“Energetic, youthful, frequently hilarious... Dogs in Space is an Australian counter-culture classic.”
By the time David Bowie toured Australia in 1978 he was a household name. The Isolar II (aka the Low / Heroes Tour) played huge stadium venues including Melbourne’s MCG.
Writer/director Richard Lowenstein (Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard, He Died with a Felafel in His Hand) uses this moment in local pop-culture history to stage the opening scenes of his tale of drugs, dropouts and punk music in late 1970s inner-suburban Melbourne.
Lowenstein’s classic Australian film opens with a quote from Bowie’s creative cohort, Iggy Pop: “We’re living on dog food, so what!” As the camera pans across a neon-lit marquee sign that reads “David Bowie Concert”, Iggy Pop’s song ‘Dog Food’ blasts from the screen.
Set in a share-house occupied by a collection of social misfits, the film focuses on the tumultuous affair between vivacious Anna (Saskia Post) and drug-taking Sam (Michael Hutchence), front man for the band Dogs in Space.
In his first on-screen role, Hutchence (like Bowie) pushed against his established public persona.
As the charismatic, sexually charged front man for Australian mainstream rockers INXS, he had legions of fans that were banned from seeing their teen rock idol when the film received an R18+ rating.
With the aid of cinematographer Andrew de Groot's invaluable camerawork, Lowenstein achieves an intense, fluid evocation of a squalid, destructive lifestyle.
Featuring a sensational post-punk soundtrack courtesy of Iggy Pop, Boys Next Door (aka Birthday Party), Brian Eno and Gang of Four, Dogs in Space has been described by Jennie Kermode in Eye for Film as “less of a film and more of an experience, a poem rather than a conventional story. It's a remarkable testament to a piece of Australian history most people prefer to ignore."