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You’ve Got a Friend In Me: Crazed Animals Work for (and Against) Equally Crazed Humans!

A majority of ecological disaster films and natural horror movies depicted nature’s attack (either inexplicable or caused by man in some way) as a direct linear attack; in other words, nature targets humankind and humankind has to defend itself from this tyranny. In these films it’s a case of man versus nature. However, there are some films where people are so in tune with nature that they become an extension of the natural world and play a major part in the evil and eventual harm it can inflict. In these movies, humans call upon animals as their familiars to work for them, to become their disciples of dirty goings-on; the human stars co-exist with these monstrous animals and usually their intense co-dependence ultimately serves as their own personal downfall in the final reel. Their bestial counterparts serve them and take heed of their direction, but then come the closing moments of the movie these once faithful beasts may rebel or just become too hard to control.

Let’s take a look at some of these eco-horror films that employ this narrative device:

BLACK ZOO (1963)


Starring the always wonderful Michael Gough, Black Zoo is a gloriously lit movie, boasting crisp colors, that centers on Gough’s connection to large jungle cats like lions, leopards and panthers. He also shares a strong affinity with a large ape as played by the magnificent monkey man George Barrows. All these animals are part of his private zoo and not only are they well-loved and looked after by the obsessive Gough, they are also worshipped. In this movie, animal-worship cultists and all that comes with this particular religious affinity is the fierce focal point and the film remains captivating from the get go. Black Zoo, with its vibrant visual flair, is a strange and extremely entertaining little movie and marked the third and final collaboration between producer Herman Cohen and Michael Gough – the other movies they worked on together were Horrors of the Black Museum and the simian sensation Konga. Gough is just so much fun to watch in this movie, and you can clearly tell he is having a ball with this material. His extreme broad acting decisions and crazed antics are just as much of a spectacle as the lions and cheetahs tearing apart the folk that get in his way. There are also some great performances from character actors such as Elisha Cook, Virginia Grey and Ed Platt. And the animals are just a sheer delight to watch as they obey every command Gough makes; taking heed in what he says and slaying those who do him wrong. The animal training used in this film is perfectly executed; sometimes it looks far too real when a large powerful cat lunges at a hapless victim. One of the most oddball (and yet incredibly moving) moments in the film is a funeral hosted for a big cat that was killed – with the fellow felines mourning, listening to the sermon as recited by their human counterpart Gough.

WILLARD (1971)


Based on the atmospheric novel “The Ratman’s Notebooks” written by Stephen Gilbert, Willard is a divine movie – it is flawlessly plotted, written with swift precision and marvelously acted. Willard precedes superlative horror movie outings such as George A. Romero’s vampire classic Martin and Brian De Palma’s iconic Carrie as a dynamic character study where the horror grows from someone who is tormented simply because of who they are. It is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of wish fulfillment and a modern American gothic set in the world of the humdrum mundane.

In Willard, work and unemployment, home ownership, financial woe and the anxieties bought on by becoming a responsible adult in a cruel and unforgiving world are all contributing factors of a very tangible horror; and the rats that serve as the featured grotesque embody these very real fears. Bruce Davison’s Willard Stiles is a likeable loser; angry and edgy, moody and stuck in a permanent rut, the boy is a pathetic sod with a domineering but ailing mother, a menace of a boss and the ghost of his dead father forever haunting him. To the manic rat race, Davison’s Willard is a lost cause. He is an unremarkable nobody whose tomorrows will bring him only more sorrow. But all this changes when he meets Socrates, a white rat who takes a shining to the young human loner. Socrates proves to be a charming companion and soon enough more rats appear and the rodent enthusiast forms a special bond with these Los Angeles dwelling vermin. But then along comes Ben; the black independent rat. Ben is not one to be lead by those accursed with no fur, no tail and only two legs.

