Baxter: The Anti-Dog Movie

Baxter's poster
Baxter’s poster

I’m a dog movie apologist. Sure, they’re mostly vapid fluff but then again so are dogs. The thing about dog movies is that they all  follow the same story: person obtains dog, dog throws person’s life into playful chaos, dog is punished, person encounters real problem, dog helps person overcome problem, and person learns to love dog for flaws because dog loves person. Sometimes the dog dies at the end too but the dead-dog-movie is it’s own subgenre if you ask me. My favorite part of any dog movie is when the dog helps their owner overcome a real problem because this is where all the action usually is. This is where you’ll see a dog stop a bank robber or help mend a troubled marriage. This is also where the person then perceives the dog’s actions as an inherent love of the person rather than regular doggy nature. This is where the myth of “man’s best friend” comes to life.

Most dog movies can be seen as examples of our own narcissistic and insecure tendencies; they’re stories about animals that risk their lives because they wuv us very much (even if we’re still mad at them for ruining that important business lunch with David Duchovny). Yet despite the fact that we share such an odd relationship with dogs there is only one film I’ve ever seen that dares to explore the darker side of it.

Jérôme Boivin’s Baxter was released in 1989. Billed as a horror film about a “murderous bull terrier” I was expecting something along the lines of a haute Cujo but ended up being enthralled in a serious drama about isolation, obsession, and unnatural thoughts. Told through an insidious voice over from the Baxter’s point of view, the film follows him from owner to owner as we get a glimpse into the lives of several families, all who play a part in shaping Baxter’s perception of the world.

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Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell

Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell
Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell

In 1956 Don Siegel’s science fiction masterpiece Invasion of the Body Snatchers was released to much acclaim. Turning the vague yet omnipresent paranoia of the Cold War into terror from another planet, Don Siegel’s film tells the story of a small town doctor who slowly realizes his town is being taken over by intergalactic doppelgangers. After “space seeds” land in a farmer’s field just outside town giant pods begin to grow. Then from the pods replicas of the closet sleeping human are reproduced. What happens to the original human body? What do the aliens intend to do after they have the planet? No one is quite sure. What we can be sure of is although the replica looks, smells, speaks, and acts like us they are definitely not us. They are not human.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is primarily concerned with humanity, what defines our humanity, and how it slips away. The invaders switch places with the humans while they sleep making their biggest threat our own passivity. The main symptom of the switch is that you fall into a hive mind presence losing your autonomy. So in Invasion being independent and aggressive are the only way to maintain one’s humanity. The final shot of the film is a close up of a sweaty and exhausted Dr. Hill finally having convinced the police of the oncoming swarm after barely escaping the madness himself. On his face we see the terror he lived through but have the feeling help is finally on the way; however, Hajime Sato saw something completely different. Hajime Sato saw total bunk.

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