I think creature features are a genre in their own right. If you think about it, you will see the form has been around in different forms for a damn long time. Take, for example, Jonah and the Fish (certainly a creature of some kind); or that Minatour of Greek myth; or Grendel in Beowulf. This makes a good deal of sense since human beings have long been around creatures with whom they did not necessarily get along all that well, like lions, and tigers and such. As well as razor backed feral pigs that would sneak into peasants’ huts and eat any infants lying around. Also, of course, we eat the creatures and perhaps within us remains some atavistic fear that the animals will decide to strike back.
Creatures in creature features are frequently just bigger forms of the actual creature. For example, I do believe there was a movie with James Arness called Ants! I think ants qualify as creatures even though they are insects. These ants were just like your normal ant in every respect except that they were enormous and could bite a person in two with their pincer like jaws or perhaps they are called mandibles. If the creatures are not larger than usual there are more of them than usual. This is true of the movie Bees! Here huge swarms of so called killer bees attack entire cities. Another as I recollect is called Bats!—perhaps that’s not the name—but it might as well be since it features Lou Diamond Phillips and many bats.
So at the risk of over generalization, creature features feature creatures that are either much bigger than the usual creature or many more of the creatures than is usually the case, all acting in concert to destroy as many people as possible. Among the bigger than usual creatures, along with ants and other insects, one can find any number of snakes. In this light, it is hard not to think of Jennipher Lopez going down the Amazon in a wet tee-shirt and being attacked by an enormous Anaconda, as big around as your average Winnebago. This was one heck of an anaconda.
This creature feature is worth mulling a moment since it contains a few of the other basic elements of a creature feature. For example, creature features frequently feature groups of people acting in concert either to attack the creature (as in the Case of Lake Placid, featuring an enormous alligator) or to defend themselves against it, which usually happens when they attack it. Given a group, some character development, if of a stereotypical variety, is possible, thus tending somewhat to humanize the genre.
Mostly the group consists of males, but usually there are one or two females, like Jennipher Lopez, to add a possible Romantic element or at least a tasty treat for the creature. Usually also there is a person who detects the creature and is considered a nut by others because they have not see the creature, or there is a nut, some sort of mad person, driven to pursue the creature up to death’s door and beyond, possibly because the creature threatens or has in fact eaten his girl friend. In any case, this highly motivated person usually leads the group in its mad pursuit of or hasty retreat from the creature.
I ruminate on the creature feature—and may continue these ruminations at a later date—because last night I finished watching The Host, the first South Korean Creature Feature I have ever watched, though purists may say this is not a true creature feature, since a true creature feature must feature a creature than actually occurs in nature, and the creature in The Host is some sort of weird-assed mutant creature vaguely resembling a horny toad with a rotor rooter mouth and monkey tail. But I am not a purist and willingly admit mutant creatures into my pantheon of creatures, though I might draw the line at creatures from outer space.