Thursday, September 22, 2011

Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949, Movie Review)


      In 1937, Walt Disney made one of the most crowning achievements in film history, the first theatrical animated movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. It was a huge success but only a hand full of animated movies fallowed. It wasn’t until 1950 with the release of “Cinderella” that the studio was saved from bankruptcy and they were able to make one classic animated movie after the next, and thus Disney’s first golden age began and it continued throughout the 50’s and 60’s. So what took place in the 1940’s, well there were three other full length animated movies but for the most part the only animated movies to be released by Disney at the time were package movies. Basically they were full length animated movies that were just big collections of shorter animated cartoons. What an interesting bit of movie history, can you imagine today, going to the theater and instead of seeing a full length animated movie, you get a collection of cartoons that seem like specials you’d see on T.V.? Such theatrical package films included “Saludos Amigos”, “The Three Caballeros”, “Make Mine Music”, “Melody Time”, “Fun and Fancy Free”, and the most famous of all of them being “Fantasia”. Of all these theatrical package movies that came out in the 40’s, one of my favorite’s was the 1949 animated double feature called “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” (originally it was simply going to be titled “Ichabod and Mr. Toad”.) This was Walt Disney’s 11th animated masterpiece, and it does a great job following in the tradition of his timeless classics while also giving us something new and original.

    This film introduces two literary classics to the silver screen, and their both brought to life very well in this Disney two-fer. It actually captures the feel of a double feature film from the 50’s, where you pay full price in admission for two movies back to back. It may not be one of the absolute best movies to come from Disney, but in my opinion it’s very underrated and one of my favorites to come from the 1940’s post golden age. The movie begins with one of those classic Disney opening credit sequences, with simple text and not much going on, usually there are pictures that foreshadow events in the film or illustrations in the background to help build your excitement, but here it’s just the color blue as the back ground, mixed with the song “Ichabod and Mr. Toad”. Admittedly, it’s a rather weak opening, but to be fare the song is nice and jazzy and it dose help set the mood. In-between the two cartoons, where in a library ware we get two different narrators talking about these literary characters. The first narrator is Basil Rathbone (who I'll always remember best from "Son of Frankenstein") and the second is good old Bing Crosby (who I'll always remember best from “White Christmas”), both do a great job bringing the stories to life with their strong narration.

                                                                 
      The First Story of Mr. Toad comes from the novel “The Wind and the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. I actually grew up with many different takes on the classic fable as a kid, and this one by Disney was by far my favorite. The story actually has some pretty adult concepts for an animated kids film, there's characters getting drunk and subjects involving theft, funding, taxation, deed’s and court cases. As a kid, I really didn’t understand what most of that stuff was, but I was always able to follow the story. Basically, Mr. Toad is nuts about motor cars and in an uncontrollable obsession with getting the fanciest motor car he can find, he trades his estate with a bar tender named Winkie and his gang of Wesel’s. Turns out that Winkie was a criminal and the motor car was previously stolen. Mr. Toad is then convicted guilty of stealing it, thrown away in prison, and the rest of the special is one fun adventure after the next as he escapes and with the aid of his other animal friends he retakes his estate in an attempt to prove his innocence. One thing that I always found a little strange was that we have animal characters in regular clothing but we also have normal human characters interacting with them. Usually in films like “The Great Mouse Detectives” or “An American Tail” the animal characters live in their own world that the humans have no interaction with but here it’s perfectly natural for both humans and animals to be warring close, living in the same types of homes and applying to the legal system. I guise I shouldn’t try to bring to much logic in a film targeted to kids, but it does make me wonder why all the characters couldn’t just be animals.


      Most of the characters in this short serve there purpose very well, and while some of them are forgettable, their at least fun to watch. Winkie and the Wesel’s did their job but they certainly aren’t memorable villains, (however, the wesel's were the main inspiration for the Toon Patrol seen in "Who Framed Roger Rabit"). The animal characters are pleasant (especially the mole character) but the only one who really stands out is Mr. Toad himself. He’s full of energy, has some great speaking lines, a terrific English accent, he has a fun high-spirited personality and manages to show some rather compelling emotion. If it wasn’t for Mr. Toad, this animated short wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is. There's only one song number in this episode which is titled “Merrily on our Way (Nowhere in Particular)”, which is easily the best song in the film. I know that’s not saying much because most of the songs in this movie are pretty standard and forgettable but I think this makes for a good underrated classic Disney song all the same. I absolutely loved this song when I was a kid and would often sing it to myself on road trips, how could you not like lyrics as crazy as this ... “Are we on our way to Nottingham? To Brittingham, to Buckingham? Or any hammy hamlet by the sea? No!” Overall, Mr. Toad’s adventure doesn’t reach the same heights as other animated shorts but it’s actually rather sold, very colorful and should be plenty entertaining for little kids, it certainly entertained me when I was young.

