Ecological disasters are some of the worst tragedies that can befall our environment. From chemical and oil spills to just classic pollution, it’s really not clear how the inhabitants of these environments will be affected by these contaminants.
Luckily, the films on this list explore exactly what playing with mother nature can produce. Take a deep breathe of that sweet smog and get ready to countdown The Top 10 Ecologically Made Monsters!
10. Piranha (1978)
This 70s horror classic was directed by Joe Dante (Nightmare Cinema) and stars Bradford Dillman (Sudden Impact) and Heather Menzies-Urich (The Sound of Music). The two investigate the deaths of two backpackers who mysteriously disappeared. After discovering a run down facility with a large tank the two drain it to find the bones of the missing backpackers. Unknowingly, however, the two have also released “razorteeth” genetically mutated piranhas into the local waterways. Needless to say deaths ensue and it’s up to the two who released them to put a stop to these insatiable fish!
9. The Happening (2008)
Hit or miss for some, this M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) film stars Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights) and Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) as a husband and wife caught in the midst of an apocalyptic plague of unknown origin. The film is a slow burn that keeps the mystery of what is truly happening up until the very end. Although, there are some clues spread throughout the film. The premise is clear, though, what happens when nature is threatened by the carelessness of humanity? Nature finds a way to fight back.
8. The Toxic Avenger (1984)
A quintessential Troma film, The Toxic Avenger was directed by none other than Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman with the latter also writing alongside Joe Ritter. The plot is pretty straightforward. A weakling, played by Mitch Cohen, is being bullied and undergoes a radical change after a recent bout of bullying lands him in a vat of toxic chemicals. He becomes super strong with the caveat that he is now horrifically deformed. Having been a victim himself, the titular Toxic Avenger is born to protect the weak and innocent from the evils that inhabit Tromaville. What sets this film apart is its ridiculously campy B-movie style and the grotesque and often over the top special effects, classic Troma goodness!
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7. The Last Winter (2006)
This film is a strangely psychological look at environmental impact and the history that is disturbed by human intervention in otherwise pristine slices of nature. The Last Winter stars James LeGros (Drugstore Cowboy) and Connie Britton (American Horror Story) as an environmental assessment team tasked with determining the impact of an oil drilling operation headed by Ron Perlman’s (Hand of God) character Ed Pollack. The film maintains a creepy atmosphere throughout, but the scares begin when a body of one of the operation’s team members is discovered naked in the snow. It’s difficult to say exactly what ensues but the film seems t suggest that ancient spirits have arisen to protect nature form human exploitation. This film is certainly a trip.
6. Snakehead Terror (2004)
What do you do when your local lake is infested with an invasive species? Well the police department of Cultus, Maryland seems to think just poisoning Cultus Lake is the answer! To their credit, poisoning the lake does seem to work, ridding the town of its infestation of snakehead fish (these are real fish-look it up!) Two years after, though, a monstrous mutation of the snakeheads terrorizes the town. This is one of the best Sci Fi channel films with minimal use of CGI and mostly practical effects. It’s campy, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s based on an actual snakehead fish infestation in Maryland!
5. C.H.U.D. (1984)
Everyone’s heard the rumors of bag people living in the sewers with their own society. But when those bag people start going missing, signs point to something else inhabiting the sewers. In this B-movie classic by director Douglas Cheek, the government is keeping a secret down in the city sewers, and now that secret is coming back up to bite the citizens of New York. C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers and that’s just what the mysterious creatures living below the city appear to be, but as the film progresses it may not be so certain what C.H.U.D. truly stands for, especially when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is involved.
4. Mimic (1997)
Often, human intervention in the course of nature is done with the best intentions. In the case of Mimic, Dr. Susan Tyler, played by Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), genetically engineers an insect to eradicate a roach infestation that is spreading disease throughout the city of Manhattan. Unfortunately, conditions outside of the lab result in a strange creature that begins to mimic human beings. As the mysterious new insects make people their prey, Dr. Tyler must find a way to stop the monsters she helped to create. This film is the perfect example of why you cannot outsmart nature.
3. The Host (2006)
At the time of its release, The Host was South Korea’s highest-grossing film of all time. It is a tragic tale artfully crafted by director Bong Joon-ho (Parasite). The film follows a man in search of his daughter who was kidnapped at the hands of a monster residing in the nearby Han River. Of course, the creature itself was a byproduct of formaldehyde dumping by the American military. When the monster’s bloodlust increases and more people go missing, the government decides that the solution is releasing yet another deadly chemical into the river. The Host is a commentary on the careless way our waterways are polluted with the true victims being future generations.
2. Cabin Fever (2002)
A bunch of teenagers on a summer vacation to a remote cabin. Maybe a run-in or two with the locals and you’ve got yourself the makings of a classic slasher. Only that’s not what these kids need to worry about. Rider Strong (Boy Meets World) stars in Eli Roth’s directorial debut set deep in the woods with a contaminated waterway. As the teenagers deal with typical dramas, they quickly fall victim to a flesh-eating disease insidiously hidden in the water. Although it isn’t revealed how the water was contaminated, the locals seem to know all about it. Perhaps this is one disease that keeps outsiders out and is an example of how people can take advantage of the natural world to do their dirty work for them!
1. The Bay (2012)
The Bay is a found footage gem! The film centers around a Fourth of July celebration in the Chesapeake Bay area and how it went horribly wrong. Barry Levinson directed this film after being asked to produce a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay. It seems the circumstances were horrifying enough to inspire this tale. After terrifyingly high toxicity levels are discovered in Claridge on the Chesapeake Bay and the Mayor refuses to postpone festivities for Fourth of July, and fortunately for us, that results in a crazy ride of murder! I won’t spoil what exactly is causing the infection of the people of Claridge, so you’re going to have to check this one out to find out!
Honorable Mention: Godzilla
Arguably the most famous monster the result of anthropomorphic contamination, we couldn’t let you go without at least mentioning the King of the Monsters! Godzilla might be the epitome of this list having been created a a result of nuclear fallout from atomic bombs. However, It’s probably best to give the big guy his own list, as choosing exactly which Godzilla movie to include on this list would be a task in its own right! So for now we’ll give the atomic monster with some love and a nod.
What’s your favorite eco-made monster movie? Did we miss any that you think should have been on this list?
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