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.

Horror House on Highway 5

Horror House on Highway 5. Richard Casey, 1985.
Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #135, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 88 minutes.

Summary: Murdered cat.

Details: The formulaic cheap move: a dead cat is discovered as some vague warning of some sort. This time, a bloody white cat found in a van at 33:40, then taken to a trash can through 34:08.

Low-budget Horror House on Highway 5 was director Casey’s first film and is surprisingly good and creative. The predictable, unfortunate inclusion of the formulaic murdered cat is the low point and brings the whole production down a level in creativity and respectability. 

One very noticeable success of the film is Casey’s use of humor. Horror House was made around the time that pop horror movies become infested with stupid pushy jokes that make them almost unwatchable. The Mutilator, for example. Casey’s quick silly bits of humor are well acted and actually made me smile, as opposed to the endless barrage of overly-written juvenile jokes that make me want to turn off many similar films.