While horror continually invites fictional creatures to emulate people’s nightmares, there is a subgenre that denigrates the world around us. “Natural Horror Movies” tell stories about humans being at the bottom of the food chain, forced to fend off mad animals that want to eat them alive.
Killer animal movies have been around since movies were first produced, although the genre became popular thanks to the efforts of Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen Spielberg with their films The birds and Jaw. Pretty much every animal has graced a horror movie poster in the decades since zombie beaver to Snakes on an airplaneand the coming animal should join the list. While we wait to see Idris Elba punching a lion in the face, let’s look back at the greatest movies in the genre.
The bloody prequel too Beethoven, Cujo follows a rabies-infected St. Bernard tormenting a mother (Dee Wallace) and her little son. Caught in their car in the middle of a heat wave, the couple must contend with the scorching sun while the misunderstood good boy lurks outside, mistreating anyone who tries to save.
Based on the novel by StephenKing, the film remains one of his favorite adaptations of his work. While the film itself doesn’t do anything special, the concept of man’s best friend turned villain is interesting enough to keep this suspenseful thriller going. Just be prepared to “aww” way too much. Cujo murders its victims.
“The Birds” (1963)
Hot on the heels of Psychothe “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock continued his horror classic with The birds. When a wealthy socialite follows a love interest to California, they are caught in a whirlwind of violence when birds begin attacking people.
The birds builds suspense by starring a villain who isn’t that easy to avoid, especially when the crush starts breaking through windows. It all adds up to one of Hitchcock’s best films and a scenario scarier than being harassed by seagulls on the beach at lunchtime.
The birds can be streamed on Showtime.
part of the subgenre that combines killer animals with natural disasters, Crawl adds alligators to a hurricane (take that Sharknado). Professional swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) drives out to check on him. However, the weather worsens and soon the duo spot numerous alligators lurking in the rising tides.
Directed by the modern horror maestro Alexandre Aja (The hills have eyes, Piranha 3D), Crawl constrains his trademark gore to instead increase the suspense as Haley dodges the deadly predators in the flooded home. The result is an effective thrill that never wears off Crawl One of the best horror films of recent years.
‘Deep Blue Sea’ (1999)
The best shark movie since Jaw, deep blue sea is an incredibly entertaining thriller. At an underwater facility where sharks are being genetically engineered to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, things get dire when the highly intelligent creatures escape and target the captured employees. The gathering of scientists, investors, and support staff are forced to work together while trying to live long enough to reach the surface.
Basically a big budget B-movie, deep blue sea never takes itself seriously, but packs plenty of action and memorable death scenes. Renny Harlin (die hard 2, cliffhanger) brings a safe direction to the film while starring a great cast Samuel L Jackson, Thomas Jane, LL Cool Jand Stellan Skarsgard makes it a cult classic.
deep blue sea can be streamed on HBO Max and Tubi.
‘Black Sheep’ (2006)
Forget Peter Jackson and Taika Waititi, Black sheep is New Zealand’s largest export. When the meek Henry returns to his childhood home to sell his share to his brother Angus, he discovers that his sibling has been conducting illegal experiments on sheep. The study turns the normally docile animals into carnivorous predators, and the man-eating animals predictably break free.
A review of Jackson’s early work, such as bad taste and dead alive/brain dead, Black sheep blood circulates as the zombie sheep terrorize the New Zealand countryside, devouring everyone in their path. The film adds a dose of humor to the mix to create a memorable horror comedy that is anything but baaaaad.
Black sheep can be streamed on Tubi.
“Eight-Legged Freaks” (2002)
A look back at the cheesy monster movies of the 50’s Eight-legged freaks is a guaranteed good time. The film follows the residents of a fictional mining town as they are overrun by giant spiders that have been exposed to toxic waste. The arachnids come in a variety of forms, from jumping spiders to creepy trapdoor spiders, creating a variety of problems for survivors as they fight the threat.
With Scream alum David Arquette and a teenager Scarlett Johanssonthe film is an anemic affair that makes a good entry-level film for parents to introduce their children to the horror genre.
Eight-legged freaks can be streamed on Tubi.
Another proof that everything in Australia wants to kill you, razor follows a giant boar carving a path of destruction through the outback. After his wife, a wildlife reporter, falls prey to the man-eating creature, American Carl Winters travels to the sun-scorched land to investigate its disappearance and eventually encounters the massive beast.
a cult classic, razor is considered one of Australia’s most popular horror films. The animatronic killer pig is terrifying as it towers over its human prey, and combining this monster with the well-documented dangers of the Australian outback creates a hard-hitting atmospheric thriller.
somehow make cockroaches worse by giving them the ability to kill you, mimic is nightmare fuel for anyone who dreads the sight of creepy crawlies. When scientists discover that a new form of insect is killing people beneath New York City, they journey into the claustrophobic subway tunnels to save the city.
The Hollywood debut of Guillermo del Toro, mimic is an early example of the master filmmaker’s talent for creating unforgettable creature designs. The killer cockroaches are as gross as expected, and their disturbing appearance heightens the suspense as our heroes struggle to survive without the help of bug spray.
mimic can be streamed on HBO Max.
A character study of a lonely young man and his pet rats, willard explores how far our animal companions will go to protect their masters. Social misfit Willard (Bruce Davison) is mistreated by his mother and boss, and instead finds solace in the swarm of rats that has taken up residence in his backyard. As events push him to the breaking point, Willard uses his new friends to harm those who have hurt him.
The film was remade in 2003, directed by X-Files and final destination clerk Glenn Morgan and main role Crispin Glover In the main role. Not a direct remake, this film is a reinterpretation of the core themes of the original and a worthy companion.
willard can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video, Peacock and Tubi.
The ultimate creature feature Jaw is an undisputed masterpiece. When a great white man begins to feast on the residents of Amity, a small island town, the sheriff must act to save his charges. Together with a marine biologist and a shark hunter, the three men set out to kill the dangerous creature.
The original summer blockbuster Jaw was a huge success and set precedents that films and their marketing campaigns still follow today. It remains one of Stephen Spielberg‘s best films and has been immortalized in popular culture thanks to its instantly recognizable theme music and line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”.
Jaw can be streamed on AMC+ and Tubi.
NEXT: 9 eco-horror movies that show nature fighting back