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Darkness at Toon: Not Suitable for Children 

Wednesday, May 20 2015
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Animation about animals has struggled to be taken seriously for decades (particularly animation intended for young girls), and YBCA's Not Suitable for Children screens three films that frequently take the "talking animals" trope to family-unfriendly places. Martin Rosen's 1982 The Plague Dogs concerns a pair of dogs who break out from a research facility only to be hunted down by the government. The reputation of Rosen's previous film, Watership Down, preceded it, but many video stores in the 1980s had to add "NOT FOR CHILDREN!" labels to The Plague Dogs' box, in case the title, PG-13 rating, and artwork of desperate dogs running from a helicopter (one with bandages on his head!) didn't get the point across. Don Bluth's The Secret of NIMH, from that same year, was rated G, but its tale of a mouse who encounters a race of super-intelligent rats (who also escaped from a research facility) was famed for adding a bit of intensity to countless slumber parties. The most obscure of the series is Michael Shaack's 1994 Felidae, a big-budget German(!) film about a cat who investigates the sometimes gruesome murders of other cats in his neighborhood. And, surprise surprise, animal experimentation factors into it. Seriously, humans? Stop doing that.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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