Finally, the 10’s!

Our journey through time is nearly done, but not before a resurgence of both the shark movie and the big-budget creature feature–huzzah! This decade brings about the triumphant return of the Jurassic Park franchise as well as the shark attack movie, in addition to continued Godzilla, King Kong, and more wonderful things from the mind of Guillermo del Toro 😉 Bring on the massive destruction of everything from cities to islands to planes to all kinds of wonderful messes.

Previously On Creature Feature Semicentennial…

Next decade!

2010

The Wolfman – Benecio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins play a troubled father and son in this bloody period piece that was a box office miss, a critical failure, and a punchline. If you go in expecting such an epic fail I think you’ll find it unfairly maligned while still not being *good* exactly. Good FX are cancelled out by bad ones, the flow is weird and not in a good way, and all the pieces don’t fit. There’s a bunch of werewolf violence, though, and then it’s over.

  • Box office: 62dom/140ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 34%, 33% aud

Predators – A bunch of humans unknown to each other who all have a bodycount under their belts find themselves being hunted by alien creatures and all that follows. I very much appreciate how this movie starts off and running (or falling) before eventually getting to the hows/whys/etc. The cast functions well though who lasts longest and in what order is standard. Overall it feels at home with Predator and Predator 2 to me, what with some choices the filmmakers make and the feel of things. So good job on that.

  • Box office: 52dom/127ww (okay)
  • RottenTomatoes: 65%, 52% aud

Piranha 3D – Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) directs Elizabeth Shue, Adam Scott, and many other faces you’ll know in this blood-soaked take on what happens when hungry piranha feast on unsuspecting swimmers. As long as you can stomach a whole bunch–buckets, surely–of blood and gory chaos it can be a dumb fun kind of time. Aja nails the tone of something like this and Shue anchors the film well.

  • Box office: 25dom/83ww (okay/solid)
  • RottenTomatoes: 74%, 43% aud

Trollhunter – A nicely odd found-footage style take on trolls in Norway. I think, like this whole found-footage subgenre, the less you know going in the better and I only mentioned trolls since the title did already 😉 Give it a go.

  • Box office: 5ww (meh)
  • RottenTomatoes: 81%, 72% aud

The Reef – While sailing a yacht to a buyer across the sea, a group becomes stranded in shark waters when they hit a reef–ruining the very yacht they were attempting to deliver. This tense and unnerving realistic-ish take on a kind of shark movie still goes through some lame tropes and moron characters we’ve seen before followed by an underwhelming end. It’s okay, don’t get me wrong–just could have been better.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 79%, 40% aud

Monsters – A slow-burn kind of day-in-the-life through some of an Earth that’s been partially taken by huge, tentacled beings. Largely a two-hander more interested in the emotion and otherworldly beauty of these seemingly ethereal creatures. Don’t expect much in the way of action, gore, or kills and more of that other stuff I described.

  • Box office: 5ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 73%, 53% aud

Bear – Two couples incur the wrath of angry grizzly bear en route to a birthday dinner and the whole night’s ruined. The car full of schmucks we’re stuck with do several idiotic things which is a shame because the film itself isn’t all that bad, otherwise. The script seems a bit light but it doesn’t prolong things too long, which I’m thankful for. Some movies go on and on, mistaking a longer runtime for depth. Another meh.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, 31% aud

Burning Bright – A young woman and her autistic brother find themselves trapped in a house with a tiger during a hurricane. I haven’t seen this yet, but having done a once-over various review & opinion sites it isn’t looking good. Maybe it’ll be okay, though. I like to go in expecting nothing so the sky’s the limit!

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, 46% aud

2011

The Thing – Samely titled prequel to 1982’s The Thing which somehow manages to not look as convincing as its predecessor from 30 years prior. Fans of the 82 Thing could maybe have fun spotting various easter eggs & nods while waiting for the inevitable and fans of snow-set bloodiness could certainly do worse, but there’s no gold to be found in a Thing like this.

