The rumors are true: we should, in fact, be taking better care of the earth. And if the real-life environmental consequences of our actions aren’t convincing enough, maybe it’s time to watch William Shatner get plowed over by a horde of tarantulas. Many beloved, more pensive films focus on the environment, including Wall-E, bambiand Interstellar. But sometimes a pensive movie just won’t do. Sometimes, what you need is to watch the earth wreak bloody vengeance on its callous human inhabitants. The quality of the movies on this list varies wildly, from classics such as the Birdsto cerebral horror like Annihilationto absolute garbage such as The Happening. But whichever you choose, we promise that you’ll be highly entertained–and afterward, perhaps even a little worried to step outside.
Long Weekend (1978)
Please, if you and your better half are in a strained relationship, do not go on anything resembling a trip together. So many horror films warn us about this: midsommar, antichrist, The Shining, long weekend…the last of which is also a nice environmental revenge movie. Unhappily married Australian couple Peter (John Hargreaves) and Marcia (Briony Behets) go camping in an attempt to save their relationship. They commit various crimes against nature during the trip, including accidentally killing a kangaroo, breaking an eagle’s egg, killing a manatee-like animal called a dugong, killing some birds, and unnecessarily chopping at several trees. Soon, nature takes its revenge against them. long weekend is a deeply atmospheric film that’s genuinely creepy and unsettling. Since its release, it has become a beloved piece of cult cinema, despite its obscurity. Make sure to watch the original 1978 version instead of the 2008 remake.
Annihilation is one of those movies that, though unsettling at the moment that you are watching it, is even more disturbing in retrospect. The movie follows Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist and former soldier. Her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) volunteered with other soldiers to explore a zone called “The Shimmer,” or Area X, a strange alien domain that spread from a lighthouse after it was struck by a meteorite. Kane is the only one who survives his mission—or indeed the only one who has ever survived one of the many expeditions to the Shimmer. However, upon coming home, his health unexpectedly collapses, and he must be rushed to the hospital. Lena volunteers for the next expedition, which consists of other female scientists. Annihilation does an incredible job of world-building with its portrayal of Area X and each of the volunteer’s areas of scientific expertise. The Shimmer itself, and the havoc that it wreaks upon those who enter it, is additionally not only physical but psychological as well. This strange new world is beautiful but incredibly deadly. And though Annihilation doesn’t shy away from grotesque imagery, it’s these psychological horrors that ultimately make the film so effective—and which is the reason it has the capacity to stay with viewers for so long.
Day of the Animals (1977)
This is the one where a bare-chested Leslie Nielsen gets eaten by a bear after challenging it to hand-to-hand (hand-to-paw?) combat. Nor are the bear and Mr. Nielsen the only creatures on a rampage: all animals in areas that are over 5,000 feet in altitude have suddenly become highly aggressive towards humans. Why? Because after the depletion of the Ozone layer, they have been exposed to too much UV radiation! Their wrath is our punishment for all that aerosol we’ve been emitting into the atmosphere. Of The Day of the Animalsthe titular animals visit their anger upon a group of people out for a days-long nature hike led by Steve Buckner (Christopher George), who despite being warned by a local ranger (Walter Barnes) that there has recently been a lot of wildlife-related accidents, refuses to cancel the hike. This proves to be a fatal mistake as animals of different species work together to decimate the group. The 1970s born a considerable number of “nature’s revenge” movies that involve animals striking back against mankind for his damage to the environment; however, Leslie Nielsen elevates Day of the Animals above many other samples of its genre through a truly deranged performance that is by far the best part of the movie.