Bruce Davison is perfect in the role of Willard. He moves with awkward twitchiness that at times resembles the jittery nervousness of rats – his convulsing with uneasiness and his inoffensive good looks complimented by his doe-eyed sadness are all heightened and perfectly realized in this wonderful characterization of a young person who goes from pathetic man-boy to brooding victim to vengeful golden haired warlock. Davison’s supporting cast are just as spectacular: Elsa Lanchester (most notably remembered as the monster’s mate in James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein) in one of her final movie roles has fun with her kooky Mrs. Stiles – her shrill voice echoing through the empty decaying mansion in which she lives, her loneliness drying up her weak son and her declining health becoming a sorrowful burden on him. Sondra Locke (pre-Clint Eastwood and in one of her first roles) plays Davison’s lovely co-worker and she is such a delicate beauty with her elfin features and her spindly frame. Her character is the only glimmer of hope for Davison’s conflicted Willard while Ernest Borgnine in the role of Davison’s oafish horrendously nasty boss Martin has not one iota of humanity. Borgnine is completely devoid of any sympathy whatsoever in the role of the head honcho of the factory. It is learned that the factory was once co-owned by Davison’s deceased father, but Borgnine’s Martin has weaseled his way to the top and threatens to never let Davison take his rightful place as co-owner. Borgnine’s manipulative and sleazy Martin is somewhat a horrendous caricature, but this works fine for the film. It would complicate matters if the screenwriter for example decided to give Borgnine’s character external interests other than solely being a tyrannical adversary for the lead. If Borgnine had onscreen compassion for a son or a wife who were completely oblivious to his malicious nastiness but are in turn mauled by ferocious rats undeservingly except for that fact that Davison’s Willard’s rage is now out of control, than the film would lean slightly sympathetically toward Borgnine’s character – it would make him relatively human. Thank goodness this is not the case. The solidly smart script shows us that both Borgnine’s Martin and Davison’s Willard are both capable of true evil – one driven by greed and malice and the other from a place of vengefulness.

Davison’s Willard Stiles is the Pied Piper of Hamelin turned malevolent and demented; however he doesn’t start out sinister at all, his descent into unhealthy codependency on his furry friends is made all the more terrifying by Davison’s electrifying performance. You feel his frustration as Willard; he could be attractive and self possessed but instead he is a grown man-child in ill-fitting suits. He is surrounded/oppressed by elderly nosey busybodies (the kind of people you would find living next to Rosemary Woodhouse in Roman Polanski’s Satanic themed 1968 classic Rosemary’s Baby) who all think they know what’s best for the sad sap. Davison’s relationship with the rats becomes the focal point of the movie, but only as a subplot really. The central theme is the human rat race where a drowning young man is frantically kicking his feet trying to keep his head above the surface so he doesn’t succumb to the grimy sewer waters. The rats do the same. They are living in and around Elsa Lanchester’s large house and cause her great alarm. Davison sees to them and instead of killing them, he trains them – they soon become his allies and his only friends.

After the rats, the one shining light (and genuinely healthy escape) is Sondra Locke. She represents everything good in the world, a world Davison’s Willard might enjoy, but she is pushed aside – first dismissed by the manipulative Ernest Borgine who turns on her as soon as he notices that she is showing genuine sympathy for the poor boy and then rejected by the boy in question to make way for his furry furious friends. You see, by the end of the picture, his own companions have run Davison out of town. The rats have taken over his home and his life and when Davison learns that these rats will have their way with Locke, he insists she leave him alone. It is his one noble act – saving the girl who had shown him kindness. The film boasts some magnificent scenes: Davison’s Willard unleashing his precious rats onto a party Borgnine is hosting – the filthy rodents landing in cake, chewing through walls and racing along the plush environment causing havoc for the party guests. In movies like Alligator and Frogs the ugly rich are disturbed and killed by critters who want to cause great distress and these beady eyed grubby rats scurrying at the feet of LA’s wealthiest are much the same. Another wonderfully scary moment is where the rats are spilled out of Davison’s leather carry case and creep into Borgnine’s office. Gleefully Davison orders them to “Tear him up!” Borgnine’s expression is super memorable here; he understands that Davison’s relationship with these rats is all about obedience and he fully realizes that this young man he has oppressed for all these years has trained these hungry and ferocious rats to do his bidding – all this is summed up in Borgine’s amazing facial expression; one of both sheer terror and realization.

