Dog Soldiers

Tonight's film was 2002's Dog Soldiers. Dog Soldiers is a British film written and directed by Neil Marshall (this was his first full-length feature, his second film, The Descent, is scheduled to be released in the US on August 4th).

The film is basically a carbon copy of James Cameron's 1986 classic Aliens, but with a were wolf twist
. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this film is a complete rip-off and doesn't deserve to be seen, I'm just simply saying that it's heavily dependent on the plot points used in Aliens.

This film has reached cult classic status (with films like
Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later) because of its skillful directing, cinematography and acting - there's a nice chemistry in the cast that plays well on screen. Sean Pertwee plays Sgt. Harry G. Wells (H.G. Wells, anybody?) and Sean McKidd as Pte. Cooper who serves as the film's main hero and major bad ass.

There's tons of homages and references to other films, from Aliens to The Matrix to The Wild Bunch, there's even a reference to Star Trek and one character is named Bruce Campbell. It's a fun horror flick that achieves so much while using so little. There wasn't much of a budget to this film, but the use of quite nice looking werewolf costumes and an independence from CGI allow this film to keep it's honor and dignity, even if it does borrow heavily from other films.

I'm eager to see
The Descent, when I saw the trailer I was quite intrigued and to be honest didn't know it was being done by Marshall until after viewing this film.

Reviewed by: adam
25 Comment(s)
Shea said...
Amen brother... this was my first introduction to Neil Marshall and the beauty of low budget amazingness. Jaws, Aliens, and Predator with a Werewolf twist! You saw the cover...need you know more. Low budget at its best. No cheese, all bullets... silver ones!
I loved Dog Soldiers. It was one of the few really well done, fun, no holds barred werewolf movies. I could watch it again for sure.
Andy said...
Am I supposed to post twice?
Nick said...
I set my DVR to record this. It's coming on Sci-Fi on Wednesday. I know it'll probably be edited to hell, but it'll at least give me something.

And Shea... I'm still waiting on your review for Feast :P .
Paul said...
Maybe I need to watch this again. Don't get me wrong, I loved it completely. However, I don't remember thinking, "Wow this reminds me of Aliens/Jaws/Predator". Perhaps there is more to it, but certainly you can't say because a movie takes place in a cabin in the woods with creatures coming after you, that it is like Aliens or Jaws...heck it sounds more like Evil Dead!

Maybe I'm missing it, but certainly this is no Leviathan!
Shea said...
I am riding the fence on this argument. I believe the sould and inspiration is very similar to the ones advertised on the box... but then again Dog Soldiers makes it's own stands on the genre.
Andy said...
Riding the fence!?!?! You were pretty sure of your stance when I asked you about it. I think Dog Soldiers is more like The Descent but with werewolves and soldiers instead of devil bats and lesbians.
Shea said...
Yeah... but I see Paul's point. Andy, yours was with no evidence... just that cold "your stupid" face that you make... so of course I am going to fight you on it... defend mine and my friends honor.

There is no arguing the fact that Dog Soldiers dances in the ring with many films past and future ( future as when it was made and what has come out since then)

The only thing I get red over is "carbon copy" coments. But Andy... it is a lot like all these movies. YO FACE!!!
Paul said...
Hahahah, 8ft tall werewolves are certainly more entertaining than spelunking lesbians!

I don't see Aliens as an inspiration aside from there being creatures. I always felt this one was pretty original, no? Yeah, I just don't see it, enlighten me Shea.
Andy said...
You could find similarities with anything if you stretch it enough. Yes....enlighten us Shea.
Andy said...
And you shouldn't believe everything you read on a dvd. It's written by the same people who want you to buy it.
Shea said...
sorry for random thoughts and typos... i am at work...

OK...

Soldiers escaping in a vehicle and barricading themselves in with a bad guy who wants them infected while the creatures are trying to get in. We love the movie because of the soldier's characters. The leader injured but sacrifices at end, the Hudson down in the kitchen who finally mans up and is screaming COME ON COME MOTHER F...and dead. Our Hicks character is the only one who sticks by the female lead. THEY CUT THE POWER...Predator for all the werewolf vision stuff and the stalking. Jaws for the climatic end by blowing up a tank.

