A Boy and His Dog

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Poster for the movie

A Boy and His Dog is a science fiction film based on the Harlan Ellison short story of the same title, which appeared around 1976. There is also a graphic novel on the story titled Vic and Blood. This is a post-apocalyptic tale in which the earth's surface is devastated by nuclear war, and the few survivors who stayed above ground must forage and fight for food, ammo, and women. The main character, Vic, played by Don Johnson in a notable early role, is an 18-year-old boy mainly concerned with fulfilling his sexual needs, e.g. with Quilla June (played by Susanne Benton). He is accompanied by a well-read and wise-cracking telepathic dog named Blood--an "experienced female provider." In addition to locating women for Vic to rape, Blood also has the unenviable task of trying to educate Vic and keep him safe from harm. As Blood notes, with characteristic form, "human sex is an ugly thing."

The rest of civilization has gone into the "downunder" (i.e. underground). One underground city, fashioned in a disturbing mockery of 1950s rural innocence, solves its need for exogamous reproduction by forcably extracting fluids from their sperm donors. But they are running low on viable donors.

Quilla June is sent to the surface to bait Vic into "service." Vic takes leave of his lifelong friend Blood, and pursues the young lady into the underground.

He soon learns the harsh reality of the plans for him, but is saved by Quilla, who has her own plans. The plans are short-lived. She and Vic escape to the surface, only to discover that Blood is near death. Vic faces a difficult situation, and in a surprise ending, sacrifices his new love to save Blood.

Both the movie and the short story end here. The graphic novel continues the story:

The situation deteriorates with Vic having guilt-ridden hallucinations, near-fatal encounters with gangs, getting separated from Blood again, and ending with the discovery of Blood in a hopeless state, poisoned by venom and beyond any hope of saving.

The treatment in the graphic novel is haunting and disturbing, unlike the movie. This is a good example of how the same story can be given two markedly different treatments.

This movie and original short story are widely attacked for being misogynistic, but Harlan Ellison himself has been quoted as saying he did not intend it this way. It is also interesting to note that the character of Quilla June was much more sympathetic in Ellison's story than in the movie.

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