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Top 10 Movies that Allegedly Harmed Animals

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nolan Moore. No animals were harmed in the making of this video. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for these films. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 movies that allegedly harmed animals. For this list, we’re looking at movies and documentaries where filmmakers were thought to have harmed animals, and which were instrumental in forcing subsequent changes to standards and laws regarding animal safety on movie sets. WARNING: Contains disturbing content. Special thanks to our user nolanjm.88 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Nolan Moore.

Top 10 Movies that Allegedly Harmed Animals


No animals were harmed in the making of this video. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for these films. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies that allegedly harmed animals.

For this list, we’re looking at movies and documentaries where filmmakers were thought to have harmed animals, and which were instrumental in forcing subsequent changes to standards and laws regarding animal safety on movie sets. We’re only considering scenes that were staged by the crew for the camera so movies like “The Cove” won’t make the cut. And a heads up, this list might disturb sensitive viewers.

#10: “White Wilderness” (1958)

An Oscar-winning documentary from the House of Mouse, “White Wilderness” follows the lives of cute and cuddly Arctic animals. So what’s a documentary doing on our list? Well, it features a shocking scene of lemming suicide…only the whole thing was faked by Disney. Lemmings don’t really hurl themselves into the sea, at least not the specific species featured here, so director James Algar helped them along. Using a turntable to fake the migration scene, the crew forced the little guys to jump off the cliffs and tumble down to their watery doom.

#9: “The Adventures of Milo and Otis” (1986)

Whether you’re watching the Japanese original or the modified English version, the controversy raised by the reported animal cruelty on the set of this comedy-drama remains the same. “The Adventures of Milo and Otis” may’ve been a box office hit in its native country and earned positive reviews in the U.S., but various animal rights organizations and movie-watchers still brought up concerns surrounding reports that multiple animals had been either killed or abused for the film. Though several Humane Societies have associated themselves with the adventure flick, the American Human Association has never been able to confirm or deny the animal cruelty rumors – so perhaps you should watch the film and decide what you believe for yourself.

#8: “Cannibal Holocaust” (1980)

Here’s a movie that’s not for the faint of heart. “Cannibal Holocaust” follows a group of unscrupulous filmmakers who end up angering the wrong bunch of natives. This movie was so violent that director Ruggero Deodato was tried for making a snuff film, but while all the actors escaped unscathed, the animal cast members weren’t so lucky. A turtle is dismembered, a monkey is beheaded, and that’s not counting the pig, snake, spider, and coatimundi that are harmed. In other words, this isn’t exactly a family film.

#7: “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” (1973)

Director Sam Peckinpah wasn’t exactly an animal rights activist. In his 1969 classic “The Wild Bunch,” he tortured quite a few bugs to death, but things got worse during “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.” In this iconoclastic western, the Kid sharpens his six-shooting skills by firing at live chickens buried in the sand. Peckinpah actually blew their heads off using explosive squibs, and that’s after an assistant sprayed lighter fluid in their eyes to keep the birds from falling asleep.

#6: “Andrei Rublev” (1966)

While it’s a classic of Russian cinema, “Andrei Rublev” isn’t PETA-approved. When a Tatar army invades a medieval town, they kill everybody, including the livestock. In this distressing scene, director Andrei Tarkovsky coated a cow in asbestos and set it on fire. While the cow was unharmed, this poor horse wasn’t so lucky. Purchased from a slaughterhouse, the horse was shot in the neck, pushed down a flight of stairs, and finally stabbed with a spear, all in the name of art.

#5: “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1936)

Loosely based on real events, this cinematic spectacle features loads of romance, adventure, and dead horses. In the film’s climactic battle, screen legend Errol Flynn leads a cavalry charge against an overwhelming number of rebels…and things don’t end well, especially for the animals. Using a special trip wire called the “Running W,” filmmakers killed at least two-dozen horses and even one rider. Fortunately, Congress was so outraged it banned the Running W and implemented new laws on how moviemakers could treat animals.

#4: “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” (1925)

Horses had it rough in old Hollywood, especially the ones in “Ben-Hur.” Thanks to second unit director B. Reeves Easton, a man infamous for his disregard of safety, up to 100 horses were killed during the epic chariot race. Horses that didn’t die in accidents were shot when injured, even if they only had a limp. Topping things off, a stuntman died during filming so it probably won’t come as a surprise that Easton was the same man responsible for “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”

#3: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (2012)

Middle-Earth isn’t safe for hobbits or elves, but it’s downright dangerous for barnyard animals. Peter Jackson’s trilogy is full of horses, sheep, and goats, and while none was harmed onscreen, twenty-seven tragically died off camera. When they weren’t on set, the animals were kept on a New Zealand ranch riddled with hidden dangers. Horses tore their legs on jagged fences, chickens were attacked by hungry dogs, and a pony broke its back after tumbling down a cliff. We’re sure Radagast the Brown would’ve been horrified.

#2: “Jesse James” (1939)

Largely forgotten, this western was a milestone in the history of animal rights. Pursued by a posse, Frank and Jesse James leap off a cliff into a roaring river, but things didn’t end well for Jesse’s faithful steed. The film crew covered the horse’s eyes so it couldn’t see the drop and tricked it into jumping seventy-five-feet, a fall it didn’t survive. The stunt sparked nationwide outrage, giving rise to the American Humane Association’s involvement in Hollywood and their famous “no animals were harmed” catchphrase.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions:
- Slaughtered Donkey
“Manderlay” (2005)
- Cat Torture
“Sátántangó” (1994)
- Sick Puppies
“Snow Buddies” (2008)
- Killed Horses
“Stagecoach” (1939)
- Giraffe Mistreatment
“Zookeeper” (2011)

#1: “Heaven’s Gate” (1980)

Michael Cimino’s much-hated western is the grisliest film in cinematic history… for animals anyway. Roosters were forced to fight each other, and cows were sliced open so their intestines could serve as props. Horses were bled from the neck to provide extra gore, and one was reportedly blown up with dynamite. Cimino refused to let the American Humane Association onset, but after his film flopped, new rules were set in place that required the AHA to be present whenever an animal is on a film set.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the worst movie that’s harmed animals? For more eye-opening Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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