Imagine the world without animals. So far as we Daves are concerned, it’d be a pretty dismal place. Animals bring beauty and diversity to the planet while many enrich our lives individually as members of our own family (I hesitate to use the word “pets” as I’m pretty sure my cat, Felix, actually owns me). That’s not to say all of Earth’s creatures are loved equally, of course. Some, such as bats, bugs, and snakes, often inspire anxiety versus appreciation but, regardless of whether these are rational or irrational phobias, Hollywood is always there to tap into our innate fear of nature and we filmgoers can’t seem to get enough. The “Man vs Animal” horror subgenre has always been one of my personal favorites and I discussed them back in 2010 before doing a follow up the year after that. In both of those posts, I highlighted some of my favorite animal attack films (at the time) but now, thanks to a fantastic new book by Vanessa Morgan, you can read more about many of those along with a great deal more!
“When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals” features essays on a wide variety of creatures with one thing in common; a penchant for killing humans! Each piece is penned by a different writer who specifically chose their film based on a desire to bring more attention to it regardless of what the mainstream critics might say. This guarantees a unique perspective you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. It also rouses your curiosity of titles you may have missed or might otherwise have avoided. I consider myself pretty savvy on this subject but was elated to discover several films I’d never heard of and need to track down thanks to this book.
I particularly appreciated the wide range of titles going as far back as The Devil Bat (1940) to as recent as Sharknado (2013). When collected in a single source, you can really see how killer animals movies evolved from giant-sized atomic terrors in the ’50s to warnings of man tampering with his environment in the more eco-conscious ’70s. Whatever the message (if any) it’s clear that they’ll always be popular and many more animals will get their cinematic justice on humans for years to come.
The writers do an excellent job conveying their enthusiasm and it was nice seeing a few of my Chicago friends in the mix, including Jon Kitley and the multi-Rondo winning Aaron Christensen. The latter did his on The Food of the Gods which has always been one of my favorites.
I highly recommend this book and, with a couple of weeks still left before Christmas, it absolutely makes a great gift (especially if it’s to yourself). We’ll also be giving away a copy of this book so be sure to stop back here in a couple days for more details!