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Case Number 11247: Small Claims Court

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Kidnapped (A.K.A. Rabid Dogs)

Anchor Bay // 1974 // 96 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // April 20th, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum's last roller coaster ride in a speeding car ended abruptly when the amusement park operators told him to take the highway next time.

The Charge

Lock the doors, roll up the windows, and buckle up—for the ride of your life!

The Case

When a robbery goes tragically wrong, three desperate criminals kidnap a woman, an innocent man, and a sick child he is rushing to the hospital. The rest of the film plays out ingeniously inside a speeding car where the victims and the gangsters face off during a roller coaster ride that surely inspired Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse entry. The entire story plays out in real time, showcasing some harsh sequences that have earned it comparisons to Last House on the Left. Kidnapped, also known as Rabid Dogs, is a not-often-seen film from Italian director Mario Bava (Planet of the Vampires). Although it has been released previously on DVD, it's now getting the Anchor Bay treatment. It's a mean-spirited, spry gangster film and the only Mario Bava story that seems wholly rooted in the real world.

The last film Mario Bava directed by himself has only been seen on DVD for the last decade, and in at least three different forms. The production's money ran out back when it was originally to be released around 1974. One of the film's financial backers went into bankruptcy, and this film was shelved as part of those proceedings in a court settlement. Actress Lea Lander (who plays the female lead Maria) raised the money to get it released on DVD in the '90s. It has been known under many titles such as Kidnapped, Rabid Dogs, and Red Light Signal. In 2002 the film was revamped from Mario's original notes by the director's son, Lamberto, and the original writer of the score added his intended themes. Under the title Kidnapped, it finally got a big screen Hollywood premiere as part of a Mario Bava retrospective.

In this latest Anchor Bay release we are given the choice between two cuts of the film entitled Kidnapped and Rabid Dogs. There are two different scores, as well as alternate shots and different edits to differentiate each version. The Kidnapped option has a strong academic commentary from author Tim Lucas who knows a ton about the film's production and Bava's career. Also included is an in-depth "making of" featurette which allows Alfredo Leone, Lamberto Bava, and Lea Lander who explain the difficulties of releasing the picture. The DVD print on both versions looks lovingly cared for with a great amount of cleanup being done. Occasionally you'll see a stray scratch, but it's pretty amazing considering the age of the film. There are two different dubs which are presented in Italian mono, and they're both clear enough to enjoy.

It's a brutal, claustrophobic crime film that proves Mario Bava had aspirations of showing up the young guns that were rising in Italian cinema like Argento and Fulci. Many people call it "Bava's lost masterpiece," and in a way they're right. It's a work print of the film, cleaned up and edited without Bava's input. We'll never know how he originally intended the movie to be released, but thanks to the efforts of Lea Lander we can see a rough version of what was to be the director's edgy entry into the violent real crime genre. This "rough diamond" from Bava is certainly an entry fans are going to want to add to their collections. Anchor Bay has done a bang-up job with the film allowing for strong extras as well as two different versions of the movie.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Italian)
• English
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Unrated
• Drama
• Foreign
• Horror
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Two Versions of the Film
• Making of Featurette
• Feature Commentary from Author Tim Lucas
• Text Biography of Mario Bava


• IMDb

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