Disney's gothic western Old Yeller takes place in post-Civil War Texas, a time and place where death and sickness is well known even to small children, and a depiction of a typical day is enough to create alarm in the modern audience. A man blighted with rabies is chained to the sweet gum tree, we hear, until he dies of slobbering seizures. A group of wild hogs, riddled with disease, clump together like piranha and attack anything that enters their field of vision. Cows totter on wobbly legs until they collapse and must be heaped onto a raging bonfire so that their carcasses can be blotted out completely. And a muscular black-mouthed cur is vampirically turned by sickness, from a faithful protector into a snarling, fleshy monster.

categories Cinematical