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New Book: Horror Dogs: Man’s Best Friend as Movie Monster
Takes a Look at Sinister Canine Characters in Horror Films

Jefferson, North Carolina, August 10, 2023— How did beloved movie dogs become man-killers like Cujo and his cinematic pack-mates? For the first time the new book Horror Dog: Man's Best Friend as Movie Monster looks at the fascinating history of canines in horror movies and why our best friends were (and are still) painted as malevolent. Stretching 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 World War II’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.


From The Hound of the Baskervilles to Dracula’s Dog to Cujo and beyond — whether your passion is dogs, film, history, horror, or even popular culture, this is the book for you. Author Brian Patrick Duggan has painstakingly researched and detailed the history of how our canine best friends were transformed into movie “bad guys.” Starting with the very first film version of the Baskerville Hound in 1914, Duggan details the breed evolution of Horror Dogs and the creeping growth of canine terror on screen until finally, in the 1970s, the kennel door burst wide open. Inside are over 68 dog breeds/types (not all are Horror Dogs) and a look at 121 films (with many more referenced).


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. ”Cave Canem (Beware the Dog)”—or as one seminal film warned, “They’re not pets anymore.”


Through Duggan's interviews, he tells the stories from the sets including how dog costumes and make-up could be frightening or silly, how a pre-production error turned Rottweilers into Horror Dogs, the failed attempt to cast a Doberman as Cujo, and about the amazing trainer who could make a dog go ‘Jekyll or Hyde’ when the director called for “Action!” Amidst these insights, Duggan intersperses a few of his own choice dog tales.


The pack is all here — Frankenstein Dogs, Supernatural, Alien, Cujo (who gets his own chapter), Trained to Kill, Insurrectionists, and perhaps a new category of canine horror — Emotional Support Weredog. Told with humor and fascinating details, Horror Dogs is an engaging and well-researched book. Reading Duggan is always like having a cozy, dog chat with him over scones and coffee. So, cuddle up with your pooch and enjoy Horror Dogs!


Horror Dogs: Man’s Best Friend as Movie Monster

$49.95, 274 pages, 55 photos, glossary, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. Softcover (7 x 10) available from McFarland Publishers, also Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Author's Interviews

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