Film: A Boy and His Dog

If my first experience with science fiction had been the film A Boy and His Dog (1975)—”based on the award-winning novella by Harlan Ellison”—it might have soured me on the genre forever. This film is irredeemably vile.

In the wake of a World War IV, humans scrabble for survival in the parched, neverending desert. Vic (Don Johnson) is a sexually frustrated young man who wanders the post-apocalyptic landscape with his mangy, erudite dog friend Blood (voice by Tim McIntire), with whom he can speak telepathically. Blood has another psychic talent: the ability to sense the presence of women. After scoring some supplies, Vic takes Blood to a trading post to watch ancient pornography, but when Blood gets the scent of a woman named Quilla (Susanne Benton), Vic heads off in pursuit. What he doesn’t know is that the woman may be hunting him.

A Boy and His Dog looks promising, and sociopolitically harmless, for about thirty seconds. Initially, I thought I was about to experience quirky, edgy arthouse cinema in the grand 1970s tradition, maybe a low-rent Nicolas Roeg film. The shame of it is that there are decent filmmaking ingredients, if you’re into this kind of thing: grubby, on-the-fly, guerilla filmmaking, which goes in deeply weird directions late in the game. But in the end, this is ultimately a buddy story about an aspiring rapist who not only doesn’t see the error of his ways, but doubles down on them in a truly hateful and misogynystic “twist” ending. A reprehensible thing.

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