  • Box office: 17dom/31ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 35%, 42% aud

Shark Night 3D – College kids at a lake-side vacation home for a weekend of fun encounter trouble in some local rednecks and a lake full of CG sharks. Everything about this is lazy starting with what must have been a garbage script all the way to the Asylum-quality direction by David Ellis. The bare minimum was put into all things except for tons of PG13 skin shots for the target audience. Watch another shark movie.

  • Box office: 19dom/41ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 19%, 22% aud

Attack the Block – John Boyega’s film debut about a gang of London teens trying to survive the night against invading alien creatures is tons of fun. Energetic, amusing, and well-done on just about all fronts. A modern cult classic that hopefully finds more eyes due to Boyega’s whole Star Wars thing. There wasn’t a weak link in the cast, if you ask me, and the one shame is that the director has only done one film since.

  • Box office: 6ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 90%, 75% aud

Creature – A group of friends stop at a Louisiana backwoods tourist shop and after learning of  a local legend about a half man/half gator creature their good time takes a turn for the worse. It’s a trashy, low-rent experience that’s got no illusions about what it is so if you want to guffaw at lazily written morons getting killed by a gator creature (I’m sure being drunk would help) this fits the bill, otherwise keep walking.

  • Box office:/
  • RottenTomatoes: 10%, 16% aud

2012

Prometheus – Prequel to 1979’s Alien with Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and Charlize Theron among others who search through space for the origin of life. This poses questions and offers some answers on things ranging from the beginning of life to the space jockey scene from Alien (Ridley Scott seemed fascinated by that whole angle). It’s unfortunate there’s a scattershot nature to things the more it goes, jumping from this to that and wrapping plot necessities in idiotic characters. A sufficient portion lands on “good enough” even if it’s a bit of missed opportunity.

  • Box office: 126dom/403ww (solid/a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 73%, 68% aud

The Cabin in the Woods – This Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon film about five friends heading to a fun weekend at the cabin is best experienced as blind as possible. I avoided all trailers/clips as all I needed to see a movie was Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard & Horror movie and was rewarded with one of the most fun movie experiences I’ve had–but I’m a huge BtVS fan so maybe I’m biased. If you’ve found enjoyment in many various horror genres then you should see this movie. I’m torn between going on about this rather enjoyable flick and just shutting up to not oversell so I’ll go with that one. The Cabin in the Woods, that’s a buy!

  • Box office: 42dom/92ww (solid)
  • RottenTomatoes: 92%, 74% aud

Bait 3D – Maybe this was an accident or it’s just me–does this sound like a genre of very, uh, in your face masturbation porn to anyone else? Just taking a poll. In reality this is an Australian shark movie where a grocery store floods in the midst of a huge hurricane, trapping several shoppers in with a great white shark–in 3 D!! I think this is a case where if that premise I’ve just summarized sounds at all amusing, then you will find amusement, and if it sounds like a lame slog it will be closer to that. I found it to be dumb fun.

  • Box office: 33ww (okay)
  • RottenTomatoes: 47%, 27% aud

Piranha 3DD – This title, however, was absolutely no accident for this hard R imagining of man-eating piranha loose in a water pater. To me, after a certain amount of over-the-top extreme gore and general crudity I become dulled to it if that’s pretty much the point of it and then boredom sets in. So, I managed to be bored by this

  • Box office: 8ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 14%, 22% aud

Grabbers – Alien creatures invade a small Irish island where residents learn being drunk is their best method of survival against the blood sucking monsters. A nice little lo-key drunken creature adventure of trying to get wasted before you get wasted. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, or anything, but it certainly succeeded as a fun diversion for a while.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 72%, 51% aud

2013

Pacific Rim – Massive Kaiju creatures the size of skyscrapers battle humans in giant robot suits for dominion over Earth in Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi action monster movie. The leads are kind of meh, but Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, and the supporting cast add levity & energy and the action scenes are entertaining for what they are (even if, like Piranha 3DD, I became a bit dulled eventually–certainly by the second one!).

