On Halloween – or any time of the year if you’re a horror fan – hold on tight to your pooch and watch some of these classics (or semi-classics) featuring man’s best, uh, fiend? All of these movies are available on DVD.
Note that most scary dogs in movies tend to be either rabid or possessed. So, to be on the safe side, make sure your pooch’s rabies shots are up to date (also check your house for bats just in case), and if his eyes are glowing, contact your local exorcist immediately.
Here are – arguably – the top five scariest movie mutts.
Honorable Mention: Hooch (“Turner and Hooch”)
Okay, okay, so Hooch isn’t scary in any villainous or spooky sense…but you have to admit those slimy oceans of slobber he exudes are kind of creepy.
5. Tim Johnson (“To Kill a Mockingbird”)
Tim is the rabid dog who freely wanders the streets and chases terrified children in this beloved classic. Only hero Atticus (Gregory Peck) is brave enough to end Tim’s reign of terror on the townspeople. To make this a little less horrific, pretend you’re an English major and focus on the scene’s symbolism: Tim represents the threat of bigotry, and Atticus is the only one with the guts to confront it. Better?
4. Old Yeller (“Old Yeller”)
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t already seen this movie (and if you’re a dog lover, why haven’t you?!), proceed immediately to #3. Otherwise, as you sadly know, poor Old Yeller only becomes scary toward the end of this movie, when the formerly sweet, rascally pooch is bitten by a wolf and goes mad with rabies. He’s locked up in a pen, all a-snarl and foaming at the mouth. But the scariest – and saddest – part is the action that heartbroken young Travis must take. Pass the tissues, please. The whole box.
3. Lucky (“Devil Dog: Hound of Hell”)
You’ve probably never heard of this 1978 made-for-TV gem, but prepare to be scared! In this thriller, a family adopts an adorable German Shepherd puppy – who, unbeknownst to them, was spawned from a barghest!! (Yeah, we had to look it up, too.) When they decide to call him “Lucky,” you just know it’s going to be the worst misnomer in the history of misnomers. The possessed, glowing-eyed pooch puts spells on various family members, and horrible evilness ensues. (You trivia buffs might be interested to know this movie features Kim Richards, who is Paris Hilton’s aunt. Well, unless she herself was under a spell, Paris wouldn’t be caught dead lugging a dog like Lucky around in her purse.)
2. The Terror Dogs (“Ghostbusters”)
The big ol’ demonic Terror Dogs are the fetching Zuul (aka “The Gatekeeper”) and hunky Vinz Clortho (aka “The Keymaster”). These scary beasts both have red glowing eyes, gnarly teeth and sharp horns (although Vinz’s are slightly bigger). Zuul first shows up in a temple she’s created inside a fridge belonging to Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), which naturally sends Dana screaming to the Ghostbusters for help. Later Zuul possesses Dana, enabling her to do devilish things like levitate above her bed. Dana/Zuul goes searching for Vinz, who has possessed her nerdy neighbor Louis (Rick Moranis). The Terror Dogs eventually do hook up atop a skyscraper, and then…oh, just see it to believe it.
1. Cujo (“Cujo”)
A scary St. Bernard? A not-so-scary Ford Pinto?! How is this even possible? Well, folks, Cujo is no Beethoven. As the result of a rabid bat bite, the pooch turns downright nasty, terrorizing his family as they’re trapped inside a Pinto. What’s especially disturbing, aside from the Pinto, is the fact that the sweet mom from “E.T.” (Dee Wallace) is one of the ones being held captive by the evil pooch. Phone home, Cujo, phone home!
Do you think there are more horrific hounds who should have made the list? Please leave a comment.