If there are certain messages that horror drives home, it is that you are not safe anywhere and be very careful when you mess with nature. What follows is a list of some of the creepiest and memorable pets from horror history. During my data mining expedition I noted that the majority of horror films that use animals as the monster tend to rely on birds, insects, sharks or reptiles. Outside of these films, the annals of horror include few mammals as the source of horror. The few outliers include the occasional grizzly, ape, wolf, lion, or tiger (and those have more of an undertone of foreignness to their horror).
When it comes to horror on the home front I suggest it’s not only step-parents that you have to worry about but also Felix and Fido. I leaned away from stereotypical uses of cats as witches’ familiars and a dogs as werewolves; what I found was that in many of these films man tampered with nature. What can I say, when you mess with the bull, sometimes you get the horns!
10. Dogs (1976)
On a quiet college campus, something strange is happening. All of the dogs in the area, once loyal, gentle pets, are now banding together in wild packs and hunting down their former masters. Could the strange transformation have anything to do with the secret government experiments being conducted in the school’s physics laboratory?
9. The Uncanny (1977)
Wilbur Gray, a horror writer, has stumbled upon a terrible secret, that cats are supernatural creatures who call all the shots. In a desperate attempt to get others to believe him, Wilbur spews three tales of feline horror.
8. Cujo (1983)
A once friendly St. Bernard contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town.
7. Uninvited (1988)
A bunch of young people are invited to a cruise on a criminal’s yacht in order to distract the attention of the authorities. Unfortunately, a mutant cat which escaped from a test laboratory also gets on board, and kills most of the passengers.
6. Pet Sematary (1989) – Church the cat:
Church the cat is brought back to life after being buried in the Pet Sematary. Unfortunately, no one heeded Ol’ Jud Crandall’s warning that once you put them into the Pet Sematary, they never come back quite right.
5. Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990) – “The Cat from Hell”:
Thee shorter movies bound together by a fourth tale in which the other three stories are read. The second tale tells the story of a “cat from hell” who cannot be killed and leaves a trail of victims behind it. A black cat is the focus of this story in which an elderly wheelchair bound man named Drogan hires hit man to kill the animal which he is convinced has killed several residents already and will kill again. As it turns out the cat seems to have a vendetta against the old man, whom it turns out has headed a pharmaceutical company which has killed thousands of cats in laboratory experiments.
4. Strays (1991)
In this made-for-television horror outing, a young married couple and their daughter are terrorized by a pride of ferocious feral felines.
3. Pet Sematary 2 (1992) – Zowie the Dog:
As you can see, horror films never learn from their mistakes. When a neighborhood kid murders Drew’s dog Zowie, he buries him in the cursed area just beyond the regular Pet Sematary. As we saw with Church the first time around, the ground is spoiled and so are those who return from there.
2. Man’s Best Friend (1993)
A genetically mutated Tibetan mastiff turns from man’s best friend into man’s worst nightmare as he attacks everything that moves.
1. Master’s of Horror Season 2 Episode 11 (2007) “The Black Cat” – Pluto:
The Black Cat, set in 1840 Philadelphia, has the great writer Edgar Allan Poe, struggling with alcoholism, writers block, as well as being out of ideas, short on cash, and tormented by his wife Virginia’s black cat that will either destroy his life or inspire him to write one of his most famous stories.
People Under the Stairs (1991) – Prince:
Prince is the Rottweiler watch dog for the Robesons. If you haven’t seen this one, the Robesons make Prince look like a pussycat, but nonetheless Prince provides one of the most heart pounding chases between a dog and a little boy.
Nomadic shapeshifting creatures with human and feline origins. Vulnerable to the deadly scratch of the cat, the sleepwalker feeds upon the life-force of virginal human females. With good and bad feline connotations, the shape shifters seem consistent with wives tales about cats stealing your breath [for more on this idea see also Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985)]. However, also like Cat’s Eye we see the heroic side of cats through the neighborhood felines. It is a stretch to include the Sleepwalkers as horrific cats, but they uniquely signify the horror associated with pets as well as horror that comes from closer to home.