 

  • Box office: 102dom/411ww (solid/a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 72%, 77% aud

Riddick – Vin Diesel’s Riddick finds himself on another planet with alien creatures out for blood and humans out for his head. This installment leans less on world building, large scale sci-fi like his previous adventure ( Chronicles of Riddick) and more on generic swarms of creatures trying to eat him like that first time. If you expect Vin to do his thing through this more Pitch Black-esque sequel you’re golden.

  • Box office: 42dom/98ww (okay/solid)
  • RottenTomatoes: 57%, 56% aud

Beneath – Six of the dumbest, most unlikable, instantly murderous “friends” you’ll ever see become stranded on a lake in a rowboat (kind of–they’re dumb!) when a legendary local rubber fish flaps around them unconvincingly in the water until they die from pure idiocy. Awful.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 33%, 14% aud

2014

Godzilla – Gareth Edwards (2010’s Monster) directs this moody, visually dark, fleeting monster movie. Creature action is enjoyable when it happens and you can see it, but placeholder characters are a drag. The more engaging actors of the bunch are relegated to bit parts and glorified cameos, leaving us with a couple vapid leads. Whenever Godzilla actually does his Godzilla thing it’s a good time.

 

  • Box office: 201dom/525ww (solid/a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 75%, 66% aud

The Pyramid – An archaeological team finds themselves lost in an underground pyramid and–all together now–they aren’t alone! Constant darkness, lame characters, crap dialogue, plus it’s a found-footage movie. Cliche, by-the-book stuff but this one takes place in a pyramid of ancient evils so if you feel like it, here you go.

  • Box office: 3dom/17ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 14%, 21% aud

Late Phases aka Night of the Wolf – Blind old Vietnam vet in a retirement home vs werewolf. I thought this was actually a surprisingly okay movie crippled by such a low budget. I know it’s a common opinion among those who’ve seen it but good chance it’s yours, too. So, aside from having $8 for werewolf effects (and old age makeup) this is definitely better than you’d think. Me saying all that probably doesn’t do it any favors, since viewing it with low expectations is certainly helpful.

 

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 63%, 44% aud

Zombeavers – Perhaps there’s a hilarious short film here, but at feature length I found this welcome worn out a good while before things actually wrap. Anyway, some toxic chemicals result in flesh hungry beavers attacking a lakeside cabin of college kids. There’s kind of a nasty, mean streak to this one that at a certain point makes things a bit predictable. I wasn’t taken, but maybe you’ll find fun here.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 69%, 31% aud

Dark Was the Night – A sheriff defends his small forest town from mysterious creatures intent on doing it harm. While this opens with a scene suggesting a somewhat bloody creature feature, what you actually get is gloomy & occasionally creepy before descending into too many scenes of people talking about church and praying. Plus I found the end both underwhelming and withholding–quite a pair.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 52%, 34% aud

Animal – This standard issue flick about a group of folks stuck in a cabin trying to survive a beastly onslaught will leave your brain once the credits roll, but it’s for genre fans it could be an alright enough hour and a half. Expect trash and maybe be pleased.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 43%, 33% aud

Willow Creek – Bobcat Goldthwait writes & directs this creepy but not much more tale of a couple searching from proof of Bigfoot. Nobody’s reinventing the wheel, here, but Goldthwait draws uneasiness out well with an ever present sense of doomed inevitability. Again, there aren’t many surprises but I can enjoy prolonged, dread filled tension more than a bunch of over-the-top gore.

 

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 81%, 33% aud

Indigenous – A half dozen very fit & pretty people travel to a forbidden Panama jungle for a good time, but the legendary Chupacabra makes that impossible. When the movie actually spends screen time on the creature stuff it’s all boilerplate dialogue, setup, and the monster itself. It also clearly needed extra material to reach ~90mins so get ready for all kinds of padding throughout–even at “climax” portion. Miss!

