First founded in 1970, in observance of the one year anniversary of a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, Earth Day was founded upon the principles of environmentalism and protecting this beloved planet of ours.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the holiday itself. Being huge fans of horror let’s all skip the nature documentaries and watch horror movies instead! So here are the our top 10 Eco-Horror Movies (not ranked, but in alphabetical order):
1. The Bay (2012)
This found footage thriller from director Barry Levinson (Good Morning Vietnam, Man of the Year) deals with a small town whose pollution in the water supply creates a deadly parasite, which begins affecting the citizens one by one in gruesome ways.
You’ll see that monsters caused by pollution is a common theme on this list, but given the fact that this is a small parasite, The Bay at times feels more like a pandemic movie, which is also incredibly relevant right now!
2. C.H.U.D. (1984)
Also known as Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, C.H.U.D. is considered by many to be part of a trend in the 80s which dealt with the issues around pollution in cities (particularly NYC).
As the local government completely looks the other way, nuclear waste is being improperly disposed of, and the result is these mutated cannibals. And it’s up to John Heard and Daniel Stern (who would both appear in Home Alone 6 years later) to stop them.
The original sees the alien Klaatu arrive to warn us that other planets are concerned with humanity’s recent development of atomic weapons, and that they may destroy humans to eliminate us as a threat.
The remake is much more overt in that Klaatu (now played by Keanu Reeves) states that he is a protector of Earth itself, and he perceives humans to be the planet’s greatest threat.
But ultimately, both versions feature an alien being holding the human race responsible for its destructive actions. Also, we know these are technically more science fiction than horror, but since they deal with the threat of human extinction, we’re counting them!
4. Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
While this is primarily a tongue-in-cheek comedy, Eight Legged Freaks definitely delves into the monsters created by pollution territory. Nuclear waste in a small desert town in Arizona leads to the creation of massive spiders which wreak havoc on said small town.
Initially, a local conspiracy theorist claims it to be the work of extra-terrestrials, but they soon discover it’s the work of good old fashioned apathetic pollution.
It’s a fun satire of B-movie monster films, and features David Arquette, as well as a young Scarlett Johannsson.
5. The Happening (2008)
While this M. Night Shyamalan “classic” is considered by most to be hilariously terrible, if we look past the awkward dialogue/performances, it does have something of an Earth Day message.
After years of being fed up with humans trashing the planet, plants take it upon themselves to emit a toxin which leads to people committing suicide.
This seemingly isn’t done for sinister reasons, rather the plants are acting out of self-defense against the polluting humans.
It’s a shame that such a great premise is wasted on such a terrible movie, but nevertheless, the themes are still there.
6. In the Tall Grass (2019)
This Netflix original, (based on a Stephen King/Joe Hill novella) is a bit different from the other films on this list in that it doesn’t directly deal with the theme of pollution.
Rather it features a strange phenomenon occurring within nature itself. As people enter the field of tall grass, they find themselves in some sort of void dimension where time itself doesn’t run linearly.
In some ways it’s creepier than all of these other movies, because it’s not about Earth or nature striking back against polluting humans, instead it’s just nature being scary for no apparent reason!
This 70’s Australian thriller (as well as its remake) feature a couple out camping for the weekend, but their blatant littering and disregard for their environment causes nature to lash out violently.
The original feels very grindhouse in nature, but that’s what makes it all the more fun and entertaining. Where both versions really shine is in the creativity utilized with the attacks by nature.
8. Street Trash (1987)
Much like C.H.U.D., Street Trash showcases the dirty grittiness that was 1980’s NYC. While it doesn’t deal with environmentalist themes directly, the very existence of the homeless society is a reminder of the kinds of places that lack of regard for cleanliness, nature, and humans can yield. Including may seem like a bit of a stretch, but let’s be honest, it fits the aesthetic well in a more metaphorical sense.
Much like the original Day the Earth Stood Still, Them! was released only a few years into the Cold War and nuclear scare, and it’s clearly what was on everyone’s mind.
Fallout radiation leads to the creation of giant ants, which serve as a visual representation of all the damage the nuclear age would have on nature.
Sure the effects are bit cheesy by today’s standards, but that’s half the fun!
It doesn’t deal directly with pollution per se, but its protagonist becomes the mutant “Toxic Avenger” after a vat of dangerous chemicals spills on him.
The fact that it was so easy for them to be exposed serves as a great metaphor for how careless many companies are with their pollution.
Which one of these are you watching today? Which one do you enjoy watching on any day? Let us know in the comments!