Challenge to White Fang / Il ritorno di Zanna Bianca (1974)

When Lucio Fulci returned to the dog themed Klondike gold rush greedy world of White Fang he managed to reunite most of the key players. Franco Nero, Virna Lisi, John Steiner and Raimund Harmstorf all reprise roles and the excellent Gino De Rossi makes a welcome return to take charge of special effects. This time cinematography is by Joe D'Amato.

This sequel is a little more restrained in the animal on animal violence department. There is no dogfighting nor anything akin to the dog versus bear scene in the first movie. This however only makes the movie slightly more family friendly as this time we get a bizarre dog against eagle fight where it briefly appears as though the embattled mutt has had his eyes scratched out. We also get amputations, a man savaged to death by dogs, nun immolation and frequent, admittedly educational, repeated evidence of the dangers of hypothermia. White Fang is struck with a log and more blood squibs than are probably absolutely necessary are used during shootouts.

On the plus side there is much to recommend in this as a family film. It is a morality tale, with Steiner playing a reprised typecast baddie against Nero's heroic lead, the locations look incredible this time, more so than the first film and there are some fun and exciting touches such as a Ben Hur style dog and sled race. Moments of tear jerking are accompanied with appropriate strings from a returning Carlo Rustichelli who scored White Fang along with the Mountie themed Red Coat. Yet again parental discretion is advised where younger children are concerned but this is definitely recommended for adults who refuse to grow up, it is real Boy's Own stuff.


Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics