Animal attack movies are one of my favorite subgenres in the horror world. Jaws is unquestionable the granddaddy of all animal attack films. It’s universally loved and widely considered to be one of the greatest films, regardless of genre, ever made. Most animal attack movies are not Jaws. Generally speaking, animal attack films seem to be much more exploitative and that’s why they’re a totally different kind of awesome. One of the cooler animal attacks movies I’ve seen lately is Wild Beasts from director Franco Prosperi.
The plot of Wild Beasts is arguably the greatest plot of all time. And I assure you that is not hyperbole. Wild Beasts takes place in a German city and unbeknownst to the residents of that city their water supply has recently been contaminated with PCP. That water supply is used at the local zoo as the drinking water for the animals. Yes, that’s right, the animals at this zoo get high on PCP and go on a mad rampage throughout the city destroying anything and anyone that gets in their way. Best. Plot. EVER.
This movie is all about the animal attacks. There are humans in the movie as well, but their main purpose is be attacked by animals and attacked they are! A tiger gets onto a subway train, elephants break loose and trample all over people crushing various limbs and a cheetah literally chases someone down in the street. The cheetah scene is quite spectacular because it plays out like you’re watching a cheetah stalk prey in the wild on a Discovery Channel documentary but in this case, the prey is a woman and the wild is the city. Oh and a polar bear attacks a dance studio full of children. Nothing is off limits when animals are high on angel dust.
For the most part real animals are used which puts the viewer right in the middle of the attacks. It’s not quite Roar but it’s probably the closest thing to Roar. The use of real animals does mean that the film’s gore — and there’s plenty of it — comes in the post-attack aftermath. This isn’t a problem, it just means you won’t see people getting ripped to shreds. You will, however, see their shredded remains scattered about.
Wild Beasts isn’t just a slice of exploitation cinema either, oh no! This is a movie with a message and that message is drugs are bad! Then ending of the movie turns into a PSA on why drugs are bad which we totally don’t need because by watching the movie we just witnessed the bad effects drugs can have…on animals.
The Italian classic was recently released on Blu-ray by the wonderful folks at Severin Films. The release looks terrific with plenty of vivid colors that please the eye, however, it is important to understand the film was shot mostly at night under dark circumstances so in certain spots there isn’t as much detail as we’ve maybe grown accustomed to in recent years. Special features include four interviews, one of which is with director Prosperi who talks about the difficulties he and the crew faced while filming.
Wild Beasts is an awesome, fat-free movie. No time is spent wasting setting things up. It’s an animal attack movie that jumps head first into the animal attacks. Severin Films has rescued this little treat, giving it second life to a new generation of horror fans, packaging it on one of the year’s best Blu-rays. This one comes highly recommended.
Wild Beasts is currently available on Blu-ray from Severin Films.