Last of the Dogmen

Last of the Dogmen is a poignant present day drama set in the rugged uninhabited Canadian Rocky Mountains. A bus carrying prisoners is involved in an accident under a bridge. Three of the prisoners kill the guard and escape and head into the Oxbow area. Sheriff Deegan sends his Deputy, Briggs, to find Louis Gates, a former bounty hunter who's also the best tracker in the area. Deegan, Gates' former brother-in-law, wants Gates to go up to the Oxbow area and find the three escaped convicts. Deegan still blames Gates for his sister's death, so as sheriff, he harasses Gates whenever possible. Louis Gates, it seems, has been drunk since his wife died two years ago. Deegan offers $4,000 per convict to which Gates agrees. Louis Gates, on horseback, and his Dog, Zip, running next to him, head off into the wilderness toward the Oxbow area. Along the way, they observe a moose who stands very still. Another time, while they are sleeping, we see a raccoon who is eating out of Louis' backpack. Louis and Zip settle down for the night, as Zip lays in Louis' lap. The next day they head out again, when suddenly, someone shoots at them. Louis shoots back in the general direction, but has no idea what he's shooting at. They manage to escape, with Zip running way ahead of Louis. On horseback, Louis jumps over a fallen log, and Zip follows. They hear another sound of gunfire off in the distance, and then, dead silence. All of a sudden, up ahead, Zip starts barking like crazy. Louis rides up to see a deer that had just been killed by a mountain lion. Zip is still barking, and Louis' horse rears up as they see the mountain lion next to the deer carcass. As they ride onward, Zip barks and starts digging when Louis notices a large gun shell, which he picks up. He also finds an arrow. Then, near a tree, they find a piece of a bloody shirt. Blood is soaked all around the area. There is a presence, which cannot be accounted for, but seems to almost moan in the distance. Louis goes back to Sheriff Deegan, showing him the bloody shirt which he feels is the last of the escaped convicts. He refuses to go back and look any longer.

What is still unsettling, is that mysterious presence Louis felt, as a man or a spirit with a gun galloped into silence. There is more to it than he knows, but he must find out. That's when Louis decides to go up to an archeological dig to find a Professor L. D. Sloan. Louis and Zip circulate through the dig site, stopping frequently asking of the whereabouts of Professor Sloan. When he finds Professor Sloan, Louis finds that Professor Sloan's initials stand for Lillian Diane, a very lovely woman. Louis tells her of his story and shows her the arrow he found. Lillian is an authority on the Cheyenne culture and speaks fluent Cheyenne. Unfortunately, however, she feels none of this tribe still exits. She explains to Louis that the tribe died out about 1935 when a war party of dog soldiers agreed to make peace, and then were gunned down unmercifully. There was a small child the townspeople called ""Jacko"" but he had disappeared and no one ever saw him again.

Louis doesn't completely accept that explanation, so asks Professor Sloan if she will send one of her students, who speaks Cheyenne, on an expedition with him for a few days. She agrees to think about it, only to show up herself the next day. Louis begrudgingly allows her to go with him, although he would not have requested her personally. He packs their gear on a pack mule and they go on their way, with Zip running along beside them. They ride through some rough terrain, much further in than Louis has ever been, through rocks and streams. At one point, they are on a very rocky ledge, walking their horses through. Louis tells Lillian to be very careful not to look down, but straight ahead so she doesn't fall. As soon as the words are out of his mouth, Lillian slips and falls, leaving her horse behind on the ledge. Louis manages to get a rope tied to her horse before he slips and falls past Lillian. Lillian manages to get hold of the rope, and Louis yells out at Zip to lead the horse further up. Zip grabs hold of the reins and pulls the horse up, which pulls Lillian, which pulls Louis to safety.

After almost one week, they have not seen a sign of any Cheyenne or other Indians. Lillian is discouraged and wants to go back. Then, all of a sudden, they hear animal like noises. Zip starts barking, as that mist comes up again. Then, several Cheyenne appear out of nowhere. Lillian speaks to them in Cheyenne, but no answer. Then one of the Indians speaks up and speaks to Lillian in Cheyenne. Lillian tells Louis to put is gun down as a gesture of friendship. Zip will not stop barking, so one of the Indians shoots him with a bow and arrow. Louis goes berserk, ready to kill them all when Lillian stops him. Zip is not dead, but sounds as if he is suffering. The Indians tie them to horses as Lillian and Louis, holding Zip in his arms, walk behind them. At one point, Lillian can no longer go on, and falls. Louis puts Zip down and runs to help Lillian. The Indian is frightened and goes after Louis. The Chief yells at his warrior to stop, and he does. After the encounter, the Indians decide to allow Lillian to ride her horse. She also takes Zip on the horse with her. He is draped over the saddle.

Once again, they are on their way to the Indian reservation. They climb up a rocky hill and must pull their horses up the path. At the end of the path is a waterfall with a cave directly behind it. They enter the cave and come out on the other side of the mountain into the most beautiful, untouched and lush valley one has ever seen. They are now just yards away from the reservation. After some conversation, Louis and Lillian are tied up under a tree, sitting on a rock. Zip, now bandaged, lies on the rock. Overhead, just near the tree, a large deer carcass hangs out to dry.

