Nature Strikes Back! 10 Eco-Terror Classics

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database


Eco-Terror (short for Ecological Terror) is a popular subgenre of both Horror and Science Fiction that deals with animals (or insects) that have turned on the human population due to things like environmental changes or after effects caused by scientific experiments. These movies thrive on the basic fear that humans have when we're faced with wild things coming after us with claws, paws and jaws. There's been a lot of these kinds of films made over the decades and our list is just a taste of what it has to offer.

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Tarantula (1955)

This film features some groundbreaking visual FX for its time. A scientist Dr Deemer (Leo G. Carroll) develops an experimental super food nutrient formula from an atomic isotope and injects several animals including a tarantula. The spider soon increases to a gargantuan size and begins wreaking havoc across the Arizona desert. Although set in Arizona, the film was shot in California with locations for the desert scenes in Apple Valley. The screenplay by Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley was based on a story by Director Jack Arnold but inspired by Fresco's teleplay for the Science Fiction Theatre episode, "No Food for Thought", which was aired on May 14, 1955. Look for an early cameo by Clint Eastwood as a fighter squadron leader.


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Them! (1954)

Them! is one of the first of the 1950s "nuclear monster" movies, and the first "big bug" feature. Following atomic bomb tests in Alamagordo, New Mexico a colony of ants who have mutated to enormous size are killing citizens. An FBI Agent, Robert Graham (James Arness) is sent to investigate the situation with myrmecologists from the Department of Agriculture, Drs. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn) and his daughter Pat Medford (Joan Weldon). One of the greatest sci fi films of the 1950s. Look for an early appearance by Leonard Nimoy as a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant in the communications room.



Alligator (1980)

A young girl's pet alligator is flushed down the toilet and continues to live and thrive in the sewers where it feeds on the dead bodies of animals injected with a secret experimental growth formula. 12 years later, "Ramon" has transformed into a 36 ft long monster gator that begins feasting on the city's unsuspecting residents. As the bodies begin piling up, a cool as ice police detective, David Madison (Robert Forster) is put on the case to seek out and destroy the creature from the depths. TRIVIA: Filming took place in and around Los Angeles. Although commentary on the Lions Gate Entertainment DVD gives the location as Chicago, the police vehicles in the film appear to have Missouri license plates.



Kingdom of The Spiders (1977)

A small Arizona town is under siege by a horde of terrifying tarantulas due to a potent insecticide wiping out the arachnids usual food supply. William Shatner plays "Rack" Hansen, an affable veterinarian who, along with a beautiful entymologist Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling) tries to help stop the creepy crawlers from destroying their country folk filled community. This film has a ton of great spider attack sequences and nicely designed SFX. TRIVIA: Due to the film's low budget, most of the music used in the film (particularly the "startle cues") was taken from the logs of stock music used on suspense TV series. Most of the music used in the film during the scenes with the spiders can also be heard in notable episodes of The Twilight Zone, including "To Serve Man" and "The Invaders", as well as in at least one episode of The Fugitive.



Piranha (1978)

At the Lost River Water Park vacationers frolic away not knowing that a strain of man-eating piranhas created during the Vietnam War have entered the area. Soon the entire place becomes a chaotic bloodfest as the ravenous fishies munch away on their human prey. Piranha is a parody of the 1975 film Jaws, which had been a major success for distributor Universal Studios and director Steven Spielberg, and inspired a series of similarly themed B movies such as Grizzly, Tintorera, Tentacles, Orca, Monster Shark and Great White.



Frogs (1972)

Sam Elliot stars as Pickett Smith a freelance photographer who's on assignment to document enviromental damage and pollution in and around Florida. While out snapping pics in a canoe he's nearly run over by a drunken motorboater Clint Crockett (Adam Roarke) and his sister Karen (Joan Van Ark). To make amends, the Crockett siblings invite Pickett back to their estate for some refreshments and relaxation. Pickett meets their curmudgeonly father Jason (Ray Milland) who has been using various chemicals to keep the many amphibious indigenous creatures from disturbing his property. An army of killer frogs lead their fellow forrest dwelling friends in a war on The Crocketts and their guests.



Squirm (1976)

In this "Citizen Kane of Killer Worm Films" Don Scardino stars as Mick a happy go lucky guy from the big city who has traveled all the way down south to spend time with his new girlfriend Geri (Patricia Pearcy). Mick's freewheeling vacation with his new chicky soon gets thrown into turmoil when a rainstorm that's knocked power lines into the soil turns the normally peaceful local worms into raging slimy killers! This movie has it all: romance, thrills, humor, awesome makeup FX by Rick Baker and a tidal wave of worms! It was shot over the course of 24 days in Port Wentworth, Georgia. TRIVIA: Pittsburgh musician Weird Paul Petroskey created an entire album, Worm in My Egg Cream, dedicated to the "worm in the egg cream" scene.



The Pack (1977)

Jerry (Joe Don Baker) his wife and two sons move to Seal Island where a group of wild dogs run together and terrorize the residents. Jerry and others are forced to fight back against the mad mutts by any means necessary. An edge of your seat eco-thriller that makes Cujo look like Lassie. Director Robert Clouse made this killer dog cult classic following such 70s hits as Enter The Dragon, Black Belt Jones and The Ultimate Warrior. The film also went by the alternate title The Long Dark Night.



Razorback (1984)

A Ozploitation cult classic in the tradition of JAWS about a giant, maneating wild boar that wreaks havoc on citizens of the Outback. By the early 1980s Australian filmmaker Russell Mulcahy had established himself as one of the leading music video directors in the world. He wanted to make features but at that point had only been offered musicals - a sequel to Flashdance that was never made and Space Riders - which he did not want to do. He was offered Razorback in August 1982 and accepted the job. The movie was mostly shot in the area of Broken Hill, New South Wales and based on the novel by Peter Brennan.



Day of The Animals (1977)

A group of hikers (Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Ruth Roman, Walter Barnes, Andrew Stevens, Susan Backlinie) in Northern California come under the wrath of crazed animals that have been affected by depleted ozone and solar radiation in the atmosphere. Not only do these poor folks have to contend with deadly mountain lions, bears, wolves and various birds, one of their own (Leslie Nielsen) is exposed and has gone mental as well. Actors Christopher George and Richard Jaeckel starred in the killer bear film Grizzly (also directed by William Girdler) a year earlier. In 1978, Film Ventures International re-released this film under the title "Something Is Out There".


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