Thursday, June 9, 2016

Animals Kick Ass

by Melissa Uhrin
Claws, fangs and maulings galore. Today is all about Animals Kicking Ass.

Last month I wrote about movies I had difficulties watching due to the death of a beloved critter, but I thought for ANIMALSPLOITATION day that the tables should turn. And turn they shall!

What better film to kick this off than with Day of the Animals (1977), a great little B movie that will have you second guessing your planned trip to the wilderness. It's a world where the ozone layer has depleted to the point that a form of solar radiation has affected all the animals in the "radiation zone" and turned them into bloodthirsty beasts. What kind of blood? Why, human blood of course! What other reason would you have to pit Leslie Nielsen against a grizzly? One of the first horror films to link the depleting ozone layer to carnage by beast, this had me glaring warily at the sun afterwards, and checking over my shoulder to ensure no mountain lions had crept into my backyard.
I'm using this Junesploitation to both discover new gems and to revisit a few faves, and this next film contains hands down one of the best and most horrifying bear attack scene I have ever seen onscreen. 2014's Backcountry has stuck with me since I wrote about it last year and while I'm trying my best to not double up on films that I have previously written about, some films deserve mention when discussing animal attacks. This time it all comes down to the animal and its territory, and while some may find the lead up to and aftermath of the attack scene kind of "meh," in my opinion that frickin' bear mauling is worth the viewing. If you can stomach it of course.

Can I use the same film in both my "The Poor Animal Dies" and this "Animal Kicks Ass" piece? I'm in charge of each word around here, so the answer is yes. Cujo. He is the perfect character to overlap in both themes, largely due to playing both the victim and predator roles. With his persistent and never-ending vigil of his perceived evil within the car, combined with the viciousness of his attack on the mother and her child, left me with no doubt that he deserves at least a mention. And while this site is primarily movies, sometimes the book gives a much more satisfying journey, particularly into the deranged mind of rabies. So watch the movie, and then follow up with the book as a companion. You know, if you have eight hours to spare.
Let's jump into an Aussie Double Feature, starting with Long Weekend (1978). Apparently, environmental/eco horror is where my paths are leading me... or at least these seem to be the films that are top of mind lately. You know that asshole couple whose deconstructing marriage bleeds out into their surroundings? Place them in beautiful coastal Australia and sit back as their disrespect for nature and all its inhabitants causes Mother Nature to kick into full force. This is eco-vengeance at its very best and with the characters (incredible performances by John Hargreaves and Briony Behets), being so utterly despicable, who's left to root for? Why Nature, of course. And it's gonna kick yo ass. As this is a combination of both animal and environment horror, this could easily be a viewing choice for Eco Horror day on June 21st as well.
Razorback (1984) brings us to the Australian outback and pits man against a gigantic wild boar, which not only kills its prey, it devours them as well. Great premise right? Inevitably while the razorback is capturing our attention, it's the two outback yokels who provide the dose of pitch black humour. Fast paced action combined with absolutely stunning cinematography ensure that I will revisit this film. Because who doesn't love Bacon-Jaws when everything onscreen is beautiful?! Pigs: yet another Aussie creature that can kill you. There’s a reason I don’t eat bacon.

Man's Best Friend (1993) Open with a macabre laboratory, cute caged animals, and a reporter on the hunt for an interesting story. Why not break into an animal testing facility and "free" a caged dog? The poor doggy is of course a genetic modified killing machine, who escapes from his well-intended saviour and proceeds on a killing rampage. Throw in Lance Henriksen as the scientist who created this prize pup (what this movie needs is more Henriksen) and all I need to do is cover my eyes for a brief moment when the cute kitty-bait arrives onscreen. Years of caging, testing, mutilations and this giant dog shall have his revenge on any and all that cross his path!
I'm trying my best to steer clear of all the insect and spider movies, as they have their own day, BUGSPLOITATION! Otherwise I would have many more to include... like, ALL the spider movies. Because SPIDERS.

Additionally I have been working on a piece all about cats to run at a later date. So I have saved The Cat People, Sleepwalkers and Cat's Eye for then. CATS!

Finally, no Animalsploitation piece would be complete without the beast, the classic, the film that has unfailingly ruined happy summer beach time for generations of movie lovers. What else do I need to say? Jaws is the fucking shit.


  1. I went with "Man's Best Friend" for today, which I ordered on DVD as soon as Patrick released the schedule. It's the perfect Junesploitation flick, too silly and goofy to be taken seriously (two words: 'Puppy love' :-O ) but never without merit and occasionally compelling (a couple of the dog's close-ups conveyed real characters and a performance). Today Asylum and the "Birdemic" director churns out these type of flick, so it was nice to see New Line Cinema and real actors (Lance Henriksen and Ally Sheedy trying to pay the rent) putting some filmmaking muscle behind such a 'B' movie premise. A new Junesploitation classic. :-)

  2. Bacon-Jaws....ha ha ha!

    I really enjoyed Backcountry, but it still bothered me a lot. The way they got lost was ridiculous. I understand that it was playing to city peoples fear of the "wilderness", but throughout the movie they were following a trail...there is only 2 ways to go, forward or back. How can you get lost? Wait! I'm starting to sound like Adam "The Gear Grinding" Riske. I worked in Forestry for about a decade, and so I have "gripes" about this otherwise great movie.

  3. Love Razorback. Very underrated and visually stunning gem from the director of the original Highlander.