Animals Attack; Readers Rejoice!



The first sentence Editor Vanessa Morgan writes in the introduction to her new book, When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals, is, “Why a book on animal attack movies?”  It’s a rhetorical question for me, but for others she explains that it’s not only because these movies have become a genre worthy of study, but also because the genre “has evolved over the decades with trending angst.”  She then summarizes that evolution through the 1920s and 30s, into the 50s, the 70s, and the 90s.

The book doesn’t claim to be all-inclusive; however, Morgan promises that they all have one thing in common: “they have made the heart of at least one writer beat faster with excitement.”  The “animals” included are vertebrates, mollusks, arthropods, annelids and jellyfishes.  There are no dinosaurs (they’re extinct), aliens (they haven’t been proven) or mushrooms (neither animals nor plants).  “However, the animal could be genetically modified or gigantic.”

The book contains nearly 70 articles or essays by more than 70 writers (some team up for their pieces).  They are, as Morgan explains, “film historians, horror fiction authors, film critics, authors of movie reference guides, film directors, film festival programmers, actors, screenwriters and bloggers.”  Some are serious and some are lighthearted.  At first glance, a couple of names jumped out at me.  Our friend, Jon Kitley writes about The Giant Claw and Aaron Christensen writes about Food of the Gods.

In the Kindle version that I reviewed, each essay is preceded by a picture of the movie poster or home video cover box.  I don’t know if the printed version includes additional artwork.  (Neither was the cover of the book included in the review version.)  I didn’t count words, but it looks like the essays average 1,000 words, give or take a couple hundred.  Following each essay is a brief bio of the author(s).  The essays are arranged alphabetically and the printed version of the book is 418 pages.

Since this genre is close to my heart, I love this book!  It includes an essay on Frogs, a classic about which I wrote in the recent Unsung Horrors book from the UK.  I can’t imagine anything it’s missing.  There’s no Sssssss, but that’s really about a man transformed into a snake, so it probably doesn’t belong.  It’s interesting to note that I wouldn’t consider all the movies covered to be traditional horror.  It includes such “legitimate” fare as The Ghost and the Darkness and The White Buffalo.

With any compilation, there are bound to be opinions with which you agree and those with which you disagree.  You can’t share the opinion of everyone.  So the achievement here is simply collecting everything together in one place under one compelling theme, as well as offering content spanning the decades that is as diverse as Jaws is from Sharknado.  In other words, it’s a whole lot of fun!  When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals is now available in paperback or eBook from Moonlight Creek Publishing.



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