Friday, September 11, 2009

Benji (1974)

Directed by Joe Camp. You might also call this "Baby's First Exploitation Movie." If you think about it, it fits the bill. Low budget, no big stars, and goes for real cheap thrills. A long list of cheap thrills. Cute dogs, mean kidnappers, a lot of slow motion and quick cuts to show deep feelings and eerie flashbacks. It's all there.

But it would never play today. They kick a dog for crying out loud. And Benji's penis is, like, flapping all over the screen for half the movie. That would completely wig out most studio executives.

It's like I was saying before, about "The Legend of Lobo." Back when it didn't matter how animals were treated when a movie was being made, movies about animals seemed more likely to include parts were they got knocked around a lot. I just don't know if they don't include parts like that anymore because they're too hard to fake, or because one of the reasons it's illegal to treat animals poorly on a movie set is because people just don't like the idea of animals being mistreated and don't aren't particularly interested in stories where that happens.

So it came as no surprise to me that it was with this movie's famous dog-kicking scene that my son Max decided he was not much of a fan of "Benji." I, on the other hand, relying on an assumption that the scene is faked, found myself sort of unexpectedly thrilled with it all. Which is what made me realize that "Benji" is basically a child's first exploitation film.

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