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Overall Rating
4

Awesome: 38.36%
Worth A Look42.47%
Average: 6.85%
Pretty Bad: 5.48%
Total Crap: 6.85%

5 reviews, 43 user ratings


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Man Bites Dog
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by Brian McKay

"Those zany French-speaking people put the fun back into mass-murder"
4 stars

The French have given us some wierd films over the years, but their Belgian neighbors may have outdone them with MAN BITES DOG. This grainy black-and-white shoestring- budget "mockumentary," about a film crew following around a professional killer, is one of the most bizarre, hilarious, and disturbing things I've ever seen.

Man Bites Dog introduces us to Benoit (Benoît Poelvoorde) as he strangles a woman on a train, then nonchalantly dumps her wrapped-up body from a bridge in broad daylight after casually explaining the proper way to weigh down a corpse so that it doesn't become a floater ("you need more weight for old people because the bones are very porous.)

Benoit is tall and thin, with a narrow face and large nose. He looks like a French Ichabod Crane, with an infectious smile and a gregarious, easy-going personality. Oh, and he kills people. A LOT of people. His motivations for doing so are never clear. Yes, he does steal the money of his victims, but in most cases killing them wouldn't be a necessary pre-requisite to stealing. Nor does he seem to be a thrill-kill type, since his behavior is so casual and off-handed. Also, the world Benoit exists in is more than a little surreal. He murders left and right, yet never seems to draw the attention of any witnesses. Most of his friends and family (except his parents) seem to know what he does for a living, yet don't seem to have a problem with it. The police are virtually non-existent. Or maybe we are to believe they are merely incompetent, since when Benoit is finally captured at one point, he quickly and easily escapes. But with a three-man film crew and several corpses in his wake, how incompetent would they have to be? Even Inspector Clouseau could track this guy down within a day.

But of course this isn't a realistic look at the life of a killer. It's a satire of the media cashing in on the glamorization of violence. The message becomes increasingly clear as the film crew, led by Remy (Rémy Belvaux), gradually change from observers, to body-disposal assistants, to outright participants in Benoit's murderous antics. All of this is done with equal non-chalance, especially on Remy's part. He only pauses to cry on camera when one of his crew is occasionally killed in the crossfire, before promptly replacing the lost member and moving on.

While Man Bites Dog is a very funny film, with most of the laughs coming from Benoit's constant quips, it is by no means easy to watch. When not on a murdering spree, Benoit likes to unwind by philosophizing about everything from low-income housing to art and music, whilst often getting drunk and spouting bad poetry. However, nobody is exempt from Benoit's crosshairs, and those who spend time around him make sure to stay on his good side. Man Bites Dog even violates the usual Hollywood Taboo against killing children and the elderly. The film's absurdly dark humor comes with a price tag, and after a while the continuously mindless and pointless killings begin to exact a numbing toll on the viewer. One scene shows Benoit taking a body to his usual dumping grounds, a quarry. However, it has been drained of water since his last visit, revealing dozens of bodies strewn across the quarry floor. While it is hilarious to watch the film crew try to cover up the bodies while Benoit shouts instructions and insults from up above, it is also chillingly reminiscent of the piles of corpses seen in Schindler's List.

Drive-In Triple-Feature Who Says Killing Kids and Old People Can't be Funny Picks for Man Bites Dog:

Series 7: The Contenders: Similar theme about a reality T.V. game show in which the contestants are followed by cameramen as they try and kill each other. Chock full of funny-but-squeamish moments, with a great performance by Brooke Adams.

American Psycho: Christian Bale is another happy-go-lucky serial killer with some serious Type-A personality issues and a fetish for business cards. His dissertation on the music of Phil Collins, as he's getting ready to bash some guy's brains in, is worth the rental price alone.

