The prevailing wisdom has always been that you should never ever ever kill a pet in a movie. You can kill all the people you want. Husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, neighbors, parents, soldiers, nuns. But kill the adorable dog or kitty cat, and you risk losing the audience. Of course, this means that filmmakers know they have a deadly weapon at their disposal to push our buttons. In this CHUD list, we’re going to take a look at cinema’s saddest, funniest, most messed up and most memorable pet deaths. Remember, we didn’t make these movies. We just work here.
16: Spielberg Killed the Friggin’ Dog!
Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Director: Steven Spielberg
The Pet: Unnamed dog in the heart of suburbia.
The Owner: Unnamed suburban family where the husband and wife quibble over whose child-rearing philosophy is responsible for their son’s supposedly overactive imagination when he comes to them in the middle of the night, rousting them from their slumber, to inform them that a dinosaur is in the back yard.
The Context: Generally a continuation of the central theme raised in Jurassic Park: that bringing back monstrous thunder lizards from the dead is generally a bad idea all around. They’re dangerous when isolated in a theme park that is nowhere near as safe as initially presented. They’re really dangerous when they reach a populated area. Setting aside the obvious hazard presented to human beings, it’s a cinch that more than a few neighborhood pets are going to go missing. Just ask any Floridian who’s come across a Burmese python giving Fido a death squeeze or chowing down on the family cat because some asshole set his dangerous, non-indigenous pet loose in the wild after it got big enough to be an extra in a shitty Syfy giant snake flick. But there is an interesting mental picture to be generated from this scenario: some idiot trying to flush a T-Rex down the toilet after he started getting too big to handle…
The T-Rex got loose because his captors, led by InGen honcho, Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard), thought what better way to fix John Hammond’s screw up in the first film than by bringing the Jurassic eaters to the potential human meals rather than vice versa — ie, bringing dinosaurs back to the mainland. Big game hunter Roland Tembo’s (Pete Postlewaite, who’s missed already) fee for aiding in this misguided pursuit is to demand the opportunity to bag a T-Rex. This is the very same T-Rex that gets loose and cruises the burbs, where the family dog is waiting as an appetizer.
Off To the Big Pet Store in the Sky: Obviously dogs didn’t exist at the same time as dinosaurs, because otherwise there might have been some instinctual imperative for this pooch to make like a statue rather ponying up to the family water hole to share a communal drink with the second most dangerous land predator ever to live (Spinosaurus represent). Because a doghouse ain’t exactly a safe refuge.
Minor shock at best. More like surprise: “Did Spielberg…did Spielberg just kill the friggin’ dog? WTF? The dog never gets it!” But the doghouse dangling from T-Rex’s maw as a piece of gristle begs to differ.
Explain This to the Humane Society: Well see, now, here’s the pickle. Whereas humans are responsible for bringing the T-Rex to America, in the case of the dog’s death, it’s really just another animal doing what comes naturally. It’s kind of like the Humane Society being angry at a nile crocodile for taking down a gazelle or a water buffalo when it strayed too close to the river. Plus, the T-Rex was only looking for his offspring, which had also been spirted away by the same humans for their Jurassic Park attraction on the mainland. So there are bound to be lawsuits, but we’re pretty sure the T-Rex won’t be held liable. Which is a good thing, because in all likelihood, he would just eat his legal team. Not that that’s a bad thing…
– David Oliver
15: Animal Sacrifices in the Service of Deities.
Film: Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Director: Sam Raimi
The Pet: Kitty, the kitten.
The Owner: Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) a young loan officer at a bank who is trying to rise up in the world.
The Context: After her boss, Jim Jacks (David Paymer), tells her she needs to prove she can make tough decisions, Christine decides to make an example of an old woman, Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver), who wants an extension on her mortgage. Christine denies her. So Sylvia puts the gypsy whammy Christine, summoning the demon Lamia to haunt our heroine. As the Lamia curse proves increasingly real and scary, Christine becomes desperate to save herself. She consults the fortune teller Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), who gives her a book titled Animal Sacrifices in the Service of Deities and suggests she try to appease the Lamia. Christine is all like, No way, but Jas tells her, “You’ll be surprised what you’re willing to do when the Lamia comes for you.” And how.
Off To the Big Pet Store in the Sky: Though Christine had not been planning to go through with an animal sacrifice, when the Lamia poltergeists her house once again, she panics. She grabs a big kitchen knife and heads for the closest animal she can find — kitty. Then this happens (in the unrated version):
Then she dumps the kitty corpse in a shallow grave behind her house.
Then later in the film, during a seance meant to banish the Lamia – in which a goat was supposed to be killed (jeez, Christine) – the medium’s assistant gets possessed by the Lamia and barfs the kitty back into Christine’s life.
Leave it to Sam Raimi to make our heroine stabbing the shit out of a precious little kitten funny, but so help me it is. In the darkest way imaginable. And you keep rooting for Christine too. Though, PETA might argue that she ultimately gets what is coming to her after this move.
Explain This to the Humane Society: Have you ever been gypsy cursed? Because I really don’t think you’re in a place to judge these actions until you have.
– Josh Miller