Sometimes it's difficult to reconcile being an animal lover and a film fan. How many movies kill off the hero's horse in the midst of battle? Quite a few. How many manage to find comedy in dogs being crushed by pianos? Not quite as many, but more than you'd think. As someone who sat through 'Dogtooth' with a cat on his lap, I'll admit to laughing maniacally at a hilarious but truly horrifying sequence involving a harmless cat and a pair of garden shears, but I can guarantee that I felt really bad for a good while afterward.

For those of us who count the furry, the feathered and the scaled among our closest companions, some movies can instantly rub us the wrong way (and Cinematical's own Scott Weinberg thinks that the MPAA should take notice). However, we can usually take solace in knowing that these scenes are staged -- that thanks to good ol' fashioned movie magic, no animal was actually killed. This has not always been the case, though.

What about movies that feature actual animal deaths? No makeup, no animatronics, no dummies -- but the actual killing of an animal for dramatic purposes. Most of the time, actual animal deaths are associated with a certain breed of trashy horror movies (oh, Italy), but sometimes more famous and respected films can feature the real on-screen death of an animal.

This begs the question(s): If the film is "art" as opposed to "junk," is the death justified? Why would it qualify as exploitation in some cases and not in others? Is this ever OK?
categories Columns, Cinematical