The Plague Dogs (film)

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The Plague Dogs is a 1982 film about two dogs (Rowf and Snitter) who escape from an animal research laboratory.

Directed and written by Martin Rosen, based on the novel by Richard Adams.
Two dogs on the run... the outside world is not what they imagined.


  • Damn this place. Damn the whitecoats! DAMN YOU ALL!
  • [looking into a pool of water] Look. Rowf, look! Everything's so still in there. If I was in there, covered over, my head would be cool. Things would keep still.
  • Rowf, look. Take a good look! I was right! I told you! That, Rowf, is a master! A real master of dogs! We'll do what they're doing. Don't you see? And then the man will take us home with him. Oh, what luck! My master used to throw sticks, or a ball. They like you to run about and do things. Well, this man uses sheep instead of sticks, that's all. We'll show 'em, Rowf. We'll show 'em.
  • They belonged where they were. You could smell it. No white coat does anything to them. But what are we going to do, Rowf?
  • I hope you make sure we're properly dead before you start, old rip-beak!


  • [lying on the floor exhausted, having been revived from being drowned] I can't do it. I'll... I'll fight. I'll tear their.. white coats! Damn white coats!
  • [while exploring the laboratory] There must be some reason, mustn't there? It must do some sort of good.
  • [talking to Snitter] I was just wondering what it'd be like to have a master. The kind that you talk about. But, there's no one. Only us. The dark that Tod talks about, it's... it's all around us. I can feel it.

The Tod[edit]

  • I'm The Tod. Tod, y'know? Canniest tod on moss an' moor.
  • Yer lookin' for me? The way yer runnin' I thought your arse was a'fire.


[Snitter manages to escape his pen in the laboratory and goes to free Rowf from his]
Rowf: [exhausted] I can't stand water any more. When I shut my eyes... water comes again.
Snitter: How will you get out? Do you drink it? Or does the sun dry it up? Or what?
Rowf: I don't know. I hate it, Snitter. The water's terrible.
Snitter: [pawing at bottom of the pen door] The wire's loose here, Rowf. Along the bottom. If I put my nose under it I might be able to get through. [begins nosing at the wire]
Rowf: Why do they do it, Snitter? I'm not a bad dog.
Snitter: [pushing himself through the gap under the wire] I don't think they do it because they think you're bad, Rowf.
[a dog in a nearby pen howls loudly and mournfully, increasing in volume]
Rowf: [irritated] Do you think you're the only one WHO HATES THIS DAMN PLACE?!
[Rowf leaps forward and pushes the unlatched pen door open, to his surprise. Frightened, he backs up into his pen]
Snitter: Rowf! Now I remember. That's why I came - the door of your pen's unfastened! We can go through it, Rowf!
Rowf: They'd only bring us back.
Snitter: We can do it! We can get out of here!
Rowf: [apprehensive] It's... it's safe in here.
Snitter: I don't mean out of your kennel! I mean out of here - the whole place! We can do it!
Rowf: It's bad out there.
Snitter: Bad? Think of the water. What could be worse than that? Hours of struggling in the metal water with the whitecoats peering down into the tank, watching you. And one day you won't get out. They'll let you drown!
Rowf: They say, "Go in the water", I'll--
Snitter: They're not masters. I had a master once, and I know. Whatever the whitecoats are, they are not masters.

Snitter: They've taken everything away. The houses, the roads, cars, pavement, the lot. How did they do it Rowf?
Rowf: The white coats must've changed it, so they could do something or other to animals.
Snitter: My master never used to do anything to me.
Rowf: I don't want to hear about your master.
Snitter: When I was at home, my master--
Rowf: [interrupts] Aren't you listening to me?
Snitter: Masters are different, Rowf! You will see what I mean when we've found one.
Rowf: Suppose there aren't any masters left, what then?
Snitter: There must be! It's just that I wasn't expecting... this.
[The two dogs walk for a bit and come across a pond. Snitter gazes down at it.]
Snitter: Look. Rowf, look! Everything's so still in there. If I was in there, covered over, my head would be cool. Things would keep still.
Rowf: If you fall in, they won't let you out!
Snitter: Well, it's better out here than in the pens. Isn't it Rowf?
Rowf: [sprays at a tree] When are we gonna eat? I'm hungry.
Snitter: The flies in my head! They keep buzzing! Feels like smoke.
[They wander around. Snitter sprays at the same tree, while Rowf gnaws at a broken branch. Snitter sniffs at some leaves, which are blown away by the wind.]
Snitter: Look, how the wind sends the leaves running across the sky. [brief pause] There are the houses! I knew they couldn't have gone far! Come on, Rowf! We're alright now!

