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Film / Dog Soldiers

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"So, if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch!"
Sgt. Harry G. Wells, "Sarge"

A 2002 British horror film pitting soldiers against werewolves.

While on a routine training exercise in the Scottish highlands, a small group of British Army men discover the remains of an elite special forces squad that's been literally ripped to shreds. After being attacked by some unseen wild beasts, the remaining soldiers escape with the help of a female zoologist who just happened to be in the area. The rest of the movie deals with their attempts to survive the night in an abandoned house, be it fending off the werewolves or the internal strife.

Rumors of a sequel have been circulating for years since it was announced in 2004 that a sequel called Dog Soldiers: Fresh Meat was in the works. Additionally, a teaser for a prequel web-series entitled Dog Soldiers: Red was revealed in 2011. Very little is known about the status of either project, both of which seem to be stuck in Development Hell.


This movie provides examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: When things start to look incredibly bleak after Joe is killed and the plan to use the second car goes horribly wrong, the remaining characters sit in silence, in quiet mourning for their fallen comrades, as Megan plays the piano. The music piece is "Clair de lune", which is "moonlight" in French. Not to mention werewolves howling like a choir in the background.
  • Action Survivor: Megan's not a soldier herself, and the only non military character in the film. Yet she proves quite capable in battle. One trailer even lampshaded this, asking viewers who they thought would crack first. It then said "did you choose the woman?" - followed by clips of Megan ass kicking and a tagline "don't be so sexist". The fact that she's actually a werewolf herself may have something to do with it.
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  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Wells uses this on a werewolf towards the end.
  • Agent Mulder: Spoon has no problem accepting that werewolves are real.
  • All Myths Are True: One character mentions with dread that if werewolves are real what other mythological monsters are real? This alludes to Fridge Horror.
  • All Periods Are PMS: Lampshaded: Megan quips "It's that time of the month" as she starts to transform into a werewolf.
  • An Armand A Leg: It happens so fast, but it looks like Cooper hacks off a werewolf's arm with the sword in the house.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When explaining the meaning of the soldiers' slang word 'bone'.
    Megan: What does 'bone' mean?
    Spoon: Bone - bollocks, naff.
  • Artistic License – Geography: There is nowhere in Scotland that is a four-hour drive from anywhere, as Megan says - Gretna Green (one of the southernmost points before you cross the border) to John o' Groats (northmost) is about 6 hours. That they had a map at the beginning and are all experienced soldiers makes this even worse, and even the crummy weather wouldn't delay the trip that much. Though this could be interpreted as Megan just trying to fake them out so they'll stay put.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The group of soldiers are referred to as a 'squad', when a small infantry unit in the British army is usually called a 'section'. Sections usually have a minimum of eight men (here they have only six) and are commanded by a corporal, not a sergeant.
    • Cooper is seen holding his rifle over his left shoulder. The rifle in question - the SA80 - is always held in the right shoulder due to the way how it's designed, regardless if the user might be left-handed.
    • Ryan's group is armed predominately with submachine guns and shotguns. They make perfect weapons in enclosed space (like inside a house, where most of the plot happens), but are really weird choice for their original deployment.
  • An Axe to Grind: Joe uses one during the siege on the house.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Spoon and Joe at one point, keeping each other covered as they pepper the werewolves attacking the house with machine gun fire.
  • Badass Boast: Delivered by Sergeant Wells to Cooper near the film's climax "When I signed my life away on that dotted line, I fucking meant it. I am a professional soldier."
  • Batman Gambit: With the right "bait", Ryan lured Sarge's men to a specific location during their exercise. This in turn was to provide "bait" to get a werewolf to come out into the open. It all worked spectacularly, except for there being more than one werewolf, and that they ended up attacking Ryan's team first.
  • Berserk Board Barricade: Downplayed. Spoon is busy boarding the entrance door, but does it in normal manner. When suddenly a werewolf's paw slides inside through the letter hole, Spoon reacts by frantically hammering the paw instead and then boarding the hole in excessive way.
  • The Berserker: Spoon. Would you expect anything less from a man who begins to enjoy fighting werewolves and later delivers the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of a lifetime on one?
  • The Big Guy: Joe. Cooper even refers to him as 'the big guy with the axe'.
  • Black Comedy: Lots of it. Particularly when Sarge is found with his intestines hanging out, and Cooper nonchalantly stuffs them back in. Later Sam the dog tries to eat the bandages.
