Nature Fights Back! PopHorror Writers’ Top 15 Eco Horror Flicks To Watch On Earth Day

Spring has sprung, and Earth Day is here once again. Flowers are popping up, birds are singing, the leaves are blowing in the gentle breeze… and angry, mutated animals are getting ready to breed. To celebrate the new life and clean living we strive for on every April 22, let’s take a look at some eco horror films that show us the all-too-possible consequences of the way we really treat the earth.

The Ruins (2008) directed by Carter Smith

In eco horror The Ruins, two young American couples – Jeff, Amy, Eric, and Stacy – go on vacation to Mexico. They meet Mathias, a German tourist… The couple tandem is on their last night on vacation and decided that instead of just another day of drinking on the beach and taking photos by the pool, they could use some adventure. An Ancient Mayan temple off the beaten path should do the trick. After entering, the group becomes trapped and awakens the following day to vines wrapping themselves around Matthias’ lower legs and eating them down to the bone. From the growth’s ability to replicate sounds to turn the group on themselves, and their persistent persuasion to induce self-harm, the invasiveness of feeling plant volunteers moving under your skin is just evil. They stalk and patiently pick you apart mentally and physically. — Sean Stewart (read our retro review here)

The Happening (2008) directed by M. Night Shyamalan

This much maligned 2008 eco horror revenge thriller from M. Night Shyamalan actually poses some interesting questions like: is it worse to be violently murdered by flora or be forced to listen to Marky Mark teach science? All jokes aside, the central plot of plants evolving their defense mechanisms to be effective towards humans could be viewed as an inspiration for how The Last of Us explains the Cordyceps outbreak in that universe. Hindsight is kinder to some movies, and The Happening is a tale of tree-venge you can go back and have some fun with. — Donnie Keller

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) directed by John ‘Bud’ Cardos

Killer bug movies were all the rage throughout the 1950s and 1960s and enjoyed continued popularity in the 1970s. In that vein, one of the most memorable films from my childhood was 1977’s Kingdom Of The Spiders, a made-for-TV eco horror movie starring the one and only William Shatner. Spiders are creepy, friends. I don’t know a whole lot of people who aren’t afraid of them. I’m not a fan of spiders to this day, and I think this movie is a big part of why. Is it cheesy? Yeah, it’s cheesy. But the final shot of this film has stuck with me for nearly 50 years. Don’t mess with mother nature, kids! — Kenn Hoekstra (read our retro review here)

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes (1978) Directed by John De Bello

When Hitchcock’s film, The Birds (1963), was released, audiences laughed at the notion of birds revolting against humanity, but when an actual attack perpetrated by birds occurred in 1975, no one laughed. In this eco horror film, Earth’s human civilization suddenly finds itself under attack by sentient tomatoes. People being killed by their groceries and strangled by tomato juice. All humanity is in a quandary. Attempts are made to shoot the attacking tomatoes but their numbers are too many. The tomatoes move in on the cities, burning, pillaging and cannibalizing all in their path. — Sean Stewart

Frogs (1972) directed by George McCowan

A rich old guy invites his family over to celebrate his birthday. For reasons unknown, the old dude hates nature yet lives on a private island, a place full of hopping, chirping, slithering critters. What’s a guy to do? Poison the shit out of everything he sees, of course! Unfortunately for him, the animals and insects realize what he’s trying to do, and they get their revenge. Why the guy didn’t just get a condo in the city, we’ll never know. Oh, and Sam Elliott is in it… another reason to watch this eco horror film. — Tracy Allen

The Bay (2012) directed by Barry Levinson

The Bay is an eco horror found footage film directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man). The film follows a sea side town as a deadly plague is unleashed on the residents, turning humans into hosts for a mutant breed of parasite. Certainly not for the squeamish or the paranoid, The Bay will have you shifting uncomfortably and cancelling your beach trip. — Curt Oglesbee (read 5 Underseen Found Footage Films here)

Mimic (1997) directed by Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo Del Toro’s 1997 eco horror film, Mimic, delves into the eco horror concept of humans being selfish and not thinking of consequences of actions to save humanity, no matter the cost. Entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino), in response to a virus spread by cockroaches, develops an insect to destroy the nasty buggers. The engineered insects were supposed to die after one generation. Fast forward three years later, and Susan discovers that the insects didn’t die. They evolved and are now mimicking humans and hunting mankind. I love this movie. It’s an underrated monster movie in my opinion. It’s freaky and dark and so good. Be sure to check it out. — Jennifer Bonges 

