All the best directors are nervy. If you don’t take risks, you can’t be great, and hedging your bets is what mediocrity is all about. Spike Lee rolled the dice in this scene from Summer of Sam, and the all-media crowd I saw it with was all but rolling in the aisles.
It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but I would have chucked the dialogue and implied that some kind of demonic vibration was coming from the black labrador. Using CG to turn his eyes yellow or something in that realm.
I never knew, by the way, that the dog’s voice belongs to John Turturro.