I think you are right. I think you can think too hard about anything and make it borrow from whatever box you place it in. And I think that you are blind when you think something is original.

OH THE MATRIX SO ORIGINAL!!! Gt out of my face. Dark City, Ghost in the Shell.

And we all know Halo and Starcraft borrows heavily from Aliens... HEAVILY!
I have to agree with the one comment about not believing what is on a DVD. You should check out my article 'Thoughts on thrillers, horror, and torture porn'. It actually discusses a lot of mis-representation and faulty advertisement, even on posters and DVDs.
Andy said...
I can see the Aliens similarities but they are pretty vague concepts. And I don't know what "you're stupid" look. My face is one of compassion and understanding.
Paul said...
Hmm...yeah, I guess similar, but still so different. E.g. Burke wanted $ and glory, Dog Soldiers lady was (spoiler!) actually a creature. Again, that's like saying Aliens bit off The Evil Dead because they were locked up in a cabin with "evil inside with them" and creatures all around, not knowing who is infected.

I don't know what it says on the DVD cover, I think it's ok to say it "pays homage" to something like Jaws because of the end, but I don't see it as a "carbon copy" to anything.
Shea said...
I agree with you Paul... and the DVD cover is in the post above. ;)
Paul said...
Hah, oh right :-/
Andy said...
Let's never fight again...
Adam said...
There are tons of similarities between this and "Aliens" - I mean, it's just an issue of substituting creatures and backdrops.

Even the woman who is actually a creature very much mirrors Ash/Burke in the Alien films - the person who you think you can trust who stabs you in the back.

And of course the marines and the way they do, well, everything. Isn't there even a line about "short controlled bursts?"

I mean, don't get me wrong - I like this film, but it really is just a meshing of Aliens, Jaws and Predator. That's not to say it isn't entertaining and enjoyable for what it is, but honestly other than the creatures themselves, I don't see too much that's original here.

That's also not to say that it's just a rip-off. I think it's an homage, a tribute really to those types of films which (sadly) aren't really getting made these days.

To be honest, there aren't many modern films around that aren't borrowing heavily from some sort of thematic device/imagery from "Alien," or "Aliens" even.

I mean... the descent honestly just felt like a love letter to "Alien" for me - the claustrophobic spaces etc. I saw it constantly compared to it in reviews and such.
Paul said...
Again, I don't feel like because there is a character you trust in a monster movie, that turns out to be an enemy, that you owe some tribute to any movie because it's "unoriginal". If that was the director/writer's intent, fine, I just wouldn't go as far as to say there's not too much original.

The main character himself is original. Don't sit here and tell me he is just like Hicks because he, what, is a male military badass? Think about the opening scene when he refuses to kill the dog, and gets thrown out of his squad. Haven't seen that in any of the aforementioned films. Character goes a long way, and this guy made a new and fresh one that I think stands apart from others.
Andy said...
Maybe if the soldiers would have busted up into the werewolf puppy incubator I could see it.
Shea said...
I just think that the things we love about Dog are very similiar to the things that we love about Alien/Predator/...jaws?

Okay, so I just saw it (review to come sometime soon...). While I almost completely disliked The Descent, I really really liked this one. However... probably for different reasons.

The first half of the movie for me was just like one of those movies that is so awful it's good. I mean, I really thought it was bad... but I couldn't help being entertained. But then the last half picks up and is actually good (once right around the first major face-off in the house, and then basically everything after the woman reveals she's a werewolf). And I *loved* the shot with her standing and the werewolves appearing behind her. Great shot.

As for the 'what movie is this like' debate... I'm more with Paul here. Sure, if you stretch it, I can see elements of those other movies. But if anything, it reminded me a LOT of 'Night of the Living Dead', but with werewolves instead of zombies. A bunch of people stuck in a house, at least two of which are about to kill each other... there's the barricading of the windows and doors... there's the car they try to get to at one point... there's the death of a main character who goes to get the car... there's the explosion of the car (and gas pump, I believe). So yeah...

My full review and full feelings on the movie will probably go up Friday or Saturday, though.
Alrighty... full review is now up at the blog.
Andy said...
The things I love about this movie are completely different than things I like about the ones it is compared too. Dog Soldiers was a completely different experience for me. I don't want to water it down with references to other films that I enjoyed. Can't I just love it for what it is?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?