      The second story of “Ichabod” is based on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. There aren’t as many speaking characters as in the last episode, in fact it's mostly told through mime, Bing Crosby narrating over it. Now I was first introduced to this special on its own “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” VHS, and I wasn’t even aware that it was originally part of a theatrical double feature until a few years later when I received the 50th anniversary edition of “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” on home video. Now I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on my site before but I love Halloween, it’s playful, frightening and best of all is its strong atmosphere that is captured very well in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, which to me stands as the equivalent of a perfect animated Halloween special. We begin with a fantastic narration about how Sleepy Hollow is a cheerful town but beneath its pleasant appearance, it’s also foreboding and consumed by superstition and haunting stories about people who get spirited, the most famous is the story of a school master named “Ichabod Crane”. It’s a chilling narration and it gets things started on the right note. We then role into “Ichabod’s song” which introduces our main character, the town and it's inhabitants. The song itself is nothing special, but it always makes me of another characters introduction song. I honestly can’t watch this opening without thinking of “Bell’s Song” from the opening of “Beauty and the Best”. In both cases it’s about someone walking into town, and the rest of the towns people commenting on how odd they are but nice all the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ichabod’s song was somehow an influence on Bells song, but don’t quote me on that.


      The characters in this film are a little more memorable than the ones in the first special but not by much. Our lead character Ichabod Crane doesn’t have the same enjoyment that was provided by Mr. Toad, and oddly enough, he's actually a terrible person. I will say that his overall design is fantastic, with a strange noise, big feet and disjointed body. He’s very superstitious but a mostly kind fellow who would never yell at his students. But things begin to change when he meets the lovely Katrina, and that's when he takes a nasty turn and becomes a really selfish jerk. Now he's determined to win her over another big strong character named Brome Bones. Katrina never really amounts into much of a character but she serves her purpose just fine. Of cores she gets her own little musicale number that’s more forgettable than the actual character, but “Katrina’s song” dose lead to some funny visuals. The scenes with Ichabod and Brome Bones trying to win Katrina over are hysterical, some of the funniest visual hummer you'll ever see from Disney. This goes on for a while and you begin to forget that it’s a Halloween special, and that’s what I love about it. You’re so accustom to all this comedy, then all the sudden it kicks you off your butt and before you know it you’re watching one of the most chillingly awesome Gothic cartoons ever. 



    The turning point is when Ichabod is invited to a Halloween party, Brome Bones learns of Ichabod’s superstitions, so he sings “The Headless Horsemen song”. It isn't nearly as great as other Halloween songs like “This is Halloween” from the “Nightmare Before Christmas”, but this is where the story gets dark, and we begin to get visuals of things that really get you in the proper Halloween vibe like Jack O Lanterns, Black Cats, scarecrows, shadows and some genuinely creepy images like this pail man in a chair and some nice shots of the woods at night. It’s also a rare treat to get the villain song before we even see the villain, and all the grizzly details of what The Headless Horsemen dose on Halloween night just get you all the more excited for when we finally see him. 


    Then we get to my favorite part of the movie ... the slow buildup to when we meet the Headless Horseman. This scene of Ichobod riding by himself in the woods is one of the strongest, scariest and most atmospheric scenes to ever be experienced in an animated movie. We’ve all had times when we felt dismal, frightened, and alone in the dark, we hear strange sounds and we get a scary feeling that there is something lurking in the shadows and you try to convince yourself that it’s just the wind or an animal but you don’t know for sure. Never before has that feeling been captured so well on screen then in this scene, we see him begin to panic at the sounds of frogs, owls and crickets, the narrator gives frightening detail of how the forest seems to close in behind him and consume him whole. We get great shots of wind blowing through the trees, an awesome shot of the full moon and what looks like a hand closing around it.
It’s my favorite part of the entire double feature, and one of my favorite moments from any Disney movie. It just does a great job  putting you in his place, scared, alone and thinking that there is something evil and dangerous out there waiting to strike. As a child, I could never watch this scene by myself, and personally it’s the scariest thing about this special. This is also where the funniest scene in the film takes place, Ichabod thinks he hears the Horseman coming up fast but it’s really a bunch of twigs agents a log, and then, he just cracks!



