Night of the Chihuahuas (2004)
By: Devon B. on October 31, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Zoned in Productions (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3 English DD 2.0. 74 minutes
The Movie
Director: David Michael Quiroz Jr.
Starring: David Michael Quiroz, Jr., Jennifer Jane, Ron Berg, Christina Michelle, Jose Rosete
Screenplay: David Michael Quiroz Jr.
Tagline: God Made Them Small. Man Made Them Deadly.
Country: USA
Every so often, someone will come up with a great idea for a movie. Jaws. Open Water. Deep Blue Sea. Megaladon. But not since Night of the Lepus has there been an idea for a movie as mind numbingly awesome as that of Night of the Chihuahuas.

A transferring cop (writer/director/co-producer/co-editor David M. Quiroz, Jr.) stops for petrol while on his way to his new job. The station is oddly deserted, and he wanders around before stumbling onto a body that's face has either been torn to shreds or covered in toilet paper and sprayed with fake blood. He meets up with another cop on patrol, and they end up fleeing from something that nearly runs his truck off the road, but that neither of them can see. Unfortunately for our "hero," the unseen monster is his greatest fear…Chihuahuas. Yes, Chihuahuas have turned deadly, finally having the strength to match their ferocious attitude. Our two leads hook up with your usual group of would-be survivors, and from there try their best to not lose their rank in the food chain.

While I cringed a bit when I saw Night of the Chihuahuas was shot on video, and heard an early line of dialogue that echoed Miracle on 34th Street of all things, I was pleasantly surprised to find Night of the Chihuahuas was far superior to most home grown efforts. The budget had to have been absolutely minuscule, but thankfully Night of the Chihuahuas had a script worth shooting, unlike most SOV productions. The film has genuinely amusing dialogue, and effectively satirises the action and horror genres, with a few political moments sneaking in as well. There're even some laugh-out-loud moments, and the cast mostly does a fine job of delivering the gags. Lampooning of the standard horror or action hero provides much of the entertainment, with Quiroz's character spouting hilarious one-liners whilst pumping his shot gun for emphasis, but also running away more than the knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The expected Chihuahua point-of-view shots do elicit laughs, but the funniest (pseudo) POV is a cameo from the Taco Bell dog, who I fully expected to make an appearance at some point in the proceedings.

Unfortunately, the budget does hurt the film in many places. The gore is at about Redneck Zombies level, but the main problem the film has is a very simple one: lack of coverage. Money was too tight to get proper establishing shots in a lot of cases, most of the time Chihuahua inserts, and action and gore scenes also suffer. A lot of time the viewer just has to assume there're Chihuahuas there, as there're not even inserts of Chihuahuas put on the screen. That being said, aside from these issues, the film is surprisingly well edited, and the story remains easy to follow. The film does slow a bit in the middle, but in the commentary track, Quiroz mentions scenes that would've helped continuity, and I'm guessing the pacing, that were never shot due to budget issues.

The soundtrack heavily features Detox, an Arizona Nu-Metal band. While I'm not as up on the Arizona metal scene as I once was, there used to be several great bands in the area, so it would be nice if more than one band had been included. However, I didn't find Detox's music grating, and it was varied enough that I wasn't distracted by it like I was by the mono-band soundtrack to Dead Life.

With Night of the Chihuahuas, I expected an utter piece of crap to laugh at, but I got something I could laugh with. Wait, that didn't make sense…I expected it to be funny, just not always intentionally, but this movie is damn funny on purpose. It's so good, it not only deserves a proper distribution deal, someone should pick this up and contribute money for Chihuahua mayhem insert shots, and maybe pay to shoot an explanation of their enhanced strength in one flashback sequence. With just a few minutes of extra material, this movie would be great, but even as is, it's a huge amount of fun.
Night of the Chihuahuas is presented at 1.33:1. The film has video grain, glitches, light levels can fluctuate, and the image oddly stretches at one point. It is a micro budget SOV movie, so I'd assume all these faults are with the source material, and not due to a poor transfer.
The audio is a two-channel track. There's background noise, and volume levels fluctuate a bit. Clarity varies, but most of the dialogue remains decipherable, another rarity for a SOV. Again, these flaws appear to be with the source elements.
Extra Features
The DVD sleeve lists "Chapter breaks" as an extra. Okay, maybe they didn't have much to put there, but chapter breaks are NOT an extra. At least there are two commentaries, which have to be accessed by toggling the audio selections. The first is a cast and crew track, featuring most of the people involved. It's a bit chaotic, but very enjoyable. They make fun of the movie's faults and each other, and it's the first track in a long time that I'd listen to by choice and not just because I was reviewing it. A bloopers reel is mentioned on the track, but isn't included on the DVD. The second track is Quiroz alone. He's less rambunctious and funny this time, and info does repeat a bit, but it remains an engaging track. He also confirms my suspicions about the low budget preventing the filming of some shots, creating editing issues.
The Verdict
Night of the Chihuahuas is an irreverent, funny as hell comedy with a brilliant story idea, and should amuse both step-on-dog lovers and haters. This is one of those gems that I plod through heaps of crap films in search of, and I was highly entertained. While the movie has flaws, most of them are due to the budget so I'm very forgiving of them, and am giving this a four.
Movie Score
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