The Happening (2008)
Do not listen to the naysayers who condemn The Happening. yes, it’s true; this is an awful movie. But it’s also hilarious and makes for a fabulous choice for a bad movie night, especially one in which, perchance, you may wish to celebrate the planet and cheer it on as it takes a weird, slightly nonsensical form of revenge on its human inhabitants. Of The Happening, a strange new phenomenon is spreading through the Northeast (you could even say that it’s happening). A mysterious force is hypnotizing large groups of people into killing themselves. It turns out that the plants are to blame: they’re emitting an airborne toxin that affects humans’ brains, as a defense mechanism for all the terrible things that people have been doing to the earth. In the movie, the emission of this toxin manifests itself as gentle rustling. If the trees are waving slightly in the wind, gruesome and strangely elaborate deaths will follow. Despite the apparent speed with which Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel run from the softly blowing vegetation, it still amazes me that they and that child accompanying them survive the events of this movie.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
If only the UN (and the Vice President of the United States) had listened to Dennis Quaid‘s warnings! Then the world could have been saved from terrible climate disasters. Rated PG-13 for “intense situations of peril,” The Day After Tomorrow sets up very unrealistic expectations for how much power the UN and the Vice President would have against a quickly impending global ice age. Nevertheless, it is a very fun popcorn thriller, and the CGI is impressive, especially for its time. In a way, the film’s ridiculousness and more cliché elements are what make it as enjoyable as it is. We’re not here for disaster movies that make sense! We’re here to watch the world go insane. Paying too much attention to what is or isn’t realistic can only end in tears.
The Birds (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock‘s the Birds is currently almost as famous for its controversy as it is for its significance to cinematic history. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the quintessential “nature’s revenge” movie, taking a wild, potentially cheesy concept and running with it to its natural conclusion to create an enjoyable and genuinely hair-raising thriller. Based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier (author of the classic novel Rebeccawhich Hitchcock also adapted), the Birds recounts the story of San Francisco socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hendren). Wanting to repay lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) for a practical joke, she drives to his weekend home in Bodega Bay. Soon after her arrival, the birds in the area begin to attack humans–and the attacks become increasingly deadly. Hitchcock’s movie was additionally inspired by a real-life mass bird attack in 1961 in the town of Capitola, California. It was later discovered that the real birds’ behavior was caused by toxic algae.
The Last Winter (2006)
Of The Last Winter, a group of environmentalists has an agreement with the government to monitor an American oil company as it builds an ice road in order to drill oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The leader of the environmentalists, James Hoffman (James LeGros), is certain that the operation will bring destruction to the natural wilderness around them; he, therefore, clashes with the drilling crew’s chief, Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman), who is determined to finish the job. Mother Nature is n’t too happy with the oil company’s activities and soon wreaks havoc on the characters in the expression of her displeasure. This film divided critics and audiences, with the latter liking it considerably less than the former. Viewers especially expressed dissatisfaction with the ending which, in order that your potential disappointment may be as unsullied as possible, will not be spoiled here.
The Toxic Avengers (1984)
Honestly, based on the description, Toxic Avengers doesn’t sound too promising. Yet somehow, it works, and The Toxic Avengers went on to become a cult favorite. When 98-pound nerd Melvin Ford Junko III (Mark Torgl) lands in a vat of toxic waste, he becomes “The Toxic Avenger,” the new superhero of Tromaville, New Jersey. This film is completely tongue-in-cheek, an intentionally bad masterclass in pulp cinema. Lloyd Kaufman, the film’s co-director and founder of its production and distribution company, Troma Entertainment, had been an environmentalist for a long time. Many of the film’s themes match his concerns, and the New Jersey of The Toxic Avengers is tellingly riddled with garbage, chemicals, and toxic waste. The movie proved iconic enough that it launched the reputation of Troma. A reboot of the original movie, starring Peter Dinklage, Willem Dafoe, Elijah Woodand Kevin Baconis set for release in 2022.
Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
I can’t say I recommend Kingdom of the Spiders for anyone who’s afraid of spiders; the movie is literally crawling with them. Star Trek‘s William Shatner stars as Rack Hansen, a veterinarian in Verde Valley, Arizona investigating the deaths of several farm animals. He and arachnologist Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling) discover that killer tarantulas are to blame. Soon the spiders begin assaulting the local human population. This attack proves to be yet another form of “nature’s revenge”: the tarantulas are coming together in droves and attacking animals and humans because the overuse of pesticides has eradicated their natural food supply. Most frightening of all perhaps is that the tarantulas swarming all over William Shatner are all 100% real.
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