CRUELTY on Film
Here is a list of movies where animals were either injured, killed or beaten.
Rat Killing: Filmmakers for Thomas Edison produce a movie showing a fox terrier ripping apart rats.
Topsy, the elephant, just before her untimely end.
Electrocuting an Elephant: Once again a product of Thomas Edison’s filmmakers. The movie documents the electrocution of Topsy, an elephant at the Coney Island amusement park who had killed her keeper. Topsy had reportedly been fed a lighted cigarette by the keeper just before she killed him. In the short film, the elephant twitches in pain, its skin starts smoking and then it falls over. The movie was a hit in cinema houses.
Terrier vs Wildcat: A documentary showing a dog attacking and mauling an alley cat.
Tarzan of the Apes: Elmo Lincoln, the first Hollywood Tarzan actually kills a lion he is fighting on the screen. The reportedly drugged lion is stabbed to death.
Screen shot from Ben Hur, where many horses died during the chariot race.
Ben Hur: At least one hundred horses are reportedly killed in the filming of the silent classic. Most of the carnage takes place during the famous chariot race.
Simba: A compilation of three movies shot in Africa. This movie contained a scene where tribesmen speared lions during one of their hunts. The killings were actually staged by the filmmakers. The lions were corralled and kept enclosed by cars surrounding the hunt area.
The Silent Enemy: Filmed in Canada, this movie purports to show the hardships endured by the Ojibwa. One scene depicts a fight between a mountain lion and a bear. The animals were kept in cages for days without food and then released at the same time to fight over the carcass of a dead deer.
Trader Horn: First non-documentary filmed in Africa. Was nominated for best picture. The director did some filming in Mexico to be out of the jurisdiction of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In Mexico, lions were starved and let loose on hyenas, monkeys and a deer that were locked in a corral.
The Charge of the Light Brigade: Twenty-five horses were killed during the filming of this famous battle. The carnage was so intense that congress, for the first time, began to look at the issue of cruelty to animals in film.
A screen shot from Jesse James, depicting the infamous scene where a horse was killed jumping from a cliff.
Jesse James: A horse is killed after being rode off a seventy-foot cliff into a river. The outrage over the scene was the catalyst for the American Humane Association to begin monitoring the safety and comfort of animals on film.
Apocalypse Now: An ox is sliced nearly in half during a sacrifice scene.
Heaven's Gate: Four horses were killed in the filming of the box-office flop. One of the horses died after having an explosive charge detonated under it.
Reds: Horses are violently brought down in mid-gallop by trip wires.
The Heart of the Stag: Filmed in New Zealand. A stag dies of stress during the filming of the climatic scene in the movie. To save the scene, the stag’s head is severed and the actor is filmed in close-up struggling with its horns.
Project X: Several chimps were reportedly abused during the making of this Hollywood hit. Investigations by the city of Los Angeles and the American Humane Association would be halted for unknown reasons before the allegations were thoroughly probed.
Rambo 3: Trip wires were used to bring down horses.
The Thirteenth Warrior: Filmed in Vancouver. Two horses were injured during the making of this Viking drama. One horse would be put down after a wire sliced through the tendon on its leg.
Manderlay: A donkey is slaughtered for dramatic purposes. Actor John C Reilly, quits in protest. The scene is cut from the film before it is released.
A screen shot from the rodeo scene in Flicka where trainers lost control leading to the death a horse.
Flicka: Two horses are killed during the making of this family film. One horse is killed after being kicked in the head by another horses during a scene depicting a wild horse round up.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wildlife Documentaries from Classical Forms to Reality TV (Film History), Reel Nature by Gregg Mitman, The Parade’s Gone By, by Kevin Bronlow, Wildlife Films by Derek Bouse, American Humane website.