To celebrate the trailer for Zombeavers being released this week, we’ve debated our favourite animals in horror movies. We present our personal top ten, but let us know if you agree.
In Piranha (1978), Scientists have produced genetically altered piranha for deployment in the Vietnam War, and (you guessed it), they are accidentally released into the river system. These man-eaters find their way into a summer resort and feast themselves on the guests. Sure, it’s corny and silly now, but the scene in which the school of vicious fish attack a summer camp during a swimming marathon is still pretty intense.
The cream of the crop of 1950s radiation-spawned monster movies, Them! is unusually well-acted and intelligent for a movie about giant, man-eating ants. In fact, the rampaging insects are almost an afterthought to the detailed plot about Army scientists studying ant tendencies, strategizing and locating a couple of lost children. It’s a bit like Law & Order: Special Insects Unit, even ending with a sobering moral about the repercussions of living in the Atomic Age
Jaws’ legendary stature reaches beyond its legendary theme music to every facet of the film: acting, direction, writing, action, scares — it delivers on all levels. Every giant animal horror movie — including Jaws’ increasingly bad sequels — strives to make just a percentage of the impact that this shark tale has had.
If horror movies have taught us anything, its to learn to stop antagonizing the quirkiest folks among us I guess along those same lines, when are the quirkiest among us going to realize that things like training rats to do your evil bidding is pretty much a lousy idea. Neither of these rather easy to grasp lessons were heeded very well in Willard. Bruce Davison plays the outcast title character masterfully as he befriends and trains his vermin-filled army to do his nutsy bidding before they eventually turn on him.
6. The Birds
Alfred Hitchcock made people feeding flocks of birds in parks and on the beach think twice before they busted out that bag of bread crumbs. Tippi Hedren stars as one of the original masters of horror weaves a shocking tale. The great thing about this film is that it takes something previously looked at as beautiful and serene, a flock of soaring birds, and puts that uncomfortable thought into the mind of those who had seen the film.
Now we’re talking B-Grade, and that’s being generous. Frankenfish makes no apologies for being a ridiculous romp of violence, gore, nudity and unlikely scenarios and for that, it’s awesome. Here we have the tale of a genetically modified monster fish, a biological experiment gone horribly wrong, chowing down on the locals in Louisiana swamp territory. That’s really about all you need to know, but really what else do you need?
4. Night of the Lepus
Carnivorous killer rabbits that just look like over-sized bunnies walk a fine line between cuddly and terrifying. It’s another silly B-Movie, but one that’s developed something of a cult following. The weirdest moment is the drove of giant rabbits heading into the nearby town and killing everyone in sight. Well, everyone is superimposed running away from what are clearly just domestic rabbits. But still, those eyes! There’s something eerie about those cold, dead eyes
A rabid bat bites a friendly Saint Bernard named Cujo, causing the dog to become violent and go on a killing spree in a small town in America. The movie, adapted from a Stephen King novel, is known for its genuine terror. Perhaps it’s all the more frightening because the star is man’s best friend. This story is more true to home, as opposed to all those giant mutants.
2. Watership Down
Yup, the kids movie. The one that’s really not for children. For what looks at the outset like an innocent children’s cartoon filled with fluffy animals and lovely woodland scenery, this film has moments of terrifying depravity . For the worst one, we’ll pick the climactic fight between Bigwig and Woundwort. It’s a violent skirmish that’s all wide eyes and bloody teeth, and it’ll make you think that every rabbit in every pet shop is secretly carrying a switchblade.
1. King Kong
King Kong is an undisputed classic. But the film that pioneered the art of special effects actually has some pretty horror-influenced moments. As an audience, our sympathy is with Kong, so the first time we see Kong brazenly kill must have been shocking in 1933. A group on the island try to rescue Ann Darrow from his clutches but, as they make their way across a large log over a deep ravine, Kong appears and starts shaking it, causing several of them to fall to their deaths. This moment of brutality, earns Kong his place at number one as the top animal in horror.