Whether they’re returning from the grave ready to attack, or playing the hero and stealing the show, one thing is for certain; Stephen King has entertained and horrified us with animals throughout his body of work.
In Uncle Stevie’s kingdom, there are creatures great and small, some who want to help and others that want to eat you alive! There are plenty of moments to consider, from “Chopper, sick balls!” in Stand By Me, to the loyal pets laid to rest in the Sematary, like Biffer, (who was a helluva sniffer). Let’s see who made the cut for the most memorable beasts…
“It might be that the biggest division in the world isn’t men and women, but folks who like cats and folks who like dogs” ~ L.T.’s Theory of Pets
10) Azrael, Doctor Sleep
In Doctor Sleep we get to catch up with Danny Torrance from The Shining, who is now a grown man working in a nursing home. Because of his shine, Dan is able to help those in hospice who are ready to pass into the great beyond, landing him the nickname Doctor Sleep. However, Dan modestly points out that Azzie, the resident cat in the nursing home, is the real doctor and that he is just the cat’s assistant. It’s Azrael (named after the Angel of Death) who actually knows which resident is going to die next and Dan just follows Azzie’s lead when he realizes the cat has settled on a resident’s bed. Stephen King admits that he was inspired by the true story of Oscar, a therapy cat who became more of a hospice worker when he would start making comforting appearances on the beds of those who were about to die.
9) Kojak, The Stand
In King’s novel, we meet Big Steve, an Irish Setter who is found by Glen Bateman and renamed after the TV detective from the ’70s (though in the miniseries he’s portrayed by a golden retriever). Kojak is as loyal as they come, following Glen and company across country and having adventures in the meantime that nearly do him in. Still, Kojak is strong and smart and pulls his weight by fetching firewood, hunting small game, and comforting his human companions in need. If Kojak were to be featured on We Rate Dogs, he’d definitely earn a 13/10.
8) Milo, Joyland
Another good boy in the Animal Kingdom would include Milo, a Jack Russel terrier from Joyland. Milo is the companion to a boy named Mike and his mother Annie who befriends Joyland employee Devin Jones. The spunky terrier is partially responsible for introducing the trio and has a very strong connection to his guardian, Mike, who he accompanies just about everywhere he goes. Milo also plays an integral part of Mike’s family outing with Devin, showing just how strong his bond is with his beloved boy. He may be stubborn and a bit of a beggar when it comes to food, but he sure won our hearts.
7) Clovis, Sleepwalkers
While each of the animals on our list so far have been do-gooders, Clovis is the first to actually be the honorary partner of a police officer. In the film Sleepwalkers, Clovis accompanies his guardian, Sheriff Andy Simpson (Dan Martin), on routine patrols in the squad car. The duo have an encounter with Charles Brady (Brian Krause), a shape-shifting creature disguised as a high school student who recently moved into town with his mother, Mary (Alice Krige). What Clovis reveals is that Charles and his kind have a major aversion to cats, which Clovis uses to his advantage during a struggle between Sheriff Simpson and Charles. Clovis proves himself every bit as brave and loyal as the sheriff at apprehending the bad guys and turns out to be a major protagonist in the film. Good kitty!
6) Cujo, Cujo
Inspired by an interaction King had with a Saint Bernard that tried to bite his hand in the spring of 1977, Cujo is real-life nightmare fuel for anyone who owns a happy hound. Well-behaved Cujo is the Cambers family dog who spends his time roaming the field near their home and mechanic shop. After Cujo is bitten on the nose by a rabid bat while chasing a rabbit, he becomes aggressive and violent. Eventually, the rabid dog traps Donna Trenton and her son Tad in their clunker of a car outside the shop. With no one around to help, it’s either face the sinister Saint Bernard or die of heatstroke in a Pinto. The film version of Cujo was enough to give me nightmares as a kid, which lands this deranged dog a very memorable spot on the list.
5) Churchill, Pet Sematary
Winston Churchill, aka Church, is one of two cats responsible for introducing me to Stephen King, (you’ll meet the second further down the list). As a cat-obsessed 10-year-old, I saw Church on the cover of the large print book in our library and, without hesitation from my mother, was allowed to borrow and read the novel, kicking off my exploration of King stories.
