Written and directed by Tab Murphy. Cast: Tom Berenger, Barbara Hershey, Kurtwood Smith, Steve Reevis, Andrew Miller, Eugene Blackbear, Parley Baer, Mark Boone Junior, Molly Parker. (PG, 118 mins)
Released with little fanfare in the fall of 1995, LAST OF THE DOGMEN didn't generate much business in theaters, opening wide but topping out around $7 million and exiting multiplexes fairly quickly. But it was one of those films that became a word-of-mouth hit once it was released on video and found an even bigger audience once it started airing on cable. I was working at Blockbuster at the time this came out on video and we had just two copies and they were never in stock. It was eventually released on DVD, but that edition has gone out of print. Currently, at the time of this writing, sealed DVD copies of LAST OF THE DOGMEN are starting at $72 on Amazon. Originally released by the short-lived Savoy Pictures, the film's rights are now held by Universal, who have no plans to re-release the film on DVD or on Blu-ray. As my friend Marty McKee of Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot often says, "Some studios must not like making money."
When three escaped convicts head into a 4000-mile stretch of rough terrain in Montana's Oxbow Mountains, Sheriff Deegan (Kurtwood Smith) knows there's only one man who can find them.
Sheriff, to deputy: "Go find Lewis Gates."
Deputy: "You mean..."
Sheriff: "Just find him!"
Cut to the exterior of Doc's Bar, as the person we assume to be Lewis Gates is--where else?--passed out on the pool table. Gates (Tom Berenger) is a loner and the town drunk, and there's a lot of bad blood between him and Deegan: Gates was married to Deegan's daughter, and she drowned while crossing a river and Gates couldn't save her. Deegan has no use for Gates, and of course sums it up in the most cliched way possible: "Drunk or sober...you're still the best tracker in the state!"