In The Grey, Liam Neeson defends himself against a legion of evil wolves, armed with only his mind and a very particular set of skills. But as the good people of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo explain in this interview, wolves aren’t anywhere near as nasty as Neeson and co. would have us believe. In so doing, The Grey joins the long list of movies that seem designed to wind up the RSPCA – and here, to prove the point, are some of our “favourites”.
Warning: contains videos of animals exploding. You have been warned...
Film: Blazing Saddles
Utter bastard: Mongo (Alex Karras)
Crime against nature: Punching a horse in the mouth
Mel Brooks’ seminal comedy Western has many, many, many funny moments (“Excuse me while I whip this out”, “My name is Jim, but most people call me... Jim” to name, well, two), but the funniest is this, Mongo's face-punch of a full-grown horse. Clocking the stallion square in the muzzle, the steed abruptly collapses, rider still on board. But don’t blame Mongo – he’s just a pawn in the game of life, after all. A pawn in the game of life who’s not above assaulting livestock, but the point stands.
Film: Conan The Barbarian (1982)
Utter bastard: Conan the Barbarian
Crime against nature: Punching a camel in the mouth
If you’re looking for the real reason why the Conan reboot didn’t work – aside from the shoddy 3D and even-shoddier storyline – it’s the lack of camel punching. Even detractors of the original have to admit they didn’t see that coming the first time around. Conan’s walking down some stairs, then BOOM, camel punch. Why the Academy ignored him, we’ll never know.
Film: Hard Target (1993)
Utter bastards: Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Emil Fouchon (Lance Henriksen)
Crime against nature: Eating a snake (Van Damme), shooting a snake (Henriksen)
If you thought JCVD slapping and punching a snake was bad, just wait until he bites its rattle off. And if you thought Jean-Claude Van Damme slapping, punching and biting a rattlesnake was really bad, just wait till Lance Henriksen blasts it through the head with a pistol. This is one snake that wished it had just ended up as Nic Cage's jacket instead.
Film: The Godfather (1972)
Utter bastard: Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall)
Crime against nature: Killing Jack Woltz’s (John Marley) prize racehorse and putting its head in his bed.
Here’s a fun fact for you: 6-10 per cent of a horse’s bodyweight is blood – which is why Woltz wakes up with such a prodigious quantity of the red stuff in his silk bedsheets. And if you thought this is a fake horse’s head, it ain’t – according to Coppola himself, it was the real deal, sourced from a dog food company nearby. That said, John Marley used a fake horse’s head in rehearsals, and was surprised with the genuine article on the actual day of shooting. In other words, his screams were also real. The more you know, eh?
Film: Time Bandits (1981)
Utter bastard: Evil (David Warner)
Crime against nature: Making Benson the dog explode
As if blowing up his minions for asking sensible questions and/or giving him compliments wasn’t enough, Evil goes the whole hog and blows up a cute dog to boot. “I’m a reasonable man...” he explains.
Film: Point Break (1991)
Utter bastards: Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves)
Crime against nature: Throwing a dog at someone (Bodhi), drop-kicking a dog at no-one in particular (Utah)
Watching this most epic of foot chases the first time around, you’d be forgiven for only noticing Bodhi’s surprise projectile dog attack. After all, a flying dog’s suddenly appeared in on the screen, thrown by a man in a Ronald Reagan rubber mask – what are you going to do... not laugh? Second time around, however, you’ll notice something else – after having a dog upside his face, Utah promptly drop kicks it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is cinema.
Film: Anchorman (2004)
Utter bastard: Steve Graff (Jack Black)
Crime against nature: Punting Baxter off a bridge
Baxter is a damn impressive dog. Not only can he talk with bears, eat entire wheels of cheese and wear complicated orthodontic equipment, but he can also survive being punted off the side of a bridge. If there’s a real hero of Anchorman, it’s Baxter here – and if there’s a villain, it’s Jack Black. That’s right Wes Mantooth, we forgive you.
Film: Bad Taste (1987)
Utter bastard: Frank (Mike Minett)
Crime against nature: Firing a rocket into a sheep
To be fair, Frank isn’t actually an utter bastard here. What he’s trying to do is kill an evil alien with a rocket launcher, but the rocket has different plans, flying past said evil alien, through a hole in the wall and into a sheep. What makes the moment so priceless is, of course, the happy bleat the sheep makes before it goes boom: “Baaa...?”