13 ANIMAL HORROR FILMS TO ADD TO YOUR MUST-WATCH LIST
Man-eating slugs? Blood-thirsty locusts? Killer cats? Name them, and the film industry has made a blockbuster out of them. We got to hand it to movie makers for taking advantage of our fears and aversions, and for turning our nightmares into pseudo-reality to give us plenty of choices to tuck into during the spooky season.
On the other hand, because of how frightening animals are often depicted in media, it tricks the audiences’ minds into developing irrational fears, which is just as scary as – if not scarier than – movies.
From classics to contemporary, we’ve compiled a list* of thirteen spine-tingling films you should add to your must-watch list, plus a smattering of thoughts and friendly advice to quell your fear, should you need it.
*Film synopses and photos taken from IMDb.com
In the movie: A Maine island becomes infested with lethal insects that root inside their victims, while a local doctor battles the bugs and incorrigible locals who don’t believe him.
In real life: One, they’re fast; two, they creep up on you; and three, they fly. Our brains are programmed to fear Cockroaches that the mere sight of a Cockroach chilling on a wall can give us chills down our spine.
But Cockroaches are not all that bad. They are decomposers who contribute to the nitrogen cycle and the ecosystem. However, if Cockroaches have overstayed their welcome at your home and you want to take a break from them, make sure to clean, clean, and clean some more. And if you want to get rid of your fear, gradually desensitizing yourself to them (as in exposure therapy) would be best, as Cockroaches are here to stay.
In the movie: Killer Slugs on the rampage in a rural community.
In real life: Hats off to the creators for making one of the most unlikely animals to terrorize humans actually appear terrifying. Fret not, because the only thing Slugs pose any danger to are your garden plants!
If you are a plantito or plantita who is having problems with Slugs, adding rosemary, thyme, or mint to your garden should do the trick as the slimy mollusks get put off by their aroma.
In the movie: A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town, where things slowly take a turn for the bizarre after Birds of all kinds begin to attack people. I
n real life: Although there have been instances of Birds attacking humans, it is rare for these incidents to involve non-predatory ones, as in the movie.
Though the film was adapted from a short story by Daphne de Mauirier, the director Alfred Hitchcock also took inspiration from a 1961 incident in California wherein thousands of Seabirds hurled themselves into residents’ homes and on the streets.
Fifty years later, scientists discovered that the Birds had ingested toxic algae that disoriented them, causing them to crash into homes – which was sad rather than scary.
Apart from the inconvenience of getting the occasional Bird droppings on your head, they are harmless and pretty cool, being the colorful pollinators and seed spreaders that they are.
In the movie: A “National Geographic” film crew is taken hostage by an insane hunter who forces them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – Snake.
In real life: Probably none of us are heading to the jungle anytime soon, but in case you are, make sure to do your research, bring a local guide with you, and respect the animals and their home. Anaconda attacks are rare, and Snakes in general will “attack” only when they feel threatened and find themselves in danger. Snakes are amazing animals who keep our environment stable.
In the movie: A single mother’s business of a Locust farm isn’t doing so well. She discovers by accident that blood makes them thrive, and does her best to hide her secrets.
In real life: In the movie, Locusts are sold as protein; i.e., as food for both human and non-human animals. In an ideal world, one we hope to live in someday, we wouldn’t need to breed insects and other animals because we shall then only be relying on plants for food. Like Slugs, Locusts are a threat only to plants, which could be solved by making a concoction of garlic and water to be sprayed on leaves. Kind of similar to what you do to ward off aswangs, right?
In the movie: Three people attempt to stop a gigantic Crocodile who is terrorizing residents in Black Lake, Maine.
In real life: Crocodiles have graced the big screen as vicious monsters too many times. They are indeed vicious because they are carnivorous predators, and this is how nature intended them, but they are far from being monsters and should not get punished for simply existing.
Take Lolong’s case, for example. The reptile survived for five whole decades in freedom, only to die in captivity in a zoo two years later. Who knows how much longer he could’ve lived if only there were stricter laws in place to protect him, his habitat, and the human residents living nearby? Hopefully, we can learn from our mistakes and do better in the future.
CRUELTY IS SCARY
Some of the older movies in this list use real animals on set. As the movie industry becomes more educated and mindful of how to treat animals ethically, we can look forward to seeing more technology used in movies rather than actual animals.
