Cook Library Cinema Club: Creatures Run Amok

Jurassic WorldWhat is it about films featuring creatures run amok that attracts movie fans in droves?  Maybe we just love to be scared silly!  Jurassic World, the newest installment in Steven Spielberg’s thrilling film franchise about rampaging dinosaurs, just set the all-time box office record for the biggest opening in movie history, raking in an estimated $511 million last weekend.

Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, the original Jurassic Park was released in 1993 and remains one of the highest grossing films of all time.  Sam Neill starred in the blockbuster film, which also featured Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum.  Successful sequels quickly followed, including The Lost World (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001).

Reviews for the new Jurassic World have been positive, with film-goers finding this latest entry a worthy companion to the earlier Jurassic movies.  Featuring a completely winning performance by leading man Chris Pratt, the new film picks up twenty-two years after the original Jurassic Park dinosaur theme park failed.  A new park known as Jurassic World is open for business, but things go horribly wrong when a new attraction at the park backfires.  Need we say more?

Be sure to catch Jurassic World in theaters — and catch up on the earlier installments as well.  You can find them all at the library.  And if you’re in the mood for more thrills involving animals gone berserk, check out a few of the films highlighted below.

Let’s start with four classics:

Jaws CoverJaws (1975):  Perhaps the granddaddy of all ‘creatures gone crazy’ films, the blockbuster movie Jaws was released 40 years ago this month, and has managed to strike fear into the hearts of beach-goers ever since.  Based on the popular novel by Peter Benchley, the movie chronicles the terror imposed on a small beach community by a giant white shark, and the efforts of the local police chief, an oceanographer, and a grizzled shark hunter to destroy the menace.  Also directed by Steven Spielberg, the film stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw.

The Birds CoverThe Birds  (1963):  A classic Hitchcock thriller in which a wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town.  Her trip takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds begin to attack people in the town in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.  Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren star.  Hitchcock at his creepy best!

Cujo CoverCujo  (1983):  A friendly St. Bernard named Cujo contracts rabies and conducts a reign of terror on a small American town.  Dee Wallace and Danny Pintaur star.  Stephen King helped write the screenplay for the film, which is based on his novel by the same name.  A great screen adaptation of a King thriller.

King Kong CoverKing Kong  (1933):  An overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with the film’s leading lady.  Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot and Fay Wray star.  Multiple re-makes have been made over the years, but the original is a classic for a reason!

And finally, in the ‘so bad, they’re good’ category, there are three recent additions to the genre:

Sharknado CoverSharknado and Sharknado 2  (2013, 2014):  Sharknado is a Syfy channel made-for-TV movie that has become a cult favorite.  When a freak tornado swamps Los Angeles in Sharknado, nature’s deadliest killer rules the sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.  In Sharknado 2, it’s the city of New York that feels the pain.  With a third film in the franchise expected later this year, can we expect any city to be safe?

Snakes on a Plane CoverSnakes on a Plane  (2006):  An FBI agent takes on a plane full of deadly and poisonous snakes, deliberately released to kill a witness being flown from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against a mob boss.  Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Marguilles star, and we can only hope their paychecks were worth it!

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