Watership Down is often cited as a prime example of a seemingly kid-friendly cartoon that’s actually anything but! Based on the novel by Richard Adams and released as an animated cartoon in 1978, the film received a U rating in the UK (the equivalent of a G rating in America). When parents took their children to see a movie about cute bunny rabbits, they had no idea they’d be traumatizing an entire generation.
While Watership Down remains a source of intrigue and dark mystique, there’s another Adams-inspired cartoon that’s even bleaker. The Plague Dogs, released in 1982, tells the tale of a couple canines who escaped from a laboratory before searching for a nebulous Isle of Dogs (no connection to the current film from Wes Anderson).
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The Plague Dogs never got a wide theatrical release in the US and is therefore almost completely unknown to us Yanks. I only heard about it accidentally while researching Watership Down. Have a look at the trailer below for a taste of what The Plague Dogs entails.
Official Synopsis: In this animation, Snitter (John Hurt) and Rowf (Christopher Benjamin) are two dogs trapped in a lab where they are repeatedly abused for testing purposes. One day, they accidentally find a way to unlock their cages and escape. In the wild, they must struggle to survive with the help of their guide, the Tod (James Bolam), a fox. Despite their hopes for a better life, they are discouraged by the increasing lack of food and vicious rumors the government is spreading that they carry the plague.
The Plague Dogs is directed by Martin Rosen (who also directed Watership Down) and features the voices of John Hurt, Christopher Benjamin, and James Bolam.
If you’re interested in seeing the film, it’s not impossible but it isn’t cheap either. A new copy of the out-of-print DVD will set you back at least $60. This price will likely ensure that The Plague Dogs will forever remain an obscure, almost legendary enigma; another example of an animated film more likely to give kids PTSD than sweet dreams.
Have you seen The Plague Dogs? Sound off in the Comments section!
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