This Sunday marks the 43rd Earth Day. It’s the day invented by dirty, smelly hippies in San Francisco in 1970 that reminds us that we have totally destroyed the planet and are doomed to extinction. However, we’re humans, so if we’re going down we’re taking every species on the planet with us. If a species is already dead, we will use their decaying bones and skin as fuel.
Somewhere along the line, filmmakers decided that humanity should cut back on the wanton destruction and started using plants as an allegory for man’s cruelty to nature. That, or it was the ’60s and radiation had magical powers. Either way, let’s look at some of the best – or worst, it’s all a matter of perspective – organic villains!
Half-man, Half-Jellyfish… Sting of Death
Neil Sedaka has done a lot of things to regret – most notably, being Neil Sedaka – but of all the things he probably drinks himself to sleep over, it’s recording the theme to this film, Do the Jellyfish.
We’re not here to talk about poor decisions made by outdated musicians. We’re here for one of the worst monsters thrown up on screen. It’s totally not a guy in a wetsuit with rubber tubing and a balloon over his head or anything. Okay, it is. Regardless of the poor costume design, this film introduces us to the leitmotif of this list, which basically boils down to “what hath science wrought?” (Watch the trailer.)
My nephew didn’t appreciate this year’s birthday balloon.
Mushroom People, Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People
Since we’re already talking about Atomic Age monsters, we might as well bring up “Matango,” a Japanese film that was later titled Attack of the Mushroom People and Fungus of Terror. Another monster that exists because of nuclear testing, “Matango” actually takes on a heavier tone than many monster movies of the time because of its Japanese origin and the fact that the makeup used as the people slowly turn into mushroom people evokes images of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Watch the trailer.)
Princess is in another castle, my arse!
Bunnies! Night of the Lepus
I’ve written about this movie in the past, but now is as good a time as any to remind you about Night of the Lepus. If you watch the trailer, you’ll notice something right away. First, science is at fault for everything – again. Second, they never show the monster or really allude to what the Lepus is. In the days before the Internet, studios could get away with that kind of thing and maybe get one good weekend out before word of mouth killed whatever box office chances a bad movie had. If you ever want to see rabbits looking ferocious on film…Try something else. (Watch the trailer.)
“The horror…The horror…They’re so fluffy!”
Fish – Piranha (1978, plus remakes in 1995 and 2010 + sequels in 1981 and 2012)
This “loving homage” [total rip-off] to Jaws is much better than it has any right to be. Why else would it have more sequels and remakes than Jaws if it weren’t obviously the better picture? Huh, smart guy? In fact, the original Piranha is actually quite good thanks to a cast of B-movie veterans and the superb directing of Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling). Of course, that doesn’t mean that the plot isn’t completely ridiculous: military scientists created a strain of piranha that could be introduced to Vietnam to stop the Viet Cong, but some got out – dun dun dun! (Trailer: 1978 / 2012)
It’s Piranha-fest, only at Red Lobster!
So what’s next?
No. Too easy. Next!