It's The End Of The World As We Know It

With Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium topping the box-office charts this weekend, it’s time to take a quick look back at another grim (if considerably lower-budget) look at an equally dystopian future— 1975’s A Boy And His Dog, recently released for the first time on Blu-Ray from Shout Factory.

  A Boy And His Dog Blu

Starring a very young Don Johnson, this sci-fi/road movie/Western details a post-Apocalyptic world circa 2024, following nuclear strikes which have leveled most of America’s landscape. Vic (Johnson) is a teenage who’s accompanied by his trusty sheepdog Blood, a cynic who communicates with Vic through telepathy. Blood (voiced by Tim McIntire, who also composed the film’s score along with ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek) is constantly critical of Vic, who frequently spurns his companion’s trenchant observations as they steal and forage for supplies (and women) in the wasteland. When Blood makes the mistake of leading Vic to Quilla June (Susanne Benton), a conniving girl from the mysterious “Downunder,” Vic ignores Blood to be with her— only to find himself in her strange subterranean homeland, which turns out to be Topeka, Kansas, relocated underground by a group of fundamentalists in clown makeup (to color their below-ground pallor) led by Jason Robards.  The virile Vic is excited at first to learn that he’s going to be used as a “stud” to help repopulate the community— until he learns the unpleasant reality of his situation.


Based on a novella by sci-fi genius Harlan Ellison, A Boy And His Dog was filmed for peanuts by character actor-turned-director L.Q. Jones, best known for his work with Sam Peckinpah; he wrote the screenplay with fellow actor Alvy Jones, but Ellison’s mercurial voice carries throughout the piece, with the no-nonsense Blood coming off as Ellison’s canine surrogate. The film doesn’t get bogged down in sci-fi tropes or backstory, nor, while it’s clearly a dark satire — the Topeka scenes are deliberately broad — do the filmmakers ever wink at the audience; it's as much a comedy as it is the kids' animal movie the title might indicate. For all its surreal elements, however, the film is surprisingly personal and moving at times, with the filmmakers emphasizing Vic and Blood's relationship over the post-Apocalyptic trappings. 


Shout’s new Blu-Ray/DVD combo release is a revelation to those of us who’ve had to put up with decades of washed-out VHS and non-anamorphic DVD transfers, with a clean 16x9 2.35:1 transfer of the source material, the graininess of which underscores its low-budget roots. Special features include trailers, radio spots, a folksy commentary (recycled from a 1996 laserdisc release) with Jones, cinematographer John Morrill and film critic Charles Champlin and, best of all, a new hour long conversation between Jones and Ellison, who’s generally very complimentary of the film, though taking umbrage at some of its perceived misogyny. With a strong transfer and solid supplements, this is the definitive version of this under-appreciated cult classic— a film worthy of reappraisal. 

You can purchase A Boy And His Dog from Amazon or directly from Shout Factory.

More on Geekweek


Sign in to comment with your TypePad, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo or OpenID.