Later, Louis and Lillian are led to the Chief's hut. We learn that Spotted Elk, the Chief, is the last surviving son of Lone Wolf, the leader of the dog soldiers, that were thought to be murdered in the raid. Spotted Elk is the one the townspeople called ""Jacko"" when he was just a little boy. Spotted Elk takes a liking to Louis and Lillian and arranges for them to have their own hut while they are there. It is said that when white men were captured by the Cheyenne, they would always be treated like family and never left. The saying must have been true, because Lillian, Louis and even Zip, became very comfortable.

A couple of days after they have arrived, Yellow Wolf comes to ask Lillian and Louis what is wrong with his son. It seems that the young boy has a high fever. The only thing that will cure it is antibiotics, which the Indians don't have. Louis offers to go back to town to the pharmacy for the medication. Spotted Elk says ""No"", they'll use the customary roots and herbs that they have used down through the years. However, in the middle of the night, Yellow Wolf comes to Louis and asks him to go for the penicillin. They ride together as far as the cave, where Louis takes off on his own. On the way down the mountain, his horse starts grunting and slows down. There is a deer carcass ahead of him, with a mountain lion nearby. As the mountain lion growls, Louis' horse spooks and goes galloping down the hill, trips and rolls over, throwing Louis off and the two of them slide down the rest of the hill. Both the horse and Louis are unharmed, and they continue on. When Louis arrives in town he goes directly to the pharmacy. With no cash on hand, Louis tells his friend, the pharmacist that he is robbing him. All he wants is all the penicillin there is. At first the pharmacist thinks it is a joke, until Louis draws his gun. Once outside the pharmacy, his other friend, Deputy Briggs tries to stop Louis. Louis ignores Briggs, and once again takes off down the asphalt street on his horse. Briggs drives up next to Louis, pleading with him to stop, but Louis smashes his windshield and rides on while Briggs crashes the car. Up ahead, we see a road block where Sheriff Deign stands with his shot gun pointed directly at Louis. Deegan fires once as Louis, on horseback, flies past him over the road block and keeps going, almost running into a big rig truck, that is backing up. Louis pulls quickly on the reins and the horse dodges the truck. Louis is off once again with no more problems.

The penicillin cures the young Indian boy and the celebration begins. The Indians give them many gifts which they cannot refuse. Louis and Lillian pretty much get into a regular routine on the reservation. The young boys teach Louis archery, the women teach Lillian to cook and sew. Chief Spotted Elk teaches both Louis and Lillian about the customs of their tribe and the history behind it. Lillian is happier than she's been in a long time, and in no hurry to leave. A few days later, they spot Sheriff Deegan and his men riding up the trail towards them, about a day and a half away. Louis decides that the only way to save these wonderful people is to have them pack and move on while he stays behind to deter the Sheriff and his men. When he is ready to go, he tells Lillian and Zip, who has now healed, to get ready to ride. Neither Lillian nor Zip has any intentions of going with Louis. Lillian still has much to learn about these people, and Zip is loved and given so much attention, that he's content to stay also. As he is leaving, Spotted Elk gives Louis an honorable eagle feather. Louis knows that Spotted Elk wants his grandfather's knife, so Louis gives it to him. Louis is now part of the light hearted people He is Cheyenne from now on.

Louis is about to leave, saying good-bye to Zip and Lillian. He takes off in the direction of Sheriff Deegan and his men. In the meantime, Yellow Wolf declares war, and he and his dog soldiers, with war paint on, are right behind Louis. Louis is catching up to Sheriff Deegan and his men when he spots a helicopter overhead, which is one of Deegan's. Machine guns are attached and they open fire on Louis and the dog soldiers. The Dog Soldiers get away, but Louis has been captured. Louis has packed some old dynamite found at the reservation, which he places in different parts of the area, mainly the cave. He has already been arrested and handcuffed by Sheriff Deegan and is unable to aim straight, so he misses, but Yellow Wolf, on his side of the cave aims an arrow, and the entire cave explodes, sending Louis, the sheriff and his men flying down the mountain. In the meantime, the Indians and Lillian and Zip move up to higher ground. While Louis is in jail, Sheriff Deegan walks up to the cell and questions Louis one more time about what he is hiding in the Oxbow. When Louis refuses to answer, Sheriff Deegan tells him the charges have been dropped for stealing the penicillin. With that, Louis goes off to his house, packs some clothes and starts back for the Oxbow. As he arrives in the village, he sees Zip playing catch with the children. Zip sees Louis and runs up to him jumping and whimpering with joy.

