Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
I love a good supernatural monster movie. Werewolves, vampires, some unholy creation cooked up in a mad scientist’s lab. It’s all good. But while I find them entertaining, I never find them scary simply because (as far as I know) none of them are real. That’s why it’s a totally different ball game for me when it comes to Man vs Beast movies.
There’s nothing mythological about lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) and while my chances of ever coming across those beasts are slim to none (outside of a zoo that is), I’ve seen enough movies based on true events to know I never want to (The Revenant anyone?). Yep, these man-eating monsters are as real as you and me and while Spielberg may have set the bar crazy high with Jaws, it’s not the only awesome movie that proved when it comes to Man vs Nature, nature can rack up a serious body count.
Here are my TOP 5 FAVOURITE MAN VS BEAST HORROR MOVIES:
Have you ever held a snake? Or had one crawl over you? I have, and I can tell you, it’s not a pleasant experience. They’re cold, clammy, and you can feel every muscle move in their body. Eeeeww. The snake I held was only about four feet long, so I can’t imagine how terrifying being wrapped up by an anaconda, much less a giant one, must be.
While Anaconda the movie is more of a thriller than a horror, it’s hard to deny the actual terror these real-life monstrosities cause when people have made the mistake of getting too close to one. It’s the kind of death I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Except for Jon Voigt who played the devious bastard Paul Serone in the movie. If anyone deserved to get squeezed like a tube of Colgate, it was that guy.
#4 Piranha/Piranha 3D
I never feel more vulnerable than when I’m swimming in the ocean. You can’t see below the surface and even if you could, what the hell could you do about it?!
While most of what we think of piranhas isn’t true (they can’t eat an entire cow in mere minutes) these little bastards not only look terrifying (why are their teeth larger than their bodies?!) but they can do serious damage. Add the fact they move in schools and you have a living nightmare on your hands.
The Piranha movies (the 1978 original being a parody of Jaws) throws in the “mad scientist” angle by having these buggers being engineered for murder. It’s over-the-top, filled with gore and nudity, and ensures the only place my backside will be doing any swimming is in my nephew’s kiddie pool.
They don’t all have to be wild animals to be terrifying. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with a wild stray dog, you’ll probably have horrific flashbacks while trying to watch Cujo.
It’s a simple premise—a mother and her young son are trapped in their car on a sweltering hot day while the titular rabid St Bernard terrorises them as he tries to break in. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, director Lewis Teague and horror genre icon Dee Wallace squeeze every inch of tension out of this story, and it’s tension that builds to almost unbearable levels and never lets up, right to the very end. I’ve seen my share of “bad dog” movies, but none of them hold a candle to Cujo.
Of all the alligator/crocodile movies out there, this one is a personal favourite. Based on true events (or at least as true as it can be) Primeval tells the story of a massive croc named Gustave causing problems for locals in Burundi, Africa. Americans do what they usually do in this type of movie and end up biting off more than they can chew (an issue Gustave doesn’t have) when a group of journalists try to capture this big boy on film.
The movie is far from perfect, but where it excels is with its depiction of Gustave. This monster of a reptile is a straight-up killing machine and the fact he’s based on a real-life crocodile who’s believed to have killed hundreds, and is STILL doing so to this day, adds a lot of weight to this entertaining thriller.
Honourable Mention: The Shallows
Jaws may have done it first (and best) but The Shallows is one of the best modern-day shark movies I’ve seen in ages. It is a harrowing tale of survival, not just against this murderous beast, but the elements as well. It’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. And like Jaws, it’ll make you think twice about swimming alone.
Primeval is good, Crawl is MUCH better! Director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes <2006>, and Piranha 3D) brilliantly destroys your sense of security by taking man-eating crocodiles out of the wilds and having them crawl straight into your home. Not only is there this great sense of claustrophobia—being trapped with these beasts of nature inside while a hurricane rages outside—but the movie itself never slows down. Taking full advantage of that R-rating Crawl, with its well-written characters, strong performances, and tight pacing, will make you grateful you don’t live anywhere NEAR crocodile-infested waters. And if you do, well, better you than me buddy!
Whether it’s birds, bears, wolves or giant man-eating crocodiles, these movies are all frightfully realistic and do a great job of reminding us of man’s place in the universe. We’ve achieved a lot, but when it comes to our fleshy bodies vs razor sharp claws and fangs, we just might be lower on the food chain than we think.
So what’s your favourite Man vs Beast horror flick? For more scary creatures you can check out my Top 5 Pets in Horror Movies by clicking here. Or for a deeper dive into The Shallows (Get it? Deeper dive? You get it) you can check out Editor Jules’s review by clicking here.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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