The Last Of Us (2023) Directed by Neil Druckmann & Craig Mazin

THE LAST OF US, 2023 |

Earth is full of predators and prey. Meanwhile, humans grow complacent and comfortable. But can you hear the fungus that screams to consume you? Earth already has cordyceps fungus that inhabit insects’ bodies and hijack their nervous systems, turning them into zombies. In the eco horror film, The Last of Us, the cordycep fungus evolves to be able to survive in the human body. And boom, that’s all it would take for a global pandemic to destroy the human population and for mother earth to take herself back. — Sean Stewart

Treevenge (2008) directed by Jason Eisener

Eco horror Treevenge opens with none other than a rendition of Riz Ortolani’s theme for Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust. The camera pans the great northern forest of beautiful spruce firs until the camera zooms in on an ax being held by a crazed man who calls forth his fellow woodsmen to harvest the unsuspecting trees… When Christmas Day hits, the trees decide it’s their time to fight back against their human oppressors. The bloodthirsty, maniacal trees kill, maim, crush and even rape the humans, turning neighborhoods into blood strewn battlefields. Even innocent babies aren’t safe. Treevenge is a good bit of holiday horror fun and is at the height of satirical, campy horror/gore. — Richard Taylor (read our full review here)

Ticks (1993) directed by Tony Randel

Ticks is an eco horror at its finest…. Yes, it’s a film about giant, hungry, blood-sucking insects, like basketball-sized vampires that can come out during the day…. People messing with the environment is something we’ve dealt with since the industrial revolution, and the results have been catastrophic. Mutations in nature are clearly the next step. Not only do these nasty creepy-crawlies grow to the size of a dinner plate, but the reason they get so big is through a chemically altered fertilizer that was Frankensteined by pot farmer Jarvis (Clint Howard) on a machine powered by a hamster running in a wheel. At least he used natural energy for that part, I guess.– Tracy Allen (read our Blu-ray review here)

Black Sheep (2006) directed by Jonathan King

In one of the most hilarious under-the-radar eco horror films to come out in the last decade, Black Sheep pits the residents of a small New Zealand town against the forces of evil in the form of a flock of aggressive sheep. It doesn’t help that one of the main characters has developed a crippling fear of sheep due to a childhood incident. These sheep are nothing to baa about – they’ll tear through doors, make flying leaps for your throat, and brush off shotgun blasts. Forget the days of Babe – these sheep will be true to one thing, and that’s chewing your face off. And if that doesn’t make you want to run out and see this movie, honestly, I don’t know what will. — Seth Hansen (read 10 Not-So-Cuddly Animals in Horror here)

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) directed by Scott Derrickson

Even aliens recognize how valuable and rare the earth is. It sustains so much life that Keanu Reeves traveled all the way to our solar system to save Planet Earth from the humans. In the eco horror The Day The Earth Stood Still, Keanu comes with arcs to save all of earth’s animal life and a giant robot with alien nano locus that can wipe out humans existence in a blink of an eye. — Sean Stewart

Annihilation (2018) Directed by Alex Garland

As far as eco horror goes, Annihilation shows you a beautiful and terrifying display of evolution on our planet after being manipulated by an alien entity. The film is a delightful mixed bag of sci-fi and horror. You have body horror, freakish beasties, and truly deep, unique scares. Annihilation is currently streaming on Showtime. — Tiffany Warren

Prophecy (1979) directed by John Frankenheimer

Before we cared about things like the environment, manufacturing companies would dump their used chemicals and trash into any local watering hole they could find. And after years and years of this, scientists started noticing mutated fish and frogs living in these watering holes… but what if these mutations didn’t stop with amphibians and marine life? Eco horror Prophecy takes the the idea of these horrors and turns it up a notch… or ten. — Tracy Allen

The Toxic Avenger (1984) directed by Michael Herz & Lloyd Kaufman

I would have to go with The Toxic Avenger. Gratuitous violence and crude humor is the perfect way to warn of the dangers of polluting the planet. — Lance Dale

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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