Everyone knows it’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature, but there are just some animals that can never be scary, even if Mother Nature outfitted them with rotating buzzsaw claws and gave them Pat Sajak’s face. Despite this “inconvenient truth,” Hollywood has still tried to turn even the cuddliest creatures into bloodthirsty killing machines.
Source: Allied Artists
10. Attack of the Crab Monsters
It would be hard to do a list of the least threatening movie monsters without including one from the great Roger Corman. The man’s B-movie empire has cornered the market on turning giant rubber costumes into cinematic epics of bawdy badness.
Even the man who put the “cor” in “hardcore B-movie cinema” produced a horrifying vision of When Animals Attack with the 1957 black and white thriller Attack of the Crab Monsters. These larger-than-life crustaceans try to hunt down a group of stranded scientists after a nuclear bomb mutates them into gigantic killing machines. The effect, however, is less than thrilling. The only way crabs can be scary in a movie is if they are the kind that latch on to your pubes and make you scratch at your crotch until you strike bone.
Source: American International Pictures
Now you’re probably wondering how a movie can make frogs scary, a creature that’s only scary if a really sick friend hides one in your underpants and only if you’re still in them.
The truth is they aren’t and the makers of this schlocky early '70s eco-horrorfest realized this about halfway through production. Instead of turning frogs into mutant devourers of human flesh, they hire the rest of Mother Nature’s creatures to do the frogs’ bidding. The frogs don’t even really cause anyone’s death until the very end of the film when a whole swarm of them break into an old man’s house and cause him to suffer a heart attack and (ahem) “croak.” Just think, if only a hungry, overweight Frenchman was there to save him. Now there’s a Gerard Depardieu movie worth watching.
8. Beginning of the End
Director Bert I. Gordon filled the 1950’s with “horror” films about science and nature running amok against the human society that dared to toy with it. It’s a good thing that movies can’t do the same thing because films would wipe out humanity thanks to stinkers like this one.
It starred the late Peter Graves as a scientist who does battle with a swarm of giant grasshoppers that attempt to hop on Chicago until the entire city stops breathing. Special effects were hard to come by during this dark day and age of horror movie making, but even the effects in this eco-thriller are sub-standard at best. Instead of building movie miniatures to make it seem as though giant bugs were crawling up skyscrapers, he just let the little buggers walk across postcards of buildings, which would have worked if his audiences suffered from a total lack of depth perception.
7. Birdemic: Shock and Terror
Alfred Hitchcock achieved something that no movie aficionado thought could be done: he made birds absolutely terrifying. He realized that it wasn’t the act of a bird pecking some poor dolt’s eyes out that made them scary. It was the anticipation, the slow periods of waiting that made your mind think of all sorts of crazy thoughts about what they could or would do when they decided to swoop down and strike.
This newest vision of the killer bird epidemic not only fails to learn that lesson, but it fails just about every other film school lesson on the first day of the course. The acting is wooden and hollow. The plot is ludicrous, at best. And the special effects look like they were put together by the guy who failed the art school whose entrance exam requires drawing a turtle on the back of a matchbook. That, of course, only made the film one of the more popular modern midnight movie masterpieces, but it makes birds look like less of a threat than an undercooked Butterball turkey.
6. Piranha II: Flying Killers
I’ve actually got a soft spot in my heart for the original Piranha movie. Sure it’s pure B-grade horror movie schlock, but it knows it and plays up its fleshy hungry protagonists to its strengths. The sequel, however, makes me rue the day the first one was ever made.
This time, the fish have adapted to their surroundings by sprouting wings. So now they can attack the humans on the land and the sea by jumping out of the water and going right for the throat. Of course, it’s hard to make flying fish scary because the thought of such an oxymoronic animal becoming bloodthirsty is just too funny to elicit any real screams. They might as well have made a movie called Bear-Slug: The Clawing Crawler, Cow-Fish, or Plataypussy.
5. Black Sheep
Source: Australasian Film Ltd.
In my mind, the only people who are allowed to be afraid of sheep are people who consider cute creatures to be inherently evil or people who are actually afraid that a new superior race will turn humans into some kind of tacky Christmas sweater.
This New Zealand import tries to tap into those fears by turning their most abundant livestock into killer creatures that follow George Romero’s rules of “zombieism,” but they come off as more funny than frightening. Anything that can be dispatched by covering it in mint jelly and roasting it an oven for two and three quarters of an hour can’t be scary, no matter how much evil you stuff inside of it.
4. Let the Right One In
Source: Magnolia Pictures
Cats don’t scare people. Cat people scare people, just like guns, drugs, and Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas specials.
The original Swedish version of this vampire tale isn’t about animals on human homicide, but it does feature an almost comical animal attack scene that tries to make felines the Manson family of the animal world. A character get ganged up by a group of kittens from head to toe as they eventually push her down a long flight of stairs, but the sub-standard CGI used to depict the scene makes it almost laughable. Garfield was never this funny and probably would be if he turned on Jon for refusing to serve him his daily pan of lasagna.
3. Attack of the Giant Leeches
Source: American International Pictures
Any animal that can be defeated by washing properly and avoiding swimming in sewage wastewater will never be scary.
This low budget horror flick from the late 1950s attempts to disprove that sad fact of nature by growing them to grotesque sizes and sicking them on anything with two legs. Unfortunately, the limited special effects of the time failed to elicit the screams that the producers so desperately tried to pull out of the audiences since the creatures just look like giant bags of clipped grass attached themselves to their human victims. In fact, it would have been scarier if they just called the movie Attack of the Giant Bags of Yard Trimmings.
2. The Swarm
Source: Warner Bros.
Killer bees have been scaring mankind since the last slow news days of your local TV news team. A giant swarm of the African menace is making its way up the continental U.S. and headed towards you if you don’t lock all of your doors, barricade your windows, and tune in precisely at 10 pm.
This attempt at harnessing the fear-mongering power of the insect menace from disaster movie legend Irwin Allen failed miserably because even the majesty of the movies could make the threat believable. In fact, the thing that really killed this cruddy cult classic is the acting, despite the fact that it features four Academy-Award winning actors including Michael Caine and Olivia de Havilland.
1. Night of the Lepus
Source:A.C. Lyles Productions
So far we’ve covered giant flesh-hungry fish, giant flesh-hungry sheep, and giant flesh-hungry cats, but prepare yourself for the true horror of this list. The horror from knowing that Hollywood actually thought they could make these cute little fuzzballs scary.
This legendary flop from 1972 starred such big names as Psycho starlet Janet Leigh and Star Trek’s DeForest Kelly, but it’s true star was its title’s scientific namesake: a school of giant flesh hungry...RABBITS! The hilarious “attack” scene features the cute little creatures hopping after humans on a miniature set. The only way this horrific horror film could make you pee your pants is from uncontrollable laughter.