In the movie: A troubled family moves to an isolated house and finds a couple of Cats already in the residence whom they then adopt. These are not the only occupants, however…
In real life: If you’re reading this magazine, chances are you’re not afraid of Cats. But if in the off-chance that you are, your fear is valid. Maybe it’s not because you think they’ll murder you, but for other reasons, such as getting allergies, being bitten out of the blue, having property damaged by Cats, contracting taxoplasmosis, etc.
We hear you. Staying away from Cats might be best for you but you have to put the work in. Talk to your community to explore humane solutions. Contact animal organizations like PETA or CARA for help.
In the movie: When a killer Shark unleashes chaos on a beach community off Long Island, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.
In real life: Sharks are also one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. Despite their notoriety, you probably already know that you’re more likely to drown than be attacked by a Shark. But they are still often villainized and presented as monsters.
Before heading out for a swim, do your research and make sure you’re equipped with the right skills, as well as bring along a knowledgeable swimming buddy or expert guide.
In the movie: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession.
In real life: Often depicted as the devil in movies, Goats are actually very loving animals. They are intelligent, social, and capable of building an emotional bond with humans, just like Dogs. The small bovids are curious, agile, and playful! We can go on and on about how much we think they are cool but to sum it up, Goats are quite literally the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).
KILL THAT FEAR
If you suspect that you have zoophobia (fear of animals) and would like to get help, please talk to a doctor or mental health professional for assessment and to explore treatment options.
In the movie: A quadriplegic man has a trained Monkey helping him with his paralysis, until the little Monkey begins to develop feelings – including rage – against his new master.
In real life: Monkeys don’t belong in human homes, let alone become service animals. They have it pretty bad, too, as they are often used in vivisection. And as with other animals on this list, they don’t attack humans unless they feel threatened or provoked. Though humans often need saving from primates in movies, Monkeys are actually the ones who need saving in real life.
In the movie: A species of South American killer Spiders hitches a lift to the U.S. in a coffin and starts to breed and kill.
In real life: Spiders rarely attack humans on purpose. On the rare occasion that they do, like many animals, it is because they feel they are in danger. The eight-legged crawlies are usually chill.
Spiders also play a critical role in the ecosystem, and keeping insect population in control is one of them. Without Spiders, there would also be no inspiration for Spiderman. And what kind of world would that be if we didn’t have our friendly neighborhood superhero?
In the movie: Genetically mutated Bats escape, and it’s up to an expert and the local sheriff to stop them.
In real life: Animal experimentation is cruel and should be banned, and this goes for all animals. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the truth is that Bats rarely bite and will only attack humans when they feel threatened. Usually, this happens when humans come in close contact to them due to deforestation and urbanization that destroy the homes of small, winged mammals.
If you’re afraid of contracting rabies, getting vaccinated before or after a bite can protect you. The good news is, according to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, there are no rabies cases involving Bats in the country.
The bad news is that Bats do have a bad rap especially because of COVID-19, but it’s unfair to blame them for our mistakes. Bats are shy creatures who play a major role in the ecosystem acting as pollinators and seed dispersers of hundreds of species of plants.
In the movie: Cujo, a friendly St. Bernard, contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town.
In real life: Man’s best friend suddenly turning into a vicious enemy is indeed the stuff of nightmares. We can protect our companion Dogs from contracting the deadly virus by getting them vaccinated.
Likewise, we can protect ourselves by getting pre-exposure shots, especially if we hang around animals all the time (in case you work in animal care or you rescue animals). Human companions should also supervise their Dogs at all times to keep them from getting into dangerous situations.
In the movie: A young couple gets kidnapped and treated like farm animals after stopping at a roadside diner to eat meat.
In real life: While there are no actual non-human animals present in the film, the majority of the human characters wear face masks of Cows, Goats, Pigs, and other farm animals. In the movie, the couple gets captured and treated like farm animals in a slaughterhouse.
The film challenges the audience to take a peek into the social issue of animal farming and what it would look like if the roles were reversed. What we do to animals for food is terrifying, and it is in everyone’s best interest to move on from such cruel practices. The most humane way to slaughter an animal is not to slaughter them at all.