        It’s here that The Headless Horseman makes his grand appearance, which leads into a thrilling, climactic chase in the woods. This sequence is often regarded as one of the most frightening scenes from any animated kids movie, especially a Disney film.  Honestly, I thought the buildup was scarier, it’s all part of that age old saying that less is more, and what you don’t see scares you the most. Having said that, The Headless Horseman is still a spectacle to be viewed on screen, with his menacing laugh, bright red cape, creepy looking red eyed horse, and of cores his flaming pumpkin. I could easily see how he’s been regarded as one of the scariest things to come from Disney, especially with him swinging his sword around tying to decapitate pore Ichabod. Like most people, I never looked at The Headless Horseman as a classic Disney villain but one of the great monster icons like “Dracula” or “Frankenstein”. It’s interesting to note that this is the only Disney movie that didn’t change the ending for a traditional happily ever after, instead it kept the dark twist ending of the novel, Ichabod is presumed dead and Katrina gets married to Brome Bones. Wow, I love it when a kids film isn't afraid to take risks. With its strong atmosphere, creepy visuals, dark storyline, and one of the most memorable monster icons, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is one special that I find myself watching every October.


      Like I said before, “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” isn’t one of my absolute favorite movies to come from Disney but it’s remarkably crafted, has great atmosphere, is emotionally resonant, has some amazing animation that’s very colorful, and sometimes dark and detailed. The animation in this film is actually an improvement over other Disney films that would follow for years to come. I also like that both stories take place during a holiday, Mr. Toads adventure takes place during Christmas, while Icabods takes place during Halloween. It may be a little disappointing to have a package Disney movie without Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and company but as a whole, it still makes for one of the best theatrical cartoon collections that Disney has to offer, and a nice little underrated gem to add to any Disney collection. 


  I give “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” 4 stars out of 5. Stay tuned for Mr. Movies October Marathon that begins October 1st and will last all month long!

The Laserdisc


           Everyone knows about DVD’s, Blue Ray’s and most should still remember VHS but video formats have had quite a history from Beta tape to CED tapes but one video format that I find most interesting is the laserdisc. Now the Laserdisc was a huge leap for its time and was the modern day equivalent of today’s DVD’s. They were first released in 1978, but for their time they were given catchy titles like discovision, (pronounced dis-co-vision). They were these huge disks that were the size of old albums or vinyl records, however they never fit the full movie. Most Laserdisc’s would come packaged with 4 or maybe even 6 different disks, so that meant getting up a lot. Not only did you have to put in a new disk every 20 minutes but you also had to flip the disks over, so you really couldn’t get comfortable in a seat for a long time. While that must have been annoying, I can imagine how technically impressive they were. I remember when DVD’s first came out and I discovered how amazing bones features were, things like “making of” features, deleted scenes, outtakes and music videos were all so cool and original to me. But it’s even more interesting to think that it was the laserdisc that introduced bones material for the first time. There are actually some slit improvements over DVD’s, for example you can fast forward through logos, FBI warnings and it all feels like you have more control over the film. Unfortunately, there still hard to transport and just aren’t as fitting as DVD’s. It’s just so much more convenient to have nice, small DVD’s on your shelf that you don’t have to turn over constantly and the quality is just so much better. Well the laserdisc may seem obsolete now but it is still an interesting bit of video formatting history and is the true predecessor to DVD’s.   

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Boba Fett (A small character with a big legacy)

      
         Just about every character from the Original Star Wars trilogy is a house hold name, seriously, who doesn't know about Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and C-3PO. However, there’s one other character that seems to have just as huge of a fan base as any of the classic characters and he didn’t even do anything. I’m off cores talking about the mysteries masked bounty hunter named Boba Fett. I’ve never been so surprised by a character that had so little to do in a series to become the subject of video games, board games, T-shirts, action figures, comic books, novels, Fan made video’s, costumes, fan websites and all kinds of merchandise.

