Sunday, 26 October 2014

"Rabid Dogs" (Kidnapped) - UK BD/DVD review

Mario Bava’s crime-thriller Rabid Dogs is considered something of ‘lost’ classic. Filmed back in 1974, the film subsequently became embroiled in legal red tape after the production company went bankrupt and was consequently shelved, until 1998, when one of the actresses paid to have it completed. The producers later released a slightly different, re-edited version of the film entitled “Kidnapped” in 2007. Well Arrow films are releasing, what is set to be the definitive version in the UK this month on a BD/DVD combo pack, containing both versions of the film and a wealth of special features.
A group of criminals, one of which being Italian regular big George Eastman (old Anthropophagous himself), pull off a daring wages heist at a pharmaceutical company. Fleeing in their getaway car with the police in hot pursuit, they’re forced to abandon their vehicle after it’s damaged in the chase.
Switching vehicles a couple of times to try and throw the police off, they end up taking a couple of hostages with them. A young women named Maria, who was out shopping, and a middle aged man named Riccardo who’s trying to take his sick son to the hospital. The film then follows the group, as the robbers try to avoid the police, whilst their captors try to find a way to escaping them.
Sort of a bizarre cross between “Hitch Hike” and “Reservoir Dogs”, though having the strange distinction of being filmed before either of those titles, and yet not released until well after, this film was an attempt by Bava to make a serious crime thriller and move away from the gothic horrors he was renowned for, after his career hit a slump. Though this was sadly not to see the light of day until well after his death, the film is still considered to be one of his most important films and is definitely one for lovers of Italian cinema.
This release by Arrow contains both the 1998 version of the film and the later re-edited and re-scored version, from 2007. Whilst the first version, “Rabid Dogs”, is a fine Italian crime thriller. It does appear to be rather choppily edited in places. Which is not helped by the fact that this version is a composite print, transferred from various different source materials, which was a apparently due to many of the original elements no longer being available. As a result the quality of the print frequently dips mid scene, before reverting back, which is very distracting.

The second version, entitled “Kidnapped”, is in my view the better of the two. Re-edited, with some new insert shots and a different soundtrack, this version is a lot neater, smoothing over the choppy editing and is much faster paced.

This release is a special 3-disc BD/DVD combo pack.The Blu-ray containing both versions and all the extras on one disc, whilst the films and extras are spread across 2-discs for the DVD, which are as follows...

-Audio commentary with Bava biographer Tim Lucas
-End of the Road: Making Rabid Dogs and Kidnapped – Featuring Lamberto Bava, Alfredo Leone and star Lea Lander
-Bava and Eurocrime – An interview with Umberto Lenzi
-Alternate ‘Semaforo Rosso’ opening title sequence
-Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Stephen Thrower, Peter Blumenstock on the history of the film’s first distribution and more!

The film is released to disc Monday the 27th of October from Arrow films

Buy the UK BD/DVD combo pack from

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