21 Must-Watch Horror Movies With Aggressive Animals

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The horror story has proven itself to be one of the most enduring genres to exist within the pantheon of storytelling. Getting to the core of what scares us can help to reveal deep human truths that can only be accessed through the avenue of art. That, and it’s just a heck of a lot of fun to be thrilled in a safe environment!

The beautiful thing about the horror genre is that anything and everything can be the antagonist of a horror film. There’s nothing scarier than something warm and familiar being perverted into something that means us harm. This applies doubly to horror films about animals. When man’s best friend turns against him, few things can conjure as much terror in an audience.

There’s a proud tradition of horror films about nature gone wild, and today, we’re going to take a look at some of the best horror films about animals. When nature seeks revenge against humanity, nothing can help you.

1. Jaws (1975)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Steven Spielberg’s classic blockbuster is about three men who must search for a great white shark after a series of attacks leaves a group of Amity Island teenagers dead in the water. This film remains one of the best animal attack films ever made. The film’s scariest moments reside in the moments of silence between the shark sightings, waiting in fear to see when it will strike next!

2. The Birds (1963)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Death comes from the sky in Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic shocker about a series of violent attacks perpetrated by birds on the island of Bodega Bay. Hitchcock’s follow-up to 1960’s Psycho remains a classic of the horror genre, featuring some of the most shocking images of violence to ever be allowed in an Old Hollywood production.

3. Ticks (1993)

Ticks 1993
Photo Credit: First Look Pictures.

This direct-to-video exploitation movie follows a group of ticks that have been mutated by steroid run-off from a marijuana farm in the California woods. Featuring some of the most disgusting practical gore effects to come out of horror in the 1990s, this is one VHS-era chiller that’s well worth seeking out.

4. Bug (1975)

Photo Credit: William Castle Productions.

Director Jeannot Szwarc’s 1975 thrill ride centers on Dr. James Parmiter, a scientist who wants to do experiments on an ancient species of cockroach that can start fires with its thorax. One thing leads to another, and he accidentally creates a race of super roaches that grow intelligent and are hell-bent on taking over his small town. A fun oddity from the height of the animal attack genre’s popularity.

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5. Grizzly (1976)

Photo Credit: Hollywood West Entertainment.

This Jaws rip-off (there will be a few of those on this list) tracks a group of park rangers on the hunt for a grizzly bear that’s developed a taste for human flesh. Though many derided it at the time of its release as a poor imitation of Jaws, you’ll will discover a gnarly good time if you’re willing to take the plunge.

6. Day of the Animals (1977)

Photo Credit: Montoro Productions.

William Girdler’s follow-up to Grizzly is an eco-terror fable about hikers who discover a group of animals who’ve developed psychosis due to the depletion of the ozone layer by aerosols. If you like The Birds, this may be up your alley. What could be worse than every animal imaginable turning on people as they take a backpacking trip?

7. Piranha (1978)

Photo Credit: New World Pictures.

Joe Dante’s Jaws parody is an exciting horror-comedy film in its own right. The film follows first a couple of scientists who are trying to contain an invasion of piranhas, and then campers at a summer retreat who must fight for their lives after a school of piranhas are unleashed in the water. A nasty little slice of 70s exploitation delight.

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8. Empire of the Ants (1977)

Photo Credit: American International Pictures.

B-movie pioneer Bert I. Gordon’s second H.G. Well’s adaptation centers on a group of land developers who stumble on a colony of mutated ants in Florida. Not only have the ants been consuming radioactive material, but they’ve managed to get a whole town of people under their control as a result. An exciting throwback to the atomic age thrillers of the 1970s.

9. The Swarm (1978)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Megaproducer Irwin Allen’s horror epic is about the scientists and militia trying to stop a hive of killer bees as they try to invade Texas. Though many consider this to be among the worst films ever made, it plays better when considered as a tribute to the silent film epics of the 1920s. Give it another chance and have some fun! Maybe this film even makes it into the category of films that are so bad, they’re good.

10. Creepshow: “They’re Creeping Up on You!” (1982)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This segment in the 1982 horror film Creepshow, this segment follows a rich racist who is terrorized by a group of roaches invading his loft. No sooner does he eliminate or escape one group of roaches than another invades his home. This segment features one of the most disgusting endings to any horror film ever made.

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11. Cujo (1982)

Photo Credit: Lionsgate.

This 1982 adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name tells the story of a woman and her asthmatic son who get trapped in a car after a rabid dog begins to terrorize them. The dog has already killed several people at this point; and the heat of the sun makes the car into an oven as the day wears on. This tense thriller features one of the most iconic monsters in horror movie history.

12. Mimic (1997)

Photo Credit: Dimension Films.

Before making it big with hits like Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, Guillermo del Toro made this slimy horror movie about a group of scientists at the CDC who create a genetically superior race of roaches who learn to mimic human behavior. A rollicking good time that takes 50s horror tropes and makes them scary again!

13. Orca (1977)

Photo Credit: Famous Films.

Italian super producer Dino De Laurentiis’ 1977 Jaws riff takes the perspective of the titular orca, following it as it seeks revenge on a whaling vessel that killed his pregnant mate. A fun inversion of the animal attack formula, Orca feels much closer in spirit to Moby-Dick than Jaws.

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14. Razorback (1984)

Photo Credit: UAA Films.

This Australian horror film revolves around a wild, man-eating boar that terrorizes the Australian outback. A slick piece of B-movie filmmaking from the land down under, this fright fest from future Highlander director Russell Mulcahy still manages to pack a punch forty years after its release.  

15. Monkey Shines (1988)

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures.

George ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Romero’s horror film follows a quadriplegic athlete’s bond with a killer monkey who’s been injected with an experimental serum to try and make her closer to humans. This is the rare case of an animal attack film not about nature’s revolt, but of man’s perversion of nature.

16. Squirm (1976)

Photo Credit: Squirm Company.

Man-eating worms haunt a Georgia swamp in this 70s exploitation jam, which has the distinct honor of being one of the most disgusting animal attack movies on this entire list. Hang out until the end to see a giant man-worm hybrid!

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17. Alligator (1980)

Photo Credit: Alligator.

Another entry in the long series of Jaws rip-offs, this 1981 shocker follows a small-town sheriff as he tries to stop a mutant alligator that lives in the sewer. Featuring a great practical alligator puppet and grimy 80s street texture, this is a rollicking great time at the movies.

18. Crawl (2019)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

A fun riff on the Alligator formula, this film features a University of Florida swimmer who gets stuck in her father’s house during a hurricane and must fend off a series of hungry gators. People lose life and limb to the flesh-hungry ‘gators as the movie progresses. Fast-paced and always intense, this is a great entry in the animals attack genre!

19. Graveyard Shift (1990)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

This 1990 Stephen King adaptation follows a group of miners in a textile mill who stumble upon a group of rats hoarding in the mineshaft. Rats alone they could possibly defeat, but something that never fully steps into the light keeps devouring the people who explore too far into the basement. Not a great film, per se, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and well worth the 86 minutes.

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20. Night of the Lepus (1972)

Photo Credit: MGM.

You may be asking yourself, what’s scarier than a killer rabbit? You’ll certainly be wondering that as you watch this 1972 horror film about mutated rabbits invading an Arizona town. Though it doesn’t really make rabbits seem scary, the film still manages to be a ton of fun.

21. Slugs (1988)

Photo Credit: Dister Group.

Exploitation favorite Juan Piquer Simón’s 1988 creature feature centers on the residents of the town of Ashton as they try and fight carnivorous slugs as they make their way through town. Appropriately disgusting for the subject matter, this tale of goopy gastropods is one of the great midnight movies of its era.

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