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Dogs in Space is a 1986 Australian film set in the "little band scene" in Melbournemarker in 1978. It was directed by Richard Lowenstein and starred Michael Hutchence as Sam, the drug-addled frontman of the fictitious band from which the film takes its name.

The film has a distinctive tagline: Before Trainspotting, before Go, before 24 Hour Party People there was...Dogs in Space

Plot

With virtually no plot, Dogs in Space is a stylish and chaotic film about a group of alternative music fans sharing a house in the inner Melbournemarker suburb of Richmondmarker. The plotless and artistic style of the film is a legacy of Lowenstein's background in advertising and music video production; before Dogs in Space he had served as director for a series of promotional clips for songs from the INXS album The Swing.

The script was developed from Lowenstein's own experiences and the central character Sam is based on Sam Sejavka from the band The Ears, with whom Lowenstein lived in the 1970s. Chuck Meo, who plays a drummer in the movie, also lived with the pair. The house, in Berry Street, was the same house Lowenstein and Sejavka shared and was rented from its new owners and modified at considerable expense for the film. Lowenstein wrote himself out of the film and several of his exploits were attributed to the character Tim (Nique Needles). Sejavka has a brief cameo in a party scene as a character called Michael. In the film, Sam and Tim are the key members of a band called Dogs in Space and share their house with various social misfits including Sam's girlfriend Anna (Saskia Post), a university student called Luchio (Tony Helou) and a transient and apparently nameless teenager known only as The Girl (Deanna Bond), a character based extremely closely on Sara, who for a period lived with Lowenstein at Berry Street.

The film's minimalist plot traces the day-to-day existence of the chief characters, particularly the relationship between Sam and Anna, and is virtually an endless sequence of intense party scenes involving heavy substance-abuse. In between, there are trips to Ballaratmarker (at the time, the closest town to Melbourne with a 24-hour convenience store) and humorous encounters with an aggressive neighbour (Joe Camilleri) and one character's fast-talking, chainsaw-wielding uncle (Chris Haywood), who simply turns up one afternoon with his family (the baby in this scene is Lowenstein's niece Robyn). There is also a minor sub-plot in which the characters try unsuccessfully to pass off some rubbish burned in an oven as a piece of Skylab to a local radio station. In the end, the group's dysfunctional and hedonistic lifestyle claims a victim when Anna dies from a heroin overdose.

Soundtrack album

The soundtrack album was released on Chase Records in February 1987 (CLPX14), featuring several tracks from reformed "little bands" and other contemporary tracks of the time.

The album came in two versions: a censored version in a white sleeve with the band name "Thrush & the Cunts" bowdlerised to "Thrush and the C**ts" and possibly-offensive song vocal tracks removed, and an "R"-rated version in a black sleeve with all band names in full, movie dialogue between the songs and all vocal tracks in full.

Chase Records went out of business soon after and, despite much effort, the record has never been reissued and has remained unavailable since. It is now a collector's item, commanding high prices. It was only available on LP and cassette and was issued on CD - at least the censored version appeared on discount bins in shopping malls in Lisbon, Portugal, somewhere around 1996-1997.

The Hutchence tracks were his first official solo recordings and his first with Ollie Olsen. They would later collaborate on the Max Q recordings.

Side One:
  1. "Dog Food" (Iggy Pop)
  2. "Dogs In Space" (Michael Hutchence)
  3. "Win/Lose" (Ollie Olsen)
  4. "Anthrax" (Gang of Four)
  5. "Skysaw" (Brian Eno)
  6. "True Love" (Marching Girls)
  7. "Shivers" (Boys Next Door)
Side Two:
  1. "Diseases" (Thrush & the Cunts)
  2. "Pumping Ugly Muscle" (The Primitive Calculators)
  3. "Golf Course" (Michael Hutchence)
  4. "The Green Dragon" (Michael Hutchence)
  5. "Shivers" (Marie Hoy & Friends)
  6. "Endless Sea" (Iggy Pop)
  7. "Rooms For The Memory" (Michael Hutchence)


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