THE PACK (1977) Reviews and overview of killer dogs movie

  

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‘They’re not pets anymore.’
The Pack is a 1977 American horror film about abandoned starving dogs that turn against humans and kill them for food on Seal Island.

Written and directed by Robert Clouse (Deadly Eyes aka The Rats; Game of Death; The Ultimate Warrior; Enter the Dragon) from a novel by David Fisher (as Dave Fisher).

The Warner Bros. production stars Joe Don Baker (Mars Attacks!; Wacko), Hope Alexander-Willis, Richard B. Shull, R.G. Armstrong (Children of the Corn 1984; The Beast Within; Evilspeak, Race with the Devil), Ned Wertimer and Bibi Besch.

Reviews:
“Clouse imbues the film with genuine suspense and provides a few legitimate shocks, a testament to his skill at the helm. Released around the same time as Jaws amidst a slew of killer animal rip-offs, The Pack was undeservedly dismissed by critics.” AllMovie

“The island characters are all bland and forgettable, and their subplots go nowhere. What catches our fancy is the ferociousness of the attacking dogs and how difficult it is to escape from them.” Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews

The Pack may not deliver the gore we’ve become accustomed to for this kind of film, and its 70s genre conventions may amuse us…but it’s suspenseful enough, and the dogs deliver the goods. Perfect fall/Halloween viewing for the nostalgic out there. I’m recommending The Pack.” DVD Talk

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The Pack delivers the goods with effectively staged scare scenes, and there’s a bittersweet undercurrent to the movie since the dogs are themselves victims. The movie is aided tremendously by the work of composer Lee Holdridge […] And while acting doesn’t matter a whole lot in a project like The Pack, everyone does just what he or she is supposed to do…” Every ’70s Movie

“The lead dog is definitely frightening, and all the dogs are shown to have some intelligence due to formerly being domesticated animals.  Also, rather than the big massacre scene most of these were known for, it quickly turns into a siege film […] There is also the use of slow-motion in many of the attack scenes, which unfortunately reminds me of movies like Night of the Lepus.” Expelled Grey Matter

” …there are some things that are just plain bad in this movie; the premise is a little hard to swallow, some of the acting is quite bad, and it has its share of stupid moments. Still, I rather liked this one; the dogs do come off as effectively scary, some of the attack scenes are well-staged, and the director does have a talent for setting up scenes that make you jump…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

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“Despite the implausibility, Clouse does a good job getting impressive performances from his pooches, helped considerably by trainer Karl L. Miller.  He also succeeds in building suspense where the prior year’s Dogs failed, with the island a more convincingly remote atmosphere than a campus on the mainland.” The Horn Section

…to blame The Pack’s mediocrity on the canines isn’t completely fair. The writing goes to the dogs too. Though the movie is populated with a dream B cast including Bibi Besch, R.G. Armstrong, Richard Shull and Joe Don Baker, the performers are given characters of little substance. The audience never senses who they are losing when the various personalities die, and so the suspense is minimal except in that spectacularly staged final siege.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1970s

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The Pack excels in the scenes of brutal violence […] There is a leader amongst them, a mixed-breed mutt […] In dialogue and throughout the final confrontation with Jerry in the attic of Hardiman’s shack, the creature is elevated to head vampire status. This headlining horror hound proves a very memorable emblem of fright.” Mind of Frames

“Robert Clouse has no style at all and the score is overdone but the rawness of the photography is made to work for the film. When it comes to the scenes where the dogs attack the car, the besiegement of the house and especially the scenes with Joe Don Baker trapped in an attic fighting off dogs with sticks and bedsprings, Clouse conveys an incredible savagery.” Moria

“The direction from Clouse is intensive, and seldom have I seen so realistic and gruesome dog-attacks as here. Not especially graphic, but the dogs look f*cking pissed and the attacks are cleverly edited to look even more violent and ferocious!” Ninja Dixon

“Jerry’s tense standoff with the pack’s scary-looking leader is a highpoint as is the lush score Lee Holdridge. Clouse raises a point about people callously dumping their unwanted pets, but does nothing with it…” The Spinning Image

“There are some typical TV movie theatrics (including slow-motion sequences of the dogs pursuing panicky people and some hysterics from Besch), a surfeit of atrocious ’70s fashion (Baker is resplendent in plaid and brown suede), and an abundance of brainless characters who ramble on about nothing in particular for way too much screen time…” Stomp Tokyo

“The real horror of this film was seen in one of the very first scenes to air where a tourist leaves their dog tied up in the forest to die rather than take it with them […] That being said, seeing that and coupled with the blood and guts as well as the snarling and raving dogs made for some tense scenes that would make viewers grab the edge of their seats at least once, if not more.” The Telltale Mind

“Man’s best friend turns deadly villain in this recommended entry in the popular 1970s dog-eat-us subgenre […] A nice setting and some exciting moments (especially an attack on Alexander-Willis while she’s trapped in her car) make this worth your while.” The Terror Trap

“A cut above the usual exploitative revenge-of-nature films.” TV Guide

The Pack is a well-made and discreetly violent story […] Clouse’s attention to lighting and shadow adds an extra eerie feel to the proceedings. Fast cutaways from dog attacks create an unseen horror that makes for more fear than explicit footage otherwise might have achieved.” Variety

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Cast and characters:
Joe Don Baker … Jerry
Hope Alexander-Willis … Millie
Richard B. Shull … Clyde Hardiman
R.G. Armstrong … Cobb
Ned Wertimer … Walker
Bibi Besch … Marge
Delos V. Smith Jr. … McMinnimee
Richard O’Brien … Jim Dodge
Sherry E. DeBoer … Lois (as Sherry Miles)
Paul Willson … Tommy Dodge
Eric Knight … Guy
Steve Lytle … Paul
Rob Narke … Husband
Peggy Price … Wife
Steve Butts … Bobby

Filming locations:
Bodega Bay, California

Technical details:
1 hour 35 minutes
Audio: Mono
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

Budget:
$2 million (estimated)

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