Last Of The Dogmen

on September 08, 1995 by Sean O
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"Last of the Dogmen" isn't a title likely to inspire confidence in filmgoers, who might conjure visions of a cheesy Sam Arkoff horror flick, with some new Michael Landon in facial fur, fangs and floppy ears. Like faces, titles can be deceiving, and "Last of the Dogmen" is actually a wheezy western tall tale, introduced by the cracklin' oat voice of Wilford Brimley thusly: "...Most of what I'm tellin' you is true. And the rest, well, the rest is the West." After that opening, one can't expect verisimilitude, but more than a series of cinematic cliches would have been durn nice. The premise, mildly interesting in a Boy's Life magazine kind of way, is that a group of Cheyenne warriors known as the "dogmen" escaped a 19th-century massacre, which wiped out the rest of their tribe, and formed a society high in the Rockies, untouched by the white man. But the plot is tired and trite: A hard-drinking bounty hunter (Tom Berenger) and his faithful dog Zip find a Cheyenne arrow in the hills and bring it to an anthropologist (Barbara Hershey). The mismatched couple head for the hills, bicker, and stumble upon the tribe, by whom they're incarcerated and then accepted. White society, personified by a hard-nosed sheriff (Kurtwood Smith), threatens the Indian idyll, and the bounty hunter is forced into heroism. This is a good-looking film. Berenger and Hershey are perfectly cast in terms of physique, and the location photography is often stunning, capturing a grandeur reminiscent of Ansel Adams' best work. But, like a trail too often taken, "Last of the Dogmen" gets old pretty quick. Starring Tom Berenger, Barbara Hershey and Kurtwood Smith. Directed and written by Tab Murphy. Produced by Joel L. Michaels. A Savoy release. Drama. Rated PG for adventure violence and mild language. Running time: 117 min.
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