  • Starring: Tom Beringer and Barbara Hershey
  • Director(s): Tab Murphy
  • Producer(s): Savoy Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
  • Screenwriter(s): Tab Murphy
  • Distributor: Carolco Films
  • Release Date: Thursday, March 30, 1995
  • Rating: Acceptable

Featured Animal Action

Horses were used throughout this film in the background or simple A - B action. However, there were also stunts throughout the film as well. In the beginning of the film, Louis is riding his horse with Zip at his side as they trot along the trail. Suddenly, someone shoots at them and they turn and run in another direction. For this and other scenes with gunfire, quarter loads were used in the guns and cotton was placed in the ears of the animals. Further along in that scene, Louis' horse jumps over a fallen log. The horse was a trained jumping horse. The ground on either side of the log had been swept and smoothed out for the jump. Zip, the dog had also been trained. For this particular scene, one trainer released the dog, while another trainer on the other side of the log called for him with food as his reward.

Later in the story, Louis and Lillian, both on horseback, with Zip along side of them, ride further into the valley then they have ever been. They have a pack mule with them as they ride through some rough terrain, rocks and streams. For this scene, the mules and the horses had special barium shoes for climbing in rough terrain. The area had been previously walked by the wranglers to make sure there were no loose rocks. The wranglers surrounded the horses for protection. As they walk their horses and mule along a steep ledge, Lillian slips and falls, leaving her horse behind on the ledge. Louis ties a rope to Lillian's horse which is pulling her up, but then Louis slips and falls. Louis yells up at Zip and tells him to lead Lillian's horse further back. For this scene, the dog's trainer had cued Zip to fetch the reins of the horse and bring them back to her. Several trainers, off camera, then helped the horse to pull the two up the cliff, making it appear as though the horse was doing all the pulling. The stunt doubles also aided the horse by climbing as much of the cliff as they could.

When the Cheyenne first capture Louis and Lillian, Zip starts barking and will not stop. To accomplish this, the trainer had cued the dog to keep barking. One of the Indians shoots Zip with his bow and arrow. Zip yelps and moans. This scene was filmed in cuts. We see the Indian shoot the arrow then in the next scene we see the dog with the arrow in his flank. For this scene, the trainer placed an arrow in the fold of the dog's skin and secured it with monofiliment. The dog had been trained to fall on his side. As they are transported on foot to the Cheyenne's camp, Louis holds Zip in his arms. Eventually, Lillian is allowed to ride her horse, so Zip is put up on the horse with her.

When Louis rides back to town, Yellow Wolf comes with him as far as a cave. Then Louis is on his own from there. On the way down the mountain, his horse starts grunting and slows down. Ahead of them is a deer carcass with cougar nearby. As the cougar growls, Louis' horse spooks and goes galloping down the hill, trips and falls over, throwing Louis off and the two of them slide down the rest of the hill. This scene was filmed in cuts. A trained falling horse was used for the fall. What appears to be the horse falling down the steep hill, was actually only about three feet. Low camera angles were used to make the hill appear steeper. For the horse's comfort, a pit about twenty to thirty feet across was dug and branches, rocks and any other debris was cleared away, replacing it with dirt and sand. For the scene where the mountain lion growls, the trainer hid behind the mountain lion with a leash on it. A second trainer stood in front of the mountain lion and promted him into growling. In scenes where the horse and mountain lion were near each other, five trainers stood between them to avoid any attacks.

For the scene in town as Louis gallops down an alley way and into the street, the horse wore rubber shoes. All of the signs and poles were removed from the alley so that the horse would not encounter any obstacles. Louis smashes Briggs' windshield with his shotgun and keeps on going. A stunt double was used for this scene and the rearview mirror on the side of the car was removed so the horse would not be hurt when it ran by. Deegan fires his gun at Louis as he rides by. Louis' horse, jumps over the road block and and a police car and keeps on going, almost running into a truck. Louis quickly reins the horse and dodges the truck. Louis then rides his horse under a bridge and off toward the hills. The horse for this scene was a trained jumping horse ridden by a stunt double. The car that the horse jumped over, was only about three and a half feet high. This horse was used to jumping even higher obstacles and was in no way harmed. There were several rehearsals prior to filming this scene. The cars in the road block were placed in different angles to give the horse more space to jump. The scene was limited to three takes only. Plywood was put over the cross pieces of the bridge so that the horse's feet would not get caught. Any other bumps in the dirt were leveled prior to the jump. The wranglers were used as stunt doubles to insure the horse's safety.

Later, Louis and the dog soldiers fight to deter Sheriff Deegan and his men from going after the Indians who have gone to higher ground. Louis has packed some old dynamite found at the reservation, which he places in different parts of the area, mainly the cave. Louis was going to shoot at the dynamite to make it explode, but Deegan's men capture him and he is arrested and handcuffed. Yellow Wolf, on the other side of the cave aims an arrow, and the entire cave explodes, sending Louis, the sheriff and his men flying down the mountain. The scene was filmed in cuts. When we actually see the explosion, no horses are even there. After the scene, we cut to see Deegan, Gates and the posse running for cover as dust and debris rains down on them. There is a scene on the reservation where a deer carcass is hanging. This was made by the special effects people. A taxidermied deer was used in the scene when we see a deer carcass on the ground with the mountain lion nearby.