When Animals Attack!
A Michael Patrick Hicks Listicle
My latest novel, Mass Hysteria (out now!), involves animal attacks. A whole big damn lot of them. Meteor’s carrying an alien virus have been striking the Earth, and this new disease turns animals rabid, but not just rabid – absolutely batshit, bonkers insane. Which prompted Curtis to ask me what some of my favorite crazed animals attacking are.
1. Jaws. This one is a no-brainer, isn’t it? Jaws is a seminal classic, and for good reason. It’s the ultimate man versus shark movie ever made, filled with terrific characters, quotable dialog, and some of the best awesome man-eating shark action put to film. Mass Hysteria may not have any sharks in it, but Jaws definitely had an influence on my small-town under siege story.
2. Cujo. Book or movie, your pick. It’s hard to not think about Cujo in any of its mediums when you’re writing a book filled with insane, rabid dogs attacking their owners and prowling the streets in search of fresh prey. Cujo was a book that maybe made pet owners an itsy bit leery of their faithful, fluffy companions, and reminded us that although a dog may be domesticated, it can still certainly be one vicious motherfucker.
3. Arachnophobia. I haven’t seen this movie in years, and it’s long, long, long overdue for a rewatch. My ten-year-old self was obsessed with Arachnophobia, enough so that I wore out the VHS tape. It’s also partly responsible for my fear of spiders. It was during a viewing of Arachnophobia that I was playing some game on my handheld Sega Genesis, which was equipped with a screen magnifier attachment, when a spider walked across the screen…beneath the magnifier…and freaked the shit out of me. It’s a memory that still gives me chills, and makes me want to get all decked out in some bug-killing urban warfare gear like my man John Goodman.
4. Tremors. Mutant worms versus Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward! And it’s funny, too. What’s not to love?
5. Gremlins. Gremlins was the first horror movie I saw as a child, and one of the first films I saw in an honest-to-god movie theater. I can trace just about everything I love about horror back to watching this movie as a five year old in a dark movie theater. It’s got gore, it’s got some good laughs, plenty of nasty creatures doing nasty and darkly comedic things. I love horror featuring snow and cold climates, and this flick is one of the best Christmas movies ever, just a few notches beneath Die Hard in my estimation. There’s also an overriding sense of fun to all of it; it never takes itself too seriously, and it’s a movie that knows what it is.
Maybe you noticed a theme developing as this list wore on, as the last three films are, at their core, fun slices of horror. When I wrote Mass Hysteria, it was to entertain. While it’s a dark, oftentimes brutal book, I wanted there to be an overarching element of fun, and for the book to not take itself too seriously. It’s meant to be a fun bit of pulp, filled with gore and more than a few scenes sure to disgust, much like the movies listed here.
What are some of your favorite When Animals Attack stories?
You can get a copy of Mass Hysteria here.
It came from space…
Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.
Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy.
As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.
…and it is spreading.
Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.
To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail.