Pet Semetary, the latest Stephen King film adaptation, comes to home release next week, bringing the story of cursed burial grounds and killer zombies into people’s houses. One of the more iconic parts of the film, and one that was used heavily in marketing, is Church, the killer cat. If you’re like myself you’ll love a good bit of Natural Horror in your movies. We’ve made a list of 5 other films that are worth checking out if you want more of this, and something a little unusual too.
A black horror comedy starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman, Arachnophobia tells the story of a new deadly species of tarantula that’s discovered deep in the Amazon rainforest. The scientists discover that the spider appears to be a drone, making it part of a larger colony; something that is unusual for spiders. When one of the team is bitten and killed by one of the spiders his body is sent home to the States, along with one of the spiders that crawled into his coffin.
Now in small town California the spider mates with a regular house spider, producing a legion of spiders that look no different from regular ones, but possess a bite that can kill. As the spiders begin to slowly kill people all over town it’s down to a local doctor, played by Daniels, and an exterminator, Goodman, to find a way to destroy the deadly colony before it spreads across the country.
Arachnophobia is a film that never takes itself completely seriously, something that actually helps it, as the premise is a bit silly. However, thanks to some great writing, a brilliant cast, and a crew that includes such names as Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, and Stephen Spielberg, it is easily an overlooked classic.
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When Jaws hit the big screen in 1975 it inspired a lot of studios to want to produce their own version of the film, in much the same way that Star Wars prompted a slew of science-fiction movies. One of the more famous films to come out of this was Piranha. The film almost received an injunction from Universal Studios to stop its release as it was due to coincide with the release of Jaws 2, but the plans were dropped after the film received a positive review from Spielberg.
Directed by Joe Dante (of Gremlins fame), Piranha tells the story of a community that becomes terrorised by a swarm of gentically altered killer Piranha that get released into the local river. Having been created as part of Operation Razorteeth to combat Viet Cong movement in the Vietnam War, the creatures are set loose into the river-ways during an investigation. It’s then down to a local, drunk boat captain to find a way to stop them before they reach a water park and local summer camp.
Piranha proved to be a successful film in its own right, spawning both sequels and remakes thanks to it’s popularity. Whilst the 2010 remake, Piranha 3D, may be much glossier and sillier, the original is still an all time great.
Anaconda sees a documentary film crew travel down the Amazon River in order to capture footage of the long-lost tribe of Shirishamas people. When they come across a stranded snake hunter the group finds themselves drawn into a hunt for the deadly green anaconda.
Whilst the film centres on the giant killer snake, and many people are killed by the creature, the main conflict of the film comes from the human characters, particularly the hunter Serone, played by John Voight. It’s Serone’s obsession with the anaconda, and his desire to make money, that puts the other people on the boat in danger, and he even kills in order to achieve his goals.
Thanks to some decent writing, effects that were good for the time, and an all star cast that included Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Trejo, and Owen Wilson, Anaconda became a hit, earning more than three times its budget and receiving three sequels, as well as a crossover with Lake Placid.
Night of the Lepus (1972)
When creating a list of animals that would make for a good antagonist in a horror film you’d be likely to go for something that’s large, dangerous, and possibly scary looking. That makes perfect sense, as audiences need to fear the creatures that are killing characters on screen. However, Night of the Lepus seems to have forgotten this and done things their own way when it told the story of giant killer bunnies.
Based upon the novel The Year of the Angry Rabbit, the film tells the story of a small town that falls victim to an infestation of giant mutant rabbits. In all honesty Night of the Lepus isn’t a good film. However, it falls into that category of being so bad and so silly that it’s actually a hell of a fun experience to watch. The film uses a combination of real rabbits on miniature sets, as well as actors in rabbit costumes to create the scenes of rabbit carnage that look so ridiculous they become somewhat charming.
Despite the kooky nature of the film it was treated with great seriousness at the time, and included some big name actors, including Janet Leigh and DeForest Kelley. Watch Night of the Lepus if you want a little fun and aren’t after a real horror experience.
Have you ever watched Jaws and thought, ‘this is good, but I’d rather be able to identify with the shark more’? Then Orca is the film for you!
One of the films that tried to cash in on the success of Jaws, Orca tells the story of a fishing crew that falls victim to a vengeful killer whale. The fishing crew capture a pregnant female orca, who miscarries when they bring her on board the ship. Tossing the dead baby into the sea they are attacked by the orca’s mate, who manages to drag her back into the water. When the female subsequently dies the distraught orca begins to target the crew, killing them off one by one. Yes, Orca is a revenge story where the whale is the hero.
Despite this somewhat ridiculous premise, Orca takes itself completely seriously, which just adds to how good it is. The boat captain, played by Richard Harris, sympathises with the animal, having had his own pregnant wife killed by a drunk driver, and film culminates in a battle between the two of them on an iceberg. Orca is so bizarrely different to other films in the genre that it’s worth checking out just for the unusual nature of it, and is sure to leave an impression simply for how strange it is.