Davison’s central character Willard uses these rats to cope with the problems life dishes out, but sadly for him, they prove to be too independent to control. The rats, led by the rebellious Ben, decide to turn on him and enclose him in his manor and eat him alive. The outcome of Willard is similar to a film made a decade later. John Carpenter’s Stephen King adaptation Christine (the story of a put upon boy and his genie in a lamp car) warns us that possession can prove deadly, as those who supposedly “own” or “control” certain assets can somehow gradually be “owned” or “controlled” by these assets themselves. Willard explores this notion with masterful insight – help and/or dutiful friends may start to manage on their own accord and want to turn the tables on the situation: controlling the master and taking over. But ultimately, Willard and similar movies to follow (namely Jennifer, Kiss of the Tarantula and Stanley) rely heavily on the audience’s sympathy for the loser titular characters. If we didn’t care about Willard Stiles we’d hardly find his antics involving obedient and deadly rats charming; but we do care about his plight and revel in Borgnine’s demise. Willard was successful both critically and box office wise. Audiences who at the time were flocking to see Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Bob Fosse’s Cabaret and Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show wholeheartedly embraced it. The film’s appeal is truly connected to an audience’s keen interest and devotion to the underdog rising above adversity that would soon be embodied in movies like Rocky and in horror movie fare such as Carrie and Christine. A remake of Willard was made come 2003 and it was one of the first in a plethora of inferior and unnecessary remakes of classic horror movies but most definitely one of the best (the redux of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 2003 as well was also pretty good). This remake is a warts and all gothic horror starring the witchy Crispin Glover as Willard Stiles. The film works as a grim and gloriously decadent extension of the Grand Guignol and Glover with his scarecrow-like stringiness works beautifully; he is devilishly delectable as the twisted and tormented rat boy. He embodies an updated Willard Stiles but in turn makes him his own injecting the character with personal flair and finesse.

Much like great thespians Charlton Heston, Jack Nicholson and Christopher Walken, Glover is his own actor – his delivery and his nuances are his and his alone so if you like him you will love his performance, but if you’re not a fan than you most likely won’t enjoy his skittish flamboyance. R. Lee Ermey’s characterization of the malicious loutish boss is a marvelous updating of Borgnine’s Martin, he has great command as a viscously unsympathetic asshole. Glover’s depressing alienation is made all the more painful with all the right elements working in unison and the movie’s horror and black humor is all the more effective thanks to Shirley Walker’s beautiful score, amazing animal acting (especially good is a scene where a cat is terrorized by the hoards of blood thirsty rats) and the Elsa Lanchester character made to be a monstrous oppressive ghoul as deliciously played by Jackie Burroughs. Most definitely not as good as the original 1971 motion picture, but this retelling of Willard is a beautifully composed dark fantasy for a cynical audience looking for demented nastiness with heart. The original Willard ended with the doomed anti-hero being eaten alive by rats and the sequel Ben (named after the large black rat that refused to listen to his human oppressor) begins from those final terrifying moments.

BEN (1972)


Ben is an oddity if anything – a strange film that lacks the compassion and genius of its predecessor but most notably lacks the creepy malice of the first film. Ben leaves you wondering how a very strong precursor can be followed with such a benign follow up that has no real tension whatsoever. However, it is not without its charms and despite its lack of intellect, does have plenty of heart and an interesting premise. After the rats are seen killing the previous film’s lead (and yes, it is footage from the original), a detective investigates and is not at all entirely certain that an army of rats are to blame. Ben, the head honcho of the rat pack, escapes the Stiles manor and makes his way to a quaint suburban house where he meets a little boy named Danny played by terminally cute Lee Harcourt Montgomery. Montgomery’s Danny is a lonely boy who has a heart condition. He is in a fatherless home with a doting mother (Rosemary Murphy) and fashion designer in training sister (Meredith Baxter who incidentally was in a TV movie called The Cat Creature another eco-horror film directed by Curtis Harrington) but chooses to isolate himself where he plays alone, works on his puppeteering and composes music. He is also the target of bullying from a local rough. The loneliness and lack of a male role model hovers like a pendulous black cloud here in this movie and Montgomery’s lack of male companionship heightens the importance of his newfound relationship with his new friend found in Ben the rat.

Many horror and science fiction movies that would follow would feature houses marked with an absent father (The Exorcist, Carrie, ET: The Extra Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), which brings the plight of mother/protector to the surface ala The Exorcist but also highlights the need for little boys to have a companion that can replace the absentee father ala ET: The Extra Terrestrial. A sensitive boy, Montgomery’s Danny keeps himself locked up in his room away from the rest of the world but after forming a special bond with Ben things start to look better for him. He becomes more social, more interested in his mother and sister and not as scared of the local rough that picks on him. Of course the faithful Ben, who by this time is becoming far more humanized through his friendship with Montgomery, attacks the local bully and along with his army of rats they tear away at this obnoxious kid’s legs. Ben’s army of rats meanwhile, have been causing great stress for the city, killing people in sewers and in supermarkets and all the while the detective from earlier tries to make sense of all these mysterious happenings. Where Willard was an amazing character study, Ben is a safe film with a strange made for TV feel to it.