[after Rowf and Snitter try to herd sheep]
Don (sheepdog): What the 'ell art thou playin' at? Art thou stark bloody mad or what?
Snitter: We just need a master.
Don: Just need a master? Of all the...! Art thou out of thy minds? Chasin' yows up and down fell! Snappin' and bitin'! Where's thy farm at? Where's thy master? Thou's nipped yon yow too, thou bastard. It's bleedin'!
Rowf: Lay off. You don't own this place!
Don: Don't own it? Then I'd like to know who bloody does! Ey, Wag, 'e says we don't own fell 'ere.
Wag (sheepdog): Bloody cheek! What they reckon they're up to then?
Rowf: What are you up to then?
Don: Gatherin', ya daft sod! Seekin' wooled sheep o' course! And then 'e comes down like bloody bulls and spoils our farmer's good work?
Wag: Aye, they'll be tourists. [gestures to Snitter] Thee, wi' yon patch on the 'ead - where's the master at? [Snitter doesn't respond] Has he been hurt and thee run away?
Snitter: We haven't a master. We thought, maybe your master--
Don: [interrupts] He'll fill thee with lead, he will, worrying sheep!
Snitter: We were only doing the same as them.
Farmer: Don, come by here! Wag, come by here!
Rowf: We better get out of here. [they run off]
Snitter: They belonged where they were. You could smell it. No white coat does anything to them. But what are we going to do, Rowf?

[Rowf and Snitter come across a Stonehenge after a whole evening of traveling]
Rowf: We would've been fed by now, wouldn't we? We couldn't even find our way back to the white coats. I mean, supposing we wanted to.
Snitter: Do you want to go back?
Rowf:I don't know. There's nothing up here. I don't anyone's been up here since it was made.
Snitter: Well, the white coats won't come up here, anyway.
Rowf: No, they won't come up here. But neither will your master.
Snitter: My master can't anymore. Rowf, if we don't find food soon, we'll die.
Rowf: I'm not gonna die. Not without a fight.
Snitter: Who are you going to fight? There's no one here.
Rowf: I'll fight this. But we'll have to change.
Snitter: Change? Change to what?
Rowf: To what we used to be. Real animals. Wild animals.
[Snitter imagines the stones turning into giant monsters and gets scared]
Rowf: We will find food. We'll live by our teeth and... kill. That's what we'll do. Kill.

[Rowf and Snitter come across The Tod]
Rowf: Stay where you are! I mean it!
The Tod: Away now kidder... no need for you an' me to start battlin'. Wher'd ya get that crack on the head, bonny lad?
Snitter: The road was black and white and then the truck came and... lightning shot down my head... it is a dog, isn't it?
Rowf: He's a thief!
The Tod: Now give over! Let's all be mates! No need for a barney. Stick wi' me and we'll all be champion... else you'll soon be dead.
Snitter: Dead?
The Tod: Aye. Dead. An' no arguement about it.
Rowf: We're not about to die.
The Tod: No? Why, hinny, you've got no chance at all. I've been watchin' ye the last two days - you'll not last! Hollerin' yer heads off, racin' about the fell.
Snitter: What do you mean? What are you saying?
The Tod: Just a proposition, bonny lads. If ye'll hunt and kill with me, I'll keep ye right, and ye'll get yer meat, we'll run through the night and follow me feet.
Rowf: I don't understand a word he's saying.
Snitter: He's saying he'll show us how to live out here if we let him share what we kill.
The Tod: Aye, laddie, that's it. Why, ye'll have no bother with me, I'm a delicate eater. I don't aught but pick at me meat.
Rowf: He'll cheat us and run away when it suits him. Bloody thief, that's what he is.
Snitter: Well, we've nothing to lose. He's a sharp one, Rowf.
Rowf: If you're still here when it's light, we'll decide what to do then.
The Tod: Ah, now yer talkin' sense. Keep a tight hold of yer mate, and a good look over ye.
Rowf: What do you call yourself?
The Tod: I'm the Tod. Tod, ya know? Canniest Tod on Moss an' Moor.

