vic comes upon Quilla June (Susanne Benton) while she is semi-naked and brushing her hair, then dressing. He overpowers her and tells her to remove her clothes. Before she can comply, Blood enters informing them that a rover pack, 23 strong, has the building surrounded. After some fight / action scenes, which are not easy to follow, Blood and Vic come up with the idea of imitating a “screamer.” This terrifies the rover gang and they leave. However, not long after this an actual “screamer” shows up. Blood, Vic and Quilla June take refuge in an area that has many old mattresses. Vic and Quilla June get better acquainted.

Quilla June tells Vic about how nice it is “down under” where she lives. She wants him to return with her. Blood senses problems with this and discusses them with Vic. When Vic returns to Quilla June, she clubs him on the head with a flashlight and escapes. Vic tracks her to a gateway into the “down under.” He leaves Blood and descends. He is captured by Michael (Hal Baylor), the enforcer for the “committee” (Jason Robards, Helene Winston and Alvy Moore) which rules “Topeka.” They have plans for Vic.

That ought to be enough of the story to help you make up your mind about whether you want to give it a view. The film is based on the award winning novella of the same name written by SF great Harlan Ellison. The screen play is by L. Q. Jones, who also directs the film and plays a small part in the “movie” which Blood and Vic watch at the encampment. This isn’t a big budget movie, but it is really quite well done.

There don’t seem to be as many post-apocalyptic films being made now as there once were. Perhaps with the demise of the old Soviet Union, many people now seem to think that such a future is not very likely. I am not so sure. However, the best of the older post-apocalypse movies have aged very well. A Boy & His Dog is in that group.

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