  • Blinding Camera Flash: Used deliberately by Megan, since the werewolves are No-Sell to conventional attacks.
  • Blood Knight: Spoon actually starts to enjoy the siege.
    Spoon: Know what this reminds me of? Rourke's Drift. 100 men of Harlech, making a desperate stand against 10,000 Zulu warriors. Outnumbered, surrounded, staring death in the face and not flinching for a moment. Balls of British steel.
    Joe: You're bloody loving this, aren't you?
  • Brave Scot: Cooper is Scottish and is The Leader of the team. He's the only one who doesn't freak out, and keeps a cool head.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "Spiders. And women. And... spider-women."
  • Brick Joke:
  • Bullethole Door: "Open your mouth, cover your ears, mind your toes."
  • Cannibal Larder: There's a grisly mound of bones hidden under the werewolves' house.
  • Catchphrase: Ryan says "Live and learn" a few times.
  • Cat Scare: A cow's body is thrown on the campfire to scare the soldiers. Played with in the sense that it's actually the start of the werewolves pursuing them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The silver letter opener.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Ryan loves to do this.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The entire film probably counts.
  • Combat Breakdown: The defense of the cottage starts fairly organised but gradually disintegrates over the course of the film, as body toll rises and ammo runs scarce. Spoon's fight with the werewolf also has shades of this. He starts off throwing well-placed punches and using a knife to keep the werewolf at bay but as the werewolf pushes forward, all he can do is to use anything he can find in a frantic effort.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The military fighting werewolves.
  • Creator Cameo: The insurance didn't cover the actors jumping out of the helicopter at the start of the film. As many of the crew were ex-military, they doubled up and did it themselves. They also doubled for the soldiers during some of the tabbing shots.
  • Corpsing: This was apparently the director's reaction when they shot the barn exploding.
    "Luckily it wasn't sound-dependent, but I thought it was just awesome."
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ryan's squad was slaughtered without firing a shot.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ryan. Megan also has her moments.
  • Danger Room Cold Open: Cooper's introductory scene shows him running through the woods, but it turns out to be a training exercise. Of course, the whole plot was meant to be a training exercise, but it goes horribly wrong.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: How poor Joe meats his end. At least he fights it like a man.
  • Death by Sex: The campers at the beginning get killed just as they're about to get busy.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: A rare case where this trope is pulled off with success.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Megan turns out to be a werewolf, so Cooper has to kill her.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Spoon's epic performance with the flares.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: And then he fights a werewolf. With bare hands. And is winning... until a second werewolf shows up.
  • Digital Destruction: The 2015 collector’s edition Blu-ray by Scream Factory, while praised for its expansive supplementary material, was widely criticized for a near colorless, and very grainy picture transfer. Justified as director Neil Marshall (who worked alongside Shout! Factory on the Blu-ray), confirmed that they were unable to locate the original negatives at the time and had to use the best available sources for the new HD transfer.
  • Drop the Cow: In a subversion of the usual comedic intention of this trope, a dead, bloody cow hits the ground just as Spoon is warming up a joke, in order to take the edge off Wells' deeply unsettling story of Eddie Oswald.
  • Double Entendre: Megan, sadly looking down: "It's that time of the month".
  • Dying as Yourself: Nearly averted with Sarge, as he's beginning to transform as he blows himself up with the cottage and everything in it.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Quite a few of the characters get these. Sarge for blowing the werewolves to bits, Joe for attacking a werewolf with a combat knife instead of giving up and dying. Spoony gets special mention for going toe to toe with a werewolf unarmed and nearly winning until another werewolf shows up to help.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous:
    • Averted. The dead SAS squad discovered at the start of the film serve as a sort of off-screen Sacrificial Lion, while the film focuses on regular troops.
    • Subverted as well. In addition to the grueling training he presumably has already undergone as a candidate for the SAS, Cooper is sent packing after Ryan orders him to shoot a dog and he refuses.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ryan shoots a dog (not just any dog, but a highly-trained and extremely-valuable Military Working Dog) in the head in the first few minutes of the film, just because he can.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Wells is usually just referred to as "Sarge".
  • The Faceless: The werewolves are never seen in their human form.
  • Face–Monster Turn:
    • The werewolves. Megan is their neighbor and she describes them as good people.
