Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Writing Contest about Movie Dogs

Reel Dogs Press is holding an essay contest for people who love dog movies! Entrants have a chance to win DVDs, the book Wonder Dogs, get their story published on the site, and more. Hope you'll all enter! Check out their contest page for all the details.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays

There have been a larger than usual number of new Christmas-themed dog movies out this season. The highlight of which is certainly A Dog Named Christmas, the Hallmark Hall of Fame film with aired last month. Others include less inspired films like Santa Buddies and The Dog Who Saved Christmas.

If you're looking for a dog movie for the holidays, don't stop at the new ones. Try the Benji classic Benji's Very Own Christmas Story (1978), or the French Canadian film The Dog Who Stopped the War (1984) (this one is tragic). Then there are more recent releases like The 12 Dogs of Christmas (2005) and A Dog's Tale (1999). This one is about a boy who turns into a German Shepherd for Christmas. It was just rereleased under the title A Christmas Tail.

Hope you will enjoy the Reel Dogs holiday tribute below, featuring A Dog Named Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wonder Dogs!

Wonder Dogs: 101 German Shepherd Dog Films is now available for pre-order on! This amazing tribute to Hollywood's, and the world's, greatest canine superstar is a unique book, giving in-depth and behind the scenes details about dogs in movies from 1921 to 2010. There is nothing else like it on the market, either in print or out. It's a must have for anyone who loves dogs or wants to learn more about dogs in film! The cover features Canczech's Solo, who starred in Ace of Hearts (2008), and featured in The Pink Panther (2006) and Watchmen (2009).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Making it Big

Renowned animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller worked with twelve Saint Bernards for twenty-four weeks before filming on the 1992 Beethoven began. Of the twelve, Miller chose one that he knew had that perfect star power. Kris was a six-month-old puppy when Miller got him from a Riverside, CA, kennel. He grew up to be 185 pounds of beauty and brains whose skills included sharing ice cream cones with delicate bites, opening doors, and diving into swimming pools to save the little girl of his family. Kris worked with only two doubles, who stood in for lighting and setup, as well as some animatronic assistance.

Along with Barry, Kris, usually known only as Beethoven, is probably the most famous Saint Bernard ever. Though he only starred in the first two movies of the Beethoven series, he helped make Beethoven one of the top-grossing animal films ever.

Working on the set with this superstar was not all biscuits and kibble however. When the production team first began working with the dog, they were unhappy with his performance. Miller soon realized they were expecting a ballerina instead of a linebacker. He had to explain the physical limitations of a dog built like a truck, and the reactions from the crew improved. Because Kris, and the other Saint Bernards working on Beethoven's 2nd, had the unfortunate habit of drooling profusely in the mildest heat, the set was never over 60 degrees fahrenheit. But the dogs came first. When anyone on the set complained about the cold, director Rod Daniel advised them to put on a sweater.

Pictured: Kris, on the set of Beethoven, from author's collection. Copyright Universal Pictures, 1992.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wolf Sighting!

The dreadfully dull second of the Twilight series, New Moon features much less animal footage than the first film did. Despite being almost devoid of real animals, there is a single scene in New Moon showing a living grey wolf. The wolf is part of a dream sequence, standing over the body of an actor, with blood on its muzzle. It was provided by Roland Sonnenburg and Lauren Henry, who also worked on the first film. To shoot the wolf scene, the actor and wolf were introduced to each other in advance, the area for filming was secured, and the minimum possible number of cast and crew were on set while the wolf was present. As an additional precaution, the wolf wore a waist tie that was removed in post-production.

All this for about one second of footage in the completed film.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reel Dogs Freeze-Frames 7

A mixed breed mourns her master in the
Canadian film Snowcake (2006).

A Rottweiler shows off a leather mask in the
French film Brotherhood of a the Wolf (2001).

And a Siberian Husky plays a wolf in the
Euro wester, The Call of the Wild (1972).

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Whether they're appearing in a theater near you, or curled on your own couch, thanks to dogs everywhere, and through all time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Malamute Movies

The Alaskan Malamute does not have a reputation for being a trick dog, but when they do get a film role, they always stand out. Here's a list of some Malamute movies fans of the breed may enjoy.

Pictured: Lobby card from Nikki, Wild Dog of the North, probably the best Malamute movie ever made, from author's collection. Copyright Walt Disney Pictures, 1961.

Antarctica a.k.a. Nankyoku monogatari (1983)
Eight Below (2006)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Iron Will (1994)
Kayla a.k.a. Kayla: A Cry in the Wilderness (1999)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Nikki, Wild Dog of the North a.k.a. Nomads of the North (1961)
On Deadly Ground (1994)
The Thing From Another World (1951)
White Fang 2: Myth of the While Wolf (1994)

Also, a famous Malamute mix was Jed, star of The Thing (1982), The Journey of Natty Gann (1985), and White Fang (1991).

Malamutes of TV include the ones from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993), White Fang (1993), and The Call of the Wild (2000).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Reel Dogs Freeze-Frames 6

A smiling mixed breed in The Robin Hood Gang (1997).

This Chihuahua in Belle of the Yukon (1944)
looks more like a toy than a real dog.

A White German Shepherd Dog makes the
whole story of The Beastmaster (1982) possible.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Canine Incognito

In honor of Halloween, we're turning our attention for a moment to those reel dogs who act undercover: whether dyed or powdered or clipped or costumed, many movie dogs have to dress-up for their close-up.