 
   IGN even labeled him as the 8th greatest character out of the 100 best to come from the Star Wars universe and others have called him one of the greatest movie bad asses along with “Mad Max” and “Dirty Harry”. But if you thought that was crazy wait till you hear this, in 2008, Boba Fett was selected by Empire magazine as the 79th greatest movie character of all time, that’s insane. Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t think he was awesome too, and one of my favorite characters from the series. But even I can't explain why he’s so awesome. Parodies such as “Fan Boys” and “Star Wars Robot Chicken” have even made some funny jokes on why he's so popular when he had little to no part in the series. So what is it about this character that makes him so fascinating and memorable, well let’s look at the characters legacy through the Star Wars series to try and find out why he’s become such a cult figure. 

                                                       Boba Fett in Star Wars 4 A new Hope



Well, unlike most characters, Boba Fett was not featured in “Star Wars 4 A new Hope”, at least not when the movie was released in 1977. The 1997 special addition added an additional Jabba the Hutt scene ware Boba Fett was briefly seen in the back ground. Not mush else to say, but it's cool that he's now featured in the original classic, if only for a little bit. 


Boba Fett in The Star Wars Holiday Special


         His very first appearance was an animated segment of the 1978 TV special titled “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. This just goes to show how awesome this character really is, he can be introduced in something as un-watchable as this holiday special and he’s still a fan favorite. In this little animated segment, he’s on a mission from Darth Vader to gain Luke Skywalker’s and Han Solo’s trust but Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3po discover his true intentions before they take him to their base. His image is a little different than usual, he has orange colors as opposed to green, a silver helmet and a long Taser gun. He’s voiced by Don Francks and in all honesty this is the coolest the character has ever been. His voice is so firkin awesome and he just personifies so much danger and mystery whenever he speaks, especially when he addresses the characters as “Friend”. It’s also a real treat just to see him interacting with the main characters, something that never happens in the trilogy. The animation in this episode looks really stupid and there isn’t much of a plot but this 10 minuet cartoon from the holiday special is worth seeing just because of how awesome Fett is. “The Star Wars Holiday Special” still remains the worst thing to come from the Star Wars universe (and for a good reason) but at least we can thank it for giving us this awesome character.   


                                        Boba Fett in Star Wars 5 The Empire Strikes Back


     Boba Fett made his first official, live action appearance in “Star Wars 5 The Empire Strikes Back”. This time he’s voiced by Jason Wingreen who sounds a little menacing but not as awesome as before. Latter in the 2004 DVD special edition, he’s voiced by Temuera Morrison (who played Jango Fett in “Star Wars 2 Attack of the Clones”), I understand that he’s supposed to have his father’s voice but he just doesn’t sound all that menacing. Neither of these voice actors were credited in the film, instead all credit went to Jeremy Bulloch, who was in the costume. Bulloch based his performance on Clint Eastwood's portrayal of the Man with No Name in “A Fistful of Dollars”, as such he would be seen "cradling" his blaster and slightly cocking his head. So what does the character do in the film, well, once again he’s hired by Darth Vader to hunt down the millennium Falcon and he eventually tracks it to Cloud City. After a trap is sprong on our hero's, Boba Fett takes Han Solo as a prize for Jabba the Hut. Unfortunately, he doesn’t interact with any of the characters, with the exception of briefly interacting with Darth Vader. He doesn’t even fight anyone and that’s not including his full 2 seconds shooting at Luke Skywalker. Admittedly, he does look very cool and mysterious in the back ground, like he has his own story that was meant for another film entirely. This was also the first time seeing his rather cool ship know to fans as “Slave 1”. There’s a funny little “Star Wars Robot Chicken” joke were Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian are on a flight deck and Calrissian comments “That’s a pretty cool ship you got there Boba but I’m not too crazy about that name”. 


                                       Boba Fett featured in Star Wars 6 Return of the Jedi    

   
    Jeremy Bulloch continued his costumed performance in “Star Wars 6 Return of the Jedi”. His jet pack and wrist cable are finally seen in action but this time the character has even less to do. He’s only briefly seen in Jabba the Hutt’s place and latter during the battle on Jabba’s sale barge. Boba Fett engages Luke Skywalker in a very brief fight, then in an anti-climactic ending, Han Solo accidently hits his jet back casing him to crash into the side of the barge and dropping into a monster pit were he’s eaten by the sarlacc creature and that’s all we get from him. The 1997 special addition had some additional footage of Fett in Jabba’s palace, flirting with some girl, I guise just to give him a little more screen time. George Lucas has stated that had he known that this character would become so popular, he would have given him a better, more exciting death. But I think a lot of his fan base comes from that want and interest to see him do more. Jango Fett had a lot of involvement in Attack of the Clones and had a pretty exciting death but he doesn’t have as big a fan base. So in an interesting case, it’s because he doesn’t do much that he has a fan base. It’s all part of that age old saying that less is more, and the less you show of an interesting looking character, the more interested people get.


                                              Boba Fett featured in Star Wars Droids 


     In 1985 there was an animated TV series called “Star Wars Droids” which fallowed the adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Boba Fett is seen as a villain in the opening credit sequence but he only makes one appearance in an episode called “A Race to the Finish”. Don Francks, who did the voice work in The Star Wars Holiday Special returned for this show and he has the same orange look and design from before. Basically a group of villains called the Fromms enlist in Boba Fett’s help to get revenge on a group of racers. In the end they fail and Fett turns the Fromms over to Jabba the Hutt for a reword. It’s not one of his best animated events, especially considering we see so little of him and he never interacts with anyone. But there is one note worthy moment when the Fromm leader is talking to Fett in a door way and he’s completely covered in shadow. The rest of the Fromms don’t know who their leader is talking to, then Fett steps forward into the light and the rest of the Fromm are suddenly terrified. It’s a cool little moment and the episode is worth watching for hard core Fett fans. 


                                    Boba Fett featured in Star Wars 2 Attack of the Clones
    
   
     When news that the Star Wars prequel trilogy was on its way, we knew that we’d be seeing the origins of Boba Fett. George Lucas first considered making him related to Darth Vader in some way but then thought that story would be pushing it too much. I’m certainly glad he dropped that idea but what we got instead wasn’t much better. In “Star Wars 2 Attack of the Clones” we see Boba Fett as a child played by Daniel Logan. We learn that he was an unaltered clone from a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, and that he looked upon Boba as his own son. This was a little disappointing to me, to think that behind his helmet, Fett has the exact same face as all the other Storm Troopers and his outfit was just passed down from his father. I always imagined there being more to this character, other than being grown in a factory and taking his fallen fathers armor. Jango Fett was actually a superior character, he had more to do with the story, he interacted with the characters and he engaged them in battle, which was really exciting. There is a little bit of tragedy to Boba’s past, but were not given much of a character, again he’s just there as a bones. There was a book titled “Boba Fett: The Fight to Survive”, which continued his story after his father died but we still don’t get anything that exciting from him.


                                           Boba Fett featured in Star Wars The Clone Wars

                                

     It wasn’t until the final 3 episodes of season 2 in the TV show “Star Wars The Clone Wars” that I got the Boba Fett story that I had been waiting for. These three episodes made for very solid stories full of tragedy, anger, regret and we see a few new sides of Boba that I thought were rather interesting. Daniel Logan returns to the role and the character is now on a personal mission of revenge against Mace Windu for killing his father. In the first episode titled “Death Trap”, Boba disguises his identity amongst a group of young clone cadets that are training on a republic “Jedi” cruiser. After his first attempt to kill Windu fails, he then takes out the entire ship on his own from the inside. The ship crashes on a nearby planet but Mace Windu and most of the passengers escape before it crashes. The story continues in the episodes “R2-D2 Come Home” and “Lethal Takedown”. It’s a very nicely constructed three-parter with good action and some rather surprising emotional levels. Boba is fuelled with vengeance but at the same time he’s feeling nothing but regret for what he’s doing. He really doesn’t want anyone else getting killed because of his own personal vendetta and wants nothing more than to be accepted as a friend amongst his clone brothers. His story just feels more tragic because he seems to have the potential to be a better person but he’s lost and consumed by hatred. 