    • Subverted. There are two tropes on this page detailing what the pack does with their dead victims. The fact that the stove most likely has human flesh cooking in the pot shows us that the pack knows what they are doing as both werewolves and humans.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs:
    • Little Red Riding Hood - Sgt Wells name drops her in the page quote, Bruce strays from the beaten path and immediately gets killed, Megan turns out to be a wolf disguised as a human.
    • Goldilocks & The Three Bears - the soldiers find food on the stove and help themselves, and Cooper mockingly compares the werewolves to the three bears later on. Fittingly Cooper is the only blond in the group as well.
    • The Three Little Pigs - the soldiers barricade themselves in a house to protect from the big bad wolves. The house gets literally blown down in the climax.
  • Famous Last Words:
  • Fatal Family Photo: Sarge has a photo of his wife, which he looks at before he dies.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Think being ripped to pieces by a hungry werewolf is bad? Despite being a bloody mess, Terry is shown to be very much alive as a werewolf is feeding on him.
  • A Father to His Men: Sarge. His men adore him and he even chastises Ryan for "scaring my lads."
  • Fetish: "I love it when a posh bird talks dirty!"
  • Flipping the Bird: The two-fingered variant from Spoon.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Terry's capture by werewolves while standing with his back to the window shouldn't come as much of a surprise when his disregard for basic training is shown in the slapdash way he has almost the entire contents of his bergen unpacked around the campfire.
    • The shot where Ryan washes his face and tilts his head when looking at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. Now what animals tilt their heads when they notice something curious? Dogs. The first physical sign that he is turning into a werewolf.
  • Freak Out: Ryan, after being badly wounded by the werewolves and watching his men get ripped to shreds right in front of him.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Spoon uses one against a werewolf.
  • Futile Hand Reach: When Joe hotwires the jeep in the shed, the headlights turn on, revealing a still very much alive Terry being fed upon by a werewolf right in front of him, reaching out for Joe to help him.
  • Genre Blindness: Terry really should have known better than to stand right next to a broken window shortly after a werewolf siege. "Dogs? More like pussies!" He gets yanked through the window seconds later.
  • Gorn: Buckets of it.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The deaths of campers at the beginning, as well as the death of Joe.
  • Happily Married: Sarge to his wife Annie. He matter-of-factly says that the thought of never seeing her again scares him the most.
  • Hard-to-Light Fire:
    • One soldier goes through a whole box of matches trying to light the petrol-trail on fire, but they keep breaking. Sarge comes to his aid by tossing a Molotov cocktail at the petrol.
    • Also used when a werewolf knocks the lighter out of Wells' hand as he's about to blow up the kitchen gas supply in a Taking You with Me. But it didn't think to also get between him and the stove's pilot-light switch.
  • Healing Factor: Part of the werewolf package it seems. Also a sign of Ryan being a werewolf Infectee.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Cooper seems to be a big dog lover. He's actually enraged when Ryan casually shoots the dog at the start - and seems to form an attachment to Sam as the film goes on.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sergeant Wells blows himself, and the werewolves, up with the gas cooker.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Wells to Cooper, as Wells' wounds are being treated.
    Wells: Cooper, knock me out. HIT ME! [Cooper decks him] ...I said knock me out you fuckin' pussy!
  • Homage: Captain Ryan's transformation was inspired by, of all things, Carry On Screaming!, one of Marshall's favourite films growing up.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Shoot this dog. He refuses.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Bruce is impaled on a broken tree branch whilst fleeing the werewolves. Later, Ryan (as a werewolf) is run through with a sword, but, now being nigh-invulnerable, it doesn't kill him.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: The canine version. Sam's the only survivor other than Cooper.
  • Improvised Weapon: Many examples. Cooper tells the rest of squad to boil water - they use it later to fend off attacks. Megan starts taking pictures of a werewolf with a camera, trying to blind or distract it with the repeated flashes. Spoon throws half the contents of the kitchen at a werewolf, uses a Frying Pan of Doom, and then totally snaps and brutally speed-knifes the wolf. Also counts when Spoon goes hammer-frenzy on werewolf's paw, while barricading doors.
  • Inertial Impalement: An unintentional example. Bruce looks behind him as he is fleeing the werewolves and impales himself on a broken tree branch.
  • It Can Think: The werewolves, natch. Except for Megan, everyone initially considers them savage animals, but their behavior quickly proves them wrong.
    Spoon: They shut down the generator!
    Terry: Why would they do that?
    Megan: Because they can see in the dark.
