It should go without saying that in movies people die. Sometimes it’s at the hands of sinister individuals like Hannibal Lecter or superhero villains like The Joker, but every year we are treated to some sinister, notorious forces of Mother Nature – animals. Yes, it’s true, sometimes these animals are our friends (Lassie, Flipper) but other times, all they want is a good ol’ snack. So as the judge and jury I present to you the Top 10 Most Notorious Movie Creatures. I’ll book ‘em or acquit ‘em with a verdict of guilty or not guilty and since this is my courtroom, my rulings are final:
10. Piranhas – First portrayed in the 1979 film Killer Fish, these blood thirsty, hungry little buggers started by eating jewel thieves on a quest to recover lost treasure in piranha infested waters. Since their first appearance, they’ve gone on to devour people in Piranha (1978), Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981), Megapiranha (2010), the Piranha remake (2010) and why not? They’ll be eating more unsuspecting, clueless teenagers in the upcoming release Piranha 3DD (2012) – hopefully they’ll take a bite out of David Hasselhoff! Should they be feared? Absolutely, in the wild of South America, piranhas are predatory fish that hunt in schools. Are they going to fly out of the water to eat you? Probably not, but it’s a safe bet that you’d be aching if you fell into their feeding frenzy! Verdict: While the case against them feels a bit fishy, I’m calling them deadly and murderous, GUILTY.
9. King Kong – Originally introduced in 1933 to a film crew shooting on a tropical island, King Kong appears to be just one giant, loveable gorilla – okay, maybe he’s a little scary. Sure he kidnaps Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) and ends up taking her to the top of New York, but he really isn’t all that bad is he? In the 2005 remake with Naomi Watts Kong has his own developed character arc and love story, but just like in the original, Hollywood doesn’t let you get away with killing film crew! Kong is brought to an emotional end. Oddly enough, if you were to stray into a jungle in the Congo and walk up on a territorial silverback gorilla, it could look like a scene from King Kong. Verdict: In show business there’s no place for monkey business, but since Kong’s livelihood was threatened and he was taken against his will I’m ruling NOT GUILTY.
8. Crocodiles – In the 1999 film Lake Placid a massive prehistoric saltwater crocodile is on the loose. Unlucky for a bunch of people, it’s hungry. Even more unlucky for people, Betty White, America’s sweetheart, is helping it along by feeding it cows, poor heifers. I can’t tell who’s the bigger notorious creature, the man-eating crocodile or the husband-whacking, cow-sacrificing crocodile enabler Betty White! Either way, they’re dangerous enough to warrant two sequels. Verdict: While I’m with Betty, “I hope the crocodile swallows you and your friends whole,” this croc is GUILTY as charged and little Ms. White is being charged as an accomplice!
7. Anaconda – I guess anyone would be naturally fearful of a giant version of one of the world’s largest snakes. The good news is it doesn’t get to eat Jennifer Lopez. The bad news is it eats just about everyone else. The fortunate news is it munches on Jon Voight, could someone please call Angelina? Seriously though, these giants (yep, there’s more than one) are cunning and swift hunters that move at heightened speeds through the South American water. In reality, these massive snakes have jaws lined with about a hundred rear-facing, razor sharp teeth, so the idea of a human death in the coil of an anaconda isn’t impossible it’s just not probable. Verdict: If this had been a one-time occurrence it may have been overlooked but since the anacondas repeatedly hunted with intent in their notably worse sequels I’m going slam the gavel and rule GUILTY.
6. Cujo – Well, well, well, doesn’t exactly look like the town-terrorizing rabies infected St. Bernard is man’s best friend afterall, thank goodness for Beethoven! Based on the novel by horror author Stephen King, Cujo is a blood-thirsty puppy dog. Conveniently though it seems a mother’s love is enough to stop the rabid canine as she kills him in the film’s final moments while protecting her son. Verdict: Bad dog! Very bad dog! GUILTY.
5. Godzilla – If there ever was a terrorist Godzilla is it. The dinosaur-like creature, apparently created from a nuclear mishap in 1954 wreaks havoc on Tokyo, eventually making his destructive way to Manhattan in 1998. But he doesn’t seem to be finished just yet, because in 2014 Godzilla’s getting in your face in 3D. This is what could happen (maybe) if reptiles were to be genetically mutated. Fortunately, I’m not going to be held responsible for the millions of lives lost. Unfortunately, Godzilla becomes leaner, deadlier and smarter every time. Verdict: Run, it’s GUILTY Godzilla!
4. Birds – Who could forget the first time they saw Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? Such innocent little creatures, right? Wrong. They have an aerial advantage and some really sharp beaks to pluck your eyes out with and that’s just what they do in the 1963 film starring Tippi Hedren. The birds plague the west coast and attack with increased viciousness as their numbers soar. Don’t kid yourself if you have seen this, you know you walked outside and thought about being killed by the first bird you saw. Verdict: Look out below. These birds are GUILTY as charged.
3. Tyrannosaurus Rex – Could you imagine a 7.5 ton carnivore walking around in the wild? Jurassic Park (1993) puts the idea in motion as dinosaurs are genetically engineered by scientists to open an amusement park. However, the only amusement seems to be from the perspective of one of life’s all-time apex predators as little bite-sized people (including a “blood-sucking lawyer) are consumed as they try running scared. T-Rex enjoys his reign as king until the third film, Jurassic Park III, when Spinosaurus enters the fray and annihilates the tyrannosaur couple. Verdict: Dr. Ellie Sattler says, “Run” (from raptors, of course), but I agree with Dr. Grant, we should stay put. Who’s afraid of little confrontation? Maybe you, maybe me but I’m ruling that since dinosaurs went extinct and man tried playing God that this dinosaur is NOT GUILTY.
2. Jaws – A big, really big, deadly fish has been on the loose since 1975. Beware; he’s an artificial man-eater and a source of fear for beachgoers everywhere. Warranting three sequels of his own, Jaws can be held partly responsible for giving sharks a bad name as he tore through boats to get his seafood, hey, I guess he didn’t want delivery afterall. Despite his despicable cravings for human flesh, Jaws was a trailblazer as the star of the first movie to be released nationally on hundreds of screens simultaneously while boasting a national campaign. Jaws was hailed as a benchmark film for the thriller/horror genre – I wonder how the families of those consumed feel, furthermore I wonder if the FDA has issued a warning to sharks about consuming raw or undercooked meat. Verdict: You’re fish-bait and you’re getting eaten if you’re in the water, but Jaws is just acting on his natural predatory instinct and you’re in his habitat, NOT GUILTY.
1. Chimpanzees – In 1968 director Franklin Schaffner tells the story of an astronaut crew that lands on a planet in the distant future where apes rule over enslaved humans. In 2001, the film was remade starring Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham Carter and just this year the franchise was rebooted when its seventh film was released (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). The movie explores controversial scientific testing on chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary relatives, and the potential outcomes of corporate greed. The possible, but unlikely result is that apes could develop full cognitive ability and launch a war against mankind as Caesar does at the end of Rise. Chimpanzees are already significantly stronger and larger than humans; it’s almost scary to think of what they’d be capable of with our mental abilities. Verdict: Sometimes karma’s a bitch and since these innocent chimps were tortured I have no choice but to say NOT GUILTY, remember if you play with fire you’re likely to get burned.
There you have it four of the accused murderers have been acquitted. They may now enjoy criminal retirement with OJ or Casey. Do you agree or disagree? Would you appeal my rulings to the Supreme Court? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts!