EZC Presents – When Animals Attack!

Razorback (1984, Australia). Director: Russell Mulcahy

A giant mutant razorback pig terrorises various people in the Australian Outback, although no-one really cares until it starts killing Americans too. There’s a comedy pair of fairly nasty kangaroo hunters, and a vaguely environmental, pre-Steve Irwin message about the importance of not turning Australia’s unique wildlife into pet food, but, really, it’s all about waiting for the big giant pig to turn up and kill someone else. It’s all quite heavily visually stylised and dramatically lit, in a 1980s music video kind of way…..which can’t be that much of a surprise, since director Russell Mulcahy had previously worked on videos for Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet et al (and would go on to direct Highlander, among other things).

Wild Beasts (1984, Italy). Director: Franco Prosperi

A zoo has its water contaminated by PCP, sending the animals berserk. Unfortunately, this coincides with an electrical fault that opens all the cages. What was the chances of that happening? Maddened wild animals rampage round the city – polar bears chomp down on school kids, elephants stomp heads, a tiger menances a trainload of trapped commuters and cheetahs chase cars. Something for all fans of animal attacks. The plot’s virtually non-existant, but who cares when elephants are making planes crash?


Beasts: During Barty’s Party (1976, UK). Director: Don Leaver

In the mid 70s, some level of highly admirable insanity prevailed at ITV, leading them to commission Nigel Kneale – creator of Quatermass and many other fine things – to write a series of one-off stories, all linked by the theme of the bestial. During Barty’s Party is one of the best of the run, starting slowly but becoming increasingly fraught, and combining traditional British TV drawing room drama with James Herbert style guignol involving super-intelligent packs of flesh-hungry rats. The TV budget-friendly formula is simple; trap two emotionally fragile characters in a remote location, and then let the writing (and the sound-effects of thousands of hungry and frantic floorboard-gnawing rats) do the rest…


Phase IV (1974, USA) Director: Saul Bass

The only full-length feature film that Saul Bass – much-celebrated and much-imitated creator of some of the most famous poster designs and title sequences in movie history – ever directed. Which is a pity, since it’s a curious and surprisingly thoughtful piece about ants super-evolving into a hive mind and combining forces against their natural enemy – humans. The plot is secondary to the mood and visual direction, many questions you might ask are left unanswered, but, in term of building tension and creating its own odd and increasingly unsettling vibe, it’s definitely one to remember.


Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002, Israel). Director: some guy whose only excuse would have to be that he needed the money for his child’s kidney operation, or something

The film that gave the world its first taste of John Barrowman: Action Hero, and in which man himself does his all to live up to Dead Ringers’ description of him as “the Pound Shop Tom Cruise”. What’s not to love here? It’s set in Mexico, but really filmed in Bulgaria. There’s a character called Chuck Rampart in it, and he owns his own torpedo, and we learn that giant sharks apparently make strange grunting sounds underwater. The best bit: Barrowman unveils his best hetero-guy smoothy chat-up line, and gets some hot lady-lovin’ action as a result. The second best bit: Barrowman Does Science.

Phenomena (1985, Italy). Director: Dario Argento

Aka ‘Creepers’, also aka ‘the tipping point, where it all started to go wrong with Argento films, and we would eventually end up with Mother of Tears’. We’re not there yet, though, and this is all good fun, with many of the familiar Argento tropes all present and correct. Female members of Dario’s family are stalked and killed. A young and pretty thing arrives at some well dodgy-sounding school for girls. There’s a pit full of something nasty for the young and pretty thing to fall into. A straight razor is used to deadly effect. There’s also a very young Jennifer Connelly before she could act, and some bonkers stuff involving a chimp with attitude and the use of psychically-controlled insects to solve crime, hence why we’re including it here. Main WTF element: Donald Pleasence’s Scottish accent.









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