Released by New Line Cinema
Release Date: November 19th. 1993
Starring: Ally Sheedy, Lance Henriksen, Robert Constanzo
Written by John Lafia
Directed by John Lafia
Rated R (terror and violence involving a household pet)
We're not talking *man's best friend* here! -Dr. Jarret
Coming ten years after the "king of the killer dog movies", Cujo, was released, Man's Best Friend came to us with the promise of being a newer, hipper Cujo. In some ways it succeeds and in others it fails.
While at Emax, she finds a dog named Max and saves him from the facility. Max is not your ordinary dog. Dr. Jarret (Lance Henriksen) has spliced the DNA of a variety of different animals to make Max into a superior guard dog. But time is running out as Jarret tries to get his dog back before he becomes unstable.
For example, there is a scene in the movie where Max chases a female dog through the house. Max clearly wants to mate with this dog, but the female dog wants nothing of it. She runs through the house terrified and when Max reaches her, we cut to a shot of the house from the outside with the female dog howling in pain heard. This is supposed to get a laugh-"Puppy Love" plays over the scene- but to me it played out like a rape scene. Max raped that female dog and we are supposed to think that it is cute. It isn't.
There are other scenes that do get laughs, even when they aren't warranted. A scene that gets a huge laugh is the scene where Max chases a cat up a tree and then eats the cat whole. The way the scene is shot adds to the theory that this scene wasn't supposed to be funny.
For a horror movie, Man's Best Friend is relatively gore-less. There are a few scenes where we see the aftermath of one of Max's attacks and we see Max get burnt, but every time Max goes for the kill, the director cuts away. It seems that the director wanted a PG-13 rating.
The bottom line here is that Man's Best Friend could have been an awesome "killer dog" movie. Given the premise and the presence of Lance Henriksen, the movie could have been great. But with the director shying away from the gore and the shifting tones, the movie is merely a "killer dog" movie with some really funny scenes. Maybe one day we will get a really good "killer dog" movie like Cujo. I hope.