If you’re an animal lover, particularly if you have a special affinity for man’s best friend, watching movies can sometimes be a risky endeavor. Whenever a canine appears in a film outside of Disney, there is always the risk that it will not make it to the final credits. For dog lovers, it’s a bit of an emotional minefield.
This attachment we develop to our canine pets, and the agonizing experience of their death, is certainly not lost on director Tim Burton. He understands it so much that he’s remaking a short film on the subject that he directed at the dawn of his career. The newer, animated version of his Frankenweenie similarly tells the story of a boy whose closest friend in the whole world is his dog Sparky. After Sparky dies, the boy, Victor, is so distraught that he brings his four-legged pal back from the dead with his formidable knowledge of science. It’s like a Mary Shelley story…with fleas!
We began to think about the possibility of using Victor’s technology to resurrect other cinematic pooches that sadly expired before the run time of their respective filmic adventure. Dogs like…
Old Yeller — Old Yeller
Let’s face it, Old Yeller’s fate was beyond cruel. Not only did he contract rabies and ultimately have to be violently put down, but also he only became infected when he saved his owner and family from a rabid wolf. Talk about a raw deal! We would not only bring Old Yeller back, we would also force Travis to give him a better name. Yeller? Seriously? You can do better than that, kid.
Blue Heeler — The Road Warrior
Obviously the desolate wasteland bred from the fallout of a nuclear war is a tough place for anyone to survive. But it’s even more difficult for a dog. At first, the poor pouch who pals around with The Road Warrior seemed to have it pretty easy. He was well fed, had his own nook in Max’s street machine, and was generally happy. But then, through no fault of his own, he was murdered by some poorly dressed scoundrel with a crossbow. A dog has no concept of post-apocalyptic politics; all he wanted to do was look adorable in a neckerchief.
Sam — I Am Legend
Though we dog fans may hate it when those beloved furbeasts kick the bucket on screen, there are times when their passing can yield the most emotionally poignant scenes in the film. Take for example the German Sheppard Sam in I Am Legend. Will Smith’s character believed himself to be the last man on Earth, so his dog was not merely a pet, but an honest-to-goodness friend; one he constantly talked to and treated as a compatriot. When Sam contracted the disease that wiped out, seemingly, all of humanity, the only response Will could muster was to hold him tightly enough to suffocate him, all while tears streamed down his face. Yeah, we’re going to need a moment.
Hooch — Turner and Hooch
Junkyard dog Hooch never asked to be the key witness in a murder, in fact we’re pretty sure he doesn’t know what any part of that sentence means. But through conspiring circumstances, poor Hooch loses his mater, and must move in with a neurotic Tom Hanks, for whom he later takes a bullet. It’s bad enough to have to sacrifice yourself for the star of Bosom Buddies, but to also suffer the indignity of always being compared with K-9 is intolerable.
All The Huskies — The Thing
It’s especially difficult to be a horror fan if you harbor affection for dogs. For whatever reason, dogs seem to be a favored expendable commodity for horror filmmakers. In John Carpenter’s The Thing, an entire pen of Alaskan Huskies are mutilated and eviscerated by an alien lifeform. It’s one of the most horrific things any pet owner can watch. Rob Bottin’s effects work is stellar, but perhaps a little too realistic for comfort. Bring them all back, Victor!
Pippet — Jaws
With all the delicious, dopey Amity Island swimmers, you’d think one shark would be able to slate his appetite on human flesh alone. But no, that greedy great white had to go and devour a poor little beach pup too. At least the death of Pippet in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is entirely off-screen and merely alluded to, but we still think he deserves a comeback.
Marley — Marley & Me
This choice may seem a bit out of place considering the deaths of the other hounds on this list. It is true that of the dogs mentioned heretofore, Marley is the only one who lived a long, full life and passed away of natural causes, or at least causes more natural than alien attack or crossbow. However, we would want to bring Marley back so that we might be able to show him the charity and due kindness of putting him into a better movie.
[Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures]