Dogs in Space (1986)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Aug-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Richard Lowenstein & Ollie Olsen
Audio Commentary-Richard Lowenstein & Andrew De Groot
Audio Commentary-Tim McLaughlan & Charles Meo
Featurette-We're All Living On Dog Food
Featurette-Making Of-Making of Dogs In Space
Additional Footage-Rehearsal Vision & Screen Test
Music Video-Rooms For The Memory
Interviews-Crew-Popcorn Taxi
Additional Footage-Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Gallery-Photo-Five Stills Galleries
Screenplay-102 Page PDF
Short Film-Punkline
Short Film-Pedestrian
Interviews-Character-Interview with the real Sam Sejavka
Music Video-Two music clips from The Ears
Theatrical Trailer-Dogs In Space
Theatrical Trailer-Director's Cut - Dogs In Space
Teaser Trailer-Umbrella Trailers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 104:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Richard Lowenstein
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Michael Hutchence
Saskia Post
Nique Needles
Deanna Bond
Tony Helou
Chris Haywood
Peter Walsh
Laura Swanson
Adam Briscomb
Sharon Jessop
Edward Clayton-Jones
Martii Coles
Chuck Meo
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $22.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, just a few credit stills

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Australian writer/director, Richard Lowenstien is well known for his film work within the music industry - working with bands such as U2 and INXS. However, his reputation as a filmmaker began back in 1984 with his widely respected feature film debut, Strikebound. Although that film was a drama set in the 1930's, some of his subsequent films have had a strong connection with music - this is particularly true of his 1986 film, Dogs In Space.

    All of the events in the film are based on Lowenstein's experiences living in a "communal" house in an inner suburb of Melbourne. In fact, the actual house that the story is based on is the house used in the film. Authenticity was an important factor in the production of Dogs In Space. Many of the interiors were recreated by viewing old photographs, which in turn helped to create an accurate replica of the walls inside the shared house. This and other points of authenticity are covered in some detail in the commentaries and extras on this DVD presentation.

    The characters in the film are literally taken straight from reality and in most cases, with not so much as a name change. Many of the people from Richard's share house also appear in the film in small cameo roles. Indecently, some years later Richard Lowenstein would re-explore the shared house theme in his excellent 2001 film, He Died with a Falafel in His Hand.

    Dogs In Space is set in Melbourne 1978 during the early demise of the punk movement. The premise follows the routine of a group of young people living in a crowded townhouse. These tenants cross over many social genres, but all have a similar day to day existence. The filthy state of their rented property is evidence of the non-stop parties fueled by sex, drugs and loud music.

    One of the tenants is Sam (Michael Hutchence). Sam is lethargic, seemingly unambitious and spends the vast majority of his life just lying around - often drug induced. He is also lead singer of a small underground punk band, called Dogs In Space. Sam's girlfriend, Anna (Saksia Post) has all the ambition that is lacking in her boyfriend - she is also the only person in the house with a job. A few of the many other tenants include the keyboard player, Tim (Nique Needles), the young runaway (Deanna Bond) and the engineering student, Luchio (Tony Helou).

    Television news reports tell of the impending return to Earth of Skylab. Some of the tenants watch the skies in the hope of snaring of prize piece of space junk. Inside the house Sam and Anna's drug experimentation delivers the inevitable tragedy - an event that will change the lives of everyone in the house.

    Dogs In Space was shot on Super 35mm and the cinemascope ratio suits the film incredibly well. Lowenstein and Director of Photography, Andrew De Groot brings the audience into the confines of the house by the way of some excellent flowing Steadicam work. With the camera moving from character to character and conversation to conversation, the audience really becomes another tenant in the human menagerie.

    Lowenstein is an admirer of Bert Deling's 1975 film, Pure S*** - about a group of drug addicts searching for their next score. It's easy to see the inspiration of Pure S*** in many of the scenes in Dogs In Space. Although both films have been criticised over the years for endorsing drug use, I fail to see any such connection. In fact, both films are among the most significant anti-drug films made in this country.

    Dogs In Space was always guaranteed a cult following due to the presence of the late INXS frontman, Michael Hutchence. The film has been missing from screens of any kind for many years, so it was great to have the opportunity to see it again after such a long absence. Umbrella has yet again delivered a wonderful DVD presentation of an important and almost forgotten Australian film. There is no doubting this two-disc set will be treasured by fans.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Dogs In Space is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.37:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. This respects the films correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    This DVD edition has been transferred from a recently restored and regraded print. Having said that, don't expect an image that leaps off the screen. This transfer of Dogs In Space has a slightly soft appearance. I haven't seen the film for many years, so I can't say with any degree of confidence just how consistent this is with the source material. Blacks were clean and shadow detail was generally good.

    The use of colour in Dogs In Space is mostly subdued. Many of the interior scenes display an earthy glow, which looks fine on DVD. The most vibrant colours are on display during band scenes in the pubs. In general terms the palette accurately reflects the environment and all colours appear nicely balanced on the DVD.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident and film-to-video artefacts were not a significant issue. As you might expect, the restored print is also very clean and free from annoying film artefacts. However, brief and unobtrusive reel change markings were evident at 34:10, 51:13, 66:22 and 86:24.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitles available on the DVD.

    Both discs are DVD9, dual layer discs. The layer change on disc one (film disc) is perfectly placed at 51:29 and was difficult to pick up during normal viewing.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   There are five audio tracks available on the DVD. The two main tracks are English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and the original English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). There are also three separate audio commentary tracks on the disc - each of these is English Dolby Digital 2.0, encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue quality was good throughout and there were no apparent issues with audio sync.

