On Saturday night, the Snarkalecs and I watched the SyFy original movie, Battledogs. (Also watching was a mentally unstable moron from Buffalo, NY named Michael Conklin. But more about him later…)
Why Were We Watching It?
Because we’re snarkalecs and that’s what snarkalecs do.
What Was It About?
Donna Voorhees (Ariana Richards) is a nature photographers who visits our friend to the north and gets bitten by a Canadian lycanthrope. When she returns to New York, she ends up transforming into a werewolf herself and manages to kill nearly everyone at JFK Airport. Everyone that she doesn’t kill is infected with the werewolf virus.
Donna and the rest of the infected are captured by the military. Under the watch of the sinister Lt. Gen. Monning (Dennis Haysbert), the infected are doped up with tranquilizers and left to aimlessly wander around a prison. With the help of a sympathetic major (Craig Sheffer) and a scientist (Kate Vernon), Donna and the rest of the infected escape the prison and soon New York is overrun by werewolves.
Meanwhile, the U.S. President (Bill Duke) spends a lot of time sitting out in the middle of Central Park and looking depressed…
Battledogs was produced by the Asylum. As soon as I saw the words “The Asylum Presents…” at the beginning of the opening credits, I knew that Battledogs was going to be a lot of fun.
Battledogs was surprisingly well-cast. While Craig Sheffer made for a dull hero, Dennis Haysbert was a great villain. Admittedly, he was one of those villains who spent the whole movie talking about his plans as opposed to actually carrying them out but, fortunately. Haysbert has a great voice. Haysbert turned Lt. Gen. Monning into a genuinely menacing character.
The scenes in which the tranquilized infected wander about in a daze had a nicely surreal feel to them. While watching them, I actually compared them to a similar scene from Jean Rollin’s Night of the Hunted. That’s probably going a bit too far but still, they were handled very well.
On a final note, Bill Duke plays perhaps the most ineffectual president in the history of ineffectual presidents. Speaking as someone who has little faith in governmental authority, I found Duke’s performance to be the most realistic part of the film.
What Did Not Work?
Oh, I suppose there are things I could complain about. I could point out that the film may have been set in New York but it was obviously (and I do mean obviously) filmed in Canada. (Actually, no, it was not! As Mike Conklin so politely points out in the comments below, Battledogs was filmed in Buffalo and yes, a look at the imdb does confirm that this film — despite seeming very Canadian, was indeed filmed in New York. I apologize for the careless error. — LMB) There were also a few plot holes that I could talk about if I felt like being nit-picky.
But you know what?
There is nobody worse than someone who would actually get nit-picky about an Asylum film. Asylum Films are made for audiences who have a sense of humor and their “flaws” are ultimately a very intentional part of the fun. The Asylum makes fast-paced, unpretentious films for people who want to be entertained for 90 minutes. You know what you’re going to get when you see “The Asylum” name and, unlike most major studio films, Asylum films can be counted on to deliver exactly what they promise. This film promised battle dogs and it delivered.
Therefore, the entire film worked.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
To be honest, despite featuring not one but two female leads, Battledogs was a pretty masculine film. The emphasis was definitely on people either shooting guns or beating each other up. That’s not necessarily a criticism because, if New York was overrun by werewolves, I imagine there was be a certain amount of societal breakdown. However, the fact of the matter is that I’m scared of guns and the only fights I’ve ever been in have involved a lot of hair-pulling and little else. As a result, there really weren’t any “Oh my God! Just like me!” moments in Battledogs.
That said, Ariana Richards’ character reminded me of my sister, the Dazzling Erin, because they’re both talented photographers.
Apparently, the best way to avoid being killed in a nuclear blast is to jump into the Hudson River right when the bomb goes off. In today’s unpredictable world, that’s a good thing to know.