TOP 10 HORROR MOVIES about dogs
The Beyond (1981)
The Beyond is a camp, OTT and downright outrageous Fulci zombie ‘epic’ which features a blind girl called Emily (who’s from ‘the beyond’ as far as I could work out) and her trusty Alsatian guide dog - Dickie. Dickie has a low-key role until one point in the film when some fantastic looking zombies confront Emily. They moan and groan as Emily shouts gibberish like “I did what I was asked!” and “I’m not going to go back! You can’t make me go back!” until she sets Dickie on them.
Dickie wastes no time in making a star of himself in this, his key scene as he attacks the crumbly undead with a degree of ferocity that Cujo would be proud of. Zombies all disposed of, Dickie trots back to his blind mistress who pats him lovingly before he turns on her and savagely rips her throat out in an amazingly gory slow-mo, blood-gushing scene. Then he does the same to her ear. In keeping with his own charming style, if Fulci uses a drop he uses a gallon. Great stuff.
Plot: Ripley awakes from hyper-sleep to kill another one of those damn aliens.
Only on screen for a short while, this Rottweiler actually shapes the course of the whole film, as it’s his sniffing around Ripley’s escape pod that enables an alien to hitch a lift inside the compound on the prison planet in this (viciously underrated) xenomorph third-parter. The next time we see this poor mutt, he’s having a terrible time of it, obviously in a huge amount of stomach pain, and then in one gloopy birth scene the dog’s dead and a new alien (now in a more of a canine shape than the first two films) begins causing havoc amongst the shaven-headed British thesps. In earlier filmed tests, an actual dog was used in an alien costume, but this was soon dropped.
It actually was never going to be a dog in the final film, as the initial work print shows the alien bursting out of a dead Ox. There are two scenes illustrating this where the prisoners drag the Ox carcass to the prison, and we see later the alien bursting out. However this scene was replaced to allow a Rottweiler into the Alien mythology so thank Fox for that.
7 . The Thing (1982)
It’s another case of a dog with a ‘hidden’ monster inside as John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing opens with a shot of a husky running for it’s life across the Arctic wastelands. The Husky is chased by some Norwegians (their actual translated dialogue in the film reads – ‘Get out of the way! It's not a dog, it's some kind of a thing, it's imitating a dog. Get away you idiots’) the animal soon ends up in the hands of Kurt Russell’s Arctic scientists who take the dog in and look after it. Stupid move.
Things all go horribly pear-shaped of course as the dog’s head splits open like a banana-peel to reveal the shape-shifting thing, a kind of alien organism which manifests itself upon the physical form of it’s victims, ie kills all the men and imitates them.
The Norwegian dog in the film was named Jed (trained and owned by Clint Rowe), who was a half wolf / half husky breed. Jed was very obedient, never barked and acted perfectly on cue for his scenes. Not at all like Kurt Russell then.
6 . Man's Best Friend (1993)
Let's be honest, Man's Best Friend is never going to be remembered as a classic film. The plot is hackneyed and predictable, with a top-line cast of Ally Sheedy as the nosy reporter who rescues Max from the genetics lab, and Lance Henriksen as the sinister Dr Jarret.
However, Max the dog - genetically modified or not - is truly a brute of a beast and you certainly wouldn't want to meet this puppy off his leash on a dark night. As the film progresses to its all-too-obvious conclusion Max's bloodlust increases and the targets get bigger. The death scenes are nothing special, but if the film has one memorable scene then it is the sight of Max chasing a cat up a tree and devouring it whole! Although that's perhaps more funny than it is scary...
5 . A Boy and His Dog (1975)
Blood the mutt is unique in this list due to the fact that he can talk, well, telepathically at least. Vic (a young Don Johnson) is the boy and Blood (voiced by Tim McIntyre who also sings the main title song) is the dog who scavenge the world in the aftermath of World War 3 searching for food for Blood and women for Vic. The two share great dialogue as they loot other scavengers, take in a trip to a cinema (while munching on a little pop-popa popcorn!) and avoid the threat of the ‘Screamers’.
Their friendship is threatened however, when they come across a girl. Blood takes an instant dislike to her, but Vic ignores his mutt’s advice and follows the girl underground only to become a prisoner in a strange society and is forced to become a living sperm donator. He escapes with the girl, and returns to the surface to see his old faithful friend waiting nearby almost dead from starvation. In the last classic scene, we watch as Vic and a healthy Blood (well, he has just had a meal of Pedigree ‘Chum’) walk off together into the sunset.
