by Alex Jackson Deborah Kampmeier's Hounddog is even worse than its pre-emptive objectors assume it is. The film is offensive in precisely the way you think it's going to be but surprises you by becoming offensive on a whole new level. Everything in the film revolves around a scene where Dakota Fanning is raped, which, far from "gratuitous," is the film's entire raison d'être. Before The Rape, Hounddog plays like one big striptease leading up to it: in the very first scene, Fanning promises her playmate a kiss if he shows her his penis, and throughout the picture, Kampmeier has her prancing around in her panties, gyrating in her rendition of Elvis Presley's "Hounddog," and going swimming in an undershirt. Naysayers are calling the picture "a pedophile's dream," and though I maintain that you would have to be a pedophile of particularly low self-esteem to whack off to this, they do have a point. Up until The Rape, the film is just plain exploitive and cynical. It starts to seem like Kampmeier knows why we're here and is going to draw out our dread/anticipation past the breaking point before delivering "the goods." Then little Dakota gets popped. The scene is simultaneously cowardly, leering, and utterly tasteless: we see close-ups of her limbs flailing and her playmate staring on, fascinated and horrified. Her demonic rapist, who had been hiding in the shadows, grunts a couple of times, comes inside her, and very audibly zips up as she lies on the ground, bawling and defeated. The pre-rape portion of the film was sweating with sex, but all that heat dissipates out during and after the rape.