In Guillermo Del Toro’s new gothic horror film, “Crimson Peak,” an adorable stray Papillon shows up at the remote, British mansion belonging to Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and new bride Edith (Mia Wasikowska) insists on keeping it. it turns out the dog has a history with the house and it isn’t fated to end well.
The horror genre isn’t often kind to dogs: As if to prove anything to can happen to anyone (even cute little Fluffy!) they’re often killed off in gruesome ways.
Here a few films where the dog didn’t make it, ranked from least disturbing death to most disturbing. SPOILERS, obviously, but no graphic photos. We’re trying to spare you, after all!
10. “Monster House” (2006)
The mean old monster house eats everything, even dogs who dare to pee on its front lawn.
Edith (Mia Wasikowska) finds out that her little Papillon first belonged to one of her husband’s previous wives and the audience learns he abandoned it outside, hoping it would die. It survives several scares but is cruelly dispatched (offscreen) by his mad sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain).
8. “The Mummy” (1932)
Helen (Zita Johann) falls under the spell of Ardath Bay (Boris Karloff), who believes she is the reincarnation of his beloved Princess Ankh-es-en-amon. She goes to his house with her dog Wolfram and returns with no memory of what happened. She realizes suddenly — to her horror — that her dog is dead.
7. “The Conjuring” (2013)
When The Perrons move into an old mansion, Sadie the dog wisely refuses to enter the new home. She’s later found dead outside by the children. If only they’d followed her lead and gotten out of the cursed house before it tries to kill them as well.
6. “The Amityville Horror” (2005)
When George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) starts to become affected by the evil in the house, he goes after the family dog, Harry, with an axe. According to the real-life Lutzes, George absolutely did not kill their dog, so add it to the many other details that Hollywood invented. (Screencap courtesy of ladymanson.com)
5. “The Thing” (1982)
A shape-shifting alien infiltrates an American research station in Antarctica and its first host is one of the team’s dogs. The audience knows something is off before any of the characters do, watching carefully as the dog walks slowly past each person at the station, making it impossible to know which one the alien might take over next. The dog is put back in the pen with the other dogs (who are all killed) and morphs into a horrible mass of flesh and distorted dog shape, to the horror of all the men who witness it.
The dog was part wolf and actor Richard Masur (who played dog handler Clark) said in a “Making of” interview “Jed [the dog] and I got to be good friends. He was a very spooky dog when we started because he was half wolf and the wolf half was real dominant.”
5. “The Babadook” (2014)
In this Australian horror film, single mom Amelia (Essie Davis) is at her wit’s end dealing with her hyperactive, boogeyman-obsessed son, who’s convinced the evil “Mr. Babadook” from his book is real. Amelia is horrified when the book reappears after she destroys it and even more so when it predicts she will kill both her dog and her son. As she starts to unravel, she does strangle the poor dog to death as predicted.
4. “Candyman” (1992)
Helen (Virginia Madsen) investigates the urban legend of Candyman at Chicago’s Cabrini-Green projects. She befriends resident Anne-Marie (Vanessa Williams) and Candyman appears to her. She blacks out and when she comes to, she’s covered in blood and staring in horror at the severed head of Anne-Marie’s Rottweiler, which police assume she attacked and killed. The Humane Society assures us that no real animals were harmed during film.
2. “Evil Dead” (2013)
There’s no comedy in this relentlessly gory and incredibly disturbing remake of the campy ’80s horror-comedy classic. Mia (Jane Levy) goes to a remote cabin in the woods in order to kick her drug habit, accompanied by her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez), several friends, and their dog Grandpa. When Mia becomes possessed by an ancient evil, she attacks her beloved dog. In a wrenching scene, David finds the badly beaten dog, which is dying, and realizes that Mia is to blame. It’s far from the most upsetting scene in the film –which had professional journalists waling out of the screening I attended and prompted my horror-loving friend to call it the most intense horror film she’s ever seen — but be warned.
- “I Am Legend” (2007)
In the third film version of the Richard Matheson classic — after “The Last Man On Earth” (1964) and “The Omega Man” (1971) — Will Smith is the last human not infected by a terrible plague. His only companion is his German Shepherd, Sam. You might guess that Sam gets infected and must be put down before she kills her owner, but that foreknowledge doesn’t make the terrible scene where he’s forced to strangle her any easier.