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, 18% aud

Wolves – The werewolves in this are too in control of themselves at all times and concerned with “the pack” to qualify as a creature feature monsters to me. Feels a little like R-rated Teen Wolf filler or Lost Boys: Werewolves. If it sounds like I found this largely a waste of time that’s only because I’ve accurately conveyed my thoughts.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 25%, 31% aud

From the Dark – A couple gets stuck in Irish countryside at sunset as a hungry vampire creature hunts for food. This is an extremely bare-bones movie and honestly reminded me of watching some first person horror gameplay. Between the blank slate characters, camera work, unexplained monster, and pretty much every choice the movie makes this screams first person horror video game. As a movie it’s too shallow, stupid, and overall meh but you could also look at this as first person horror gameplay as brought to you by live humans–in which case it’s okay.

 

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, 33% aud

Leprechaun: Origins – This reboot leaned into the creature angle more than a chatty Warwick Davis having fun killing so it gets to be here even though it’s another entirely generic, forgettable, paycheck watch scenario (as in we’re watching a feature length version of the cast/crew earning a living and not much else).

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 0%, 10% aud

2015

Jurassic World – The park is open. Easy enough 😉 Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard star as raptor wrangler and business boss lady, respectively. Things start on the slow side then keep building until it ends on a high, I’d say. While not specifically going over the details, the dinosaur fight we get at the end once a certain classic gets free is what the seven year old in me has wanted to see his whole life and it was made real here–how could I complain? I’ve had discussions with some who fell closer to “hate” as they found it all way too much like a Saturday morning cartoon, but that isn’t a criticism for me. A fine case of knowing what you’re getting going in delivering in spades.

 

 

  • Box office: 652dom/1.67bilww (huge hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 71%, 78% aud

Krampus – Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat) directs this Christmas tale of demonic anti-Santa and his minions coming for a fractured family on Christmas Eve. This one’s already a holiday staple for me with its energetic combo of darkness and hijinks that sells the mood & tone of it all well sans any real gore or over-the-top violence. After his first several directing gigs Dougherty’s become a solid guy for creatures/horror/monsters movies and I already look forward to the next one!

 

  • Box office: 43dom/61ww (solid)
  • RottenTomatoes: 67%, 51% aud

Howl – A passenger train from London gets stuck in the remote English countryside and they struggle to survive against a wolfy enemy on the night of the full moon. Overall, “okay” seems reasonable here since some of it works better than expected while other parts fall squarely into the lazy, predictable boxes you’d expect going in. There’s one of those obviously antagonist assholes around to make sure there’s enough tension & drama when werewolves aren’t present get us to that finale. These kinds of characters scream lazy screenplay and tell me what to expect. Again, “okay.”

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 64%, 37% aud

Stung – Caterers & the catered to must band together against giant, mutated killer wasps or die trying. I thought it was entertaining enough with some respectable creature effects, gore, an alright cast, even if it dragged and was a little straight sometimes when perhaps some more up energy would have been better. Everyone seems a bit cavalier and detached considering the bloody freakshow going on, but this movie has that sense–cavalier & detached–the whole time.

 

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, / (no info for whatever reason)

Shark Lake – Dolph Lundgren appears (“stars” is a lie) in this completely lame, dull not-Jaws that isn’t even is entertaining at that franchise’s dumb sequels.  It’s not even really bad enough to be a fun time, it’s just a boring paycheck movie for Dolph.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, 16% aud

Monsters 2: Dark Continent – So, this isn’t a creature feature or monster movie at all. There are technically creatures in here, meandering around in the background doing nonsense that lifts right out, but this is 99% some regular war movie–an underwhelming one with an apparently bored cast, at that. Don’t bother.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 17%, 16% aud

