01 märts 2017

When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror movies with Killer Animals

Totally coincidentally I have on my writing desk (among other books) „1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die“ and „100 European Horror Films“ and not so coincidentally an e-reader with „When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror movies with Killer Animals“. I've read them all from cover to cover. So you could say I'm the target audience.
Naturally I don't take them as must see lists but it's nice to randomly open them up, spend a few minutes to read about a movie and based on that decide if it might be worth the effort of actually watching it.
Yes, it easy to counter that thought – we all like different things in movies, what works for one might not work for another. But, especially for genre movies – passion counts. Because genre movie is (most of the time) not a classically good movie. Either the script is full of holes or acting leaves emotions to be desired. There is always something to pick on. But if a movie has that something that forces you to ovelook its deficiencies and makes you grin with glee, then if you can put some of that emotion into your review – for me that is recommendation enough.
As you might expect „When Animals Attack“ is a book about movies where different animals try to wrestle the crown of nature out of the hand of an unsuspecting humanity. The earliest example „The Devil Bat“ (1940) with Bela Lugosi (who unexpectedly doesn't turn into bat himself) to „Birdemic“ (2010) and „Sharknado“ (2013).
Of course „Jaws“ (1975) and „The Birds“ (1963) are also included. But when consensus for these two tends to gravitate to „great movies“ category, the other sixty eight are more or less up for „good, bad or trash“ debate where it boils down to passion of the reviewer. The best example to me was the review of Sharknado where reviewer used „Sharktopus“ (2010) as a reference point to what is good in Sharknado but not in Sharktopus. And of course - review for Sharktopus was up next where the reviewer uses a phrase „A giant piece of cheesy cinematic goodness...“
Those different angles and styles of writing is the bases of me recommending this book. If you want to watch a movie open up the book, read a review maybe one more and maybe a third also, just to be extra sure. When none of those three tickle your interests you're clearly not into b-movies and should choose another book. However, my favourite review in the book paints Orca: The Killer Whale (1977) as a multi-layered drama (I thought it as a Dino de Laurentiis atempt to cash in on Jaws success) and several other writers bring out some interesting connections to movies you might not have noticed yourself. I certainly didn't see the connection between „Them!“ (1954) And „Aliens“ (1986).
My own personal tragedy is, that I would have preferred chronological order to alphabetical, so that the development of genre, mentioned in the foreword by editor Vanessa Morgan, whould have been more clear to reader. 50s with atomic diet that made animals grow, 70s when ordinary animals turned on humans and 90s onward when animals started to gain on size once more but humans show less and less sense.
70 is not 1001, so obviously the book doesn't contain all the movies where animals stage an uprising against the tyranny on men. Simple question to my better half „Name three animals that could turn against men“ gave me those options – a rhino, a constrictor, a cow. I suppose that list is not definitive and I'm not even sure there is a animal attack type of movie about a rhino or a cow. But snakes, birds, spiders, slugs, sheep and many more fuzzy, cuddly and deadly animals, bugs, fish do. And, I can without effort imagine a scene where a enormous white rhino impales a great white hunter and I would gladly watch a movie about the empire of cows where armored ox take on the last of men led by Russell Crowe.
When Animals Attack“ is certainly worth a read. Especially on paper format because you also got pictures there to complement writing.