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.
Film: Fatal Attraction (1987)
Director: Adrian Lyne
The Pet: Whitey, the fluffy bunny.
The Owner: The family of Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), a successful Manhattan attorney.
The Context: Dan Gallagher is a happily married man with a hot wife, Beth (Anne Archer). But you know the popular saying: women are from Venus, and men like pussy. And when Dan meets Alexandra “Alex” Forrest (Glenn Close) through business, the two all sortsa bang. Unfortunately for Dan, karma is a bitch and his affair quickly spirals out of control. When he tries to go back to his regular life, as if nothing has happened, Alex transforms into an emotionally unstable force of mayhem — one who, as she puts it, “will not be ignored.”
Off To the Big Pet Store in the Sky: Dan moves his family to a quiet country home, largely to get the fuck out of dodge, but this doesn’t stop the juggernaut of a woman scorned. One day, the family returns home to an unpleasant discovery. Dan’s daughter, Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), notices that Whitey is not in its cage. Meanwhile, Beth finds a large pot boiling on the stove. Hmm, whatever could be inside…
The boiled rabbit heard ’round the world. This is a textbook disturbing pet kill. The Gallaghers also have a pet dog. Killing that friendly fella would have been a more emotional moment, but Whitey’s death was meant to unnerve us more than anything else. And it works. Dan did a bad thing, and now his whole family is paying for it. And then some. The mean simplicity of Alex’s rabbit kill is where its power lies. She is letting Dan know she can get into his house, and that she is willing to go the extra limit to fuck his shit up. Message received, loud and clear, lady.
Explain This to the Humane Society: We were hungry? People eat rabbits, don’t they?
– Josh Miller
Film: Alien 3 (1992)
Director: David Fincher
The Pet: The Prison Dog, a rottweiler and eventual Xenopup (in the theatrical cut).
The Owner: Murphy (Christopher Fairbank), one of the many barking mad members of the Fury 161 Prison commune.
The Context: Having tagged along with the group of gents who recovered Ripley and her impaled, exploded, and drowned crew mates from their rescue pod following the events of Aliens, the Fury 161 prison pup noses around the unknowingly infected pod just a little too much. After facing off with a menacing facehugger, he catches more than just a cold, as he is now the new home of a gestating xenomorph youngin’.
Off To the Big Pet Store in the Sky: In the theatrical cut of the film, a little ways into the film a cross-cutting montage juxtaposes the “funeral” of poor Newt and Hicks (a massive “fuck you” to James Cameron, in service of being edgy, I guess) meanwhile our xenopup starts having a bit of indigestion that turns deadly. After barking around and whining for a while, eventually the dog falls on his side and flops around violently before the fully incubated Xenomorph burst out from his doggy bowels and sends his precious bloods scooting across the floor.
Alas, we’re not given much time with the dog to grow too attached. The pup is not much more than a vessel for the penultimate alien (before Resurrection happens anyway), and is even traded out for an Ox in the “assembly cut” version of the film. Regardless, the sight of his holy, dead carcass and a nearby quadrupedal xenomorph that we’ve never seen before are plenty scary.
Explain This to the Humane Society: The thing is, that dog wasn’t simply there as a pet and thus he wouldn’t have been under the purview of the HS. No, while it was never filmed due to studio interference that mandated its removal, one of Fincher’s first contributions after joining the troubled project was an elaborate backstory showing that this dog was no best friend of man, and was actually a prisoner himself (and apparently the one around which you’d want to drop the soap the least). Responsible for a string of murders on earth, the barcoded pooch was a hardened as any of the other inmates. Of course, no creature deserves mouth-rape and the subsequent fatal alien chest-ejaculation that follows, but were the HS to even investigate… acid in the face.
– Renn Brown