4 . The Lost Boys (1985)
Husky dogs are always cool, especially when used in the fight against Vampires in Santa Carla. Sam (Corey number one), his brother Mike and his mum (and Nanook) move to the fictional town of Santa Carla to stay with Grandpa, but it’s not long before Mike is bitten and turns into a half-vampire, and Sam needs help from the Frog brothers (including Corey number two as Edgar) to kill the bad dudes and save his brother, all set to a killer 80s rock soundtrack.
Nanook lingers in the background at first, but is ever present and aware of the danger. He is the first to attack Michael when he becomes vampire, and he protects Sam, always wary, always alert. His big shining moment, however, comes in the final scene as the Frog Bros fill Sam’s bath with holy water. They manage to splash one vamp’ face with water, which burns his face but doesn’t quite kill him so Nanook jumps up, knocking him flying into the tub. Go boy… As Edgar says – “Your dog knows flesh-eaters when he smells 'em!
Interestingly, all of the vampires in the movie are named after Peter Pan's gang, the Lost Boys: David, Marco, Paul and Dwayne.
3 . The People Under the Stairs (1991)
The People Under The Stairs is a forgotten Wes Craven gem from the early nineties, and alongside all the wonderful secret passageways, gimp costumes and general weirdness, is Prince, perhaps the coolest (but not necessarily smartest) of all the Rottweilers ever put on film. Prince’s job is simple, attack all intruders at Mom and Dad’s house and he first attacks Fool and Vingh Rhames as they desperately attempt to escape this nut house. Prince jumps on Rhames, tearing his arm to shreds, but luckily Fool is near an electronic doorknob. He grabs hold of this and Rhames and the electricity flows through them all, resulting in a fantastic dog-yelp and an unconscious Prince.
He’s not going to give up that easily though, and is soon back on the trail, chasing Fool through all manner of corridors and trapdoors and usually coming off worse (check out the scene where Prince unwittingly slides down a ramp in a tray, seemingly bewildered to all that is going on and the scene where Fool punches him on the nose). It’s just a shame he has to die really, and even more tragic that it’s Dad that does the deed, who accidentally stabs him through the wall in the belief he’s killed Fool.
“I got’im, I got’im, I got’im” dances Dad only for Mom to scream, “You killed Prince!”
2 . The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Lesson number one; when driving the family around deserted areas of America, always have at least one, if not two German Shepherds in tow, just in case you happen to have an accident and are set upon by inbred cannibals. The family in this film have two such dogs, Beauty and Beast, and although Beauty doesn’t last that long (the dead Beauty is widely believed to be a dummy, it was in fact a real dead dog that Craven had bought from the county Sheriff’s department) Beast is made of sterner stuff and almost single-handedly brings down Michael Berryman and his crew of whack-jobs.
You could say that Beauty represents the tamer side of the group, which ultimately leads to her demise, and Beast represents the primal blood thirst of survival, but in reality it’s simply a joy to see Beast (the real hero of the film – fact!) exact revenge on the cannibals by hunting them down, gorily biting Pluto’s ankle and generally causing havoc all round. Believe me, by the end of the film you won’t care too much about any of the cast, but you’ll be cheering Beast on with all your heart. Beast eventually goes on to have a POV scene all to himself in the sequel The Hills Have Eyes 2, but we’ll try out best to forget about that shall we?
1 . Cujo (1983)
Top place though, just simply has to go to the slobbery-jawed killer Cujo. The big friendly St. Bernard dog contracts rabies after being bitten on the snout by a bat and then proceeds to terrorize the locals, ultimately trapping a young mother (Dee Wallace) and her young son (Danny Pintauro) inside their run-down car, in one of cinema’s most claustrophobic ‘human vs animal’ showdowns ever.
Several Saint Bernard’s were used to play Cujo the dog at various points in the progression of the disease, and with the use of great makeup effects, Cujo ends up being a terrifying example of Man’s Best Friend gone bad. On top of the five St. Bernard’s used, there was at least one mechanical head and a guy in a dog costume. When Cujo attacks the car, the animal trainers put the dog's favourite toys inside the car so the dogs would try to get them, at one point wounding Dee Wallace on set, although not seriously.
"Cujo" is an ancient Indian word meaning "unstoppable force.”