You are undoubtedly awaiting the arrival of Zombie Roadkill with bated breath - and, if you're smart, with a sturdy shovel and a couple of Hefty bags, too. While re-animation is one very obvious way that animals can go a bit wrong, there are other options that can drive a creature past the brink - and we're talking waaaay beyond being forced to travel in Paris Hilton's handbag. Bad science is a popular culprit. Or sometimes, a maladjusted owner might lose perspective on the whole concept of "healthy boundaries." In still other instances, there's just an unmitigated evil streak ready to emerge in that fluffy four-legged fiend.
When it comes to cinematic smackdowns between humans and animals, sometimes Mother Nature can't resist opening a heapin' can of whup-ass in the general direction of we homo sapiens. And who can blame her? We generally have it coming.
So let's countdown our ten favorite deadly movie animals, one entry per species.
ALLIGATOR (1980) - the whole "flushed pet" subgenre relies heavily on the notion that anything traveling downward via the sewage system is supposed to stay down - for good reason. This classic features all the key points you could hope for (besides the hungry, human-chompin' gator, of course): a cop with a dark past, a well-meaning zoologist, and naturally, a shadowy pharmaceutical corporation perpetuating acts of hormonal malfeasance.
WILLARD (1971 - and again in 2003, for good measure) - Social misfits have it rough. But it's no walk in the park for the people who torment social misfits, either. Especially after the social misfit in question unleashes his man-eating little rat buddies upon his enemies (both real and imagined). Rats are highly intelligent creatures, of course. And more than a little vindictive, it turns out.
BLACK SHEEP (2006) - The phrase "genetic engineering gone wrong" is both redundant, and a key plot point of this 2006 film. The filmmakers' inclusion of a key character saddled with a deep-rooted childhood fear of sheep is a particularly nice touch. Their inevitable exploration of the fetishism of having sex with farm animals? Not so much.
PET SEMATARY (1989) - The first and most crucial rule of real estate in real life? Location, location, location. The first and most crucial rule of real estate in the movies? When purchasing an idyllic, affordable and expansive plot of country land, bear in mind that it usually comes saddled with an ancient and cursed Native American burial ground in the backyard. It's probably worth the extra thirty miles of driving to bury your household pets, and beloved family members, elsewhere.
MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1932) - Bela Lugosi plays a mad scientist who has his very own "talking sideshow ape" - which is never a kosher combination to begin with. Throw into the mix experimental ape blood injections, prostitutes and a virginal fiancee who is coveted by both man and ape, and it's a real party.
NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (aka "RABBITS" - 1972) - Killer bunnies. You heard me. While Monty Python's famous five minute segment surrounding the famous creature of Caerbannog was an incomparable classic, some filmmakers can squeeze a whole film out of this premise. Should they have? If you're a fan of small Arizona towns, more experiments involving hormones and animals, ranch hands armed with explosives, and an epic battle scene between the National Guard and some bunnies, your answer is probably a resounding, "HELL YEAH!"
PHENOMENA (aka "Creepers" - 1985) - Outside of a Dario Argento film, most straight-razor-wielding chimp characters are relegated to the category of "enemy" and not "ally." But this is a Dario Argento film, and the straight-razor-wielding chimp comes out looking like a real hero. Then again, that shouldn't be too difficult when it's kept company by characters like a schoolgirl with a weird psychic link to insects, an entomologist who likes to hang out with young schoolgirls (as played by Donald Pleasence, to boot), and an evil headmistress who believes that the best thing for a wayward adolescent is a one way ticket to the local mental hospital for the criminally insane. Three cheers for the monkey.
CUJO (1983). Nothing will ruin a frustrated suburban housewife's day faster than discovering her husband has been cheating on her. Except for maybe also being trapped inside a sweltering car with her son by a large rabid bloodthirsty killer dog on the very same day. This is one canine who is ready to turn the "man's best friend" stereotype on its head... and then rip out its jugular.
THE BIRDS (1963) - In this Hitchcock classic, a wealthy socialite and a lawyer meet cute in a pet shop. Unfortunately, they probably won't be regaling their future grandchildren with the charming anecdote about that fateful day, seeing as how an avian-led apocalypse is unleashed soon after. Oh well.
PIRANHA 3D (2010). The teeth?? Pointier. The kills? Gorier. The tits? 3D-ier. Few would argue that this remake kicked ass. Although some of you may be forgiven for having totally missed the needle-toothed killer fish in this flick - what with all the boobs obstructing your view. Regardless, it's a refreshing (re)take on the "just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water" genre.