Nature Horror in a Natural Setting

Ah, the Great Outdoors. Mother Nature,from the sandy beaches to snow covered mountains to forests and jungles to sun scorched deserts, is an artist like no other. But she didn’t stop there. Mother Nature went and populated this great place with all manner of creatures great and small. Have you ever seen a bumblebee bat or a whale shark? Yeah, she’s been busy.

Bumblebee bat on a finger

Wherever you are right now Mother Nature is hard at work. Go ahead, look out your window or door. Even if it’s a tree or a flower, Mother Nature is working. Be careful though. Mother Nature can be a fickle mistress. Mess with her and she will mess with you back. Harder. Some movies, like Guillermo del Toro’s Mimic, brilliantly illustrate what can happen when you mess with Mother Nature. Other movies, like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, fall flat on their faces.

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST

Did you know the Amazon Rainforest is home to more than 10% of the world’s animal species? The Amazon Rainforest covers more than 2.5 million acres. Unfortunately, that number is shrinking due to clear cutting of the forest. It’s believed that there are more than 50 tribes and more than 250,000 natives that call the Amazon home. In 2014, one of these tribes came into contact with the outside world for the first time. Something this big would be prime for someone to make a movie about it.

Opening title card for the movie Cannibal Holocust

Cannibal Holocaust disturbed a lot of people when it was originally released. Many people thought the movie was real footage.The people killed in the movie, the ones whose chests can be seen rising and falling as they breathe, were believed to actually have been murdered in the movie. The words “snuff ” and “film” were attached to the movie more than once resulting in the movie being banned in several countries.

You really can’t blame the viewer. Holocaust was presented as real footage of student filmmakers who were lost while traveling through the Amazon Rainforst. The footage shows the students going mad and doing unpleasant things along the way. Murder, rape,torture, and savage beatings were things for the movies, the fiction movies. People were outraged these things occurred. But they didn’t. It was pure fabrication.

Guides in Cannibal Holocaust fight off natives

The story sounds typical now (student filmmakers get lost somewhere never to be found, but the footage they shot was somehow found), but you have to remember Holocaust was made in the late 70’s and released in 1980. Found footage films were not as common as they are today. For the 1980 viewer it’s easy to see why they would be horrified by what they saw on the screen.

filming dying native

Thirty seven years later, the gore in Cannibal Holocaust looks fake and the voice-over actors are almost comical. The movie doesn’t hold up and should probably be watched only for the historical value. Historical value? Holocaust can claim to be the forerunner of today’s found footage horror films. We’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or not.

THE GREEN INFERNO

Right around Holocaust’s thirtieth anniversary Eli Roth (Hostel) released The Green Inferno. Inferno visits a lot of the same territory as Holocaust. Roth doesn’t hide Holocaust’s inspiration on the movie. He shows it off proudly.

Movie poster for The Green Inferno

Except Roth is so infatuated with the Amazon rainforest it’s almost the main character in the movie. If this was his intention then it was successfully done. However, two hours of establishing shots and close ups of the jungle gets old half way through the movie. Brad Pitt doesn’t get as many close ups in his movies.The bad acting and blatant idea poaching should be enough to steer you away from this mess of a movie.

Swarmed by tribal natives

CABIN FEVER(S)

cabin in the woods

Who doesn’t like a nice hike in the woods? Even better, a relaxing getaway at a cabin in the woods? The woods offer so much: mountains, rivers, waterfalls, evil parasites bent on destruction. What?

 

movie poster for original Cabin Fever

Roth has been involved in some real stinkers in his career. Movies like Knock, Knock, The Green Inferno, and Hostel couldn’t be saved even with a blessing from Roth’s spiritual godfather, Quentin Tarantino.

Cabin Fever, on the other hand, is actually a good movie filled with scares and gore. Fever, Roth’s first movie, is what happens when you tamper with the water. It’s also about what happens when friends are infected with a flesh eating virus because they drank the contaminated water. The friends quarantine themselves in their vacation cabin, hence the name of the movie, and slowly turn on each other. You’ll cringe, you may even be nauseated, but Cabin Fever is a horribly, awesome movie.

girl rotting from Cabin Fever virus

It seems every horror movie is required to have as many sequels as possible. Cabin Fever is no different. Cabin Fever 2 with its projectile vomiting scenes and bad acting seems like it wants to be a comedy instead of the sequel to a flesh-eating gore fest. Cabin Fever 3 tries to do the prequel thing showing us the origin of the virus, but not even Sean Astin (Rudy) can save it from being a dud.

Rider Strong running from the virus in Cabin Fever

Two horrible movies in row maybe why Roth, as producer, blessed a remake of the original Cabin Fever. Remakes aren’t all bad, but if you’re going to remake a movie do something a little different. There’s nothing different and nothing original that makes the Cabin Fever remake better, or even as good, as the original.

Stick with the original for some vomit inducing goodness.

THE SHALLOWS

movie poster for the Shallows

Did you know some sharks have not evolved, not changed, in more than 300 million years? Sharks have multiple rows of teeth used to tear and rend their prey. As teeth break the back rows move up to the front of the mouth. Sharks are always growing teeth. Shark babies will sometimes eat their brothers and sisters while still in the mother.

But this isn’t about the smaller sharks, the sharks that make up a large number of the species. This is about the Great White sharks. The sharks that got a bum deal when Steven Spielberg released Jaws.

Jaws was some scary, scary stuff in 1975. Today’s audience may not be as scared, but it’s only because they have become use to sharks-in-the-water movies. Since Jaws there’ve been mechanical sharks, prehistoric sharks, land sharks, two-headed sharks,and crocodiles sharks, SyFy is still trying to catch lightning in a bottle with its Sharknado movies.

Blake Lively trapped on a rock in The Shallows

The latest addition to the list of shark attack movies is the Blake Lively vehicle The Shallows. The Shallows is about Lively surviving a shark attack while surfing in Mexico and her challenge to get to the shore before high tide wipes out the only safe place she has from the shark.

The Shallows tries to be a psychological intense movie. However, Lively can’t convince the audience that she’s in fear for her life. There are no gut wrenching moments that would make an audience squeeze their arm rests. The obviously CGIed shark does nothing to make us think any different. Her bird companion, who should be a calming element in a time of terror, is really jut a cute distraction.

Blake Lively walking on the beach in The Shallows

Cinematically, The Shallows is a beautiful movie. It offers some great views of a beautiful ocean, palm trees and an unspoiled beach. It could have been a great psychological film. Unfortunatley, all The Shallows offers is  a CGI shark, some nice shots of the ocean, and cheap titilating shots of Lively. The ending cements its place as the Michael Bay of psychological terror movies.

For psychological terror in a tropical setting check out Open Water.

 

Mother Nature can be beautiful as it can be dangerous. Get out there and enjoy it. Just be careful while you do.

About the author

Related