Newly Released, Summer 2023
Man's Best Friend as Movie Monster
About the Book
How did beloved movie dogs become man-killers like Cujo and his cinematic pack-mates? For the first time, here is the fascinating history of canines in horror movies and why our best friends were (and are still) painted as malevolent canines. Stretching far back into Classical mythology, treacherous hounds are found only sporadically in art and literature until the appearance of cinema’s first horror dog, Sherlock Holmes’ Hound of the Baskervilles. The story intensifies through WWII’s K-9 Corps to the 1970s animal horror films, which broke social taboos about the “good dog” on screen and deliberately vilified certain breeds—sometimes even fluffy lapdogs.
With behind-the-scenes insights from writers, directors, actors, and dog trainers, here are the flickering hounds of silent films through talkies and Technicolor, to the latest computer-generated brutes—the supernatural, rabid, laboratory-made, alien, feral, and trained killers. Beware of the dog—or as one seminal film warned, “They’re not pets anymore.”
“Brian Duggan’s Horror Dogs is, quite honestly, a marvel. Dense with detail, it is infused with humor and a light touch. Duggan has taken an unlikely subject, and, through a ferocious combination of scholarly obsession and deft writing, turned it into that rarest of breeds: a book which teaches you things you didn’t know you wanted to learn.”
—Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and The Year of the Puppy: How Dogs Become Themselves
"Brian Duggan knows that there are no bad dogs, but there are evil ones. With the loving paw of a dog fancier and popular culture maven, this meaty survey covers everything Black Dog, including the Gabriel Hounds of the Wild Hunt, the Japanese Okuri-inu (devouring those who stray off forest paths), bad-to-the-bone beasts in China, India, Mesopotamia, and beyond. Horror Dogs counts down a hundred and twenty-eight films starring sixteen not-so-sweet breeds of Man’s Best Fiend and concludes with a moving tribute to a good Saluki. My supremely evil Corgi and I devoured it.”
— Nancy Holder, New York Times bestselling author, recipient of the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award.