Though perhaps nothing matches a bear enraged from ingesting ridiculous amounts of cocaine, many movies throughout history have shown the untamed nature of animals. Some of these films are hilarious, some of them scare us to death, but all are incredible in one way or another.
These films show the dark side—or at least a fictionalized dark side—of animals. Whether it is something as outlandish as sharks flying through Los Angeles in waterspouts or fiercely violent grey wolves in the Alaskan mountains, these films strike a chord within us that makes us feel both frightened and exhilarated at the thought of what these animals can truly do.
With one of the most recognizable film scores in movie history, Jaws is truly a film to contend with the best of the best. Telling the story of a killer shark out for blood in the small New England town of Amity Island. The shark attacks keep coming, and the carnage is unspeakably gruesome.
With an amazing cast of Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw, Jaws was truly the first of its kind on such a grand scale. The film even touted the title of the highest grossing film of all time – until Star Wars was released two years later. It is a fascinating and horrifying film that might make you think twice before taking a swim at night.
‘The Birds’ (1963)
At the time, and even still today, most people would likely scoff at this idea for an animal attack film, as it sounds the exact opposite of scary. A bunch of birds just don’t seem like anything more than a slight inconvenience and a need for a regular car wash. But Alfred Hitchcock showed the world how terrifying birds can truly be.
In 1963, Hitchcock showed the world that even something as subtle as birds can be the most horrifying thing we’ve ever seen. Following a series of unexplained violent bird attacks in the town of Bodega Bay in Northern California. The film has made such a lasting impression on the world of cinema that in 2016, The Birds was selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress.
When an incredibly strong set of freak cyclones began to scoop up deadly sharks in waterspouts and flood the city of Los Angeles, the horrifically ridiculous Sharknado was born. Despite sounding absolutely too wacky to be real, this film series has become beloved enough to spawn over a half dozen films and spin-offs since 2013.
With Ian Ziering and Tara Reid as the main characters in the series, there is never a dull moment. This too-ridiculous-to-be-true film series is absolutely hilarious and wild and maybe even a little bit insane. At the same time, however, it is one of the most truly enjoyable pieces of hilarious you may ever see!
‘Piranha 3D’ (2010)
The year was 2010, and Piranha 3D was released as a quasi-remake of the 1978 dark comedy classic, Piranha. Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, and Richard Dreyfus were all the driving forces behind this surprising box office success.
Following an earthquake in Arizona, a lake floor is split open, releasing prehistoric piranha into the lake, causing Spring Break to be destroyed. Similar to Jaws, the party-goers refuse to heed the wisdom of their leaders until the piranhas begin eating everyone, then a wild and frantic frenzy breaks out and the insanity of the situation continues.
‘The Grey’ (2011)
In this fiercely adventurous film of non-stop suspense and action, we are faced with several questions of our own abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Liam Neeson leads the charge as a sharpshooter who makes a living by killing grey wolves who threaten oil drillers in Alaska. As he is flying home, however, his plane crashes, and he leads the survivors through a perilous journey.
Along with Neeson, this film boasts an incredible cast of Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, and Joe Anderson. The high suspense of The Grey, coupled with the deeply emotional acting makes for a truly horrifyingly delightful viewing experience.
There is nothing hokey or ridiculous about this film, but it deserves mention, nonetheless. A man (Idris Elba) takes his two daughters on a vacation to South Africa to attempt to reconnect after a difficult estrangement. While there, they meet up with a wildlife biologist friend (Sharlto Copley) to tour the Mopani Reserve to see the wildlife. When they encounter a lion who has apparently gone rogue, absolutely everything goes wrong.
Through a series of violent attacks, the group evades the man-hungry lion just long enough for some assistance from an unlikely group to come along, but would that really be enough? This heart pounding, suspense laden film will keep you on the edge of your seat, and Elba is truly remarkable as a father doing anything and everything to save his daughters.
Crawl is truly a combination of all the worst things happening all together. There is flooding, there is a hurricane, there are looters, and there are killer alligators. What more could they throw into this? Literally everything that could go wrong, does go wrong.
Kaya Scodelario stars as Haley Keller, a college swimmer, checking in on her father (Barry Pepper) as a category 5 hurricane descends upon his Florida home. Flooding, alligators, looters, and getting trapped in the flooded crawlspace of the house all lead to some daringly incredible rescues and moments of suspense. The film received typically positive reviews, and it is absolutely worth seeing.
In what is possibly one of the most ridiculous animal attack movies of all time, in Squirm, we are treated to the incredibly awkward idea of blood worms mutated by a downed power line. Yes, that is absolutely as weird as it sounds, but it is also surprisingly horrific.
While both the acting and production of the film received less-than-stellar reviews upon its 1976 release, it has become something of a cult classic. Through the years, it has been referenced in various mediums, including a 1999 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. While not necessarily the most frightening film of all time, it absolutely has moments of unadulterated terror.
‘Deep Blue Sea’ (1999)
Unlike the natural terror that was Jaws, with Deep Blue Sea, we encounter a group of scientists conducting research and testing on sharks in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s – an absolute recipe for disaster, as no genetic testing ever goes right in film.
When the sharks being tested on become smarter and more deadly, due to the scientists engineering their brains to increase in size. With Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, and Samuel L. Jackson, this film dives deep into excitement and adventure right out of the gate, and demonstrates that we should never mess with sharks – because they will mess right back.
‘The Shallows’ (2016)
Similar to Deep Blue Sea, in The Shallows, we encounter a shark with too much intelligence for humanity to be able to survive it. Nancy Adams (Blake Lively), is on a vacation in Mexico and while she is surfing, encounters a great white shark that attacks and wounds her. After being forced to spend the night, injured and afraid, sleeping on a reef, she has to figure out how to outsmart the shark.
There are plenty of moments of intense fear, as well as a few great giggles to be had (she did, in fact, name a seagull “Steven Seagull”, after all). Ultimately, this film delivers heart pounding moments of action, adventure, and absolutely horrifying terror. While a truly entertaining film, it might make you second guess that next surfing trip.