The stand-out feature for this strange and sleepy movie is Lee Harcourt Montgomery’s ode to his furry friend- a song made famous by a young Michael Jackson; simply called “Ben’s Song”. This song even received an Oscar nomination for Best Song that year and ultimately sums up the connection between a lonely child and a misunderstood animal. This misunderstood animal (in this particular case being the rat) is a staple in gothic horror. Much like snakes and spiders, rats are very much commonly associated with decedent fears and archetypal horror (remember their inclusion on the Draculean mythology?) and they feature in many more horror movies such as the Stephen King adaptation Graveyard Shift, Deadly Eyes aka Rats and many more. However, their rival/counterpart the snake has also featured in many horror films and two of these horror films are perfect and wonderful examples of the human help branch of the natural horror movie tree. Stanley and Jennifer both deal with snakes. They also both deal with people on the fringe, marginalized individuals who enlist the help of slithering serpents as their aid.

Snakes and spiders have been noted as being the two most feared creatures on the face of this planet; many a survey and study have found that these two most hated critters have struck terror in the hearts of people everywhere, so it makes sense that a movie like Rattlers or The Kingdom of the Spiders have such an impact; but when these creatures are the minions of a disenfranchised or abused or vengeful human they may prove to be even more terrifying, after all, the human race is capable of more damage than any other mammal on earth and to put man or woman in cahoots with these creepy creatures is a sure fire way to get an audience to scream! A film like Rattlers paints the slithering menace of snakes as the “other”; a wild and untamed thing that do damage on their own merits, whereas both Stanley and Jennifer connect the world of snakes to two characters completely out of touch with humanity but completely driven and obsessed by the world of reptiles.

STANLEY (1972)


Stanley tells the story of a partnership between a Seminole Indian named Tim and his friend Stanley, his faithful rattlesnake. Tim as played by Chris Robinson has recently returned to the USA from his tour in Vietnam serving in America’s most notoriously unsuccessful war. Robinson’s Tim is completely disinterested in relating to his fellow man and lives in isolation deep in the everglades with his only friends the snakes – including the large and super supportive Stanley. Robinson’s efforts in the war have obviously shattered his opinion of the entire human race so the company of slimy serpents is far more appealing; also, the fact that he can communicate with them and shares a beautiful bond with them is something to treasure. Robinson’s loner Native American has found solace in the company of snakes – a man ruined by the system is no longer a part of the societal make-up – even his own people, who of the Seminole Indians, do not understand his misanthropy and worry for him.

The film sets up some magnificent plot devices: Robinson’s main adversaries are local reptile poachers who are not only a direct threat to his snake friends but also horribly racist and malicious in everything they do, Robinson has a passionate but somewhat stinted relationship with a stripper who uses one of his pet snakes in her act – the film making a wonderful parallel between a woman who takes her clothes off for a living and a snake that sheds its skin – both sympathetic, open and honest creatures who care about our leading man. Also, the truth behind the death of Robinson’s father is not dwelled upon but instead becomes the catalyst for the snakes to act on their master’s anger. These snakes, all magnificent in form and wonderfully trained, revel in their service to their master and they kill those who do him wrong.

Stanley presents a satisfying portrayal of a man bent out of shape because of the evil of an unjust system and because of the devastating results of war. Although director William Grefe claims that he made the film in response to the success of Willard (based on the idea that the newest most profitable movie monster that will take audiences by storm are regular unremarkable animals like rats and snakes), the movie was made at a time when Vietnam’s horrific happenings had a major impact on young artists creating their debut works. The war did leave a lasting influence on great diverse pieces of film and theatre; from the innovative rock musical Hair to strangely quiet movies like Coming Home, the terrors from Vietnam echoed throughout Hollywood and the ecologically themed horror film was not exempt from this influence – Stanley is a perfect example. If Willard dissected domesticity and vocation, Stanley had something biting to say about the state of the human condition post-battle. In Grefe’s bright movie, the snakes shed their skins all the while the human cast is stripped of their humanity.

The tagline for Stanley reads: ”Tim has a pet rattlesnake, when Tim gets mad, Stanley gets deadly.” This beautiful marketing ploy sums up Stanley perfectly, and it could well have been used for the next movie we shall look at; however, the only difference is that instead of a hardened bruised and down beaten misanthrope as the protagonist, the central figure in this next movie is a delicate, hopeful doe-eyed beauty who only wants to be loved and respected.

