Although a seemingly new genre, we believe climate Fiction (cli-fi) films continue some of the same trends occurring in monstrous nature cinema, including drawing on anthropomorphism to both humanize and vilify nonhuman nature. Dan Bloom asserts, “In order to be a cli-fi short story or novel, the book will have a climate theme, of course. It can be set in the past, the present or the future, and it can be dystopian or utopian.” The same definition applies to filmic cli-fi, which, like short stories and novels, explores climate change and global warming explicitly. Bloom also differentiates cli-fi from environmental literature and film, declaring, “But if the book is just about the environment, such as protecting rivers or stopping air pollution, then it wouldn’t really be a cli-fi novel [or film]. There are other categories such as eco-fiction or calling a book an eco-thriller if it is about the environment.” Earlier cli-fi films that anthropomorphize monstrous nature explicitly fit Bloom’s criteria.
Considered one of the earliest eco-horror films, Frogs (1972) confronts environmental destruction with a vengeful bevvy of psychic frogs. During an annual Jason Crockett (Ray Milland) birthday celebration on the fourth of July, these frogs telepathically communicate with other animal species, enticing them to attack Crockett’s family and guests one by one. The film highlights how almost every family member despises nature so much they spread harmful chemicals to eradicate all nonhuman animal life. The film suggests the frogs recognize the source of these animal deaths—humans, especially the spoiled rich Crockett patriarch and his family. On the night of Jason Crockett’s birthday frogs, snakes, alligators, lizards, birds, and spiders begin to pay Crockett back, and in Frogs nature wins. Like humans, frogs and other animals in the Florida swamp surrounding Crocket’s mansion sense the source of their oppression and fight back.
Despite the deaths of family and houseguests, millionaire Crockett still maintains his superiority to nonhuman nature, exclaiming, “I still believe man is master of the world.” Nature photographer and environmentalist Pickett Smith (Sam Elliot) offers an alternative view, asking, “Does that mean he can't live in harmony with the rest of it?” Like humans, frogs and other animals in the Florida swamp surrounding Crocket’s mansion sense the source of their oppression and fight back. In Frogs, anthropomorphizing these swamp creatures provides an environmental message, but it also humanizes nature and provides a means to punish the real monster—Jason Crocket and the human oppressors he represents.