The Tod: Sneaky sods.
Rowf: Are they looking for us?
The Tod: Who else? Let's away now, an' stop yer yammerin'.
Rowf: Not without Snitter. If they're hunting the valley for us, Snitter's in danger.
The Tod: That may be, hinny. But that looks like real trouble.

The Tod: This story of his, about killing a man with a gun, is it true? Or is it just a crack in his head talking?
Rowf: As far as I can make out, it's true. I don't know how it happened, exactly. You know how he goes on.
The Tod: Aye! The little booger. Shoot a man. Now, that's something. Mind, it's bad.
Snitter: Damn these cobwebs!
The Tod: Your mate's gone daft as a brush, ya know. If I had the sense I was born with, I'd be off an' away an' leave you to it.
Rowf: You're always leaving when it gets rough.
The Tod: Give over, bonny lad. No need to go on so. Do you know why we're still alive, with hundreds, maybe thousands of men who'd be glad to kill us?
Snitter: They wouldn't dare. I've only got to drown, or jump under a truck, and the sky will fall down and all the man will die. Have you ever thought of that, Rowf? That puts us one up on them.
The Tod: I'll tell the pair of ya why. Because I know them; the way they think. So as long as you do as I say, we'll stay ahead of them. If not, there's just no chance.

Rowf: Do you think they're looking for us?
The Tod: No one else, laddies.
Snitter: They're going to kill us, Rowf. They're watching us.
The Tod: If we can get across the valley without them seeing us, we'll be away and free.
Snitter: Flies out of my head. Look. They've grown huge. Circling round and round over the hills.
The Tod: I'll go ahead and see how the land lies. Make sure he doesn't get crazy and start shouting. We don't need that just now. [The Tod leaves]
Rowf: He knows what he's doing, that one. We've never been good at being wild, haven't we?
Snitter: We just started too late.
[The Tod navigates the valley below while trying to avoid being seen by countless soldiers]
Soldier: Doesn't look like it'll be much longer now. We ought to be back in Catterick by this evening.
Major: Oh, yes. It looks that way.
Soldier: I feel sorry for the dogs; don't you, Major?
Major: It's this whole damn business.
Soldier: Well, they have caused a lot of damage. And eating a dead man's body--
Major: Dammit, that's exactly the point! They were starving! They didn't set out to cause all this... havoc.
[The Tod returns to Snitter and Rowf]
The Tod: The place is crawling with men. I've never seen anything like it.
[A helicopter flies right above them]
Snitter: That's the fly I've been talking about! It's got out of my head!
Rowf: They're whitecoats. Tod, can we cross the valley? Is it safe?
The Tod: We might get them. Now, whatever happens, don't stop. Remember, keep moving.

[Rowf and Snitter swim out into the ocean to escape being shot by gunmen, seemingly towards an island]
Rowf: Is it far, Snitter?
Snitter: Not very far, old Rowf.
Rowf: I can't see anything in front of us.
Snitter: [sounding exhausted] I'm getting tired. Can't seem to... move my legs... anymore.
Rowf: [also beginning to tire] Keep going. Try!
Snitter: Can't... swim anymore... Rowf.
Rowf: We must be near the island!
Snitter: If there is... any island... Rowf.
Rowf: There is. There... can't you see it? Our island! (begins to swim ahead) Just stay with me. I'll get you there.


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