JENNIFER (1977)

Jennifer was released right after the hugely successful Carrie. It has been called a Carrie rip-off. Much like Orca and Piranha were pigeon-holed as Jaws clones. However, much like De Laurentis’s moving killer whale movie and Dante’s socially aware killer fish flick, Jennifer was a movie all it’s own, and although it borrowed from basic narrative principles that were established in a classic like Carrie, the movie holds up on it’s own merits and is a slick and sophisticated as well as emotionally stirring ride.

In Jennifer, a lowly picked-on teenager is bestowed with the gift of communicating with snakes. She uses them to do her bidding when the going gets tough. When life gets too hard for this poor backwater hick, she summons her slithering serpent friends to unleash terror unto her tormentors. Lisa Pelikan plays the troubled Jennifer Baylor to perfection. She is beautiful much like Sissy Spacek’s Carrie White is beautiful, but her beauty is restrained and denied by her low self-esteem. Pelikan plays the role with soft, sweet sadness; a perpetual melancholy that is both heartbreakingly painful as well as downright pitiful.

The film shares another similarity with Brian DePalma’s horror classic Carrie in that the lead has an intense relationship with a parent. In Carrie however, Spacek’s relationship with her mother as played by Piper Laurie is a horrific and abusive one, whereas in Jennifer, Pelikan and her widower father share a loving relationship – however, it is a strong bond in which a dark secret hovers over; something that only father and daughter completely understand. You see, it is learned that as a child Pelikan’s Jennifer had an innate connection to snakes. She could communicate with them, instruct them, train them and make them do whatever it was she pleased and the only other person to fully comprehend this “talent” was her father. In the small town she came from, Pelikan as a young girl had her friends the snakes kill the local preacher’s son who was tormenting her; this is something from the past that she just doesn’t want to remember. When her father found out he decided to pack up and take his little girl away. The two move and decide to start a new life together – Pelikan vows never ever to turn to her snakes to cope with life’ problems ever again. Pelikan’s father, who is mentally disabled, owns a pet store and heavily relies on his daughter to help him out. As his mental health deteriorates he begins to re-encourage his daughter to communicate with snakes and to use her talent to serve her. She remains hesitant and continues without their “help”. The hardworking Pelikan receives a scholarship to an extremely upper crust private girls school and her father insists she go and follow her dreams.

Eventually she takes up the offer, promising she will return home to her father on school break. When she arrives in her second hand clothes and with her second hand books, she is the target of much mockery. She becomes a social misfit for the other girls to torment and tease. These vicious girls (reminiscent of Nancy Allen and company in Carrie) despise poor ole Pelikan simply because she is poor and different. Many cruel tricks are played on Pelikan and the nastiness just grows unbearable. But Pelikan befriends some sympathetic people who soon, in turn, also become the targets of her violently hateful peers. These peers are truly revolting: they try to drown her, they steal her clothes and they kidnap her, put her in the boot of a car and try and run her over in a car rally. Finally, Pelikan, now pushed too far and wanting to protect her fellow put-upon unfortunate misfits, calls upon her friends the snakes to help her out.

The film turns into a wonderfully scary Greek tragedy where these slithering sinister serpents seek out these nasty rich kids and kill them all! Jennifer is a satisfying revenge flick and a gloriously visually stunning one; sure it ain’t no Carrie, but it is a perfect movie in every way complete with a stunning musical score by Porter Jordan.

KISS OF THE TARANTULA (1976)


Kiss of the Tarantula tells the story of a young girl who is ostracized by her peers simply because they think she’s strange. Her parents’ owning a mortuary doesn’t help either. Her only companions are the spiders that she keeps as pets – namely large bird eating tarantulas. They understand her and help her get through the day. And yes, they even love her. But, besides her eight legged companions, the little girl does have a strong bond with her father who is almost always busy dealing with corpses that keep on a coming in for burial preparation. When this sad eyed little girl finds out that her mother is having an affair with her uncle and plots to have daddy dearest killed, she lets one of her tarantulas climb into her mother’s bed to scare her. But scaring her is not all this spider does. The sheer fright of seeing this furry arachnid causes the woman to have a heart attack and the little girl is scarred for life but she also in that instant understands the power of fear. She comes to realize that the fear of spiders can be deadly for those not accustomed to their companionship.