    Ryan: And you're afraid of it.
    • They can also use firearms as at one point a werewolf snatches a shotgun out of a soldiers hands and starts shooting back.
  • Kick the Dog: Captain Ryan is this kind of person, shooting a dog in his first scene simply because he can.
  • Kill 'Em All: Cooper and Sam are the only characters to survive.
  • The Lancer: It looks like Bruce will be this, as he's the only corporal in the group, and knows Sarge very well. But he's the first one killed off. This leads Sarge to become the Lancer to Cooper.
  • Last Stand: Spoon.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Ryan. Twice. He uses Sarge and Cooper's team as bait for the werewolf so his team can catch it off guard. Instead, Ryan's team gets slaughtered and Sarge's team comes to his rescue. At the end of the film, Cooper shoots Ryan in the head after he turns into werewolf, giving Ryan an Ironic Echo from the beginning of the film.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: The reason why Cooper survives in the end is because he failed the selection test for a special unit. Should he shoot that dog (and didn't punch Ryan), he would end up in the team that got torn into ribbons.
  • Made of Plasticine: Bruce had to have been running incredibly fast to get impaled to the extent that he did.
  • Mauve Shirt: Bruce is the first one to be killed by the werewolves.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Not the werewolves, but the story of Eddie Oswald that Wells tells around the fire. An old friend of Wells, he got a tattoo of a laughing devil when going into war, reasoning that his soul belonged to God but it was up to Satan to save his skin. He was blown up, but when they were looking for pieces, they found the devil tattoo completely intact and immaculate, thus technically saving his skin.
  • Meaningful Name: The name of the family that owns the house is Uath. It's an Old Irish word and can be translated as "Horror" or "Fear.'' This name is fitting as the werewolves are the owners of the house.
  • The Mole: Megan, who doesn't actually intend to be the mole at first. Some time prior to the events of the film she was attacked and turned by the werewolf family, and apparently hates it. She hopes that the soldiers will be able to defeat the rest of the werewolves and rescue her. However after every escape plan goes wrong, her animal instincts and loyalty to the pack take over...
  • More Dakka: The sheer amount of ammunition expended throughout the course of this film is staggering. Lampshaded and subverted when the fact they're running low on ammunition becomes a plot point, and by Cooper's exasperated yell of "Controlled! Three-round! Bursts!", eminently sensible advice that nobody bothers to take.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Inverted. Sarge shows Cooper that his mortal wound is gone, revealing that he's becoming a werewolf.
  • Nice Guy: Terry is a rather shy, but amicable individual.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The werewolves.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Implied, but not stated outright. When the squaddies arrive at the abandoned house, dinner's still on the stove. They tuck in; when asked what it is, one says "Pork, I think." Later, we find out the house belongs to the werewolves and they have human bodies hanging up in the cellar.
  • Off with His Head!: Terry.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When Ryan is going through his Madness Mantra, Liam Cunningham's natural Irish accent slips through a few times.
  • Oop North: Joe and Spoon, whose actors are from Newcastle and Durham respectively.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Reversed, in that we hear the beginning, but not the punchline. The reaction to what happens next might compensate for this, though.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Slightly. They have a silver vulnerability, turn with the full moon, etc. However, they can resist the transformation (albeit with difficulty), and killing them without silver is possible - it's just extremely hard.
  • Painful Transformation: The full transformations are never seen on-screen (Neil Marshall mentions in the commentary that the reason for this was because, after the famous transformation sequence from An American Werewolf in London, he didn't feel he would be able to do it justice), but the characters who start to turn are all shown to be in a huge amount of pain during the process.
    • Also, judging from the screams we hear when the squad retreat from Ryans mangled camp, even people used to the transformation find it agonizing, being that the werewolf family are the only people in the area apart from the squad, so those screams must be them transforming.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Cooper: (to Ryan in werewolf form) You think it's all over? It is now. (BANG)
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Megan: Move your fucking arse, soldier!
    (A short while later)
    Spoon: I love it when a posh bird talks dirty!
  • Photos Lie: The Uath family photo. A couple embraces each other tenderly while the other three people look adorable or awkward, looking at each other, the camera, or somewhere else. This warm family photo belies the fact that the Uath's are the main werewolves in the film.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Megan and Captain Ryan were in contact before the movie. Ryan wanted to capture a werewolf for military purposes and Megan wants out of the pack. However, Ryan thought there was only one werewolf, so he only came prepared for one. Taken to another level in that he doesn't tell Sarge his men are bait and Ryan got confirmation that Sarge's men could be an acceptable loss.
