Mad Dog Morgan - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mad Dog Morgan Reviews

Page 1 of 2
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
February 8, 2014
From the Mill Creek 20 Movie Mean Guns Collection. Mad Dog Morgan is a real rarity, which is a great shame, because Philip Mora's film has much to recommend it and deserves much better than a dodgy cropped transfer on the Mill Creek label. More a chronicle of the exploits of 'Mad Dog' Morgan, the bushranger who inspired Ned Kelly, than a conventional narrative, it's a non-judgemental portrait of an inconsistent, unpredictable man - after going to great lengths to deny he'll ever "be made a murderer," he then becomes one almost immediately when he drunkenly sets his gun off, wounding his host, and then hurrying off to kill the man that he himself has just sent after a doctor. It's very much a seventies film (in the best sense), with a sense of the violence of both the landscape and the people trying to eke a living from it, and it constantly surprises with neat little details such as the magistrate who doles out long sentences simply because there are still so many roads to build.

Despite being made at the height of his drugs-and-booze lost period, Dennis Hopper gives a pretty good performance as the na´ve and contradictory folk hero cum psychopath, even managing a fairly convincing Irish accent (I'm sure th Irish could find fault, but it never makes you cringe). There's an impressive supporting cast of familiar Aussie faces, not least Gulpilil as Morgan's beloved partner in crime and Frank Thring at his most superciliously unpleasant as the Superintendent: few actors could seem more natural when he and his social circle start casually divvying up Morgan's body parts in the final scene (the head for an anthropologist, the scrotum for the Superintendent's new tobacco pouch). Although not overly graphic, it's still fairly strong meat. 3 stars 2-3-14
Super Reviewer
½ August 28, 2009
Mad Dog Morgan is a real rarity, which is a great shame, because Philip Mora's film has much to recommend it and deserves much better than a dodgy cropped transfer on the Troma label. More a chronicle of the exploits of 'Mad Dog' Morgan, the bushranger who inspired Ned Kelly, than a conventional narrative, it's a non-judgemental portrait of an inconsistent, unpredictable man ? after going to great lengths to deny he'll ever "be made a murderer," he then becomes one almost immediately when he drunkenly sets his gun off, wounding his host, and then hurrying off to kill the man that he himself has just sent after a doctor. It's very much a seventies film (in the best sense), with a sense of the violence of both the landscape and the people trying to eke a living from it, and it constantly surprises with neat little details such as the magistrate who doles out long sentences simply because there are still so many roads to build.

Despite being made at the height of his drugs-and-booze lost period, Dennis Hopper gives a pretty good performance as the na´ve and contradictory folk hero cum psychopath, even managing a fairly convincing Irish accent (I'm sure th Irish could find fault, but it never makes you cringe). There's an impressive supporting cast of familiar Aussie faces, not least Gulpilil as Morgan's beloved partner in crime and Frank Thring at his most superciliously unpleasant as the Superintendent: few actors could seem more natural when he and his social circle start casually divvying up Morgan's body parts in the final scene (the head for an anthropologist, the scrotum for the Superintendent's new tobacco pouch). Although not overly graphic, it's still fairly strong meat.
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2010
Mad Dog Morgan would have been unwatchable had Dennis Hopper not been involved. He makes this movie interesting, scratch that! He makes the movie, period.
The thing that got me with the film was that it is very uneven, I don't know if it was the copy I have but the editing in the movie is terrible.
The film showcases Hopper at a crazy moment in his life, where he was at his artistic peak as an actor, and fueled by alcohol and drugs he had all but become an outcast in Hollywood, and despite all this he gives one of his most memorable performances.
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2009
It's interesting and has merits. But essentially it's just Dennis Hopper fucking about for the duration of the film.
½ April 4, 2011
I really enjoyed this, more often than not for knowing the wild behind the scenes shenanigans that Hopper got up to during the filming.

Is that legit reason to like a movie? The stuff behind the camera? I suppose if it helps me enjoy the movie it can't be all bad, right?

Give it a look, it's good stuff.
Epi
October 30, 2010
With one of Hopper's most memorable "over-the-top" performances (and all with an Irish-accent too), "Mad Dog Morgan" tells the true tale of one of Australia's most violent outlaws roaming the Outback in the mid-1800's.

Although very entertaining (Hopper was reportedly drunk throughout most of production -- his reason being that he wanted to "properly" portray Morgan) and retaining much accuracy as to the Australian outlaw's murders, this film is not without its flaws. And unfortunately, there are many of them.

