10. Crocodile (1979)

This Thai creature feature won’t be to most people’s tastes due to some sketchy sequences involving real animals, but the vast majority of the action involves some fairly competent practical work. The giant croc is eating people left and right, but it’s also destroying docks, buildings, and boats with abandon. An attack on a waterside market goes on forever making good use of miniatures, fake blood, detached limbs, a giant swinging tail, and screaming extras, and the end set-piece is just a masterclass in the art of the ridiculous.

9. Ticks (1993)

Effects wizard Tony Randel directs this romp about giant parasites causing grief for some troubled kids in a forest retreat, and the creatures are as well designed as you’d expect. They’re unnerving in their own right, but the highlight is a sequence that sees an extra large one bursting out of a teen’s limbs and head. Carlton from The Fresh Prince never knew what hit him.

8. Komodo (1999)

Easily the most serious of the titles on this list, I’m including it because in addition to being a solid horror thriller with impressive practical effects and the lovely Jill Hennessy in the lead, it’s also built on the backs of a truly terrifying animal. Komodo dragons are horrifying beasts – they run fast, tear their prey with sharp claws and teeth, and drool poisonous saliva. They’re scary as hell, and unlike lions or bears that you can reason with, these cold-blooded bastards can’t be talked out of eating your innards.

7. Food of the Gods II: Gnaw (1989)

This sequel in name only leaves the H.G. Wells inspiration behind and just embraces the lunacy with bloodletting, extraneous nudity, carnage-filled antics in a swimming pool, and the most irritable giant child you’ve ever seen.

6. The Black Scorpion (1957)

The stop-motion animation here is aces as the creatures battle each other and slaughter people, but the standout sequence involves a scorpion attack on a passenger train. The biggest beast stops the moving locomotive, and as it derails smaller scorpions come running in to snag terrified people from the wreckage, making for a surprisingly harrowing scene.

5. Stung (2015)

I actually fell asleep the first time I saw this one, but in my defense I was tired, intoxicated, medicated, and viewing it at a high altitude. A sober and awake re-watch at sea level shows it to be a fun mix of Empire of the Ants and Party Down. (Yes, the Adam Scott series about slacker caterers.) The effects are great, the cast (Matt O’Leary, Clifton Collins Jr., Lance Henriksen) is appealing, and the film knows exactly what tone to set with its balance of laughs and mayhem.

4. Anaconda (1997)

There are plenty of famous faces here, including Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Eric Stoltz, Ice Cube, Danny Trejo, and more, but it’s Jon Voight who steals the show with his ridiculously over the top performance. He’s less believable than the giant snake – brought to life with both killer practical work and CG – but they make for a terrifically entertaining pair.

3. Lake Placid (1999)

Steve Miner’s crazy fun creature feature has lost some of its luster over the years thanks to horrendous sequels and the internet’s habit of denouncing things we once loved, but even a re-watch reveals it to be an entertaining blast. The cast doesn’t hurt either with Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Meredith Salenger, and Betty freakin’ White all showing real enthusiasm for the material.

2. Alligator (1980)

Director Lewis Teague’s (Cujo, Cat’s Eye) animal love starts here, and with a script by John Sayles and a cast that includes Robert Forster and Henry Silva the film’s as classy a B-movie as you’re likely to find. The dialogue is smart, the cast is game, and the result is an incredibly fun ride into the sewers.

1. Razorback (1984)

There are more killer pig movies than you probably realize, but while Pig Hunt (2008), Chawz (2009), and Boar (2016) are far more recent, none of them can touch Russell Mulcahy’s stylish Ozploitation gem about a giant boar ravaging the Outback. It plays at times like an ’80s music video, but it also features a scene where the big pig runs through a house – like, through multiple rooms and walls – and steals a baby from a crib in the process. It’s magical.

So those are 10 of my favorites – although I’m hoping The Meg lands a spot on the list this weekend – but the sub-genre is filled with fun movies pitting puny people against overweight animals. I’ve listed a few below, and while it’s far from a complete breakdown it’s enough to get you started if you’re looking for a monster marathon.

The Devil Bat (1940), Them! (1954), It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), Tarantula (1955), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Deadly Mantis (1957), The Black Scorpion (1957), Earth vs the Spider (1958), Monster from Green Hell (1958), Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Killer Shrews (1959), Night of the Lepus (1972), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Food of the Gods (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), Tentacles (1977), The Great Alligator (1979), Alligator (1980), Island Claws (1980), Razorback (1984), Food of the Gods II: Gnaw (1989), Killer Crocodile (1989), Boa (1990), Alligator II: The Mutation (1991), Ticks (1993), Mosquito (1995), Anaconda (1997), Bugged (1997), Bug Buster (1998), King Cobra (1999), Komodo (1999), Lake Placid (1999), Blood Surf (2000), Python (2000), Spiders (2000), Arachnid (2001), Rodentz (2001), Spiders II: Breeding Ground (2001), Tail Sting (2001), Eight Legged Freaks (2002), Python 2 (2002), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004), Boa vs Python (2004), The Curse of the Komodo (2004), Glass Trap (2005), Komodo vs Cobra (2005), Ice Spiders (2007), Mega Snake (2007), Primeval (2007), Razortooth (2007), Anaconda: The Offspring (2008), Pig Hunt (2008), Rogue (2008), Anacondas: Trail of Blood (2009), Infestation (2009), Jaws in Japan (2009), Megapiranha (2010), Beneath (2013), Big Ass Spider! (2013), Tasmanian Devils (2013), Big Bad Bugs (2015), Lake Placid vs Anaconda (2015), Queen Crab (2015), Stung (2015), Boar (2016), It Came from the Desert (2017)

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