Top 10 Deadly Aqua-Menaces!
Ah, June is here. The sand, the surf, the sexy hunnies rockin' the two-piece...it really doesn't get much better does it?! Only there's one caveat: deadly aquatic monsters! Be honest, have you ever cut your time short 3-feet deep in the shallows out of fear of the unknown, the unseen?! Liar...sure you have. Hell, I grew up on the coast and always kept such a horrific what-if scenario in the back of my mind. The reason? Likely all the damn horror flicks we've clocked featuring a blood-thirsty-aqua-menace. Be they creatures native to this planet or otherworldly visitors, who cares, when a slithery beast lurking in the deep can pop up at anytime with intentions to kill...yeah, f*ck all that! So take heed when splashing around this summer folks, you never know what may lay beneath the surface. Perhaps these Top 10 aqua-monsters will help you do so!
Ever see the awfully bad but oh so entertaining killer octopus flick TENTACLES, from 1977. No? Netflix instant that shite if you want a good laugh. After all, the kitschy disaster turned horror film stars the likes of John Huston, Shelly Winters, Peter Fonda and Bo Hopkins...with absolutely nothing to do. Still, it's the premise about a murderous octopus that I feel can be used to better effect than this, or those laughable SyFy SHARKTOPUS outings. Seriously, just think of the visual. Octopi are about as strange and otherworldly as one can imagine, the giant head, tiny eyes, the way it moves in the water, the reach of those suctioning tentacles. Shite's unnerving! Only thing is it's likely that very appearance that has lent the creature a bad rap, as octopi rarely if ever confront human beings. Diverging a bit, I wouldn't mind seeing a giant-squid movie done respectfully.
I could have just as easily lumped HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP into the pack as well, as it's also a spin on the mutated-man-who-emerges-from-the-ooze-with-intentions-to-kill subgenre, but somehow I see CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and SWAMP THING as more in simpatico. Perhaps it's the rudimentary dude in a suit aesthetic. Either way, unless you live in Chernobyl, you aren't likely to stumble upon one of these glorified fish-men anytime soon, so that's a relief. But as far as films are concerned, there should always be an example of an evolutionary mutation that rises from the primordial slime, if for no other reason to than to remind us from whence we came. If said mutation has harmful intentions to boot, all the scarier!
Deviating none too far from the Loch Ness Monster mythology, the 2006 Korean aqua-monster-movie THE HOST is quite a fine picture. Luckily, it's mega-monster isn't likely to be accidentally stumbled upon during your summer hijinks, so you can rest assured. Still, the simple sight of such a large, ugly, unearthly creature emerging from the river would scare the shite out of me. Throw in the fact the giant bastard likes the taste of human blood...forget about it! Director Joon-ho Bong showed great deftness balancing humor with action, and since gone on to reinforce his filmmaking talent (MOTHER). How he handles THE HOST 2, slated for 2014, after 8 years of technological advancement, is an exciting prospect.
Humongous snakes that dwell in the water? Oh hell no!!! As ludicrously entertaining as the original ANACONDA film is (at one point the film is thrown in reverse, the waterfall flows uphill), the premise is no less mortifying. And it's not even about the snake's bite, as anacondas aren't even venomous, but ranging some 20-40 feet and maxing out over 200 lbs, you do not want to tangle with one of those big bad sumbitches. Luckily humans aren't as likely to wade in marshes, swamps or low-moving streams the way they would in the ocean, rivers or lakes...and thankfully anacondas do far worse on land than in water. Still, the thought of being squeezed to death by a giant coiling reptile is too much to bear. Hell, even Ice Cube was too scared to let the heat flare.
You guys see the trailer for that new doc called BLACKFISH? Shite looks awesome, if for no other reason to demonstrate how dangerous and unwise it is to captivate a killer whale. The 1977 semi-JAWS knockoff ORCA sort of touches on a similar theme, although on paper it's more of an engaging revenge tale...from the whale's side. After a hunter kills an orca and its baby, its disgruntled mate becomes so enraged it lures the hunter and his crew onto its own turf before turning the tides of fate. It's a pretty good little film, particularly in its ambiguity toward any notion of hero. Who do we root for in the end? Richard Harris? The vengeful whale? Both? Neither? It's that kind of grey area that elevates ORCA above b-movie schlock. Let's just hope BLACKFISH raises the kind of awareness for orcas as THE COVE did for dolphins. FREE WILLY yo!
Every time I catch even a snippet of the unremittingly sleazy b-horror classic HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, I smile deep and wide. This shite is so wrong, so over the top, so damn hilarious, not to mention gory and grimy as hell, one can't help but revel in the utter depravity. Oh, and Vic Morrow in a dirty-blond Jew-fro? Please! For those in the know not, the flick is essentially a hard-R, almost NC-17 sexualized take on THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, where a race of horny mutated-fish-monsters pillage a town's female population. They rip apart the men and rape the women in the most foul and savage ways imaginable. Quite shocking to see a movie so misogynistic actually directed by a woman, but even that is misleading, as Barbara Peters was canned by Roger Corman when she refused to film more scenes of rape, nudity and violence.
Alligators and crocodiles are flat out terrifying, for no other reason than the damn prehistory associated with such beasts. These are goddamn dinosaurs, no joke, and their ability to sustain as a species over vast amounts of time is intimidating on its own. They slink and slither through the shallow reeds, eyes aglow, just calculating the perfect time to strike an unsuspecting prey. Of course, the startling appearance is of a bygone epoch, the rows and rows of teeth, the giant jaw, scaly, spiky skin and tiny little arms. Shite's freakish! Movies like ALLIGATOR (1980), ROGUE (2007) and others over the years have used such reptilian predators as primary foes pitted against humans. Always a suspenseful watch, especially since they hail in the southern U.S. and have the ability to traverse land as well as water. Watch the f*ck out!
3 years after JAWS made its gargantuan splash, Joe Dante went the B-movie route with a shameless river-recount, this time with toothy PIRANHA as the primary predator. It's that 1978 version, written by John Sayles, I prefer over the 2010 3D remake by Alexander Aja, not to mention John Gulager's double-D sequel from 2012. Regardless of artistic merit though, it's all about the damn piranha...an unrelenting pack-species that incur most of its harm in numbers. Not sure about you, but schools of bloodthirsty little fuckers on the hunt? No thank you! Fortunately the species mainly dwells in the South American wild. Then again, Brazil has to be one of the most attractive summer destinations, I'm just not sure I'd be willing to risk that shite! Because unlike the great white, piranha can be found in rivers, lakes, coastal waters...basically anywhere. Frightening!
60 years after scaring the piss out of international crowds (1954), the still unproven Gareth Evans (MONSTERS) will resurrect GODZILLA in 2014. That's some anniversary, so Evans better f*ckin' deliver! A byproduct of the nuclear scare films of the 50s, you know the deal, when a weapons experiment goes heinously awry, a gigantic dinosaur-esque mutation bubbles up from the ocean and wreaks bloody havoc on the nearby town. Many iterations have propagated, like KING KONG, in the intervening years (the 1998 Matt Broderick film reaching a particular nadir), but nothing tops the original, even if the effects of a dude in a suit are laughably outdated by today's standards. Again, perfect timing for Evans to bring in something fresh!
38 years later, after countless knockoffs and effete imitations, Spielberg's troubled but bona fide blockbuster production of JAWS still reigns supreme. It's clearly the definitive killer shark movie, one that really jolted the term "great white" into the pop lexicon. As star Roy Scheider once put it, you could have played the film in New Delhi without sound and people still would have felt the terror...a testament to how universal such a fear is. A mainstream hit of the highest caliber, perhaps the most important thing JAWS did, aside from the creation of a lucrative franchise, was the subgenre of "don't go in the water" horror joints it inspired. Again, many far inferior, but still, JAWS' influence is undeniable. And while many shit all over JAWS: THE REVENGE, rightly so, it's the abysmal quality of that flick that likely rendered the franchise extinct. Only question is, when is the remake? So very sad.