A trainer attempts to retrain a vicious dog that's been raised to attack black people.A trainer attempts to retrain a vicious dog that's been raised to attack black people.A trainer attempts to retrain a vicious dog that's been raised to attack black people.
The truth is that it is a statement about and against racism, completely misunderstood by the civil rights groups and the others who opposed it. It is a good, hard look at the way racism is propagated in America, through the training of not only this one single dog, but of young people by racist adults and peers as the young people mature into adulthood. It tackles the subject with an honesty that is sadly missing in the statements of most anti-racist organizations.
Most groups prefer to gloss over the true causes of racism with platitudes, and a few often have a political agenda that promotes socialistic ideals, so they really don't give full attention to the true causes of racism. Everybody now is so afraid of offending anybody else, that everything becomes a watered-down, grayish, inoffensive litany no more bothersome than grouchiness. Sam Fuller stated in film what it really is, and that is that people learn from others throughout childhood, not always by overt indoctrination but by subtle methods, to think in stereotypical and racist terms. Not just whites thinking of blacks as uneducated gangster-rappers, but also those who think of Native Americans as lazy drinkers, Italians as loud-mouthed mob disciples, country folks as hillbilly trailer trash, and so on.
And Hollywood does little of significance to dispel this, because they mostly grind things down to these kind of stereotypes to fit into the 2-hr film story mode that they like, which is long on violence, sex and action, and short on character. It's easier that way. Thanks to Sam Fuller for his courage.
ADDENDUM: I had the opportunity to see this again recently after 25 years, and it is still as powerful as I remembered. It does have a B-movie quality to it, a roughness that actually makes it better than if it had been a polished film. The final sequence remains as terrifying as anything I've seen in any type of film, horror, suspense, Hitchcock, and so on. And it has a fabulous music score by Ennio Morricone. I'd confidently call this one a must-see!
- Jul 30, 2005