Whether it's from laughing so hard or squirming at Benoit's callous disregard for life, the main thing you will probably feel after 91 minutes of MAN BITES DOG is relief. Even to the desensitized, it is a gruelling, yet rewarding, hour and a half.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1093&reviewer=258
originally posted: 11/01/02 11:27:12
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User Comments

10/17/17 Bruce Abas Sic/brilliance- lead actor off the charts 5 stars
2/07/16 Leo Cardinaels Brilliant cinema but not for everybody: you need to be open-minded. Great movie! 5 stars
8/01/15 francoiskrotoff Hilarious serial killer mockumentary; then troubling mirror-auto-mockumentary; sublime! 5 stars
5/20/15 stanley welles brilliant, deeply compelling and darkly hilarious 5 stars
6/27/12 A viewer Don't waster your time on this horrible film. 1 stars
11/15/10 W.B.T.Neeley Brilliant and satirical, but also overly (and uncompromisingly) disturbing. 4 stars
11/03/10 PAUL SHORTT REPELLENT BLACK COMEDY 2 stars
10/10/10 J. Johnson Wow. The best mock-documentary I've ever seen! 5 stars
5/22/08 mr.mike just OK avant-garde 3 stars
5/18/08 brian One of the most repulsive things I've seen, and that's saying something. 1 stars
1/10/08 Rob from Oakland, CA Mesmerizing. Mind-numbing. Beautifully filmed. Fantastic. 5 stars
1/04/08 Simon Worked for about 40 mins, after that it was just skull numbing and boring. 3 stars
11/27/07 hayley its was so horrific and crap 1 stars
12/16/06 Anna-Rosa I actually thought this was a "must see" film, MAYBE NOT 3 stars
6/24/06 Indrid Cold As far as satires of violence/media go, not nearly as entertaining as Natural Born Killers. 3 stars
11/12/05 Adam Foster Bloody good use of violence, very watchable 5 stars
9/25/05 K. Sear Overated. 3 stars
8/12/05 ES B&W=good, killing babies= bad, killing old ladies with heart conditions= surprising shock 4 stars
3/27/05 Jack Sommersby Simplistic, nihilistic, sensationalistic, unbearable crap. 1 stars
3/23/04 The Green Inferno I'll have a dead baby boy, bartender 4 stars
2/02/04 Sammy One of the most distubing movies I have ever seen, very had to watch but is very worth it. 5 stars
1/16/04 davey crazy mutha fuckin movie. cinema!cinema! 5 stars
6/20/03 Sweeterson Tries too hard to be original 1 stars
12/20/02 Michael Jorgensen The greatest. Predecessor to the danish "Dogma"-films... 5 stars
12/19/02 Kroce Un film incroyable! Plein d'humour et de cynisme, ça vaut vraiement le coup d'oeil! 5 stars
12/12/02 John Zorn SI VOUS AVEZ AIME C'EST ARRIVE PRES DE CHEZ VOUS JE VOUS CONSEILLE "STRASS" 5 stars
12/03/02 Andy Jacob This is the shit wow. Fuckin great movie 5 stars
11/13/02 brian this film kicks ass, i first saw the cut version then had to see the uncut. 5 stars
11/01/02 Charles Tatum For a continent that hate Hollywood, they can sure copy their crap 2 stars
4/18/02 purpura Definitely a must C.. The most perfect mushroom (have they done anything else after that?) 4 stars
2/23/02 GR_eta blatantly humourous in a post-mortem vein 5 stars
1/21/02 Andrzej An intriguing idea that descends into sickest of the sick. Worst film I've seen. 2 stars
10/25/01 Stéphane It's a very special film. The way of filming is nice. 4 stars
5/21/01 jessy the name of the killer is benoit (benny) not remy , which is one of filmmakers 4 stars
4/19/01 sykobilly If it's not your kind of film...watch it any way! 4 stars
3/03/01 mad hatter Twisted. Warped. I loved it. 5 stars
7/20/00 dr_Fardook more fun than a bathtub full of squid and a stick of dynamite 5 stars
4/11/00 Buck Turgidson Sophomoric crap 87 minutes too long 2 stars
4/08/00 Mike Leskow Rent this: Break up with your artsy girlfriend. . . 5 stars
2/14/00 Miss Ice Abyss Darker than anything I had thought dark... and great at it! 5 stars
5/02/99 Peter Koulouris This film is black, black, black comedy at it's best. 5 stars
1/19/99 Chronically hip Surprisingly good film, consdiering it was made by students. Give them a budget! 5 stars
11/24/98 Mr.Pink Absolutely fucking brilliant!!!!! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Feb-1993 (NC-17)

UK
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