Animals turning against us is a long-standing movie trope, and for good reason. It's a terrifying prospect! I'm personally more concerned about the day when robots inevitably turn against us, but hey, killer animals are always on the periphery of my paranoia, too.
With the proliferation of 3D, movies about animals gone bad have taken on a whole new dimension -- literally. I'm not a huge 3D fan myself, but I do have to admit that creatures popping off the screen can give horror flicks an edge when it comes to making audiences literally jump out of their seats.
This week, we'll get to see sharks getting all up in our grills in 'Shark Night 3D,' where a crew of unsuspecting young college co-eds are terrorized by a crew of various shark species. If you thought great whites were scary, wait until you see bull sharks coming at you, full steam ahead. ('Shark Night 3D' director David R. Ellis is no stranger to killer animals. He helmed the deliciously campy Samuel L. Jackson flick 'Snakes on a Plane' in 2006.)
Of course, some of the most terrifying movies of all time have featured killer animals out to get us. Thanks to 'Jaws,' it's almost impossible to leisurely float around in the ocean on a nice summer's day without subconsciously wondering when that menacing fin is going to start circling you. And don't even get me started on Hitchcock's 'The Birds.' As if crows and pigeons weren't annoying enough as it is, what with their fly-by poop-fests and all, now we have to worry that these ornithological menaces are going to rip us to shreds, too.
The most frightening fictional killer animal to me, though, has to be Cujo. Because Cujo doesn't start off bad. Cujo starts off as a beloved family pet, so you really don't see it coming when Cujo turns evil! At least when a shark starts circling you, you know it's time to panic. But when your carefree St. Bernard turns on you, that's got to be incredibly unsettling.
We've seen a resurgence of killer animal flicks recently, which got me thinking about my own contemporary favorites (and by contemporary, I mean over the last 15 years. Perhaps contemporary-ish is a more accurate description). Anyhow, here they are! From ferocious fish to sinister sheep, the campier, the better!
'Piranha 3D.' This remake really does have it all, including plenty of laughs, a healthy dose of 3D and a great cast featuring the likes of Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell and even Richard Dreyfuss. Plus the ancient, flesh-hungry piranhas are truly frightening. This earned the #1 spot on my list based on the final scene alone. Best last scene ever!
'Lake Placid.' Like 'Piranha 3D,' this gets points for a great cast. I mean, Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda and Betty White? How much better does it get? It also boasts a 30-foot killer crocodile that Betty White may or may not be covering for. Who can blame her, though? You've got to align yourself with the strong!
'Black Sheep.' No, not that 'Black Sheep.' You won't find Chris Farley or David Spade anywhere near this Kiwi flick about killer sheep. Killer sheep!!! Like 'Cujo,' this premise is extra-scary because of the surprise element. You really wouldn't expect cute, cuddly, gentle sheep to suddenly turn into blood-thirsty killing machines. This would be particularly terrifying in New Zealand, where the sheep-to-person ratio is a staggering 10-to-1.
'Snakes on a Plane.' Ewww, snakes!! These slithery creatures are really the perfect movie villains. So deadly and so gross. Snakes attacking people on a claustrophobic plane is a stroke of genius, combining all kinds of fears for the ultimate horror culmination. Throw in Samuel L. Jackson, and you've got yourself a winner.
'Eight Legged Freaks.' Stupid rabbit. Watch where you're going! Thanks to a clumsy little bunny that knocks over a barrel of toxic waste, a small town in Arizona suddenly has a slew of giant super spiders to deal with. Thanks a lot, Fluffy! 'Scream' veteran David Arquette leads the cast of this delightfully goofy scream-fest.