One of the main problems I have is that the version released to the American public, and the one I happened to see, is that although it is "officially" rated-R, this is a heavily edited version of the film. Certain words are dubbed out, along with certain scenes that were obviously cut away from for unexplained reasons.

Also, even though it's shown in the Widescreen 2.35:1 format, don't be fooled by the film's aspect ratio -- certain scenes still pan and scan and reveal that the movie wasn't formatted properly from the 4:3 aspect ratio.

The film's continuity doesn't help with the fact that Hopper's very fake looking jet-black beard (the hair on his head is brown) can't seem to stay looking the same throughout the mid-point of the movie: sometimes it's a full beard and mustache, the next scene it's just the beard, and the next is an even thicker beard and mustache.

But other problems with the film can be dismissed if you really don't care about the back-story of Morgan: one thing being his nickname, "Mad Dog", which was the name given to Morgan by the film's director, Philippe Mora. In fact, the outlaw's real name was John Fuller, with the name "Dan Morgan" being one of his aliases.

Also, the Irish-accent that Hopper uses that I referred to earlier is actually unexplained: Dan Morgan was born in and lived in Australia for much of his short life.

Other than those flaws, the film does have its moments of low-budget filmmaking uniqueness and much of it looks and feels as raw as the continent it was filmed in.

"Mad Dog Morgan" also stars the famous Aboriginal character actor David Gulpilil as Billy, Morgan's partner in crime. If the name doesn't sound familiar, he will be best remembered for his roles in "Crocodile Dundee" and 1971's "Walkabout".
And an interesting bit of trivia about "Mad Dog Morgan" is that Gulpilil is said to have gone walkabout during the middle of production to ask the trees about Dennis Hopper, and the trees reportedly told him that Hopper was crazy.

As I said before about the storyline, it's pretty much accurate, that is, until the ending -- SPOILER ALERT!

In the film, Morgan is shot in the neck and in a controversial scene, dies a painful death after hours of choking on his own blood (in truth, Morgan was shot in the back). But the version I saw edits most of that scene out and goes straight to a scene involving his body on display for officials whose dialogue is dubbed for language.

"Mad Dog Morgan" may have been a great movie, but then again I will never know because how can you truly critique a film when part of the director's vision has been edited for content.
October 20, 2010
Dennis Hopper stars as the title character. Actually, it's Dennis Hopper, a fake beard and truckloads of drugs and alcohol starring, and Hopper is outstanding. His performance lends a dreamlike quality to the film, which would have been a rather dull bit of work without Hopper's strangeness to lend it some color.

The story traces the fall of an Irish immigrant to mid-19th century Australia who goes broke while working as a gold miner. He's forced to steal food and clothes to survive and is arrested, then given a harsh sentence to 12 years of hard labor by a judge who gives out such sentences so that convicts can be used to build roads. Morgan is assaulted in ever possible way while in prison, both by guards and other convicts. Upon release, he's rejected society and become a horse thief and highwayman, teaming up with an Aborigine whose tribe has been wiped out by European settlers.

"Mad Dog Morgan" is more about the inhumanity, racism and brutality of Australian society of its time. Morgan is a somewhat sympathetic character; he's a vicious criminal, but this monster has been created by the system itself. He still possesses some good traits, but even they've been perverted. By the time Morgan is brought down by bounty hunters and police at the end of the film, it's clear that he's intended here to be a cautionary example about the lack of fairness in society.

