It’s honestly very bizarre that “Man’s Best Friend” even exists. Back in the ’90s, major studios used to pump out this type of modestly budgeted horror movies to make a quick buck, and sometimes they were good (“Dr. Giggles” and “Bats,” for example) but most of the time they were barely watchable (“Ghost in the Machine,” “Brainscan,” etc). “Man’s Best Friend” lands squarely in the latter category: The story itself is pretty interesting, focusing on a genetically altered Tibetian mastiff named Max who escapes from a facility and lands in the care of a reporter unaware of his murderous tendencies, which has plenty of potential for a good time in that B-movie kind of way. But there’s just no likable character around, like, at all. Ally Sheedy makes a brittle, unsympathetic heroine who is just really not that observant (especially for a reporter), while Lance Henriksen spends the entire movie running around like a crazy person… and it’s consistently hard to forget that he’s, you know, an unapologetic animal vivisectionist. It’s that unpleasant, uncomfortable edge that tends to sap the movie of any enjoyment; the story depends on the suffering of animals, which is a really hard-edged background for a B-movie narrative, not to mention that there are numerous questionable moments. For instance, a scene where Max swallows a live cat is terribly upsetting, but it gets even weirder with a suggested dog-on-dog rape scene (note the female’s distress over Max’s aggression) to the tune of Donny Osmond’s “Puppy Love,” which is just… so, so icky. So, in the end, “Man’s Best Friend” is too mean-spirited to be enjoyed through and through, and it’s too stupid to be a serious movie, so it’s just sort of a misfire altogether.
Rating: ★★ (out of 5)