BAXTER Maxime Leroux, Francois Driancourt (1991, Fox Lorber, $89.95, unrated, subtitled) Frenchman Jerome Boivin’s critically acclaimed and truly demented debut film about a fascist bull terrier provokes the kind of uneasy laughter heard around accident scenes. After Baxter pushes his owner, an elderly woman, down a flight of stairs, the barrel-headed mutt moves in with the randy couple next door, only to be given away after he tries to drown their infant. His final owner, a sick teen obsessed with the last days of Adolf Hitler, plays the sadist to Baxter’s delighted masochist. But the happy pup soon discovers that freedoms cannot be renounced and retrieved at will. His tragic and woeful epiphany—”Never be obedient”—arrives, like most human realizations, too late. If Lassie and Benji are man’s best friends, Baxter is his disturbing mirror image. A-

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