Luckily for Dennis Hopper, his character has been written to be blasted out of his head for most of the film. It's clear that Hopper really was. David Gulpilil is good as Morgan's Aborigine partner, likely bringing a good deal of personal history to his performance. The rest of the cast is interchangeable. Some great cinematography of the Australian wilderness. The editing of the film detracts greatly from it, though. Scenes are strung together without transitions, making "Mad Dog Morgan" choppy and confusing at times. Fans of Dennis Hopper should see this flick, though, to see the actor at his rebellious high-point... emphasis on the "high."
August 13, 2010
It's got an off-kilter pace that makes it a little uneasy to follow at certain times (especially in the first 20 minutes), but Dennis Hopper gives it his all, even with such a fake beard. If nothing else, he makes it a must-see. I just wish the film had a better editor, then it could be the underlooked classic it was touted to be on the Troma DVD.
December 29, 2009
Mad Dog Morgan is the story of Irish bushranger Dan Morgan (played brilliantly by then-drugged up and completely unaware Dennis Hopper) who is unfairly put through a rigorous and painfully unfair justice system throughout Australia. His only option is to embrace the villainy and become the mad animal people treat him as. Accompanied by his best friend (possibly the film industry's most famous aborigine, David Gulpilil), the two embark on a crime spree in the old west, Ozzie style! Mad Dog Morgan's crime sprees become so large in number and infamous, the lawmen are constantly made to look foolish and become desperate in their attempts to capture him. These exploits of Mad Dog Morgan are fairly factual for the most part, and were kept hidden for many, many years by the Australian government, both for the notoriety and for the mistreatment of Morgan by the Australian lawmen. The movie serves as an excellent exploitation film that embodies many characteristics unique to this sub-genre of film, namely its Australian heritage (as the country was just getting into the exploitation ring) and for its historical period piece background. Dennis Hopper gives an amazing (and brilliantly insane) performance as Mad Dog, embodying the character in such a powerful way, many of the crew members on the film were understandably frightened of him. The supporting cast, which includes other well-established Australian actors like Jack Thompson, John Hargreaves, and Michael Pate, also does a commendable job. Philippe Mora's off-the-wall, spastic direction led him to receive some justifiable notoriety, not to mention gave him a chance to direct a string of other nominal exploitation (mostly horror) films, like the Beast Within, the dreadful Howling 2, and the delightfully corny Howling 3. One painful thing about this film is its ownership by Troma Studios, whose multiple releases of it show painfully rough, VHS quality transfers of the film. To further add fuel to the fire, the recently released documentary Not Quite Hollywood, about Aussie exploitation films, shows brilliantly looking clips of Mad Dog Morgan in glorious HD that make the movie look rather new. I say it's time for Troma to sell the movie to another company that could do this great film justice.
½ November 16, 2009
Philippe Mora has purposely made a movie about a criminal that has very little to do with crime. Instead, Mad Dog Morgan is about how an outlaw is crafted. Hopper gives one his best performances.
November 24, 2009
Philippe Mora handles splattery special effects a lot better than he handles anything resembling human drama. The ugly, jagged visual aesthetic of "Mad Dog Morgan" works during its scenes of brutal realism, not so much during the scenes depicting pastoral "beauty". Editing is atrocious. There are no words in the English parlance that convey the sheer ineptitude of Dennis Hopper's Irish accent. Trippy digeridoo music is undoubtedly the highlight of this disposable film.
February 6, 2015
Put in context of the time it was filmed it's great. However it is disturbing, confronting and graphic. A little too much to stomach.
½ February 12, 2014
"43%" !!!??? GO WATCH THE WALTONS !!!
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
February 8, 2014
From the Mill Creek 20 Movie Mean Guns Collection. Mad Dog Morgan is a real rarity, which is a great shame, because Philip Mora's film has much to recommend it and deserves much better than a dodgy cropped transfer on the Mill Creek label. More a chronicle of the exploits of 'Mad Dog' Morgan, the bushranger who inspired Ned Kelly, than a conventional narrative, it's a non-judgemental portrait of an inconsistent, unpredictable man - after going to great lengths to deny he'll ever "be made a murderer," he then becomes one almost immediately when he drunkenly sets his gun off, wounding his host, and then hurrying off to kill the man that he himself has just sent after a doctor. It's very much a seventies film (in the best sense), with a sense of the violence of both the landscape and the people trying to eke a living from it, and it constantly surprises with neat little details such as the magistrate who doles out long sentences simply because there are still so many roads to build.

Despite being made at the height of his drugs-and-booze lost period, Dennis Hopper gives a pretty good performance as the na´ve and contradictory folk hero cum psychopath, even managing a fairly convincing Irish accent (I'm sure th Irish could find fault, but it never makes you cringe). There's an impressive supporting cast of familiar Aussie faces, not least Gulpilil as Morgan's beloved partner in crime and Frank Thring at his most superciliously unpleasant as the Superintendent: few actors could seem more natural when he and his social circle start casually divvying up Morgan's body parts in the final scene (the head for an anthropologist, the scrotum for the Superintendent's new tobacco pouch). Although not overly graphic, it's still fairly strong meat. 3 stars 2-3-14
September 29, 2013
What a marvellous film this is. A strong lead performance from the legend that is Dennis Hopper which is accompanied by a great cast. Philippe Mora's direction is outstanding with some truly memorable imagery and the film pounds away at a breakneck speed way ahead of its time. It's a film with a truly mythic feel perfectly fitting its subject. Highest recommendations.
½ May 22, 2013
Dennis Hopper gives a mesmerizing performance in this explicitly violent action film.
February 27, 2012
Interesting Australian synthesis of Malick and the spaghetti Western. (Call it a Vegemite Western.) And yes, Dennis Hopper (excellent) does seem high as a kite.
Page 1 of 2