Top 5 Most Scariest Non-Scary Movie Animals
By Bret Dorman
(As always, possible SPOILERS! for the movies below.)The Animal Kingdom is a pretty ruthless place. Sure there are acts of compassion every now and then that tug at the heartstrings, but for the most part it is a ruthless, violent world that knows no justice. Just ask the shark from JAWS, or the lions from The Ghost and the Darkness, or the giant mutated nuclear radioactive spider from Tarantula. These animals are designed to hunt, kill, and show no mercy. Even without a good, scary movie these animals are to be feared, respected, and generally stayed away from.
But what about those animals that don’t innately inspire fear and dread? Recently at our local indie theatre TCM held a showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds with a Q&A by Ben Mankiewicz with actress Tippi Hedren. The premise of the movie is that a bunch of birds, just decide out of the blue, to start attacking people. Pretty silly right? Except in the hands of Master Director Hitchcock, it becomes a genuinely frightening experience at times. More on that this upcoming (Minutia) Monday.
But what about the rest of the Animal Kingdom? Are there any other The Birds inspired cases where filmmakers took a cute, cuddly, non threatening animal and turned it into the stuff that haunts your nightmares?
5) Jellyfish – Finding Nemo
In real life Jellyfish are pretty deadly. Their poisonous stinging strings can deliver lethal doses of venom if you aren’t careful. But there is nothing too frightening about them. They are gelatinous bubbles with strings. They have no brains. Even if they sting you its because you were in the water and you swam into them or they just happened to bump into you. And sometimes they even glow in the dark, which makes them fun to watch from a boat or beach.
Jellyfish are more like obstacles to be maneuvered around rather than predators to be avoided. Which makes the jellyfish scene in Finding Nemo pretty exciting. You know they can’t touch the tentacles but you don’t think anything bad will really happen. So when Dori gets stung and becomes unresponsive it seems almost unreal. What is going to happen? This is the unforgiving ocean that took Nemo’s mom and countless ships like The Titanic. You think the ocean cares about some stupid fish? NO! But luckily Pixar does. Regardless its still a pretty intense scene for kids when a beloved character comes that close to swimming in the great big ocean in the sky. I couldn’t find the thrilling scene where they race through the jellyfish so here’s the cute diversion to make you think they are harmless:
4) Frogs – Apocalypto
Like jellyfish, frogs can actually be pretty deadly. Or, if used correctly, a powerful drug to trip out on. But when you see a frog your first thought isn’t “Hmmm. I wonder if this is poisonous? Are they like snakes? Can you tell? Is it red touches black and you’re OKAY Jack? Or red touches black and you’re DEAD jack? What is the word that rhymes with yellow? Fellow? Kill a fellow? So it must be OKAY Jack. Well it just bit me while I was trying to decide if I should run away. What color was it? Blue? Crap.” You’re first thought is probably more like “Oh hey a frog! COOL!”
But what makes this deadlier than the jellyfish is that fact that it can be weaponized. If you get stung by a jellyfish, shame on you. You get a frog poison dart shot into your neck, shame on the guy who thought that one up. I’m sure this tribal way to die is pretty painful and grusome, as your veins light up on fire throughout your body. If you’re lucky, maybe its one of the poisons that gives you hallucinations and you can at least go out while thinking your watching Mt Rushmore with the heads of the cast of Seinfeld spit rainbows and butterflies. Or you could just go out like this guy:
3) Mogwai – Gremlins
Extinct? Mythical? Fictitious? Perhaps. Cuddly? Adorable? Lovable? Hells yes. I’m not talking about Gremlins, which are ugly, hideous, rambunctious monsters, I’m talking about the Mogwai itself. Its so adorable you can’t even look at it in good lighting or you’ll kill it. With its high pitched voice and big eyes, Mogwai are a movie marketers wish come true.
But buyer beware. The scariest part isn’t that this lovable creature can turn into a Gremlin, its that its YOUR fault if it does. Mogwai clock in at #3 because of the responsibility factor. Not only do you have to take care of it, you have to follow rules so that it doesn’t transform into a horrible monster. And to a kid, responsibility is super scary and generally pretty tedious and boring. If your lucky though, you’ll have a Mogwai like Gizmo, who will clean up after your mess:
2) Your Own Pet – Cujo
Before there was Beethoven, there was Cujo. A name so synomomous with evil that even though I didn’t see the movie till my early teens I was well aware of his reputation and could easily cite him in pop culture references mid conversation. Having a friendly pet is awesome and they make great companions (Top 5 Companion Traits). Having a rabid pet is Hell.
Like the Mogwai, Cujo comes with the “pet responsibility” factor. Unlike our tiny furry friends, this massive dog starts going on the rampage due to something out of his owners’ control. He still looks like the same dog, no physical transformation occurs, so when he starts attacking its even scarier. The fact that your own pet has had its impulses taken over by a disease makes it harder to accept. You don’t want to take the dog to the shed out back, but when you see stuff like this its becomes a matter of survival:
1) Rabbits – Monty Python and The Holy Grail
Rabbits are a soft, passive animal. They have been used in children’s books like Peter Rabbit and The Velveteen Rabbit. They have been used in cartoons as mischievous wise crackers, i.e. Bugs and Roger. Rabbits don’t make sounds or attack people. They run away every chance they get. They are frightened tiny little animals living in the dangerous world of loud noises, predators, and cars. There’s no reason you should be afraid of a rabbit. No reason.
Unless you’re watching Watership Down, which will shatter your perception of cuteness into pieces. Its akin to learning Santa Claus isn’t real. Even more frightening than cartoon rabbits fighting to the bloody death? The Rabbit of Caerbannog (a.k.a. the Killer Rabbit). This one is #1 for two reasons. One, it has a reputation. Its not just A rabbit from Caerbannog. Its THE Rabbit. So before you meet face to face, your expecting a horrible hideous mutant of a beast. Fangs. Claws. Growls. Snarls. But no. The second aspect is that when you do finally cross its path, it just looks like a normal rabbit. So you let your guard down. Then Blam-O! Its using its lightning fast speed to launch itself onto your throat and rip it while you scream. Its so deadly that the only thing that can stop it is a weapon with the word “Holy” in its name:
I beg you dear reader, no matter what furry, fuzzy, adorable, cute, cuddly, tame, passive, gentle, docile, soft, and ‘squishy’ animal you come across… always be on your guard. The Animal Kingdom has no court system, no police force, no laws to keep you safe. Its a jungle out there. And the deadliest animals might be the ones you least expect!