Since the dawn of time, mankind* has fought against beasts in the never-ending struggle for survival. Our ancestors likely battled direwolves, giant sloths, a variety of sabre-toothed things, and maybe even some dinosaurs (definitely did not) so that we might enjoy the comfort of beast-free living in the modern era. Yet some primal part of us still yearns to watch the epic struggle between man and beast, preferably from the safety of our own homes and couches, and through the heavily plotted-out and edited lens of Hollywood productions.
Unfortunately, the majority of “Man vs Beast” movies are low-hanging fruit. Animal effects are often part of very low-budget films; “classics” like The Killer Shrews and Night of the Lepus come to mind. Those examples are in keeping with the trope of “giant-sized version of a relatively harmless animal” attempting to eat our protagonists. That’s all in good fun, but what we’re after is more of a visceral, realistic, and harrowing tale of Man vs Beast, bringing everyman heroes up against real-world killers from all corners of the natural world.
With that in mind–and with director Alexandre Aja‘s Crawl making its way into theaters this weekend, already getting good buzz from early audience screenings–we compiled 10 of the best (and less-than-the-best but still super-fun, honestly) “Man vs Beast” movies for your enjoyment. We’ve got lions, we’ve got (Tasmanian) tigers, and we’ve got a bunch of bears, plus creatures the slither, swim, peck, bark and bite. With each “leader of the pack” movie listed below, we’ve also included some honorable mentions that feature the same beastie attempting to snack on some puny humans. Enjoy!
*Because it’s 2019, I should probably point out that “man/kind” is just a stand-in for “human/kind” throughout this article, just in case anyone wants to get Mad Online about it.
Here are 10 great (and not-so-great) “man vs beast” movies, ranked with the best coming last: