We learn many life lessons from watching horror films. Never split off from your group, avoid the woods, never stop at roadside motels, and do NOT under any circumstances pick up or read an ominous relic. Just don’t even touch it. When it comes to nature, horror teaches us that we should never, ever screw with it. These forgotten animal flicks prove just how deadly nature can be, turning even the most harmless of garden pests into ruthless killers.
10) Great White (1981)
It’s easy to understand why most people have long forgotten about this Italian killer shark tale; its striking similarities to Jaws resulted in a lawsuit by Universal, causing it to be yanked from North American theaters shortly after release. Until recently, Great White had never been released legally in North American, garnering it a cult following. Despite the blatant copy of characters and plot, Great White is much too silly to take seriously. From bad dubbing to a laughable take down of a helicopter, Great White is just plain fun. Some even consider it the best Jaws sequel.
9) Crocodile (1980)
A mix between Godzilla and Jaws, this Thai film features a giant crocodile feasting on the people of a rural Thai village. A doctor takes his wife and child to said village and becomes hell bent on vengeance when they’re eaten by the title beast. Due to such a tiny budget, most of the crocodile scenes feature stock footage, and the editing is downright terrible. Crocodile holds a place on the American Humane Association Unacceptable list thanks to an actual cruel slaying of a crocodile on screen.
8) Venom (1981)
Ten year old Philip has just brought home a pet snake from a local importer. The problem is that someone switched it with a Black Mamba, one of the most venomous snakes. When Philip is kidnapped and a cop is shot, the criminals, Philip, and his grandfather are surrounded by police in a townhome. As if the situation isn’t serious enough, the snake is loose in the townhouse’s ventilation. This British killer snake flick stars Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski, and features quite a bit of the snake’s POV. Unfortunately the viewer doesn’t get a glimpse of the snake until about 45 minutes in, and the film is played too straight. Tobe Hooper was initially set to direct this film, so one can’t help but wonder how that would’ve improved this rather unexciting killer snake film.
7) Spasms (1983)
Oliver Reed (again) stars in this killer snake film from Canada. This time the snake is a serpent of hell summoned by a tribe in New Guinea. The snake kills its summoners and is captured by snake hunters. Oliver Reed’s character of course has a history with this snake and has its shipment routed to his residence in Toronto. More than just a history, man and snake share a bizarre telepathic connection. Like Venom, this film has snake POV as well. This time, the snake attacks are much more brutal.
6) Of Unknown Origin (1983)
Banker Burt Hughes, played by Peter Weller, stays behind in his New York brownstone to close a deal while his wife and child go visit her father. Once alone in the house Burt begins hearing noises and finding objects chewed up. The destruction amps up and thus begin the war between Burt and the rat. With the rat often winning the battles, Burt runs the gamut of emotions; ranging from annoyed, to scared, to outrage, and acceptance. This rat is intentionally screwing with him. Thanks to Peter Weller’s performance, this is less tedious than you’d think. There’s no gore or a body count, just a battle of wits between a Peter Weller and a devious, but little seen rat.
5) Deadly Eyes (1982)
If just one clever rat terrorizing a man isn’t for you, then this is your rat movie. In Deadly Eyes, the rats grow to the size of dogs after feeding on disposed steroid infected grains and are unleashed into the suburbs of Toronto when their home is burned down. The body count is larger thanks to hungry ‘roid raged rats and look for Scatman Crother’s to get devoured. Scream Factory has picked up this little gem and will release it in July.
4) Blue Monkey (1987)
Also known as Green Monkey or Insect, but don’t expect to find any monkeys upon viewing. Instead, this Canadian film features a giant insect running amok in a hospital. It begins with an older man visiting a greenhouse where he pricks his finger on an exotic plant. He falls ill and dies sooner after at the hospital, and a worm-like creature crawls out of his mouth. Other patients fall under the same symptoms and the hospital is quarantined. Leave it to unsupervised kids to spray the worm with growth hormones and the worm grows into a large ant-like insect. The special effects are ok, but look for a lot of the insect scenes to feature a man in a suit.
3) Link (1986)
In this British film, actor Terence Stamp plays a crazy zoology professor trying to get his three primates to act human. He’s very successful with his orangutan Link, who’s taken to wearing a tuxedo and acting as a butler. Link has also developed an attraction to the professor’s American assistant, played by Elisabeth Shue. With the remote countryside property surrounded by wild dogs and a hostile orangutan with the hots for the help, what can go wrong? Link, nearly matching his human counterparts in intelligence, is one creepy ape.
2) Razorback (1984)
As if the Australian outback isn’t hostile enough, the characters in this film have to contend with a killer razorback boar. One that proves effective at framing people for murder, which is all the more impressive considering the path of destruction it leaves in its wake. The deaths in this film are gruesome and unpredictable. Truth is given precedence over happy endings. Russell Mulcahy makes his directorial debut with Razorback, giving an aesthetic of a larger production film with a meager budget. The small budget does show at moments, and the ending had to be tweaked when money ran dry.
1) Slugs (1988)
Who would have ever thought a film about killer slugs terrorizing a small town could be so much fun? Toxic sludge has created mutated slugs who then find their way into the sewers and homes of said small town. Naturally, this mutation has given the slimy pests teeth and turned them carnivorous. Feeling similar to The Blob (a personal favorite), the slugs kill their way at random through town while a scientist tries to figure out a way to stop them. The kills are gory and gratuitous, and the dialogue can be downright puerile. The climax ends with an opening for a sequel, and I can’t help but wish one did exist.