        

It’s his internal conflict between anger and honor that makes it so fascinating and the music in this episode dose a damn good job enhancing the mood and the drama that the characters going through. We also get some awesome shots of Slave 1, definitely the coolest the ship has ever been. For those of you who wanted to see a really good Boba Fett story, this is what I’d recommend above anything else. After the season 2 finally of Star Wars The Clone Wars”, Boba Fett would continue to make appearance in the show. He's briefly featured in an episode title "Deception", which is a great bounty hunter episode, which involved Obi-Wan Kenobi going under cover as a mercenary. In another episode titled “Bounty”, we see Boba Fett take command of his own small team of Bounty Hunters, there mission is to protect some valuable cargo from bandits. This is without a doubt, one of the best bounty hunter episodes of the series and features some thrilling action scenes. Boba Fett even gets his own armor and helmet, the colors for this costume are red and grey as opposed to his usual green colors and it makes for a cool first costume for him to wear. All though, the design of his helmet looks a lot more like the "Predator" then anything else, he's still awesome in this episode and he's fantastic in this animated series, easily his best portrayal so far.  




So that’s the complete legacy of Boba Fett and dose he really deserve to be a cult figure? Well, in the beginning, he did seem like an interesting intergalactic man of mystery. The only thing we really knew about him was that he had one of the greatest outfits ever seen in a Sci-Fi movie. The helmet, that tint of green, his gadgets, and the rocket jet pack were all just so cool! But that doesn’t make him a good character, just a nice bit of extra flavor to add to this awesome series and that’s all he’ll ever really be. 
         The End

Friday, September 9, 2011

Top 10 Favorite Animal Attack movies

     When it comes to sub-genera’s in Horror movies, there’s plenty to choose from. There’s the haunted house franchise, the zombie franchise, the slasher movies and psychological thrillers. But the cheapest, most clichéd and non-scary sub-genera in horror movie cinema by far is the animal on the attack franchise. You would think that a series of Horror films based on real predators that have been known to attack and kill humans would be very terrifying but for the most part, their just cheap, fun enjoyment. Now there are some that manage to be rather scary and even some of the really lame one’s like “Eight Legged Freaks” and “Spring Break Shark Attack” are still fun to watch on an afternoon with nothing better to do. I’ve seen plenty of animal attack films including “Anaconda”, “Piranha 3D”, “Bats”, “Lake Placed” and “Kingdome of the Spiders” but there’s a select few that I thought made for really fun B monster movies all the same (and maybe a bit scary). So from the Sharks that terrorize our seas to the Spiders that invade our own homes, these are my top ten favorite Animal Attack movies.       
10. The Ghost and the Darkness 
                                                
      With a title like that, you probably would think this movie has something to do with haunted houses or cursed people as opposed to an unstoppable killer lion. Well the plot goes like this, “Val Kilmer” is hired to take out an angry lion that’s preventing locals in Africa from completing the construction of a bridge. Well, he succeeds, but soon after, another lion begins to attack the villagers. However, this is a far more aggressive lion that attacks like a demon and is really hard to kill. Is it the ghost of the first lion or is it the brethren of the first out for revenge. Either way, “The Ghost in the Darkness”, may not be a very memorable creature feature but it is original (actually it's based on a true story), has a decent score by Jerry Goldsmith and it still manages to be a worthwhile film.           
9. Peter Benchley’s The Beast 

      Peter Benchley is an American author who wrote a lot of story’s about the dangers that lye in the ocean. Most of his novels were adapted into films including “The Island”, “The Deep”, “Peter Benchley’s Creature”, “Orca” and the most famous of all of them being “Jaws”. Well, “The Best” is one of his better adapted stories into film and one of the more competent animal attack movies. The plot revolves around a giant squid that’s plagueing an ocean harbor and a group of people who are determined to hunt it down and kill it. The Squid effects are pretty cool (for the most part) and the characters are nicely developed for this type of genera. There’s a lot of good build up and it doesn’t fall victim to as many predictable clichés. It may be a little long and overshadowed by better monster films but it’s still one of the smarter animal attack movies that the genera has to offer.      
8. Arachnophobia 

      Of all the animals on the planet, nothing scares me more than spiders, the way they can just sneak into your house without you being aware of it, that's such an eerie feeling. I’ve heard many terrifying stories of neighbors whose kids are severely poisoned by spider bites. Well, the movie “Arachnophobia” is very self aware of how frightening they are and has fun with the concept of these poisonous creatures sneaking into your house. It has a fun cast including “Jeff Daniels” and “John Goodman” and there are a lot of unintentionally funny moments. As a result, the film succeeds at being both creepy and good, cheese fun. It’s all one big loving tribute to classic creature on the loose movies and for that, it earns a spot on the list.     
7. Them! 

