Heads Up, Ears Down

This blog accurately identifies depictions of violence and cruelty toward animals in films. The purpose is to provide viewers with a reliable guide so that such depictions do not come as unwelcome surprises. Films will be accurately notated, providing a time cue for each incident along with a concise description of the scene and perhaps relevant context surrounding the incident. In order to serve as a useful reference tool, films having no depictions of violence to animals will be included, with an indication that there are no such scenes. This is confirmation that the films have been watched with the stated purpose in mind.


Note that the word depictions figures prominently in the objective. It is a travesty that discussions about cruelty in film usually are derailed by the largely unrelated assertion that no animals really were hurt (true only in some films, dependent upon many factors), and that all this concern is just over a simulation. Not the point, whether true or false. We do not smugly dismiss depictions of five-year-olds being raped because those scenes are only simulations. No, we are appalled that such images are even staged, and we are appropriately horrified that the notion now has been planted into the minds of the weak and cruel.


Depictions of violence or harm to animals are assessed in keeping with our dominant culture, with physical abuse, harmful neglect, and similar mistreatment serving as a base line. This blog does not address extended issues of animal welfare, and as such does not identify scenes of people eating meat or mules pulling plows. The goal is to itemize images that might cause a disturbance in a compassionate household.


These notes provide a heads-up but do not necessarily discourage watching a film because of depicted cruelty. Consuming a piece of art does not make you a supporter of the ideas presented. Your ethical self is created by your public rhetoric and your private actions, not by your willingness to sit through a filmed act of violence.

I . . . Dreaming

I . . . Dreaming. Stan Brakhage, 1988.
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Edition screened: Included in Criterion Blu-ray box set #518 By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two, released 2010. Scored, no dialogue track. Runtime 6 minutes, 35 seconds.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death

I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death (Sartana the Gravedigger/Sono Sartana, il vostro becchino). Giuliano Carnimeo (as Anthony Ascott), 1969.
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Edition screened: Included in Arrow Blu-ray box set The Complete Sartana, released 2018. Original English or original Italian dub with English subtitles. Approximately 103 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.


I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket

I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket. Monte Brice, 1933.
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Edition screened: Included on Criterion Blu-ray #915 King of Jazz, released 2018. English language. Runtime approximately 20 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

I Shot Andy Warhol

I Shot Andy Warhol. Mary Harron, 1995.
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Edition screened: MGM ‘Avant-Garde Cinema’ DVD, released 2001. English language. Runtime approximately 103 minutes.


Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

I Take These Truths

I Take These Truths. Stan Brakhage, 1995.
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Edition screened: Included in Criterion Blu-ray box set #518 By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two, released 2010. Silent. Runtime 17 minutes, 44 seconds.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

I’m Not There

I’m Not There. Todd Haynes, 2007.
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Edition screened: Weinstein DVD, released 2008. English language. Runtime approximately 135 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

I’m Still Here

I’m Still Here. Casey Affleck, 2010.
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Edition screened: Magnolia DVD, released 2010. English language. Runtime approximately 108 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.


Ice Cream Man

Ice Cream Man. Norman Apstein (as Paul Norman), 1994.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #198, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 86 minutes.

Summary: Murder and mutilation of a dog

Details:
1) A neighbor’s barking dog confronts Clint Howard around 8:28. At 8:53 Howard produces an orange push-up confection that conceals a hidden switchblade. It looks a little like the thing in Marilyn Chambers’ armpit in Rabid. We hear the dog yelp off camera at 8:58.
2) We return to the dog’s bloody corpse at 10:05 and the body pushed into a large meat grinder through 10:15. Cut to meatloaf coming out of the oven.

Similar to The Corpse Grinders, Ice Cream Man is a pretty crappy movie made sporadically intriguing by the inclusion of strange and pointless details. Casting in The Corpse Grinders includes an office secretary who happens to be a mute amputee in a cheap fright wig, all for no reason and without mention, and the grave-digger’s haggard wife constantly coddles a baby doll without comment or context. Ice Cream Man is devoted to closeups of children’s footwear, often canvas Chuck Taylors, and we are treated to commercial-style shots of purple and red Converse high tops during plot dialogue. Since the ICM himself is a twisted killer, you could propose that these images of footwear are glimpses into his preoccupations, and I’d say Oh okay, I knew you were going to say that. But how about the minister who gets stigmata during his sermon and his wife who speaks in tongues while sitting in the living room, not mentioned and barely mentioned, respectively? 

At best, these films might show a free-wheeling audacity; the nerve to play Herzog and just include local images that seem interesting. At worst (and more likely) these directors realize that their films are destined to be terrible, and clutch frantically at some Herschell Gordon Lewis straw, hoping to claim later that all the stupidity was self-conscious, post-modern, tongue-in cheek, or some other lie. 

Ichi (Sori)

Ichi. Fumihiko Sori, 2008.
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Edition screened: Funimation Blu-ray, released 2009. Japanese language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 120 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

I was disappointed in this, not liking it nearly as much as Beat Takeshi’s 2003 interpretation of the original series. 

Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1). Takashi Miike, 2001.
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Edition screened: Well Go Blu-ray, released 2018. Japanese language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 129 minutes.

Summary: Early in the film a woman declares that she killed her neighbor’s dog. This is said in a concise and emotionless way, with no details, follow-up, or images.

If You Meet Sartana … Pray for Your Death

If You Meet Sartana … Pray for Your Death. Gianfranco Parolini (as Frank Kramer), 1968.
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Edition screened: Included in Arrow Blu-ray box set The Complete Sartana, released 2018. Original English or original Italian dub with English subtitles. Approximately 96 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

In imitation of For a Few Dollars More, a musical gold pocket watch is a featured novelty in If You Meet Sartana. Interestingly, Sartana’s can be heard from really far away, making it an effective shoot-out decoy in desolate rocky hills. It plays a lovely and complicated rendition of what seems to be The Velvet Underground’s I’ll Be Your Mirror.

Images from the Playground

Images from the Playground (Bilder från lekstugan). Stig Björkman, 2009.
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Edition screened: Included with Summer with Monica in Criterion’s Blu-ray set Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema, released 2018. Swedish language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 29 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Images from the Playground is a supplement to Summer with Monica, disc #5 of 30 in Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema. The Björkman film uses material shot by Bergman himself using a hand-held 9.5 mm Bell & Howell camera, during the filming of various titles in the early 1950s. Voice-over narration explains behind-the-scenes cast and crew interaction captured by Bergman.

In Search of the Unreturned Soldiers of Thailand

In Search of the Unreturned Soldiers of Thailand (Mikikan-hei o otte: Tai-hen). Shôhei Imamura, 1971.
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Edition screened: Included in the Icarus 4-DVD set A Man Vanishes, released 2012. Japanese language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 50 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

In the Cold of the Night

In the Cold of the Night. Nico Mastorakis, 1990.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #268, released 2019. English language. Runtime approximately 113 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

In the Soup

In the Soup. Alexandre Rockwell, 1992.
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Edition screened: Fantoma DVD, released 2004. English language. Runtime approximately 96 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.