Halloween is almost upon us. Our streets will be filled with revelers dressed, among other things, as ghouls and monsters. To help get in the spirit of what is this author’s favorite holiday, here are eight movies that will provide plenty of thrills and scares, if not campy humor, for you and your friends and family to enjoy when you aren’t out Trick-or-Treating.
The scares are all linked to some damage done to the environment by man, whether it be atomic testing, genetic experiments, or chemical pollution. Some of these films are old classics, one is fairly new, and others are, well, you’ll just have to see them yourself, if only to say, “Yes, I saw that movie. You want to know what I thought of that piece of…?”
Here they are. It is a very incomplete list. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section at the end of the article.
Godzilla versus the Smog Monster
The title says all you need to know about this American International release of a Toho Company production. Who needs the APCD or EPA when Godzilla steps in to fight this environmental menace? Godzilla versus the Smog Monster (also known as Hedorah) was unleashed upon the unsuspecting film public in 1971.
Nature reaps revenge upon a wealthy, Southern landowner after he uses pesticides to rid his land of those pesky critters he dislikes so much. His plans for a special Fourth of July birthday celebration for himself go very, very wrong. Ray Milland and Sam Elliot star in Frogs, a 1972 release from American International Pictures.
Robert Foxworth stars as an EPA investigator who discovers that mercury poisoning from a logging operation is causing all kinds of strange mutations in the forest, including a scary, giant bear! Prophecy, directed by John Frankenheimer, was released in 1979.
Anti-GMO activists should love this film about what happens when a scientist tries to develop a super nutrient to help feed the world, using radioactive isotopes. His experiments unfortunately result in a giant tarantula that terrorizes the Arizona countryside. King of the B pictures John Agar stars in this 1955 production – Tarantula!
One of Alfred Hitchcock’s scariest movies, 1963’s The Birds depicts terror imposed upon a seaside village by, of all things, the local bird population. Noted for its scary sound effects and no musical score, in addition to its horrific scenes, no explanation is ever given as to why mother nature reacted in this manner. However, Hitchcock had a rather simple explanation when asked about it. He said the film (and every bird attack) can be summarized by one word – complacency.
The Last Winter
An American oil company is looking for oil in the Northern Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Strange things start to happen. The environmental consultant on board says something is wrong and suggests stopping everything. The oil company boss disagrees. Guess what happens? An eerie, scary, extremely well made and acted film, 2006’s The Last Winter is a must see.
The Flesh Eaters
What happens when you put a government scientist on a small island and ask him to develop a biological weapon based on research documents from Nazi Germany? You get The Flesh Eaters, glowing microbes that live in the sea and eat their victims from the inside out! This 1964 cult classic was directed by Jack Curtis, who also did the cinematography under a pseudonym, Carson Davidson. George Romero changed the name of his classic zombie film from Night of the Flesh Eaters to Night of the Living Dead because of this movie.
A little girl found dirty and lost in the desert, holding onto her doll and not saying a word until a scientist has her sniff some formic acid. This causes her to scream at the top of her lungs, “THEM!” And so begins this classic sci-fi and very scary story from 1954 about giant ants terrorizing the southwest from their birthplace at atomic testing grounds in New Mexico to the storm sewers of Los Angeles, California.