    The music in the film comes from a variety of sources, including many local bands from the time of the story. All of the featured music has a heavy punk influence, although the main track, Rooms For The Memory (written by Ollie Olsen and performed by Michael Hutchence) is a slight departure from this. Music from other artists including Iggy Pop, Brian Eno and The Birthday Party has also been used perfectly in the film.

    Dogs In Space was originally presented in Dolby Stereo, but for DVD it has been given a new Dolby 5.1 remix. The surround channels are used intelligently throughout the film, carrying music and the occasional direct effect.

    In a similar vain, the subwoofer was active, adding enhancement to the music and bass effects - this was particularly evident during the opening scene of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    

Menu

    The main menu is animated with various grabs from the film. Naturally the menu is also 16x9 enhanced.

Disc One Extras:

    Audio Commentary - Richard Lowenstein (Writer/Director/Producer) and Ollie Olsen (Musical Director)

    Audio Commentary - Richard Lowenstein (Writer/Director/Producer) and Andrew De Groot (Director of Photography)

    Audio Commentary - Tim McLaughlan and Charles Meo (Actors)

    Many DVD titles struggle to include one audio commentary - here we get three separate tracks. All three commentaries are worth a listen and give great insight into the production. Another interesting point to these three commentaries is that every person involved actually lived in the shared house that the film is based on. This helps provide each commentary track with fresh information and different anecdotes. Naturally, some things are spoken about more than once, but if you're a fan of Dogs In Space, these three commentaries are fascinating and make for mandatory listening.

    Original Theatrical Trailer - Dogs In Space (1:39)

    Director's Cut Trailer - Dogs In Space (1:38)

    Umbrella Trailers

  • Death In Brunswick (1:37)
  • Malcolm (2:10)
  • The Big Steal (1:37)
  • Puberty Blues (2:11)

    Disc Two Extras:

        Featurette - We're All Living On Dog Food (94:15)

        This excellent 2009 documentary was produced, directed and edited by Richard Lowenstein. Basically it's a chronicle of the era and the people that inspired the film, Dogs In Space. This film features recent interviews with many of the people from the reality side of the story and the film itself. There is also plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and rare film of some of the bands that were part of the alterative punk scene in Melbourne circa late 70s to mid 80s. This film documents the early beginnings of the punk movement in Melbourne, highlighting the bands and venues that defined the era. It then moves onto the film, Dogs In Space and discusses many interesting aspects of the production, including the casting of Michael Hutchence and the drug culture, which is prevalent in the film. Highly recommended.

        Featurette - Making Of Dogs In Space (19:34)

        This recently made piece seems to be a scaled down spin-off of the We're All Living On Dog Food featurette. Much of the interview footage has been taken from the above featurette, with some additional behind-the-scenes footage. It features on-set interviews with many cast and crew members, including Michael Hutchence.

        Popcorn Taxi (28:23)

        I would guess that this Q & A session was filmed at a recent cinema screening of the restored print. The panel consists of Ollie Olsen, Andrew De Groot, Richard Lowenstein and Jill Billcock. They all provide good insight and are asked some intelligent questions from the unseen audience.

        Behind-the-scenes (9:51)

        This piece is simply ten minutes of behind-the-scenes footage taken during production. The footage was shot on 16mm and Super 8mm and is mostly very grainy. There is also no audio.

        Rehearsal Vision   

  • Troy Playing Sam (2:22)
  • Michael Hutchence Playing Sam (6:18)
  • Tex Perkins (1:09)

        Screen Test (2:51)

        This is video footage of a screen test with Deanna Bond.

        Stills Galleries

  • Main Gallery - 69 images
  • Steve Pyke Gallery - 39 images 
  • Wardrobe Gallery - 70 images 
  • Storyboard Gallery - 22 images 
  • Press Clippings - 44 images
  • PDF of Screenplay - 102 page document

        Interview with the real Sam Sejavka (2:10)

        This is a brief on-set chat between Troy and "the real" Sam. This interview also appears in the We're All Living On Dog Food documentary.

        Short Film - Punkline (4:41)

        A short film produced in 1980 by Sue Davis and Tony Stevens. This will bring back memories for many people - especially those of us living in Melbourne during the early 80's. This piece of nostalgia was filmed during the punk heyday at the Crystal Ballroom in St Kilda. Richard Lowenstein also used some of this footage in We're All Living On Dog Food.

        Short Film - Pedestrian (4:46)

        This black & white Swinburn student film was made in 1977. The script is credited to Richard Lowenstein, with direction by Tim McLaughlin.

        Rooms For The Memory (5:08)

        The music video of the featured song in Dogs In Space, performed by Michael Hutchence.

        The Ears - Music Videos

        Leap For Lunch (3:46)   Triple Treat (2:42)

        The fictitious band, Dogs In Space were based on a real band called, The Ears. These two music clips are original tracks from the band.

    Censorship

        There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        At the time of this review there is no R1 version of Dogs In Space available.

    Summary

        Dogs In Space finally emerges from the cinematic wilderness to DVD in this excellent two-disc edition. This is definitely one for the fans.

        While the video transfer is very good, don't expect a highly detailed image.

        The audio transfer features an intelligent 5.1 remix of the original Dolby Stereo track.

        The selection of extras is first class.

  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Wednesday, October 14, 2009
    Review Equipment
    DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

    Other Reviews NONE
    Comments (Add)
    Popcorn Taxi session? - cztery REPLY POSTED
    Not so good second time around - cztery REPLY POSTED
    Region 2 DVD - Gary Couzens REPLY POSTED
    Blu-Ray coming soon.... - cztery REPLY POSTED