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Plague Dogs, The  (DVD)


Stars: Voices: John Hurt, Christopher Benjamin, James Bolam, Warren Mitchell, Judy Geeson, Nigel Hawthorne, Bill Maynard, Patrick Stewart, Dandy Nichols, Rosemary Leach, John Bennett

Director: Martin Rosen

Don't expect a cheerful or light-hearted time from this animated feature from the 1980s. It's a good but gloomy story, with a real tear-jerker ending (changed from the book by Richard Adams, who also wrote Watership Down) that will leave you needing a bucket to cry in.

The central characters are two canines, Snitter and Rowf (Hurt, Benjamin) who, neither of them fully fit in mind or body, escape from an horrendous experimental laboratory in England's Lake District.

Both actors offer bold characterisations, as the dogs try to make sense of a world beyond their limited comprehension, but the film is entirely stolen from them, possibly at the intention of film makers, by The Tod (Bolam), the fell-wise fox they meet out on the moors.

The dogs have scant regard for the self-serving fox, yet he twice saves their hides, and finally...but that would be telling.

Suffice to say that, in a world where, in contrast to Disney, total realism is demanded of the animations, The Tod survives such a personality draining approach to become a definitive character in his own right.

Although the drama unfolds in cartoon format, the film is not suitable for younger children, and contains some distressing scenes.

David Quinlan

UK/USA 1982. UK Distributor: Goldcrest/UIP. Technicolor.
103 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 05 Aug 2020