Clifford The Big Red Dog Probably Should’ve Stayed In Development Hell

Clifford The Big Red Dog Probably Should’ve Stayed In Development Hell
Contributor: Leah J. Williams and Zachariah Kelly

Since 2012, the Clifford the Big Red Dog live action adaptation has been languishing in production hell. At first, it was in development at Universal Pictures with the plan being to create a hybrid animation film starring a CGI Clifford. In 2013, this version of the film was reportedly cancelled and the idea stagnated for several years. Sadly, the rights were eventually picked up by Paramount Pictures and in the film’s newest trailer we can see why this was a very bad idea, actually.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

Clifford’s story has always been mildly horrifying, even when it took the form of a delightful children’s book. The basic premise was Clifford’s owner Emily loved him so much, he grew very, very large. Much too large for a regular house and a regular little girl. In the books, he required a pool to take a bath. He frightened lions at the zoo. He even played with actual cars.

Clifford is a monster dog, and in any context other than a children’s book he’s absolutely horrifying. If you saw Clifford bounding down the street, you would absolutely pass out from sheer terror. No dog should be so large.

If you’re in the mood for being absolutely terrified then by all means, go see the new Clifford the Big Red Dog adaptation hitting theatres next month. For the rest of us (and for the sake of our collective sanity), it’s best to steer clear.

While the trailer shows off a dog that’s big and red as the name suggests, the similarities between the movie and the books stops there. Rather than a goofy, loveable, abnormally-sized dog, Clifford‘s first trailer reveals a hideous CGI entity born of man’s hubris. His coat is stained a shade of red that resembles dried blood. He towers over the other dogs in the teaser with a hungry look on his face.

You may doubt it, but the Clifford in the new live action movie is absolutely capable of murder. What do you feed a dog of that size in a real life situation? Will you go bankrupt buying pet food to satisfy him, or start to look for other sources of sustenance? What if he tries to sit on you? Or swat you? One errant paw swing and you’d be singing with the angels.

There’s another question yet to be explored in the Clifford mythos: if Clifford has been loved so much he’s grown big because of it, does Emily Elizabeth have a mutant power? Can she make other things large? Could she make a ginormous man for Clifford to play with? I feel sick thinking of the possibilities.

Clifford the Big Red Dog should never exist in live action.

In a kids book, sure. A large dog is cute. In live action, he’s an icon of pure horror. Pennywise has had his time in the sun. It’s Clifford’s turn now.

The teaser for the film is only 2o seconds long, but it’s the greatest horror short that’s ever been written. The pan up to Clifford’s girth will become the stuff of legends.

You can check out the teaser trailer below, if you dare. Just don’t stare into his eyes too deeply. Eye contact can be threatening for predators.


That was the teaser trailer, and if you’re not completely terrified of the big red dog now, you’re a stronger viewer than we are.

Now, just a couple of days ago, Paramount put out a new trailer for Clifford the Big Red Dog “Introducing Clifford” and it’s just as terrifying as you could have imagined.

Let me get this straight; this alarmingly huge red dog bounds up and down the streets of New York at the speed of at LEAST a cyclist, and we’re all supposed to just be cool with that?

“It is the size… of a hippopotamus,” says Casey (Jack Whitehall) scared out of his mind, clutching a hairbrush as a weapon and back up into a corner. Me too, buddy.

Not that he hasn’t a thing to worry about, given Clifford throws him into a wall with his tail.

“What we wanted to keep from the books is the sense that Clifford represented unconditional love,” says the director Walt Becker, defending the dog that casually yeets a man in a Bubble Soccer ball, who lets out a classic wilhelm scream as he is propelled into the air. Not to read into this kids movie too deeply, but that noise is often associated with background characters dying.

At the very least, there are shots of Clifford being cute, when he isn’t oversized compared to other objects in the shot. Watching this beast sit through a table and crush it is worrying.

After many delays, Clifford the Big Red Dog opens in Australian cinemas on 30 December, 2021. We will of course update you if anything changes. But in the meantime, why not check out all the sci-fi, horror and fantasy films coming our way.