Dead List: Top 10 Animal Horror Films

Thumper, Ben, Lassie, Willard, Cujo…my pet gator?  Why have you chosen to forsake me? In Episode 16 we explored this very question and got down and dirty in the animal kingdom. These are some of the scariest pets and animals to have ever graced the silver screen and boy have they gone bad! They PRETEND to be man’s best friend but ultimately they’ve got other things in store for us weak and inferior humans.

That’s precisely what makes pets/animals so scary! They lull you in to thinking that you’re their master. You think you control their destiny. All the while, you have no idea what they’re thinking, plotting, and conniving. They’re lurking in the shadows …waiting for their next treat. Before you race out to the pet store watch the ten scariest films ever made featuring animals!

  1. Black Phillip — The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)

The darkest of the dark. The meanest of the mean. The most satanic pet, farm animal, or demonic vessel you’ll ever find. Safe to say Black Phillip is the pet you do NOT want. Black Phillip moves in a peculiar way, he grunts, he pants, and ultimately he terrorizes the lost in the woods Christian family. The tried puppets, the tried digital trickery, but in the end had to deal with the practicality of dealing with a several hundred pound mass of raging satanic anger.

2. The worms — Squirm (Jeff Lieberman, 1976)

Sometimes too much of anything has a weird and peculiar way of getting in to your head. Sometimes it literally gets in to your head. Sometimes it comes crawling out! Thousands and thousands of creepy crawlies take over a rural southern town. Courtesy of some film trickery and a whole lotta’ electricity the worms are EVERYWHERE. The great Rick Baker even got his start on this very film. Delivering some of the most gory worm protrusions you’ve ever seen.

3. The dog in The Thing — The Thing (John Carpenter, 1980)

Poor ol’ Jed. What a beautiful and faithful dog. All dogs just want to do right by their masters. Occasionally this pans out, but often man’s best friend becomes a disposable horror afterthought. The dog used in The Thing, Jed, had a mighty nice life. Born in 1977 he stared in several films and passed away a the dear old age of 18 in 1995. If you’ve seen the thing you know the horrifying death brought to Jed — and it wasn’t old age.

4. Alligator — Alligator (Lewis Teague, 1980)

The ultimately urban myth. People in the big city flushing their critters down the toilet only to later seek mammoth revenge on their masters. Written by the incomparable John Sayles and starring one of the all time acting greats, Robert Forster, Alligator is one big, dumb, fun, pile of grindhouse glory. Early in his illustrious career, Bryan Cranston even pitched in to help with gory gross gator effects.

5. Ella the monkeyMonkey Shines (George Romero, 1988)

Definitely not a zombie film, George Romero veered in to new territory in this horror/sci-fi classic. A wheelchair-bound scientist is forced to deal with his mortality and seeks the assistance of super aggressive empath homunculus named Ella. She helps, she works, she loves, and she KILLS. Next time you’ll think twice before accepting a hyper-intelligent monkey from your crazy scientist buddy.

6. Rats — Willard ( Daniel Mann, 1971)

Not the Crispin Glover film. Not Ben and the Michael Jackson song. Nope. This is a different breed of misfit who uses an army of nasty rats to do his bidding. A must see in the horror genre. This film is really the definition of “going postal” long before that was ever a thing. Starring the great Ernest Borgnine, Willard will have you checking under the coach for creepies and crawlies. If you hate your boss and are terrified of rats then Willard is for you!

7. Sheep — Black Sheep (Jonathan King, 2006)

New Zealand’s love of gore mixed with highly questionable genetic engineering — what could possibly go wrong. This film has soooo much gore it’s amazing that it didn’t get an NC17 rating. As we noted in our review of this gore-filled masterpiece “…This movie was crazy fun. The characters are very broadly drawn characters, and in that way, it reminded me strongly of Shaun of the Dead. This film does not quite reach the comic heights of Shaun, but it has some real laugh out loud moments. Some of them by the situation, some of the laughs come from the over the top gore and the incongruity of flesh-eating sheep. What happens to Angus in the finale has to be seen to be believed… or unseen. The lamb fetus and stretchy ear? Angus gets it worse. Much worse.”

8. Giant snakes — Anaconda (Luis Llosa, 1997)

As Ice Cube notes in this matinee romp “There’s snakes out there this big?” Indeed, even bigger. Filled with an all-star 1990s cast including John Voight, Jennifer Lopez, Eric Stoltz, Danny Trejo, and Owen Wilson, Anaconda is one F-U-N horror film. Definitely a throwback to the 1950s atomic monster movie age, the film never takes its foot off the gas. From the start to the finish, it’ll have you definitely questioning your slithery pet store purchase. Because they do get big. VERY BIG!

9. Spiders — Kingdom of the Spiders (John Cardos, 1977)

Macho veterinarian, Rack Hansen (William Shatner) takes on a town under siege by SPIDERS. Not a couple, but millions. Rack Hansen (which might be the greatest name in film history) fights his way through the town only to seek refuge in a local hotel. Allegedly this creep show used over 5,000 spiders. Yes, 5,000. Spending nearly 10 percent of the entire film budget on spiders, Kingdom of the Spiders uses this effect to great success. Between the spider fights, William Shatner’s sledgehammer acting, and a wonderfully dreary and dystopian 1970s ending, this is a film that still stands the test of time.

10. St. Bernard — Cujo (Lewis Teague, 1983)

Clearly director Lewis Teague had issues with animals. Having directed Alligator, Cujo, and Cat’s Eye — in almost perfect sequence — he definitely had a thing for animals. Stephen King allegedly wrote the book in the midst of a massive cocaine binge and while it doesn’t necessarily show in the film, it is interesting that Cujo’s rabies comes as a result of getting bit on the nose. Once bit, it’s on. Cujo is no longer a 250+ pound ball of lovable fur. He transforms in to a massive killing machine. Cujo gets stabbed, beaten, and shot. Does he survive? Watch this 1980s horror classic and find out. You won’t be disappointed.

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