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5 Terrifying Animal Horror Movies to Add to Your Watch List

Careful—these movies might bite.

horror movies with animals

Animals and horror: it’s a readymade combination. After all, there’s not much scarier than the things lurking in nature.

From Jaws to Cujo and Piranha 3D to The Meg, the genre never fails to find new creatures to transform into horror stars.

If you’re looking for a few beasts of burden of your own for your weekend viewing, then we’ve got you covered; below, you’ll find a variety of killer cats as well as brutal birds, insects, and even some particularly dangerous rabbits. Monty Python would be proud. 


I’ve sang the praises of this film before, but it bears repeating: if you haven’t seen the psychedelic horror classic, Hausu, then you are most definitely missing out.

While there are ghosts galore in the film, the white cat named Blanche is a particularly integral part of the haunting, and she’s certainly among the most memorable roles in the film. The plot is simple enough: a group of schoolgirls takes a trip to visit a classmate’s aunt at her far-flung country estate.

Things get weird and wild soon thereafter. Come for the gorgeous visuals; stay for the cat painting that spews blood all over the screen. 

The Hound of the Baskervilles 

While there have been quite a few adaptations of this particular tale, we’re going with the quintessential 1959 version directed by Terence Fisher.

A Hammer Film production, this one pairs the indelible Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, so right there, you know you’re in for a treat. Based on the famed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, this is my personal favorite Sherlock Holmes film adaptation, mostly because it’s among the only ones that cross into the horror genre.

The moody gothic atmosphere is one for the ages, and while the titular hound doesn’t turn out to be quite what you expect, it’s still a blast to watch Cushing’s Holmes unravel the mystery. 

The Birds

The original angry birds. Based on the Daphne du Maurier short story, this Alfred Hitchcock classic manages to be both scary and stylish.

You probably already know the basic story, but just in case, here’s a refresher: Tippi Hedren stars as Melanie Daniels, a bored rich girl, who meets a handsome stranger named Mitch (played by Rod Taylor) at a San Francisco pet store. As any normal person would do, she decides to drive up the coast to his hometown of Bodega Bay, lovebirds in tow, and surprise the man she literally just met.

 Oh, and while she’s in town, an inexplicable avian apocalypse descends on the California coast. An oldie but goodie, this one has the Technicolor feel of a Douglas Sirk melodrama with all the tensions and thrills of Hitchcock at his best.

You won’t ever look at seagulls quite the same way again.

Cat People

A rare time when both the original and the remake are absolutely worth a watch (or rewatch); in fact, it’s hard to even choose a favorite.

The original version is producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur at their best, with a story that follows the beautiful young Irena (played by Simone Simon) who’s convinced she’ll turn into a cat if she ever experiences passion.

Released forty years later in 1982, the remake takes the basic idea and reinvents it, using the outline of the 1980s erotic thriller to make its points, this time with Nastassja Kinski in the Irena role.

If you can, try to squeeze in a double feature of both versions of Cat People; you won’t find a more gorgeous and gruesome creature out there. 


This is a strange film, even by Dario Argento’s standards. The zigzagging plot includes elements as bizarre and incongruous as a bloodthirsty serial killer in the country, a high-strung chimpanzee, and a pretty amazing heavy metal soundtrack that features Iron Maiden and Motörhead.

By far, however, the best parts of the film involve Jennifer Connelly’s character (aptly named Jennifer) and her ability to control and commune with insects.

There’s a fantastic sequence with a swarm of bugs attacking her uptight school, terrorizing both mean-spirited teachers and students alike, as well as another surprisingly tense scene in which Jennifer uses a caged fly to locate the killer.

In general, though, be warned: this is an utterly illogical film that plays more like a fever dream. But hey, it’s Argento, so what else can a devoted horror fan expect?  

Honorable Mention: Night of the Lepus

When I’m putting together these lists, I always try to include at least one entry that’s either relatively new to me or a film I haven’t watched since childhood.

Needless to say, Night of the Lepus, which follows the exploits of mutant rabbits who have been inadvertently altered by an experiment gone awry, is not necessarily everyone’s favorite horror movie.

As I was writing this article, I asked my husband, “Do you like Night of the Lepus?” and he promptly started laughing and said, “Like is a strong word.” The truth is I only ever caught part of this one on cable as a kid, but I’m giving it an honorable mention and putting it on my own to-watch list.

And with a cast that includes Janet Leigh, DeForest Kelley, and Stuart Whitman, I suggest you do the same.