When the little girl grows up to be a teenager as played by the sultry and extremely sensual Suzanna Ling, she is continually ostracized and alienated by her peers and yep, you guessed it, she uses her arachnid army to kill those who torment her. In The Killer Bees, Gloria Swanson uses her faithful buzzing monstrosities to fight off people who come in the way of her ultimate success as a business woman and as a woman who wants to control an entire family. Swanson relishes in this role and her conflict with outsider Kate Jackson is dynamic and twisted – Curtis Harrington’s direction is terrific in this made for TV horror hit and the scenes including the bees terrorizing Swanson’s large extended family is exciting and visually enthralling. A film more alike Kiss of the Tarantula than The Killer Bees in that it is preoccupied with sexual tensions and strange unnatural connections between a young woman and her father is a gritty grimy picture called Pigs.

PIGS (1973)


Pigs is a strange movie with an odd premise. A premise usually found in a subgenre of the action movie – the rape revenge film. In essence, Sudden Impact: Dirty Harry 4 has more in common with Pigs than say the Ozploitation gem Razorback which actually features a killer pig! It tells the story of a young woman, haunted by memories of her repulsive father who repeatedly raped her as a child, who raises pigs at a rural piggery located behind a bar she tends. She seduces men that in some way (both explicitly and remotely) remind her of her loutish father and after having her way with them leads them out to her devoted piggies to watch the hungry swine ravage them, eating them alive. The alternative title is Daddy’s Deadly Darling and the tagline reads: “PIGS! They Eat Anything!” I think the genius of Pigs is that it actually makes you feel as though you’ve been rolling around in mud while watching this gritty exploitation doosie. It’s a grimy film, a sleazy excursion into uncomfortable territory. But it is possibly the most interesting of the rape revenge films that became quite popular during the 70s and 80s.

Of course, not all these human/animal horror movies featured young women hell bent on revenge using their abilities to communicate with animals to do their dirty work, much loved Italian horror director Dario Argento’s Phenomena aka Creepers stars the lovely Jennifer Connelly as a young girl who arrives at a very eerie Swiss boarding school where a series of malicious brutal murders are happening. Connelly has the amazing ability to communicate with insects and animals and these compassionate friends of her’s help Donald Pleasance and others find out who the maniacal killer on campus is. The late great Michael Jackson sang the theme song to Ben and the opening lyrics went:

“Ben the two of us need look no more,

We’ve both found what we were looking for…”

This song embodies the absolute soul of these aforementioned movies featuring lowly underdogs finding solace in animals. The compassion they find is genuine but because these movies are horror movies, the relationships are tested and usually something unhealthy and somewhat demented.

Unlike films such as Old Yeller, National Velvet and Free Willy where the relationships between humans and animals is painted in a loving light, these films are about unhealthy co-dependence and obsession; they also heavily involve sadistic revenge which even though may be warranted also prove to be the undoing of people who are completely out of touch of natural progressive healthy behavior. From the shy and introverted put upon fair haired sod Bruce Davison in Willard and Lisa Pelikan as the impoverished wallflower in Jennifer to the sinister grand dame Gloria Swanson in The Killer Bees, human help in the ecological horror film is an interesting and bankable narrative type. Meek underdogs rising above adversity struck a chord with 70s audiences; a decade that mirrored a celebration of the old EC Comics of the 50s where the put upon, falsely accused or those who have had been done wrong by got their sweet revenge in the final panel.Animals have proven to be the right hand man to human outcasts. They have helped the unfortunate throughout cinematic history as their army of darkness and in turn have become the embodiment of their human masters and mistresses’ demented wish fulfillment – these twisted sinister characters such as Bruce Davison as Willard, Lisa Pelikan as Jennifer and Chris Robinson as Tim Ochopee in Stanley are complicated, intricately conceived characters that truly deserve iconic recognition in the horror universe.

About Lee Gambin

Lee Gambin is a writer, author and film historian. He writes for Fangoria, Shock Till You Drop, Delirium, Warner Bros. and Scream Magazine. He has written the books Massacred By Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film, We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals of the 1970s and the soon to be released The Howling: Studies in the Horror Film. He runs Melbourne based film society Cinemaniacs and lectures on cinema studies, currently working on a lecture series called "Can You Dig It?: Tortured Young Men in Film from 1976-1986 while working on two new books - one on the Stephen King adaptation "Cujo" entitled Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo and another book with collaborator Cris Wilson called Tonight, On A Very Special Episode: A History of Sitcoms that Sometimes Got Serious.

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