The Giant Animal.
Yes, the abnormally large animal has been a staple of monster movies for years. The giant menacing ants in Them to the spiders in Eight Legged Freaks, from scary to parody. The animal world is filled with both benign and savage creatures, and I suppose our minds can’t help but dream about the implications of a giant generally benign creature or an enormous vicious animal unleashed on a populous. After all, even the mildest of animals must be a hideous beast to something much smaller.
I can still remember, as if it were just yesterday, clicking through cable channels and landing on a movie called Night of the Lepus. I had no idea what a Lepus might be, but my imagination conjured up something hideous. When the beasts finally showed themselves, they were nothing but bunny rabbits. Giant bunny rabbits mind you, but not very intimidating. I suppose they could hop on you and crush you beneath their soft paws, but they certainly didn’t look vicious. The obvious miniature scenes that were used to illustrate the size of these beasts is worth at least one viewing of the movie, that and William Shatner, of course.
In my later years, I found myself quite fond of a little movie called Anaconda. The special effects of the giant snake is quaint by today’s standards, but it has a B-movie charm, and Jon Voight steals the show as a snake hunter(Jennifer Lopez isn’t hard on the eyes as well).
Another often charming B-movie is Lake Placid. This one features a giant crocodile, that in one awesomely hilarious scene swallows a big bear whole. Not to mention a cow or two. It’s a fun movie.
While I love me a good giant animal movie, it is clear that they have been best when played for laughs. There are a few that go straight for the thrills and horror alone, but there are few and far between. Probably about time for a straight up horrifying giant animal movie.
In literature, there is Meg by Steve Alten and Jaws by Peter Benchley. While Jaws was turned into a great movie by Steven Spielberg, that shark is clearly tiny compared to the prehistoric Meg. I hear that a Meg movie is coming soon, so be on the watch and keep your fins crossed that the film proves thrilling and not a dud.
If you happen to be afraid of spiders, Tolkien may be your worst enemy. Giant spiders show up in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I have it on good authority that Mr. Tolkien held no particular animus nor aversion toward spiders, but he wrote them effectively creepy and dangerous. I don’t know what I would rather face, a fire-breathing dragon or a den of giant spiders. Let’s hope I never have to make such a difficult decision.