MONGREL (1982)

Reviewed by Devin Kelly
CAST: Terry Evans, Catherine Molloy, Aldo Ray, Mitch Pileggi, Daniel Medina, Rachel Winfree, Jonathan M. Ingraffia, John Dodson, Andy Tienann, S.T. Blaze, Dennis Hill, Janis Dickerson
DIRECTOR: Robert A. Burns
PRODUCER(s): John Jenkins and Lin Sutherland
A Jenkins - Rondo - Sutherland Production
RUNNING TIME: 87 min. 31 seconds
VIDEO SOURCE: Paragon Video Productions

"TORMENTED VISIONS OF A BEAST..." read the taglines for this 1982 canine creeper shot in Austin, Texas. A low-budget outing that's mostly for the dogs (and low-grade horror junkies like myself), MONGREL is brought to us by Robert A. Burns, art director of such films as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), and THE HOWLING (1980). This is his only directorial effort and he may have realized after shooting he was barking up the wrong tree. In all seriousness though, MONGREL is no classic, but it does serve up small doses of entertainment throughout it's running time.

Something strange is going on in landlord Aldo Ray's (DON'T GO NEAR THE PARK '79, TO KILL A STRANGER '85) scummy boarding house as of late. It's more than just the daily livings of the usual middle and low class residents. There's something evil lurking in the halls at night. Quiet recluse and resident Jerry (played by Terry Evans) hasn't quite ever recovered from a traumatizing dog attack he suffered as a young boy. Now he's having vivid nightmares of a canine-like creature stalking through the house at night. To make matters worse, it begins shredding through the residents with ease leaving bodies in it's path to be discovered in the morning. is Jerry able to tap into what is causing the deaths and why he witnesses them as he sleeps, or is he in control of himself at all?

MONGREL is a film that all around doesn't go too many places but does what it can with it's obviously low-budget. There is some good atmosphere in Jerry's dream sequences and in the opening score from Ed Guinn. There's actually some Argentoesque blue lighting as an added touch to the nightmares. There's a few familiar faces on hand, most notably crusty landlord Aldo Ray as Mr. Bouchard. Ray hollers loudly at his tenants and tries to boot them all out. "That's the second person that's been killed in my place in the last week! It's giving it a bad name!", Aldo bellows. He's also hilarious during the final shot of the film in which he repeatedly exclaims "That's the God-damndest thing I ever saw!", jaw-dropped wide open and all. Also there in a supporting performance is solid actor Mitch Pileggi, who is best known for roles such as Horace Pinker in Wes Craven's SHOCKER (1989) and FBI Assistant Director Skinner on X-FILES. Here he plays loser wanna-be landlord Woody. Honorable mention must also go out to the main star Terry Evans, who's moods sway erratically in a decent performance.

Some may say it's bark is worse than it's bite , but either way MONGREL isn't a total waste of time. Although the film may build up slow, the climax is a riot and the direction is at least a little above average. Don't run out and fetch for the film, but at least give it a try if it stops at your feet. MONGREL - it ain't no CUJO, but it'll do!

2 Bitch Slaps