The notion of portraying animals as anything other than cute and cuddly can raise the ire of animal lovers everywhere. Still, turning animals from furry friends to sinister menaces is a practice Hollywood filmmakers have tackled with relish for several decades now. They find taking evil animals and unleashing them on a bunch of dumb humans, who serve a sole purpose of being a living buffet, to be a winning box office formula.
Among evil animals in movies, these movies lead the charts in giving us animals with sheer viciousness:
The Birds (1963)
Man's best friend? That's not the first thought that springs to mind with this St. Bernard. Cujo turns into a terror once a rabid bat bites him on the snout and gives the pooch a hefty dose of rabies. Subsequently, he goes on a rampage that involves killing his owners and trapping an unlucky woman and her son inside a broken down car. It is vintage horror – Stephen King style. King has a gift of taking ordinary things and turning them evil, including a dog breed used as a rescue animal.
Steven Spielberg rose to fame by making people afraid to go into the water. Spielberg turns sharks into an underwater menace with this tale of a great white shark that terrorizes swimmers and beach goers in a small New England town. "Jaws" is effective in creating scares through building character and ratcheting up the tension – instead of piling on the body count. Perhaps the scariest part of this movie, though, is the three sequels and countless clones that followed – each dumber than the previous one.
The sight of one spider scurrying up a wall is enough to cause some people to bolt from a room screaming for their lives. Seeing hordes of them descend on a small town – like in “Arachnophobia” – are likely to induce a heart attack. One thing “Arachnophobia” does effectively is to use spiders to turn normal activities from playing a football game to eating a bowl of popcorn into deadly affairs. Too bad, the little critters could not have found a way to poison John Goodman’s obnoxious exterminator character along the way.
Snakes are another creature that inspires heightened phobias in otherwise rational people. Showing them “Anaconda” will do nothing to alleviate those fears. Hammy acting from Jon Voight as a ruthless river guide and snake hunter does not fully detract from the chills produced by a giant anaconda stalking and picking off members of a “National Geographic” film crew one by one. Any animal that can swallow a human whole is a worthy source of nightmares.