We all love movies about scary monsters, and many of the scariest are based on real-life creatures. For example, Alien's Facehugger is based on parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside their prey. But all too often, horror movies resort to the same old sharks and tentacle monsters. Isn't it time to branch out?
Nature is full of scary creatures that haven't yet starred in their own horror movies. Here are 10 real-life monsters that need a little more fear and hatred directed towards them — and the movies that would best show off their particular methods of killing.
Top image: Circeson/Flickr
10. The Bighead Carp Will Slaughter Drifters
There's kind of already a horror movie going on in the Great Lakes right now. No, not the ecological devastation of an invasive species coming in and using up resources. I'm talking about the fact that these carp jump out of the water so high, that they occasionally smack into boat owners. I'm seeing this as a sort of a nautical horror with a group of people on a yacht who get stranded in the middle of the lake. No problem, it's just an inconvenience. And then come the carp. It would be like one of those swarm movies of the seventies, where seemingly harmless creatures, like ants, overwhelm through sheer number. Instead of piranhas, which bite people to death, the carp would just bludgeon people, drown them, weight their boat down, and throw themselves into propellers and engines until they stopped moving. Ideally I'd like to see a flying school of carp take out a rescue helicopter — but that might be something for the sequel.
9. The Moose Was Just Trying to Protect Its Babies!
It's always strange to see which animals get made the subject of horror media and which ones don't. Over all, it's a matter of aesthetics, I think. While most people will accept a movie about sleek, snarling wolves chasing down plane-crash victims, there's just no dignity to being kicked to death by Bullwinkle. Moose are no joke, though. They're big enough to total cars that hit them and walk away unharmed. They're also irritable and clever - they're actually pretty famous for springing themselves from zoo enclosures by using their snouts to open doors. And the worst time to approach them is if they're with their young. I see this is a group of kids in the woods, having a party weekend. Maybe they see a wounded baby moose in a trap and spring it, but get blood on their hands and clothes. Worried, they pile in the car and try to go to the ranger station, until a giant furry tank throws itself in front of their car. What follows is a terror-filled night in the woods, as they try to escape their maddened attacker. When they finally get to the ranger station, they come in, hoping for safety . . . only to see the ranger dead, impaled on the coat rack, and the moose rising up from behind a desk. And maybe by that point it'll have learned how to work a gun. Image via Douglas Brown/Flickr.
8. Only the Monsters We Create Can Save Us From the Japanese Hornets.
Japanese Hornets are insects that swarm around people and spray acid in their eyes before stinging them to death. They literally do that, in real life. I am amazed, honestly, that there aren't hundreds of horror movies about them already. There have been a great many movies with bees being the menace. Mostly, hornets slaughter actual honey bees. The poor things have developed one defense, though. They can surround the hornets and heat them until they die. So, the monsters we fear would be our last line of defense. People would be engineering more bees, hoping to squelch the plague of hornets. It would be Godzilla versus Mothra, only times a billion and very small. To me, that seems like an excellent movie.
7. Shoebills Will Bring Death From the Sky
Take a look at that nine inch bill and think of it scooping out your brain. Now picture it soaring through the sky on a seven foot wingspan, and you'll get, perhaps, a notion about what killed off the pterodactyls. The thing hunts not just by flying, but also by creeping up on its prey silently and then stabbing down, beak first, to crush the skull whatever it wanted to kill. What it wants to kill includes antelope and small crocodiles. Basically, the only thing that keeps the Shoebill from killing anything bigger is the fact that it isn't hungry enough. Imagine it in flocks. I'm not saying that The Birds wasn't a great film that built up a tension and had artistic integrity unmatched by other creature features. I'm just saying we would like it even more if we got to see Tippi Hedren fighting of a flock of Shoebills. Image via Yasa_/Flickr.
6. The Wolverine. No, Not That Wolverine. The Other One.
The thing about wolverines as creatures? They'd be absolutely undetectable. Wolverines are famous for being quiet, working alone, having coats so thick that they can bed down on snow without melting it, and eating every part of their prey. They don't even leave bones behind. Picture it. It's a cold winter. A small town sheriff notices that one house stands empty. "No problem," she thinks, "I guess the Lawsons have gone on vacation for Christmas." Then another house empties. Then another. As the town gets emptier, people get scared. They crowd around the lone saloon (this down has a saloon) wondering, is it aliens? Is it vampires? Is it some government conspiracy or a serial killer? No. It's the Wolverine. It won't just kill you. It will make you . . . disappear.
