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Terrifying Animal Films That Roared Into Theatres

June 30th, 2022Terrifying Animal Films That Roared Into Theatres

Remind Me BEAST opens in theatres on August 19th.

Over the years, monster movies involving deadly animals preying on human targets have become a Hollywood staple, and have given audiences some of the biggest thrills and chills on the big screen. We’ve seen it time and time again with classics like JAWS and modern hits like CRAWL. And before the summer blockbuster season comes to an end, we’ll see it again in BEAST, the upcoming thriller starring Idris Elba as a father trying to save his two daughters, and himself, from a vicious and extremely deadly lion.

But before we go and watch BEAST, which arrives in AMC Theatres nationwide in August, let’s take another journey, one that explores some of the best animal films that roared into cinematic history and became iconic for one reason or another. There are quite a few to unpack, so let’s get this exhilarating and terrifying show on the road…

The Birds

Known as the “Master of Suspense,” Alfred Hitchcock directed some of the most iconic thrillers and horror films to land on the big screen, including PSYCHO, REAR WINDOW, and VERTIGO, to name only a few. In 1963, Hitchcock added another classic to that list with the release of THE BIRDS, a riveting and traumatizing movie in which birds of all shapes and sizes begin attacking anyone and everyone in the San Francisco Bay area. Over the course of the movie, characters like Tippi Hedren’s Melanie Dawes and Rod Taylor’s Mitch Brenner are attacked over and over by massive flocks of birds while also attempting to make sense of the madness.

And although the reason for the attacks in THE BIRDS is never explicitly stated in the movie, there are plenty of theories about the sudden change in demeanor that are awfully fun to explore and discuss. But one of the craziest aspects of the movie is that THE BIRDS was apparently inspired by an actual incident that perplexed Hitchcock a couple years before its release.

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Considered by some to be the first summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller JAWS is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying monster animal movies as well as one of the most decorated films of all time. The movie centers on a group of three men with completely different backgrounds — Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as marine biologist Matt Hooper, and Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint — who set out into open waters to kill a massive great white shark that has brought death and chaos to Amity Island off the coast of New England.

With one memorable scene after another, as well as some of Spielberg’s most iconic shots, JAWS tells an incredible story where man goes from being the hunter to the hunted. It is difficult to think of a movie that propelled the animal attack genre to a higher level than the original JAWS.

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Lewis Teague’s utterly terrifying 1983 horror movie CUJO, which is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, centers on a family — Dee Wallace’s Donna Trenton, Daniel Hugh-Kelly’s Vic Trenton, and Danny Pintauro’s Tad Trenton — as they try to survive an attack by a once-gentle St. Bernard who has gone rabid after being bitten by a bat. The vicious and oversized Cujo stops at nothing in his attempts to maul the family, and even claims the lives of several people in the process. But like any good monster movie, there is much more to the story besides a massive dog going for the kill.

Although CUJO is not held in the same regard as some of the other Stephen King adaptations, the movie has become a cult classic in the nearly 40 years since its release. Oh, and there is some impressive gore splattered throughout this scary, and sometimes silly movie.

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Hollywood legend Frank Marshall is primarily known for producing classics like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, and THE SIXTH SENSE, but the successful producer has also directed a few movies of his own over the years. Marshall first sat in the director’s chair for the 1990 horror film ARACHNOPHOBIA, which as the name implies, centers on a character — Jeff Daniels’ Dr. Ross Jennings — who is deathly afraid of spiders. And the young doctor’s fears become reality as he discovers that his family’s new Northern California home is infested with an army of deadly spiders.

And while ARACHNOPHOBIA is technically a horror comedy, don’t let this fool you into thinking it isn’t terrifying. Be prepared to overreact the first time you encounter a spider after watching this one. However, John Goodman’s portrayal of the arrogant and resourceful exterminator Delbert McClintock does add some much-needed levity to the frightening affair.

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Alexandre Aja’s 2019 horror film CRAWL manages to take two very different genres — natural disaster and monster movies— and combines them to create one thrilling and terrifying adventure. The movie follows Kaya Scodelario’s Haley Keller, a college swimmer, who attempts to rescue her dad from being swept up in a Category 5 hurricane. When Haley manages to make it to her father, she finds him unconscious, but this soon becomes the least of her worries. While trying to save her dad and his dog, the young woman is hunted by a group of alligators who are using the flooded terrain as their new territory and killing anyone in their way.

CRAWL doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, but it does refine the animals attack premise to create a fun, exciting, and not overly-long thriller about one woman rising to the occasion to defeat the odds and save the person who means most to her.

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These are just some of the great movies featuring terrifying animals, as there are also memorable films like ANACONDA, LAKE PLACID, THE GREY, and so many others. And with BEAST roaring into AMC Theatres nationwide in August, it doesn’t look like this incredibly terrifying and fun genre is going anywhere anytime soon.

Remind Me BEAST opens in theatres on August 19th.

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