  • Profane Last Words: Spoon, to the werewolf who is about to kill him:
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Regret Eating Me: Spoon's Famous Last Words.
  • Resist the Beast: Wells manages to resist his transformation just long enough to get Cooper to safety, before blowing up the house.
  • Rewatch Bonus: From her first scene, a lot of Megan's dialogue can be viewed in a different perspective. When she first pulls up, she asks if the soldiers are in the middle of a rescue mission. Watching the film a second time, she could be asking about her own rescue. The fact she wasn't hunting with the rest of the pack, but driving along the road, she was waiting for Ryan's mission to succeed and for the pack to pay for her 'adoption'.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Bruce the corporal, and seemingly The Lancer to Sgt Wells, is the first to die at only thirty minutes in.
  • Secret Test of Character: Subverted. At first the audience, much like Cooper, isn't sure if Ryan really intends him to shoot the dog or whether it's a test to see whether he'd follow the order without question. Turns out it isn't.
  • Screaming Warrior: Spoon, during his Last Stand, as he prepares to smack a werewolf with a frying pan.
  • Shoot the Dog: Averted when Cooper refuses to shoot a dog. Played straight when Ryan does it without batting an eye.
  • Shout-Out: Sergeant Wells, "There is no Spoon.", Private Bruce Campbell, the page quote, "Short, controlled bursts", Zulu (both the film and the battle it was based on), "They've fixed it so we can't win! It's the Kobyashi Maru!", The Searchers gets a visual nod at the end... Lots, in short.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The dialogue was clearly all written by someone who knows a lot of genuine British squaddies.
    • The L85s seen in the first few minutes all possess the proper Blank Firing Attachments.
    • Cooper closing Sarge's wound with super glue is Truth in Television. The US Army developed a Super Glue spray during the Vietnam War for (temporarily) closing a soldier's wounds until they could get him to a hospital.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Apart from one of the victims in the prologue, Megan is the only female in the movie. Though if you want to get technical, the werewolf family includes two females (judging by the photos).
  • Sole Survivor: Cooper.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Megan the seemingly well-spoken "posh bird" (as Spoon calls it) drops a few f-bombs and says "asshole" a couple of times.
  • Spam Attack: Spoon is very prone of performing a whole load of quick, vicious attacks with knives and hammers.
  • Spiteful Spit: Spoon does this to the werewolf that's about to eat him.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted and referenced when Sarge fires an automatic rifle in a cupboard. Before he fires, he tells Cooper to cover his ears and open his mouth specifically to avoid hearing damage.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Almost everyone qualifies, but none more so than Sarge. Having already confessed as to being terrified at the thought of never seeing his wife again and then given the choice of either certain death or turning into a werewolf, he stays calm and focused.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: In the initial stages of their transformation, humans turning into werewolves have bright yellow eyes.
  • Taking You with Me: Sarge.
  • Team Pet: Sam.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Terry, suffering from a case of Genre Blindness.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted. When Megan begins her transformation, Wells just shoots a hole in her, still very human, head. According to the director, this doesn't kill her. She shows up again in the end as the one-eyed werewolf.
  • Tuckerization: Bruce Campbell. And Sergeant H. G. Wells.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Cooper and Megan. Her betraying the squad to the werewolves kind of put a damper on things.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Terry couldn't stomach Sam (the dog) pulling at Wells' bandages (which were at the time, very bloody, and could be mistaken for intestines).
  • Warrior Poet: Bruce has shades of this, although it's more evident in the deleted scenes than in the finished film.
  • Weaponized Camera: Megan uses the flash from a camera to stall the werewolves. Later, just before Cooper escapes into the basement, Wells gives the roll of film to him, so he can prove the incident happened. The pictures taken show up before the ending credits start rolling.
  • Werewolf Infectee: Ryan and in an inversion Harry Wells
  • Wham Line: "They were always here. I just unlocked the door."
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: "We need a diversion...something fast and loud." (Everyone looks at Spoon, who wasn't paying attention). Spoon: What? You what?
  • World of Badass: Almost everybody in the film, from the soldiers down to the werewolves themselves are pretty much certifiable badasses who can and will go down fighting.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: Inverted, as the headline about the squad is overshadowed by the result of an international football match. The dead squaddies probably would have understood.


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