Stephen King’s monstrous St. Bernard Cujo is rabidly bad, as in he literally has rabies and is out to kill anything in his path. But as anyone who has ever come home to a shredded sofa, cleaned up dog vomit, or had their leg aggressively humped can tell you, there are many ways for a dog to be bad. To celebrate IFC airing Cujo for National Puppy Day, here are 10 of the baddest dogs ever to appear on a movie screen.
A decade after Cujo came this definitely friendlier St. Bernard who still managed to be almost as destructive. And the trail of wreckage Beethoven left is unbelievably long, covering 8 films over two decades…and counting. Chris, the original dog that played Beethoven, died after the second movie but the franchise was too lucrative to be put down. By the sixth installment of the Beethoven series, the storyline was rebooted to show Beethoven as a canine movie star. And along the way this dog was responsible for more property damage than any movie creature this side of Godzilla.
2. Puffy from There’s Something About Mary
The scene from There’s Something About Mary where Ben Stiller is attacked by Mary’s dog Puffy (played by a dog with the appropriate name of Slammer) is every bit as terrifying as the attacks in Cujo. Puffy more than gets comeuppance, however, and memorably ends up in a full body cast. The real Slammer was actually put in a fake full body cast for the scene, but only for about 10 seconds.
3. The Terror Dogs from Ghostbusters
“OK, who brought the dog?,” Rick Moranis asks in a scene from the original Ghostbusters right before a hell hound crashes into the room. The “dog” is actually one of a pair of demonic entities known as Zuul and Vinz Clortho. They are the Gatekeeper and the Key Master who take over the bodies of humans, and whose ritual mating turns them into horrific dog-like beasts who usher in the Sumerian god Gozer to destroy the world. That’s not the kind of misbehavior that even the Dog Whisperer can easily fix.
4. Hooch from Turner & Hooch
Hooch may have been a handful, but this bad dog was on the right side of the law. He teamed up with Tom Hanks as Turner to take a bite out of crime. The real Hooch was a Dogue de Bordeaux (which is probably French for “slobber fountain”) named Beasley. In the movie he destroyed everything Turner owned, and generated enough drool to drown the bad guys. You may be tempted to think the worst thing Hooch did was to inspire a bunch of weaker “man and dog” crime fighting movies like K-9 and Top Dog, but Turner & Hooch was actually released three months after Jim Belushi’s much more poorly received pairing with a German Shepherd.
5. Killer from Half Baked
OK, the dog Killer from the stoner classic Half Baked wasn’t really a bad dog — he just hung out with the wrong crowd. And when they turned him on to some “killer” (whoa!) weed, he ends up flying…literally. But the best part of the movie is Jim Breuer’s way-too-stoned recounting of the life and times of Killer, from his birth to a “3-legged bitch” to his later drug abuse problems. Just say “No” to drugs, doggies.
6. Milo from The Mask
Milo, the mild mannered dog of mild-mannered Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) is played by a Jack Russell terrier named Max. But when Milo dons the Mask of Loki he becomes an unholy green-faced terror, much like a canine version of what happens to Stanley. This was Max the dog’s first movie role, and some of the scenes featured Jim Carrey improvising to Max’s deviations from the script, such as when he refuses to give up a Frisbee or is unable to climb a wall to the cell where Stanley is imprisoned.
7. Zoltan, Hound of Dracula
You want to talk about a bad dog? How about Dracula’s Dog, returned after centuries of slumber to walk the Earth? He’ll turn you into a vampire AND dig up the flower garden. But at least you can teach him to roll over and play undead. This 1978 abomination is perhaps the unintentionally funniest movie on this list– it actually features a vampire puppy in what is undoubtedly the cutest moment in horror movie history.
8. Baxter, the world’s most evil dog
The murderous bull terrier from the 1989 French black comedy/psychological thriller Baxter is not merely a bad dog. In what is one of the strangest movies ever made, Baxter is a brooding, complex, and multi-layered sociopathic villain. The fact that the dog narrates his own tale (in French with subtitles!) only makes the whole thing more bizarre. This is what would happen if Cujo was directed by Luis Bunuel after a week-long absinthe binge. Imagine American Psycho with a French dog and you’ll understand why John Waters called this one of his favorite movies.