Director – Philippe Mora (Howling III, Pterodactyl Woman in Beverly Hills)
Starring – Dennis Hopper (Waterworld, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Jack Thompson (Devil’s Playground, The Earthling), and David Gulpilil (Crocodile Dundee, Until the End of the World)
Release Date – 1976
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
Tagline – “The true story of the legendary Mad Dog Morgan…a jolting chapter in history”
I started collecting Troma movies about 15 years ago when I first watched The Toxic Avenger. Like most people my age, I grew up watching The Toxic Crusaders but never took a deeper look into the show and Troma until I was older. Once I watched The Toxic Avenger I was able to connect the dots. After I started collecting these releases I would always see the same titles over and over again. One of those films that I always saw was Mad Dog Morgan.
I bought the film on DVD from a Troma table years ago but never got around to watching it. Sometime ago the Australian distribution company Umbrella Entertainment announced that they would be releasing the film on blu. This was the perfect time to check it out. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a copy my way. Thanks guys!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Dan “Mad Dog” Morgan (Hopper) who witnesses the murders of Chinese workers. He decides to rob those responsible at gunpoint and is soon arrested for it. He is sentenced to 12 years hard labor but gets out after 6 for good behavior. He goes into the bush where he starts robbing again at gunpoint and this time he gets an aboriginal partner Billy (Gulpilil) who helps him. They terrorize the British colonies for years until his luck runs up and he lets the bottle get the best of him resulting in his death at the hands of an armed militia. **Spoiler Alert**
I love Troma. I honestly do and anyone that knows me that I would take a bullet for Uncle Lloyd but the artwork they used for Mad Dog Morgan made me think the film was shit. Kudos to Umbrella Entertainment for putting some amazing artwork on their blu release that actually made me excited to see the film. The movie was actually pretty fucking entertaining and a lot better than I had originally thought it would be.
The acting in this one is great. We get a lot of unforgettable characters and Dennis Hooper gives an outstanding performance. His character is fun and highly entertaining to watch. He delivers some mild action, amazing dialogue, and even some light humor when the time called for it. The supporting cast is great all across the board. We get even more fun characters and amazing performances but Hopper is the true star of the film with no questions asked.
The story for this one works from a historical standpoint. From my understanding it does stay true to the legend of Mad Dog but the pacing of the film is off somewhat. Not enough to ruin the film but it does throw the pacing off. With that being said, I am not that versed on the legend of Mad Dog but his similarities to Devil Anse here in West Virginia kept me glued to the screen. I loved it.
Finally, there is a few death scenes but gorehounds will not find their fill here. The kills are the type of kills associated with westerns with some bright red blood and no practical effects aside from squibs. Overall, Mad Dog Morgan is a must watch for any cinema fan. I fucking love Troma but this release from Umbrella Entertainment trumps any release of the film they have done to date. Fans of this film need this blu release. Check it out.
2 Commentary Tracks
TO SHOOT A MAD DOG: Making MAD DOG MORGAN
HOPPING MAD: Looking Back on Mad Dog Morgan
Extended interviews from NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD
MAD COUNTRY: SHOOTING LOCATIONS REVISITED with optional commentary
Interview with Dennis Hopper by Philippe Mora
Radio interview with Philippe Mora