Boy and His Dog, A (1975)

Boy and His Dog, A (1975)

“You’re so funny when you’re sexually frustrated.”

A survivor (Don Johnson) of a nuclear holocaust roams the wastelands of Arizona with his telepathically communicating dog Blood (Tiger), in search of females and food. Soon Vic (Johnson) is seduced by a beautiful young woman (Susanne Benton) who encourages him to come “downunder” to the Utopian town of Topeka — but will he follow her, given that he must leave his beloved canine companion behind?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Black Comedy
  • Dystopia
  • Jason Robards Films
  • Pets
  • Post-Apocalypse
  • Science Fiction
  • Survival
  • Talking Animals

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “cult science-fiction fantasy was capably adapted from Harlan Ellison’s Nebula Award-winning novella by L.Q. Jones,” who is “best known [as a supporting actor] for his appearances in Sam Peckinpah westerns.” He notes that good use was made of the “low budget, with extremely interesting visualizations of violent wasteland (anticipating Mad Max and The Road Warrior) and Topeka.”

Peary points out that while the picture “received much criticism for [its] depiction of women as sex objects,” “that is exactly the nightmarish vision Ellison and Jones see for this apocalyptic age” — not exactly “one they find appealing.” He adds that the “best part of [the] film is [the] wicked rat-a-tat dialogue between Vic and Blood, taken almost word for word from Ellison,” and describes Vic and Blood “like a comedy team cast in an absurd play.”

Peary elaborates on his review in his Cult Movies 2 book, where he points out how “violent, sexy, [and] sometimes vulgar” this black comedy is despite its seemingly “kiddie fare” title, and he discusses some key changes made between the novella and this adaptation — primarily around the role of Quilla June (Benton), who was virginal in the book but here is a power-hungry seductress.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this movie — and even Peary concedes that it’s “not for everyone.” While I can see its dark appeal as a film with “bizarre humor,” it’s too harsh for my tastes, especially given that there really isn’t a sympathetic character in sight (other than perhaps Blood, played in a “terrific performance” by Tiger of “The Brady Bunch” fame). Sure, this may be highly realistic for a movie portraying the darkest of End Times, but it’s hard to watch — especially without a woman to root for. While I’m glad I finally revisited this cult classic, it’s not a personal favorite.

Note: Watch for Jason Robards, Jr. in a key role as a member of the triumvirate committee “downunder”.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Appropriately bleak sets and atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as a cult favorite — though it may or may not be to your liking.


  • Cult Movie


One thought on “Boy and His Dog, A (1975)

  1. Rewatch. A once-must, as a worthy cult classic.

    While the film isn’t a particular fave of mine either, I’m more enthusiastic about it than what the assessment states. I don’t have mixed feelings about it; it seems to have solid standing as a cult-film-by-definition (one that didn’t do well at the box office but found its audience later).

    Post-apocalyptic tales hold a grim fascination that serves as instructive. I don’t find this to be a film that’s hard to watch (it could have gone a lot further if it had wanted to; wisely, it didn’t). It’s certainly harsh but then it would be. It wouldn’t really feel appropriate to have a (totally) sympathetic character when everyone – even those in Downunder – are at various levels of desperation. (When dysfunction is almost total, holding onto your humanity is probably a tougher deal.)

    That said, writer / director Jones handles the material in a way that makes it oddly accessible. (More so than George Miller, who stated that ‘A Boy…’ influenced his ‘Mad Max’ series.)

    Among the performers, Johnson fell into a rare example (for him) of perfect casting and Tim McIntire (memorable from ‘The Sterile Cuckoo’ and ‘American Hot Wax’) voices Blood nicely. Almost stealing the film from them (and Tiger) is Robards, in a role he seems to be having a lot of fun with.

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