Being the one on HCF who reviews most of the animated films that come out, it was only a matter of time before I chose a death scene from an animated movie, so here we are. The Plague Dogs, though, is not your typical cartoon with talking animals. If you want a more detailed description of this superb film, check out my review here: https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2011/08/the-plague-dogs-1982-hcf-rewind/. In short, it is a astoundingly dark and downbeat tale of two dogs who are two of many animals being used for experimental purposes at an animal research facility in the Lake District in North Western England. One has had his brain experimented on while the other has been drowned and resuscitated repeatedly. One evening they manage to escape from the facility to the outside world, but soon discover that their new freedom is not the paradise they expected. The story gets grimmer and grimmer, climaxing with an ending which is as tear-jerking as they get. Despite beautiful animation, it’s not really a kid’s movie and could very well traumatise some of them. On viewing it around a year ago for the first time, I was stunned by the movie’s power, though even now I’m not sure who it was really aimed at.
The Plague Dogs is full of questionable scenes [even if you accept that it’s from the same basic team who made Watership Down]. The uncut version [it was shortened considerably after the full version recieved a bad reception though the R2 set has both edits] opens with images of animal torture, but the scene that really shocked me occurs around a third of the way through. A man, possible a hunter, is watching one of the dogs through his binoculars. Taking pity on him, he puts down his rifle so it is leaning against his car, the butt pointing upward. He gets the dog to come near, but the poor canine accidently steps on the trigger of the gun. It goes off. Cut to a shot of the guy covering his bloody face with his hands, then a shot of blood spattering on the jeep, than back to the hands covering the face with even more blood. There’s no scream, the guy just falls down dead, and the dog runs away. The uncut version shows a shot later on of the man having been partially eaten, implying that the staving dogs had fed on him. Nice.
A superbly edited scene and one of the best in a little seen animated film which for me ranks with the best of Disney’s films in sheer quality. They’ll never make a stage musical out of this one though….