5. Hippopocalypse Now
At this point, everyone knows that hippos kill more people than any other African animal (except for mosquitos). But still, there are no hippo horror movies. It's time to get that right. If you're going to do a horror movie about scientists pushing their way into some tropical jungle, looking for a lost city or an elusive tribe, don't have them plagued by giant gorillas or determined lions. Go with scientific accuracy, and throw in hippo stampedes, hippos overturning boats, hippos chomping on people, hippos drowning people, or hippos slashing people with their giant teeth. If it would be better for the marketing campaign to put them in tutus and label it as a sequel to Fantasia, go ahead. Image via BS Thurner Hof
4. Honey Badgers Don't Care If You Live or Die
There are some animals on this list that should replace other animals in horror movies, and there are some animals that should replace people in horror movies. The Honey Badger, now a registered internet meme, deserves to take the place of those scary mutated hillpeople in horror films. And I mean literally taking the place of all of them. A nice suburban couple should head into a country store to pick up supplies for their RV vacation, and the honey badger at the counter should snarl at them, creeping them out as they try to buy their corn flakes. When they go outside, other honey badgers should be hanging around their car, giving them sullen looks, and a feral honey badger child should be off in one corner of the parking lot picking a fight with a snake. The couple gets into their RV and drives off as fast as they can . . . while the deranged hill honey badgers amble after their car, having sighted prey, determined to kill them in horrible ways. It would be exactly as believable as any of the version of The Hills Have Eyes, and far less offensive.
3. Tardigrades in Space Can Hear You Scream
In 2007 it was determined that tardigrades, small, eight-legged water creatures, can survive for ten days in the vacuum of space. If that's not disconcerting news, I don't know what is. There's literally an eight legged insect-looking thing with claws that can just float through the void until it finds a space ship crew to terrorize. From there, the movie doesn't just write itself, the movie has already written itself. Several times over. The people who have written about such things just didn't know it was a giant tardigrade they were describing. Image via Jasper Nance/Flickr.
2. The Parasitic Wasp Body Snatchers
Alien already used the "laying eggs in your victims" routine — but we still haven't seen a movie that conveys the full horror of wasps laying their eggs inside other creatures. Including the creepy way they perch over a victim while ovipositing (injecting their eggs inside). And the mind control. The wasps take over the life form's brain, and steer its body like a little all-terrain vehicle, forcing it to create the perfect nesting site for the wasp's babies, where they will eat it alive. They can already do this. They just can't do it to humans, yet. Imagine a world in which your partner suddenly shifts personality, scatters pillows and bedding all over bedroom, and invites you, in a very sinister tone . . . to go on a picnic. "Just sit under that tree," they say, "And relax. You'll soon understand exactly what we're doing. Muah ha ha ha ha." Image via Arthur Chapman/Flickr.
1. The Platypus Just Wants to Be Your Friend. Trust it.
So far we've talked about conventional scary movies. Horror movies in which the killers stalk out off the shadows, or lurk in murky depths. Whenever they appear, cello music pops up. But there's another kind of horror movie villain. The kind that's the protagonist's best friend, or boy friend, or ideal new roommate, or sometimes (in the right kind of movie) beloved pet. There are long, tedious, sun-drenched scenes of them walking on a beach or having ice cream, and then Things Go Wrong. That is the movie for the platypus. It looks adorable, with its smiling beak and its furry body and the way it waddles along cheerfully. And then it gets mad, and when it gets mad, it gets out the poisoned spurs on its legs. These spurs have venoms that do a little of everything. Some increase blood flow, and others keep the blood from coagulating, and still others cause excruciating, paralytic pain. These are the adorable little things will inveigle their way into your life, and one by one your find your friends with slashed throats, or drowned in their tubs, and then platypus friends show up and then . . . it's a terrifying Night of the Platypus as you run away screaming, "I thought you were my friend!"