The Hallow – In a small Irish village a couple moves into a cottage in the woods with their baby son only to receive a less than warm welcome from the locals as well as something else in the woods. The actors are on-board, the scenery is certainly nice to visit, and there are a couple effective fright sequences but the longer it goes the lesser it becomes. The creatures themselves are a standard variety you’ve seen before. As is common with many, lowered expectations are your friend if you don’t want to just find a different movie to watch 😉

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 71%, 43% aud

Backcountry – A couple goes for a romantic weekend in the wilderness, but nature has other plans. There’s nothing here you’ll be suprised by, I think, and half of our couple is deeply annoying but it does successfully mount tension as we proceed with their efforts to survive their way back to civilization. A fine enough diversion for a while.

 

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 92%, 54% aud

Into the Grizzly Maze – The cast is easily the most surprising  aspect of this blood-thirsty bear movie. James Marsden, Thomas Jane, Billy Bob Thornton, Scott Glenn, and Piper Perabo take us through this entirely adequate killer bear adventure that suffers from too much human drama (drug dealing & relationship stuff), but at an hour and a half it’s not exactly endless. A solid 2am movie to fade in and out on.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 36%, 25% aud

Digging Up the Marrow –  A faux-documentary about Adam Green (director–Frozen, many Hatchet movies) who meets a fellow (Ray Wise) claiming to have proof of real monsters existing. If this whole thing takes you in those first 10/15 minutes you might have a good time, but unfortunately it didn’t grab me at all–resulting in quite a slog. Watching people go back and forth with “I saw it, did you see it?” as some idiot runs around shaking the camera so we see nothing isn’t up my alley, I guess.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 60%, 42% aud

2016

The Shallows – Blake Lively stars in this largely one woman/one shark show. She plays a surfer stranded in the sea–so close to shore–who’ll need  every ounce of resourceful fortitude she can muster to survive & escape the great white shark gunning for her. Aside from some needless exposition and lingering body shots of Lively early on, this is a winner for me. Thunderdome: Lady vs Shark–who will leave satisfied? The scenery is lovely, SFX sell things well, and Lively does well as our one real lead in this revival of modern day shark-based movie escapism.

 

  • Box office: 55dom/119ww (a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 79%, 59% aud

The Pack – Killer dogs on an island make life difficult for a family to survive the night (no overlap with samely titled one from 40 years ago). If you’ve *never* seen a killer dog pack movie before this might float your boat, but this is hardly my first (that’s what she said). Dogs acting can be amusing to watch for sometimes, at least.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 50%, 17% aud

2017

Kong: Skull Island – Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel Jackson, and more round out the cast of this 70’s set King Kong adventure. The plot mechanics are rather irrelevant, honestly, next to the cavalcade of Skull Island creatures looking for a meal (or play thing). Plenty of monster action keeps things moving along in this preamble to 2020’s Godzilla & Kong match up. If the photo peaks your interest at all I’m sure you’ll have an amusing time at least.

 

  • Box office: 168dom/567ww (a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 75%, 69% aud

The Great Wall – Monster creatures descend on the Great Wall of China and armies must defend it with their lives. I could go on about it being fine enough (if kind of ho-hum) for lazy Sunday background viewing, but I feel like I’ve said that a few times so I’ll try to have this be the last time 😉

  • Box office: 45dom/335ww (meh/dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 36%, 42% aud

Alien: Covenant – Ridley Scott’s answer to Prometheus’ rather lukewarm response was to lean in to a hard R, mindless alien slasher feature which resulted in a widely disliked franchise-crippling installment of box office collapse. Supposedly smart people do an endless stream of stupid things while taking turns being brutally ended by xenomorph creatures until a telegraphed ending finally frees us. There are many bloody kills for gorehounds and some vaguely interesting stuff with artificial people but, sadly, not much else.

