When it comes to pulling on the ol' heart strings, no other subject can bring a tear to the eye like a good, old fashioned dog story.
Man's best friend has been immortalized countless times in books, TV, comics, art... every medium you can think of. Tales of bravery and heroism. Tales of war and peace. tales of selflessness and dedication.
One medium that does a great job of telling a dog tale is film, and movie studios were quick to release a slew of movies about pooches once they understood just how big a draw a canine star could be.
Studios learned early on that a good dog story doesn't have to be a family movie; gritty, dark tales or horror and intrigue can be that much more grittier and intriguing with a hound at the center of the story. To be honest, though, there is probably more money to be made in the family market for a dog story that touches both kids and adults, reaching the most people and moving the most related merchandise.
Through the years, a lot of great dog movies have been made that modern audiences may not have heard of, and older audiences may have forgotten about.
In that case, here are 5 dog movies worth getting a second look.
#5. C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979)
C.H.O.M.P.S., starring Wesley Bure, Valerie Bertinelli, and Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain), is a great movie to watch with the kids, or by yourself if you just need a heartwarming and uplifting experience.
Brian (Bure) invents a new home security system, a robotic dog called the Canine HOMe Protection System, or C.H.O.M.P.S. for short, in a effort to impress his boss Ralph Norton (Bain), because he is in love with Norton's daughter Casey.
However, another security company sends goons to capture C.H.O.M.P.S., and a mystery involving Norton's security systems in use at customer's businesses malfunctioning build the story to an exciting climax.
This movie may be hard to find, depending on whether it's available on a streaming service such as Netflix or available in the bargain bin of your local box store. It is worth the effort to locate, however, if for no other reason than its a great lazy afternoon movie. And any afternoon spent looking at the lovely Valerie Bertinelli is time well spent.
#4. The Doberman Gang (1972)
What's the fastest way to fame and riches? Why, to rob a bank, of course. And what better way to rob a bank than to train animals to do it for you? Our would be robber, a pretty talented dog trainer, teaches six Dobermans (cleverly named Dillinger, Bonnie, Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and Ma Barker) to pull off the crime of the century.
The film was popular enough to spawn two sequels: 1973's The Daring Dobermans and 1976's The Amazing Dobermans. Both good films in their own rights, but still not quite as good as the original.
Also of note: Alan Silvestri, the man behind the soundtracks of films like Forrest Gump and The Back to the Future movies, made his debut with this film.
This one is also extremely hard to find, sometimes showing up on late night TV. If you can find this movie, watch it.
#3. Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978)
I saw this made for TV film in 1978, when I was 7 years old. Scared the bejeezus out of me. And I loved every minute of it.
This film is notable for having the kids from Disney's "Escape From Witch Mountain" (Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards) as the children whose family finds themselves owner to this little four legged demon.
The dog, it seems, came from a Satanic breeder who hoped that by selling this possessed puppy, evil would finally triumph over the forces of good. The dog begins controlling the family, making them do evil things- causing problems at school and at home. Once the father (Richard Crenna) finds the shrine to Satan, he decides something has got to be done about that damned dog.
Released on DVD in 2005 and on Blu-Ray in 2011, this movie should be easy to find. Two words: Lawnmower scene.
#2. Oh! Heavenly Dog (1980)
This film, starring Chevy Chase, Jane Seymore and Omar Sharif, offers murder, intrigue, mystery and adventure all wrapped up in a fun and friendly Benji film. Benji, in this case, being Benjean- the daughter of Higgins, the original dog who played Benji in films.
Chevy Chase plays a private investigator who gets killed after being called to a murder scene to do a job. He gets one more chance however, to come back to Earth as a dog to solve the case as a way to prove his goodness and make it through the pearly gates and into Heaven.
DVDs (and VHS!) of this movie are readily available, so this could make for a good movie night at home (though think carefully before letting the younger kids watch).
#1. Cujo (1983)
Cheating housewife Donna Trenton (Played by Dee Wallace) finds her life turned upside down once her husband discovers her affair with a past boyfriend. Meanwhile, a playful and gentle St. Bernard named Cujo gets bitten by a rabid bat.
Cujo, now suffering from the disease himself, soon kills his owner and a friendly neighbor.
Later, Donna and her son Tad show up at at the farm where a dangerous Cujo is running free, and he attacks them, but for now, they are safe in the car. Or at least as safe as anyone can be in a Ford Pinto.
Written by Horror master Stephen King, Cujo is one of those movies that will give you nightmares for nights on end and have you thinking twice about petting dogs- much like Jaws had beach goers scared to swim in the ocean.
Cujo is also pretty easy to find, so check it out. If you need to stay awake for a few days, that is.
Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments below.