         There are lots of fun monster movies from the 50’s atomic age, but the best giant monster movie of the time (by far) is “Them!”. It avoids the self parody feel of other giant monster movies like “Earth vs. The Spider”, the visuals are great (maybe even menacing at times), some good chills, rather strong writing and plenty of B movie charms to win you over.    
6. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid 

      Some may complain that it’s just a cheesy B monster movie but really, what more were you expecting. I actually found it to be an improvement over the first “Anaconda” because it felt like there was more of a self awareness to it. I was very young when I first saw it and I found it to be a rather exciting jungle adventure with thousands of giant snakes chasing a group of people. I can see now how cheesy it is but it’s still a rather enjoyable film with some decent characters (especially the computer geek named Cole), some rather nice scenery that subjects you to the harsh jungle environment, some elements were a little creepy (most notably that spider) the climax was good and some of the music was fun. If a simple animal attack movie is what you want, then that’s what this film offers.   
5. Snakes on a Plain 

 Now here’s a fun, cheesy flick. This film has an awesome premise that has no limits, it’s wild and free to do whatever it wants. The result is a film with fun characters, good visuals, nifty action, the always fantastic Samuel L. Jackson (who’s at the top of his game), a fun sense of hummer and a big plain full of snakes. It may not be that scary and is far from perfect but it really doesn’t need to be. If you’re in the proper mind set, this can be a really entertaining film. All in all, it’s solid, B movie entertainment.
4. Rogue 

      When it comes to movies about killer crocodiles, their rarely good. But “Rogue” is a rare, good animal attack movie with a very talented cast of basically un-known actors. The characters hold your attention, the crocodile effects are surprisingly good and there are some rather suspenseful, on the edge of your seat moments. This is also an amazing looking film, with lots of colorful locations, beautiful wildlife and some breathtaking cinematography. Overall, there was a lot of effort put into this film to make it a better than average animal attack film, and for the most part, it succeeds.      
3. Jaws 

     Of cores I had to have the classic blockbuster about a killer shark, and to this day it’s still regarded as one of the greatest Horror films (or just films) in cinema. It may be a standard monster movie but it’s done so well, with great characters that you care for, a terrific slow build up, some strong writing, a classic theme, some really frightening shock moments and a fascinating climax that’s still just as exciting every time I watch it. “Jaws” may be the most competent and memorable film on the list but there’s still two others that I thought were a little more fun.  
2. The Birds 
     

      The Key to any great horror movie is build up and that’s the strength that this film caries. Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant direction and style made animals as simple and common as birds terrifying and the movie dose a damn good job of bringing on the terror from these every day creatures. It may seem a little hard at first to sit through so many boring scenes (especially in the opening) of just people talking but its all necessary to make the second half of the film so exciting. One great strength to this film is all the mystery, were never given any clear answers as to why these animals are behaving so viciously. Is it a plague, does it have something to do with these two caged love birds, is there a master mind behind it or is it just the early stages to the end of the world, it’s never explained and that’s why it remains to be such a griping and exciting film, full of terrific visuals, strong build up and intense action.        
#1 Deep Blue Sea  
     This is a fun, fun movie that plays perfectly to audience expectations and gives a few surprises and chills along the way. The plots almost like a mix of “Jurassic Park”, “Poseidon” and “Jaws”. We don’t have mindless sharks attacking people on beaches, instead we follow a group of people who are trapped in an underwater, science base that’s flooding. But escaping isn’t the only thing the group needs to accomplish, they also need to find a way to kill 4 super intelligent tiger sharks that are trying to escape into the ocean and are picking the team off one at a time. The characters are all great, especially this awesome black cook who kills a shark by saying “You ate my Bird!” Then there’s Samuel L. Jackson, who gets the funniest “Oh shoot, I didn’t that coming” death sequence ever. We have girls striping half naked, the base offers many cool locations for an action sequence, the sharks are pretty menacing and we have some outstanding twists to some old, monster movie clichés. For example, this movie doesn’t end with both the lead boy and lead girl living. Instead the lead girl dies and the awesome, supporting black guy survives. If I was flipping through channels on some afternoon with nothing to do and I came across this film, I would definitely put that remote down to finish it.
     The End