  • Box office: 74dom/241ww (meh/dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 66%, 55% aud

The Shape of Water – A 1960’s set creature romance from Guillermo del Toro (hardly his first appearance here) starring Sally Hawkins as a mute woman who forges a bond with a man-like sea creature at the government institute she’s employed by. I think it’s well established by now that del Toro makes some good looking movies with top-notch production values so that all goes without saying. Ultimately this comes down to whether or not you’re taken by this journey and I was on board so a good time was had. One more thing: I’m a nut about how hands-on people are with toilets in movies/TV and this one features some characters swimming in a room full of toilet water (yeah, other water too but the poo water wins). Ew!

 

  • Box office: 64dom/195ww (solid/a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 92%, 72% aud

47 Meters Down – A low budget story of a couple sisters (Mandy Moore & Claire Holt) who take a shark-seeing cage dive that goes off the rails. This claustrophobic, undersea suspense story of sharks-around-the-corner dread requires a couple suspension of disbelief hoops to be jumped for things to function at all. Should you clear those hurdles you’ll probably be entertained a while, at the very least.

  • Box office: 44dom/62ww (a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 54%, 35% aud

Lycan – Don’t. Not even really a werewolf movie and barely a feature at all, I think. Do yourself a favor and spend waking hours on anything else. Another “it sucked.”

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, 27% aud

The Ritual – Four friends on a hike in Sweden experience disturbing things as they begin to realize what it’s like to be hunted. A foreboding doom lingers over the visually pleasing sights as the cast sells their waking nightmare well. The creature is a nice change from the slimy, hairless, humanoid-type thing (maybe there was a memo?) that seems to be the default, which is a nice treat. There was one plot bit I didn’t care for at all but thankfully it doesn’t take up much screen time. Mostly this is escalating forest-set horror that I found effective.

 

  • Box office: 2ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 73%, 59% aud

Life – Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jake Gylenhall star in this space station story of life discovered on Mars expanding beyond control. Things start off at a reasonably brisk pace and generally keep moving forward, with logic/reason becoming a casualty in addition to the on-screen deaths. It’s well directed and nice to look at with performances ranging from fine to good. “Creature” effects are a bit lackluster and there’s a stupid monster POV (has that ever been good?), plus if you’ve seen Alien some of this has an air of familiarity. Muted expectations do this a favor.

 
  • Box office: 30dom/100ww (meh)
  • RottenTomatoes: 67%, 54% aud

The Void – A bunch of people are trapped in a hospital by a cult who believe an evil gateway exists there. Okay, so cards on the table–I hate horror about cults. It all ends up the same kind of bullshit to me, which I’m sure others could say about creature features, so perhaps aside from saying “Hated it!” I’ll leave this one to your judgment.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 78%, 46% aud

Boar – A huge boar roams the Australian outback killing people where it finds them. The first half of this movie is some extremely limp character intros before all those people are ignored for a while so we can watch a series of randos be brutalized by a fairly crappy looking boar. Then that first batch of people encounters boar violence to wrap things up, the end. If *all* you require are scenes of an unconvincing boar killing folks, here you go, but if you need anything else this is a miss.

 
  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 50%, 38% aud

2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – This sequel ends up feeling a like two movies in one–the get to/escape from exploding island half & and the creepy mansion portion. This is more fun Saturday morning kind of fun even though the island destruction portion does involve some sadness for animal lovers. The second half leans into creatures loose on a dark and stormy night at & around a billionaire’s ridiculous mansion. I’ve been a Jurassic Park fan my whole life and I thought this was a worthy installment (certainly better than JP3) plus the sequel setup at the end works for me!

  • Box office: 418dom/1.3bilww (a big hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 48%, 48% aud

The Meg – A big-budget US/China production of a massive pre-historic shark wreaking havoc and the various scientists/engineers/etc trying to stop it. Jason Statham against a giant, killer shark actually manages to be over-the-top and cheesy in generally the right places even if the “havoc” part feels a bit muted after things like Piranha 3D. The shark action we get is steadily delivered in perhaps a workman-like fashion. I’m sure I’ll see the eventual second one as I’m a sucker for shark movies.

  • Box office: 145dom/529ww (a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 46%, 42% aud

Rampage – Dwayne Johnson and Naomi Harris star in this video game adaptation of space station science experiments gone wrong which turn a few unsuspecting animals into much larger, more aggressive creatures with a hunger for violence. Go in hoping for the Rock to deal with the several large animals going city-destroying mad in a PG13, teenager-oriented atmosphere and you could have fun.

  • Box office: 101dom/428ww (solid/a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 52%, 72% aud

A Quiet Place – Alien creatures who hunt by detecting sound leave the Earth a dystopia in which we follow a family trying to survive the new way of life–being pregnant is certainly a hurdle! John Krasinksi (who directs) and Emily Blunt star in this largely talking-free experience where the sound design/editing do a lot of the heavy lifting. While I could think of a couple things to work on here, the level of success certainly suggests they made good choices. Several effective set pieces take us through the new world and I know my husband appreciates getting to practice his signing skills, so that’s a plus 😉 The state of the world has bumped the sequel’s release to September (we’ll see what happens) so at least there’s that one to look forward to.

 

 

  • Box office: 188dom/336ww (a hit)
  • RottenTomatoes: 95%, 83% aud

Pacific Rim 2 – More big robots fighting big monsters. I doubt the second round is convincing anyone who wasn’t on board after the first, but it’s alright. Nothing in particular worth mentioning stands out in either the negative or positive. Indifference, the great equalizer.

  • Box office: 60dom/291ww (okay/meh)
  • RottenTomatoes: 44%, 39% aud

The Predator – Director Shane Black returns to the world of Predator for this disjointed and disappointing installment. Plenty of creature action and violence with glimpses of fun Shane Black characters & interplay, but nothing quite lands and everything feels too patched together from something else and hollow.

  • Box office: 51dom/160ww (meh/dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 32%, 33% aud

Deep Blue Sea 2 – This is garbage, simply put. Apparently made with whatever money laying around somebody’s house on a drunken dare over a weekend. There are no redeeming qualities even in a so-bad-it’s-good time at the movies–it made me a little mad, actually, with how lazy it is. My mind wandered all kinds of places–how often are these awful movies nobody cares any step of the way about just some money laundering scheme, or something? I don’t know. I said “or something” for a reason. Don’t waste your life on this, let that be something I did for you.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 0%, 11% aud

Primal Rage – On the way home from a prison pick-up a couple becomes lost in the forest and turns to some redneck hunters for help, only for everyone to discover something else lives beside deer! Eh. Performances are fine, I guess, but I think more effort was put into the gore effects (which are well done) than the script.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: /, 45% aud

Cold Skin – On a remote island 100 years ago an Irish meteorologist must deal with the ornery (to be kind) lighthouse keeper and strange creatures that emerge from the sea at night if he wants to survive to the next pickup date. I think if this had cut 10-15 minutes of the overlong runtime including *all* narration (it can all generally be removed to the betterment of any film, in my opinion) it would have been really pretty good, but instead it’s okay because those issues I said already. It is a very nice looking film, I must say. I loved being on that island for a while.

 

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 46%, 55% aud

2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – This sequel to 2014’s Godzilla ups the monster action but a whole lot, which I appreciate. I’ll say that perhaps too much of it occurs in the dark or obscured by clouds/whathaveyou for my taste but by and large I fell into the “happy camper” side of reception. I’m someone who remembers playing with these toys as a kid and watching the old Japanese Godzilla movies on TV so I can’t lie and say my inner six year old wasn’t immensely happy with what he got to witness. Ken Watanabe fares the best, in my opinion, but I think everyone seems to be having a good time with this monster-fest.

