By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Filmmakers go back and alter their movies in new director’s cuts for any number of reasons, from bolstering characterizations to clarifying plot points. Last year’s chiller ISLAND ZERO, however, has now been updated to save a dog’s life.
Or, more accurately, to not kill the dog in the first place. The original version of ISLAND ZERO released to VOD last May (which we reviewed here) began with a little terrier named Henry becoming a victim of the carnivorous critters threatening an island off the coast of Maine. Intended as a cold open to give the audience an early scare, it violated a cardinal rule of the genre; as best-selling author Tess Gerritsen, who scripted ISLAND ZERO, explains in a blog post that went up today, “Every thriller writer knows you must never, ever kill a pet in your novel. You can torture and mutilate any number of human beings. You can slice and dice women, massacre men on a battlefield, and readers will keep turning the pages. But harm one little chihuahua and you’ve gone too far. The readers will let you have it.”
Facing negative reaction to Henry’s demise since ZERO’s initial release, the writer and her son, director Josh Gerritsen, opted to go back and shoot a new introductory scene, in which a human victim (played by Kelly McAndrew) replaces the pooch. This new edition is now on iTunes and Amazon, and will be on other streaming services like Google Play, YouTube and Vulu soon (so if you want to catch the original cut, better do it quick!), as well as the new DVD and Blu-ray releases. You can read Gerritsen’s complete post about the reshoot here, and get a quick glimpse of Henry in the original trailer below.