Plague Dogs (1982, Martin Rosen)

“Why do they do it, Snitter? I’m not a bad dog.”

I didn’t have any more horror movies handy on my laptop, so since it was Shocktober (actually Shocktember – I started early) I picked the non-horror movie with the most horrific title… Plague Dogs!

Same team as Watership Down, but not nearly as popular due to its reputation of being as depressing as Grave of the Fireflies. I wouldn’t go that far, but the story isn’t a heartwarming one. Black Snitter (voiced by John Hurt a couple years after The Elephant Man) and brown-and-white Rowf (TV’s Christopher Benjamin) escape from a cruel animal testing lab, wherein Snitter is regularly drowned then revived, and little Rowf receives brain experiments (he wears a cap to cover scars atop his head). Out in the wild they tenuously befriend a fox (James Bolam of O Lucky Man!) who helps them find (hunt) food. But rumors spread among the townsfolk that the dogs who have been eating their sheep and chickens (I know it’s a rural location, but is TV/radio news really so slow that they have daily stories on two escaped dogs that have been “terrorizing sheep”?) are infected with bubonic plague (no evidence that’s true) so lab personnel hunt them down.

from watery grave:

to watery grave:

Good animation, especially the movement of the animals. We get good little side plots, like Rowf’s tendency to accidentally kill people, making it more than just a story to bum out animal-rights activists. Maybe I’m inhuman (or incanine) but I didn’t find it to be the most depressing movie. I didn’t find Colossal Youth or The Cranes Are Flying depressing either, but In Praise of Love and The Hangover I did. The most depressing kind of movie isn’t a sad one, it’s a crappy one.