  • Box office: 110dom/383ww (okay/meh)
  • RottenTomatoes: 42%, 83% aud

47 Meters Down 2: Uncaged – Instead of two people trapped in a shark cage on the ocean floor we get more people stuck in undersea temple ruins who must deal with blind, albino sharks. A fish screams at someone and I laughed more at that than many comedies so it was all worth it. Many other solid funny things happen here so if you want a good laugh you could absolutely do worse.

  • Box office: 22dom/37ww (dud)
  • RottenTomatoes: 42%, 68% aud

The Silence – Winged creatures unearthed from caves swarm the Earth hunting by sound so stay quiet to stay alive. Obviously there are a few similarities here to A Quiet Place, so first off this isn’t as good–get that out of your mind right away. This isn’t horrible, it’s just so aggressively “okay” until lame crap happens at the end to fill the role of “underwhelming climax.” If your creature feature gives you some paper thin human antagonists as the climactic end something went off the rails.

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 31%, 25% aud

Primal – Nicholas Cage is a game hunter stuck on a ship with an assassin and various dangerous animals. Sounds like ridiculous nonsense to me and those can be quite fun so it’s on my to-do list. I certainly haven’t heard good things, but Cage sometimes brings a watchable element to things that ought not be so fingers crossed!

  • Box office: /
  • RottenTomatoes: 38%, 27% aud

Crawl – A father/daughter must evade and survive an alligator while trapped in their home during a hurricane in this Alexander Aja winner. I think it goes to show how the level of care put into things can make a world of difference considering this is hardly the first hurricane setup used it and doesn’t matter–this movie sells it. I’ve seen it a few times and don’t hesitate in already calling it one of my favorite creature features (I cheated a tiny bit to do this one last). Aja gets solid work from Kaya Scodelario & Barry Pepper in this all-around well done time at the movies that I could go on and on about. I’m glad this gets to be the last official edition of my little project. Buy it!

 

  • Box office: 39dom/90ww (solid)
  • RottenTomatoes: 83%, 75% aud

Which brings us to now, 2020, Year of the Sick Day Societal Collapse! Technically before this year at the box office froze in place we got Underwater back in January, but I rather end on the high of Crawl with this as a postscript before the honorable mentions. Kristen Stewart stars in this deep sea monster movie that’s pretty okay, all in all. There’s a bit of useless narration and I can think of a couple other things but I’ll leave it at “okay” and maybe you’ll like it.

 

As for the honorable mentions, these absolutely have some worthwhile creature feature segments/aspects to them but don’t qualify enough to be amongst the rest.

The Twilight Zone (1983)’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is only part of this anthology tale and I guess doesn’t really fit but it features something on the wing and certainly made an impression on me as a child.

 

Trick ‘r Treat (2009) has a werewolf segment that I thoroughly enjoy upon the yearly Halloween viewing as well as other monster elements and is all-around a great time. Maybe someday we’ll get that sequel!

 

Annihilation (2018) – The bear sequence is one of the best creature bits in a movie of the last X years. Wonderfully nightmarish.

 

Before we go I thought I’d list my ten favorites, but that was too hard so I ended up with 25 in chronological order (not including the Honorable Mentions, FYI):

  • Jaws
  • Alien
  • The Thing
  • Gremlins
  • Aliens
  • Predator
  • Arachnophobia
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  • Jurassic Park
  • Congo
  • Bad Moon
  • Anaconda
  • The Relic
  • Mimic
  • Deep Rising
  • Deep Blue Sea
  • Lake Placid
  • The Descent
  • Slither
  • Attack the Block
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • Jurassic World
  • The Shallows
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters
  • Crawl

Hopefully you’ve come across a movie or two that sound up your alley and if you’ve seen all these already then maybe we should talk–or perhaps both seek help. Have as nice a 2020 as humanly possible given the circumstances and just remember, at least some creature isn’t eating your guts right now!

 

Thanks for reading the Creature Feature Semicentennial 🙂