Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Man Bites Dog ( C'est Arrivé Près De Chez Vous/It Happened In Your Neighbourhood)

I first saw "Man Bites Dog" in 1999 when a friend of mine bought it on VHS, and it has really made an impression on me ever since. It is a Belgian film, released in 1991 and was directed by Andre Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde.

The film is a black & white mockumentary about a serial killer named Ben (Benoit Poelvoorde), who is being recorded for a warts and all documentary. The camera crew joins Ben while he is murdering people, visiting his family and friends, or listening to his views on a broad variety of subjects (poetry, cinema, music, the weight ratio needed to sink a human body in the water).

After a while, the camera crew starts to get involved in the killing. Instead of just Ben murdering individual people, they target families and couples in their homes. The killing stops for a bit when Ben gets arrested after a victim escapes. Somehow he manages to escape jail but afterwards he, the camera crew, and his family are being targeted in some sort of revenge attack which pretty much ends in everyone's death.

This is just a brief outline of the plot, but there is so much more to this film than was mentioned. "Man Bites Dog" is very much a very funny at times, black comedy. He talks about how he likes to attack old people in their homes because they are easier to rob, as it can be made to look accidental and old people keep all their valuables in their property. He is very particular to postmen, who are his favourite victims. Ben is a very entertaining person in front of the camera, and has many insightful opinions on many different subjects which he talks about at length. This gives him a bit more depth than most films of this type.

It can be that entertaining at times, that when the violence does happen it can be very sobering. The deaths are filmed quite realistically, and most are very violent. There are some scenes that are very hard to swallow, especially once the camera crew become involved in the killing. In one scene a family at home are targeted, the camera crew smother the child while Ben deals with the family. In the worst scene, after an entertaining scene of the group getting drunk, they target a couple at home. What follows is a disturbing rape scene, followed by a horrific morning after scene of the aftermath.

As disturbing as these scenes are, I hope it doesn't put you off watching the film entirely. As grim as I've made the film sound, "Man Bites Dog" has a lot of humorous scenes and the main character Ben can be really funny and engaging. It won various awards around the world, including two awards at Cannes.

As you can assume, the film was very controversial when released. Even the posters couldn't escape controversy. The poster depicts Ben shooting downwards, while a small amount of blood and a baby's dummy are shown flying through the air. This never happens in the film nor is it suggested. Even though, certain posters for this film replace the dummy with a pair of dentures! At the bottom of the page is a comparison of the two posters. The left image is "graphic" and the right image is "censored".

"Man Bites Dog" is a fairly low budget film. Filmed over a year, with most of the cast people who were working on the film, or family members. Apparently a lot of the family members knew nothing about what was being filmed, unaware the film was about a serial killer.

I really hope you give this film a chance. You can currently (at this point of writing) watch the entire film for free on youtube, or if you are a collector you can buy it quite cheaply from the usual channels.

Thanks for taking the time to read. From now until Friday the 22nd June, I am running a competition to win a copy of Blue Undergrounds 2 disc region free blu ray of  "Maniac" (from my last post) on my facebook page. Simply like the page (the link is on the right hand side of the page), and answer the question in the comments. If the answer is correct your name will be put in a draw to see who the lucky winner is! Make sure to make the page visible in your timeline so you can see if you've won.



  1. I never heard of this movie but I'm all for violent movies!

    1. I love introducing people to films they would have probably never heard about! Thanks for reading!

      As far as I know the entire film is on YouTube for free so there is no excuse for not watching it! If you do watch it, let me know what you think! There is a good bit of uncomfortable violence in the film, but there is a lot more to the film than that! The film is borderline arthouse, and as far as I believe the film was released by Criterion in the States.

      Michael. :)