As humans, we consider ourselves at the top of the food chain. After all, we can think, plan, create tools, hunt, and simply push past nearly all obstacles in front of us. But in the realm of horror, well, we are rarely ever the deadliest creatures out there. And no, I'm not talking about aliens, vampires, werewolves, or even slasher villains...I'm talking about animals. Wild or domesticated, animals are all around us, kept as pets, used as livestock, and for many other things. In horror movies and literature, though, animals as sweet and gentle as dogs can become vicious creatures. The worst fears in all of us are can be realized and exploited, and they have been and will continue to be as long as terror dwells within us. And so, in this list are the five most frightening and dangerous animals to be featured in the film genre of horror, each one a different species of wildlife and each one that is representative and any primal fear that people may have. And no, no giant or mutated creatures allowed...that will be for another time.
Vicious Birds “The Birds” (1963)
Most people don't think of birds as murderous animals, though they can sometimes carry omens of death in the forms of crows and vultures, but in the hands of suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, our flying friends became deadly harbingers of destruction and terrible violence. No one really knows what suddenly sets the birds off in the film (one character claims it's a sign of the coming Apocalypse), but something apparently makes them quite angry, swarming and pecking at anyone in their paths and trapping a group of people inside a house. One thing's for certain: the next time you see a long line of birds of any species sitting on a power line or ominously outside of your house...tread carefully.
Giant Great White Shark “Jaws” (1975)
Sharks. When sharks come to mind, they're typically thought of as dangerous, predatory killers that will murder and eat indiscriminately, as though they're machines with no concept of conscience. While that's not remotely true, sharks in films are generally shown in this stereotype, the most frightening of which is the Australian-native Great White. And thanks to Steven Spielberg's 1975 film, when anyone thinks of a Great White shark, the first word that comes to mind is “Jaws,” and rightfully so. This shark, a twenty-five foot beast, makes its way to the coast of Massachusetts at Amity Island and begins brutally attacking the populace, leaving it up the the police chief, a marine biologist, and an old shark hunter to hunt and take it out. And though the shark (out of water) doesn't look as realistic, it's still ingrained in the consciousness as a terrifying image.
Cujo, the rabid St. Bernard “Cujo” (1983)
Everyone loves dogs. They're gentle, sweet, and loving...but in the hands of horror master Stephen King, they can become one of the most horrifying images in the world's consciousness, an idea that was easily transmitted on film. Cujo, the titular canine, is a gentle Saint Bernard until he's bitten by a rabid bat, and he soon becomes something more and more bestial as his mind is consumed and his basic animal instincts show themselves through his jagged teeth. The dog begins stalking people near his home, and finally snaps and kills anyone in his path, ultimately turning on his owners and trapping them in a car for days, and by then Cujo is soaked in blood and dirt, a horrific shell of his former self...needless to say, even though the dog is eventually defeated, the mere mention of the name “Cujo” brings to mind the sight of a rabid, vicious dog that was once a quiet animal.
Venezuelan Spiders “Arachnophobia” (1990)
“Creepy crawlies.” Who isn't frightened by them? Some people have an inherent fear of bees, cockroaches, and even ants, but chief among the fears of anything with more than four legs is the fear of arachnids, primarily spiders. They're featured in movies constantly, usually serving as a means to make the viewer uneasy, or even as a disturbing obstacle to be faced by a protagonist. But of all the cinematic spiders to be afraid of, the deadliest are the massive Venezuelan death-tarantulas of 1990's “Arachnophobia.” Not only are these scary creatures at the top of the food chain in their jungle territory, but once one is accidentally brought to a small California town, they prove to also have a bite that kills within seconds and the ability to mate with common house spiders to create an army of deadly drones, “soldier spiders,” to protect the nest that conceals an egg sac holding more unborn eight-legged killers, guarded by the “General” and the “Queen.”
Giant Anaconda “Anaconda” (1997)
There are very few people who aren't remotely freaked out by a snake. Perhaps it stems from the simple idea that a “serpent” is usually representative of evil. A creature that lives on land with no legs? And, on top of that, some are actually quite deadly, namely in the regard that a number are poisonous? Because of this, like spiders, snakes are usually shown in movies as a sign of impending danger. What about the snakes that are actually enormous in size though? Take the two giant green anacondas featured in the 1997 movie “Anaconda.” They're massive, fast, and extremely powerful, able to constrict and crush a victim to death in moments. Knives can't stop them, bullets can't, and even fire can't put these creatures down. Just avoid taking any trips down the Amazon...you'll live longer.
Didn't see your favorite deadly horror animal? Or maybe you have input about those here? Leave a comment.