Cerberus, the three-headed canine protector of Hades in Grecian mythos, or some variation of him, has reared his ugly heads in film before. From Harry Potter to Clash of the Titans, The Aeneid to Dante’s Inferno, Cerberus has made his otherworldly presence known throughout literature for some 3000 years. In 2005 the Sci-Fi channel produced this first film to take the tri-muzzled mutt from the depths of hell to our living room as the main focus of a feature film. While, on first glance, it appears painfully obvious that this movie is not the by-product of heavy research by Greek and Roman Humanities professors, it nevertheless offers a few inspired moments of big dog fun.
Emmanuel Vaugier (Saw II) stars as Dr. Samantha Gaines, a museum curator whose expertise on the Atilla the Hun comes into precarious necessity when a band of mercenaries lead by My Two Dad’s alumnus Greg Evigan, steal Atilla’s breastplate from a museum in Bulgaria. It seems that the breastplate holds the key to the location of The Sword of Mars, a mythical weapon which when wielded renders the bearer invincible. The trick to getting the sword lies not only in discovering its secret location, but also in escaping the treachery of Cerberus, the three-headed hellion who guards the tomb.
The film has a varied plotline that unfortunately lifts entire sections of dialogue and plot device from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In addition to the outright thievery, the film misses its mark by introducing a few too many sub-plots for the causal viewer. For example, Vaugier’s character has a brother whose gambling habit is moot; in fact, his entire character offers no reasonable existence. Others, like the main baddies plot for nuclear devastation, seem like bits of pointless exposition designed to try and make whole characters out of cardboard cut outs villains.
If the characters are flawed then what to make of Cerberus is a whole other ballgame. Most of you, that have seen the film, would agree that Cerberus’ cousin “Fluffy” in the initial Harry Potter film is a pretty poor piece of CGI. Well if you thought that Fluffy looked fake then you’re liable to fall on the floor when you see the deal in this little flick. The CGI rendering of Cerberus is nearly laughable, but not nearly as frighteningly funny as how he makes his appearance in the film, coming through some flashing red transdimensional porthole before eviscerating the denizens of this ridiculous film.
It might seem like I hated Cerberus, and with my background and insatiable passion for Greek and Roman mythology, the film leaves little room for love. But, it’s hard to dislike the flick, in much the same way that one would find it hard to fault an old AIP production or the latest Roger Corman schlock fest. Sure the effects are bad, sure the dialogue is stolen, the history is random and the whole production looks like hell, begging the question, when is Emmanuel Vaugier firing her agents? Still, the film moves along briskly offering periodic spasms of gunfire along with inspired doggie-head-munching-moments of camp that kept me glued to the tube for the better part of 90 minutes. So, for a made for cable flick like this one, I think that’s about all we can ask for – a little mindless fun for a Friday night.