The reason can be anything from getting a dog to look wounded, to matching one dog to another whom he or she is doubling for, to getting a young dog to look old, to making a purebred look like a mixed breed. The Parson Russell Terrier in Son of the Mask (2005) was a white dog who had makeup patches added to make him look more interesting. The radioactive killer in Atomic Dog (1998) was a white German Shepherd Dog with black makeup to give him an unusual appearance. Another dog who was changed from purebred to mix through dye and a haircut was the Golden Retriever in Fluke (1995). The German Shepherd who doubled for the main dog in Ace of Hearts (2008) was a sable, dyed to play a black and tan.

Some of the most extraordinary makeup jobs seen on film dogs are in the cyber-dog movies like Man's Best Friend (1993), and Rottweiler (2004). The DVD for the latter includes a featurette showing some of the extensive makeup effects used for the dog in the film. Some other horror dog films to include lots of makeup are The Pack (1977), Cujo (1983), and The Breed (2006).

Happy Howloween!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reel Dogs Freeze-Frames 5

A Border Collie gets hold of something he shouldn't in

Border Terrier waits for lunch in
Mitt liv som hund a.k.a. My Life as a Dog (1985)

German Shepherd in

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Million Dollar Dog

Billed as the "First Real Million Dollar Picture" Foolish Wives (1922) featured an elegant dog to match: a Borzoi, seen here with Maude George, Erich von Stroheim, and Miss DuPont.

Other early Borzoi films include The Intrigue (1916) and Macbeth (1916). Somewhat more modern Borzoi films include: Sextette (1978), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Legends of the Fall (1994), Anna Karenina (1997), and 102 Dalmatians (2000).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Border Collie Year

I just saw A Dog Year (starring Jeff Bridges), a movie aired on HBO and based on the book by Jon Katz. The book/film is all about the relationship between a messed-up dog and a messed-up man and it's probably the best Border Collie film out there. In honor or Devon, played by Ryder in the film, and all the other OCD Border Collies out there, here's a list of some of the films they've made their own with big or small roles.

Pictured: Original poster from Babe, one of the best known BC films, from author's collection. Copyright Universal Pictures, 1995.

The 101 Problems of Hercules (1966) TV

An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)

An Angel for May (2002) TV

The Animal (2001)

Animal Farm (1999) TV

Air Bud: World Pup (2000) (brief)

Babe (1995)

Babe: Pig in the City (1998)

Bailey's Billion$ (2005)

Bingo (1991)

Blind Man's Bluff (1992) TV

Bob, Son of Battle a.k.a. Thunder in the Valley (1947)

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Daisy Kenyon (1947)

Dog Trouble! aka The Dog Days of Arthur Cane (1984) TV

Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)

Finding Friends a.k.a. Venner for livet (2005)

First Kid (1996)

Flight of the Navigator (1986)

For Richer or Poorer (1997)

Garfield (2004) (brief)

Galaxy Quest (1999)

Good Boy! (2003)

Hambone and Hillie (1984)

Heck's Way Home (1995)

The Horse Whisperer (1998)

The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000) TV

The Jack Bull (1999) TV

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

The Last of the High Kings a.k.a. Summer Fling (1996)

The MatchMaker (1997)

Mist: The Tale of a Sheepdog Puppy (2006) TV

My Friend Flicka (1943)

Never a Dull Moment (1950)

Owd Bob (1924)

Owd Bob a.k.a. To the Victor (1938)

Owd Bob (1997)

Phantom Gold (1938)

Pollock (2000)

P.S. I Love You (2007)

The Princess Stallion (1997) TV

The Proud Rebel (1958)

Razorback (1983)

Reservation Road (2007)

Roseanna's Grave a.k.a. For Roseanna (1997)

Sarah Plain and Tall (1990) TV

Sarah Plain and Tall, Winter's End (1999) TV

Second Sight (1999) TV

Snow Dogs (2002)

The Soul Collector (1999) TV

The Sundowners (1960)

Up the Creek (1984)

Village of the Damned (1960) (brief)

Waking Ned Divine (1998)

Wild is the Wind a.k.a. Obsession (1957)

Wind Dancer (1993)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Reel Dogs Freeze-Frames 4

A Labrador Retriever in The Medicine Hat Stallion (1977)

Box full of Belgian Malinois puppies from
Trois couleurs: Rouge (1994)

Basset Hound chilling in Smoky and the Bandit (1977)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bad Dog! The Killer Canines of Horror

Dogs have been appearing in horror movies for a long time, though their big break came in the 1970s with films like Trapped (1973), Dogs (1976) and The Pack (1977), based on David Fisher's novel. Warner Brothers originally retitled it The Long, Dark Night, but reverted back to the original right before the release. The Pack stars a variety of dogs with two German Shepherds and a mixed breed featuring prominently. The story takes place on a secluded island, favorite summer vacation spot for nearby city dwellers, who often adopt a dog for their vacation and then abandon it on the island to survive by itself. But now the dogs have had enough: They are starving and desperate when Jerry (Joe Don Baker) and his family arrive on the island for a trip that turns into a nightmare.

The superb performances by the canine stars of
The Pack can be attributed to Karl Lewis Miller, one of Hollywood's top trainers for many years. Miller also trained what is probably the most famous of all killer screen dogs, Daddy, who played "Cujo."

The dog horror film fad of the 70s continued through the 80s with films like
Dogs of Hell (1982) (this is one of the truly terrible films out there), Cujo (1983) and Play Dead (1986) (another really bad one). Even through the 90s and today we still see some good, and some not so good, evil dog movies on TV and occasionally in a theater; Man's Best Friend (1993), Atomic Dog (1998), Rottweiler (2004), The Breed (2006) and Wilderness (2006) among them. But none has ever compared to The Pack, especially when it comes to the performances of the dogs.

Unfortunately, The Pack, along with many other old dog horror films, is still not available on DVD.

Pictured: Original still photo from The Pack, from author's collection. Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures, 1977.

Some additional canine horror films below.