Churchill starts as the cherished playful, green-eyed companion to little Ellie Creed. He spent his days keeping her company and his nights purring while sleeping on her bed. But all that changed when Church was run down on the busy road outside the Creed family home by a semi-truck. Ellie’s father, Louis took the deceased Church to a special place behind their new house with his neighbor Jud Crandall, who knew the secret of the burial ground beyond the pet cemetery. When Church rises from the grave as an ill-tempered, stinking mess of a feline, the entire Creed family is turned off by his presence. Even Ellie is afraid to have him in her room at night. With his glowing eyes and aggressive behavior, Churchill sets the scene for even more evil and despair for the Creed family.
4) Mr. Jingles, The Green Mile
While the list has been dominated so far by cats and dogs, we can’t overlook one of the tiniest characters that left one of the biggest impressions. Mr. Jingles is a supernaturally intelligent mouse who lives within Cold Mountain Penitentiary, or more specifically, in the death row wing known as The Green Mile. This charming and sweet mouse befriends an inmate by the name of Eduard “Del” Delacroix, who teaches him tricks and keeps a cigar box in his cell for Mr. Jingles to sleep in. Both the inmates and (most of) the guards are fond of the little mouse who brings joy to the lives of those who know they only have mere days to live. Even in the film, the actors and filmmakers refer to the character as pure love. Director Frank Darabont described Mr. Jingles as, “just what that person needs in order to find their true self.”
3) Oy, The Dark Tower Series
While the animal known as Oy is a fictional creature known as a throcken or billy-bumbler, he ranks high on the list of King’s fan favorites as far as animals and pets go. Envisioned as a cross between a raccoon, a badger, a dachshund, and a woodchuck, Oy is special even amongst his own kind. He joins Jake Chambers and Roland Deschain during the third book in King’s Dark Tower series. Oy is known as being intelligent and loyal to Jake, and mimics human words and phrases. It is said that Jake and Roland start to see Oy as more human than animal at some point and that at times, it’s hard to know if Oy is Jake’s pet billy-bumbler or if Jake is Oy’s pet human boy. Throughout the series, Oy proves himself again and again as an integral part of the Ka-tet making him one of the most memorable animals from the mind of Stephen King.
2) General, Cat’s Eye
I promised I’d tell you more about the second cat who lured me into the Stephen King universe, and here he is! General is the main protagonists in the 1985 film Cat’s Eye, starring Drew Barrymore (Firestarter) as Amanda. A strong and faithful feline, General links each of the three stories in this anthology film together. Two of the vignettes were based on King’s short stories The Ledge and Quitters, Inc. However, the third (and my favorite, both as of today and as an 8-year-old) was written for the screenplay and is called General.
While our tough tabby is featured throughout the film, it’s in the final story that he really shines and wins our hearts as a heroic character. After turning up mysteriously at Amanda’s house as a stray, General is a contentious topic between Amanda and her mother Sally Ann (Candy Clark) who argue over whether or not Amanda can keep the cat as a pet. Unbeknownst to the family, General feels it’s his mission to keep the little girl safe from a danger lurking within her bedroom walls, unseen by Amanda’s parents.
1) Molly, aka The Thing of Evil
Okay, so Molly isn’t fictional and she’s not actually featured in any novels or films by Stephen King. However, if you follow Uncle Stevie on social media, then you have no doubt read about his corgi, Molly (aka The Thing of Evil). King posts often about his cheerful-looking corgi and the shenanigans she gets up to. While she looks innocent enough with her puppy dog eyes and playful smile, King’s captions reveal stories of mischief and madness. Whether she’s attempting to kill winter or plotting against King for his apparel choices, one thing is clear: Molly is the #1 pet we’ve been given from Stephen King. (And heavens no! She didn’t threaten me to say so… why would you think such a thing?!)
What do you think, King fans? Did your favorite animal from Stephen’s Kingdom make the list? Who would you add? Tell us over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!
Molly, aka the Thing of Evil, prepares to attack me for wearing a Jamaica hat with a Maine shirt. The calm expression is just a disguise. I didn't know she could read. pic.twitter.com/OSHg9TNojj
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) February 15, 2018