Rampant Animal Horror

What is the Rampant Animal Horror Subgenre?

Nothing is more scary than the forces of nature, and in rampant animal horror, nature's fury is unleashed on human protagonists in the form of the animal kingdom. These animals can range from the tiniest insect to the largest dinosaur, but they all have one goal: to destroy everything around them. They are also always violent, fierce, and an unstoppable force. Even mythical creatures such as dragons or Bigfoot can be a part of the rampant animal subgenre, though most often, these types of monsters are found in creature horror. Extinct animals, too, play a large role in rampant animal horror.

Like creature horror, a common trope of this subgenre is that the animal can sometimes be a giant version of itself, such as Steve Alten's Meg, which features a giant prehistoric shark. The animals can also be large swarms of much smaller animals, such as the plague of flies in A Necessary End by Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson. Unlike creature horror, however, where smaller monsters often allude to a lighter scare, in animal horror, size does not matter. The smallest creatures can often, in fact, be the most terrifying.

In rampant animal horror, the animals may be sometimes be naturally aggressive, but often, this behavior is caused by either human or supernatural interference. There are several causes for animals to run rampant in this subgenre. A common trope is a science experiment that has gone horribly wrong, while another is that of the supernatural curse. Occasionally, even zombie bites and alien influence can be used to explain the violent and destructive behavior of rampant animals in this subgenre.

Rampant Animal Horror Characteristics

Level of Plot: Animals terrorize humans who attempt to combat or avoid slaughter is the typical plot of this subgenre with few twists and turns. Though there may be subplots which allude to the larger theme of the work, expect plot levels to be low in this subgenre.


Level of Characterization: Characterization is low to moderate in rampant animal horror. Human protagonists may have some character development over the course of a work, but it is often not the focus of the story.


Level of Supernatural: Expect supernatural elements to be moderate to low as this subgenre most often features realistic elements causing chaos.


Level of Scary: The level of scary in rampant animal horror is moderate to high depending on how believable the plot and characters are.


Level of Violence: Violence and body count are high in rampant animal horror, often in the apocalyptic levels.


Typical Setting: As in supernatural and creature horror, isolation is a frequent element in rampant animal horror. Typical settings include islands, forests, and small, remote towns.

Related Horror Subgenres

Creature horror, with its supernatural monsters, is the most closely related subgenre to rampant animal horror. Similarly, supernatural horror is a related subgenre. Rampant technology and post apocalyptic horror can also be related to rampant animal horror as they share similar themes and elements.

Don't ReadRampant Animal Horror If You Dislike…

Violence toward animals. Often, in rampant animal horror, human protagonists are fighting against killer versions of animals seen in everyday life. If violence towards sharks, bugs, or the family dog disturbs you, this is probably not the subgenre for you.

Cujo by Stephen King- A town is torn apart when a beloved family dog contracts rabies and becomes a violent killing machine.


Jaws by Peter Benchley- When a giant great white shark terrorizes the beach off a small New England town, three men are sent to destroy it before it affects the town's summer tourism, but long-held rivalries and, of course, the shark may destroy the men first.


Fragment by Warren Fahy- When the cast and crew of the reality show, Sea Life, receives a distress call from the remote, Hender's Island, they head towards it in hopes of encountering a much needed ratings boost. What they find instead is a violent ecosystem where every creature is intent on destroying them.


Flesh by Richard Laymon- An evil tapeworm is infecting the citizens of Webber Creek, attaching itself to their spine and compelling them to commit heinous acts.


The Rats by James Herbert- What happens when giant, toxic rats invade London? This graphic horror novel was also a scathing commentary on government neglect of the poor.


Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten- A top secret exploration of the Mariana trench unleashes a prehistoric predator.


Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton- A billionaire attempts to open a prehistoric biological preserve by cloning dinosaurs using DNA found in amber. As he attempts to assuage his investors' fears about the safety of the park, disaster strikes.


Night of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith- Giant crabs emerge from the deep to terrorize the inhabitants of Shell Island, a small island near Wales, in this pulpy thriller.


Unearthed by Gina Ranalli- As sinkholes begin to swallow whole cities in the Pacific Northwest, giant digger bees are unearthed, and they are angry.


A Necessary End by Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson- A plague is unleashed upon the world, carried by mutated swarms of flies. No one knows how it started, and medical science is helpless to stop it. As civilization begins to crumble, a group that is immune to the plague may hold the key, and Niles, an investigative reporter is determined to seek out the truth.

If you like the story. Share it!