‘Tis the season for cool breezes, sugary treats, and bone-chilling horror films. Halloween is just a few weeks away, which means it’s time for you to have multiple movie marathons (or plan your pet’s award winning costume). But therein lies the dilemma: which movies do you watch? No problem – we have you covered!
However, our list is going to be a little different from your average must-watch article. These are seven films that all star infamous animals, because, well, we’re a veterinary clinic and animals are kind of our thing. Three of these films will be well-known, three will be campy cult classics, and one is a surprise! Maybe. You scrolled down already, didn’t you? Sigh. Let’s get started.
The ‘If You Haven’t Already Seen These Movies What Are You Doing With Your Life’ Category
Jurassic Park – 1993
Director: Steven Spielberg
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Synopsis: “During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.”
I can already hear the disdain in your voice: “Jurassic Park?! That’s not a horror film! My kids love that movie!” I’m sorry, but did you forget about the scene with Wayne Knight in the jeep? Let me refresh your memory:
Terrifying! Or, what about that scene where the raptors are in the kitchen chasing the kids?! I’ve seen Jurassic Park too many times to count, and that scene still gives me goosebumps. Jurassic Park may not be a typical Halloween favorite, but, at least for this list, it’s certainly scary enough to be included. While I prefer the aforementioned scenes, the most infamous animal in this film has to be the T-Rex. Every time I see water moving in a glass, I think a T-Rex is somewhere nearby. Actually, that might just be another Oklahoma earthquake.
The Birds – 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Synopsis: “A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a bizarre turn when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people in the town with increasing viciousness.”
WARNING: Once you watch this movie, you’ll never be able to walk through an aviary again. Even though the special effects are really dated, the idea behind this movie is still chilling enough to mark it as a horror classic. Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, provides a lot of build-up to make birds some of the most terrifying villains the horror genre has ever seen.
How many times have you noticed a large group of birds either flying in packs or perching on top of telephone wires? Do you ever wonder if they’re secretly plotting their attack? No? Well, now you will, and you’ll never know why they attacked, either. Sometimes the unexplained makes for the scariest movie plots.
Pet Sematary – 1989
Director: Mary Lambert
IMDB Rating: 6.5
Synopsis: “Behind a young family’s home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.”
Pet Sematary does a really great job of straddling that line between creepy horror film and over-the-top/almost-humorous spectacle, which is why it’s the perfect film to end this category and lead us into our next one!
While Pet Sematary may be more about a dead child coming back to life to murder his family (among others), let us not forget about Church the Cat and his evil doings. Church gets hit by a truck, gets buried, comes back to life, and immediately attacks his owner. He and Gage (the previously mentioned undead son) form a dynamic duo that will stop at nothing to perform mischievous acts of terror – like murder, for example (and really the only example).
Church is the poster boy (or cat) of the article. Are his eyes really glowing or is he just happy to see us?
The ‘Campy, Culty, Only Watch if You’re Into that Sort of Thing’ Category
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead – 2006
Director: Lloyd Kaufman
IMDB Rating: 6.2
Synopsis: “When the American Chicken Bunker, a military-themed fried-chicken chain, builds a restaurant on the site of an ancient Indian burial ground, local protesters aren’t the only ones crying fowl! The previous tenants, fueled by a supernatural force, take “possession” of the food and those who eat it, and the survivors discover that they must band together before they themselves become the other white meat! Film lovers have been starved for sustenance. The relentless diet of predictability and pretense Hollywood has been serving up just doesn’t cut it. Poultrygeist is hearty food for thought. In Poultrygeist, Troma takes on the the fast-food industry – skewering the soulless restaurateurs – in the world’s first horror-comedy film to feature zombie chickens, American Indians and a bit of singing and dancing! It’s Poultrygeist!”
N/A. Well, it is available, but I’m not going to post that trailer on a family-friendly blog. However, feel free to look it up yourself, because it’s pretty fantastic. Just be mindful if you’ve got any kiddos around.
The great thing about Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is that it doesn’t limit itself to one holiday. Feel free to check this movie out for Halloween and then again next month for Thanksgiving! If you’re unfamiliar with the Troma Production Group, then consider Poultrygeist a great introduction to a whole world of campy B-films. Director Lloyd Kaufman is a B-film legend. He’s written 32 films, directed 38 films, produced 95 films, and acted in 255 films.
Probably most famous for their Toxic Avenger series, Troma goes beyond the typical terrible acting and effects that B-films are known for and adds gratuitous amounts of ridiculous plot points – zombie chickens, for example. Poultrygeist will make you think twice about ever eating at a KFC again. Though, if you’re honestly considering eating at KFC, you should probably be thinking twice about that, anyway; Poultrygeist will just be a helpful reminder.
Black Sheep – 2006
Director: Jonathan King
IMDB Score: 5.8
Synopsis: “An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorize a sprawling New Zealand farm.”
Let me get a terrible pun out the way before we go any further: the sheep in this film are baaaaaaaaaaad. Sorry. There won’t be any others. Sheariously.
Okay, I promise that was the last one.
New Zealand has quietly released some pretty great films – Whale Rider, Boy, any early Peter Jackson film (Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, Heavenly Creatures) – and Black Sheep is no exception. Though admittedly campy and ridiculous, the writing, acting and effects are enough to keep you engaged throughout the 87-minute run-time. You know the typical zombie rundown: when a person becomes infected, they turn into a zombie. Well, Black Sheep takes that general outline and goes a step further. If a human gets bitten by an infected sheep, then that human becomes a human-sized, roided-out sheep-zombie-thing. Tell me I haven’t piqued your interest!
Sharknado & Sharknado 2: The Second One – 2013 & 2014
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
IMDB Score: 3.3 & 4.7
Synopsis: “When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.” — “A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites – and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.”
These two count as one film; just go with it. Maybe unlike the other films mentioned in this “campy” category, you’re probably very aware of the existence of both Sharknado films thanks to SyFy’s recent popularity spike. Before Sharknado, there was Megashark vs. Giant Octopus – the film that I like to believe started the rise of over-the-top, giant-animals-coexisting-among-humans films that have become almost too familiar.
Forget all those previous films, though, because Sharknado does it the best. It’s honestly hard to write about Sharknado without giving too much away, but I think you’ll get the gist of it: big storms, tornadoes spitting sharks down on cities, sharks eating people, chainsaws, rinse, repeat. If you haven’t seen these yet, turn on SyFy and wait. I’m sure they’ll come on again soon. Until then…
The ‘Not a Horror Film in the Slightest but Still Belongs Here’ Category
Monty Python & The Holy Grail – 1975
Director: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
IMDB Score: 8.4
Synopsis: “King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles.”
Note: this should also fall under the ‘If You Haven’t Already Seen These Movies What Are You Doing With Your Life’ category. There will forever be a debate among [people with good taste] about which Monty Python film is better: Holy Grail or Life of Brian. Even though both films are amazing, I will always argue in favor of Holy Grail. It might be the funniest film I’ve ever seen. There are so many quotable lines and memorable gags that I find myself watching YouTube clips of it nearly every week.
If you haven’t seen it, you might be wondering why I chose to include it in a list of horror films. Please do yourself a favor and watch the scene embedded above. The essentials: the knights that you see are on a quest to find the Holy Grail, they come across a lot of obstacles, and one of these obstacles happens to be the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog that can only be defeated by the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. It’s a hilarious scene, a hilarious movie, and my oddball pick for what to watch during Halloween this year.