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My Ten Favorite Movie Monsters
10. The Werewolves from "Dog Soldiers"
Year Released: 2002
Directed & Written by: Neil Marshall
Starring: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham
I'm not big on werewolves and usually don't find them particularly scary, but the wolves in "Dog Soldiers" are terrifying. While most movie werewolves look all wolf and very little human-like, these monsters keep the stature and overall shape of a person even though they are abnormally large. Their hunched over posture as they tower over you is enough to send you running for the hills screaming at the top of your lungs. The silohuette's alone give them a well deserved spot on my list.
There are several points throughout the film where the creatures are seen running through the foggy forest on two legs when usually werewolves are portrayed running on all fours like a dog. Using their long, sharpened claws they grasp tightly around their victims neck, but aren't above gnawing on the throat like the animals they are.
Although the special effects may not be exactly Oscar-winning, you have to appreciate the creepiness the make-up and effects departments were able to accomplish for this low-key horror film.
9. Frankenstein's Monster
Films Featuring "Frank"
"Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)
"Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948)
"Young Frankenstein" (1974)
"Van Helsing" (2004)
"Hello there, handsome!"
Doctor Frankenstein's monster has had many forms in several different film and television adaptations. He has been scary (Boris Karloff and Robert De Niro in films sharing the title "Frankenstein") and hilarious as shown in "Young Frankenstein" played by Peter Boyle and of course, Herman Munster in the television classic "The Munsters". Because of his ability to adapt and change over different genres, he is one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time and one of my favorites. (I'm pretty sure my mother would run away with Herman Munster if he were real...)
The comedic portrayals will always hold a special place in my heart ("Ooper Duper!"), but the face of monster-master Boris Karloff continually pops into my mind when I hear the characters name. Karloff starred in a slew of incredible movies over his career, but he is best known from the impression he left on the horror genre. He starred as The Monster in the black and white Universal films "Frankenstein", "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Son of Frankenstein".
8. Medusa - "Clash of the Titans" (1981)
"Clash of the Titans"
Year Released: 1981
Directed by: Desmond Davis
Starring: Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith
"She's not going to give it to you as a present..."
1981's "Clash of the Titans" is a movie I used to watch over and over again with my father along with "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) and "Mysterious Island" (1961). All of these films tell classic stories and have something most movies today don't - awesome special effects! By that, of course, I mean stop-motion and claymation effects. I have and will always be a sucker for some really great ACTUAL visual effects, not CGI. I understand CGI has it's uses and can look incredible, but don't tell me you would prefer computer animated skeletons over those silly, sword-wielding puppets in these films.
The scene involving Medusa used to give me the creeps. The way her snake-like body slithered out from the darkness was haunting. The tip of her tail would rattle and if you weren't intimidated enough already, she whipped out a bow and arrows. To cap it all off, once you are caught in her gaze her eyes glow a horrible green as she bares her jagged teeth - instantly turning you into stone. Did I mention that her head is covered in dozens of snakes?! Gah!
Medusa is an epic monster on her own, but her portrayal in "Clash of the Titans" was the first time she was able to make an impact on me visually aside from reading about her.
7. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
Year Released: 1984
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis
"What did you do, Ray?!"
"I couldn't help it...it just popped in there." When asked to choose a physical form of the creature that would destroy them and the world, Ghostbuster Dr. Raymond Stantz thinks of something unintentionally - "It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man". What appears to be a seemingly harmless, giant puff of marshmallow cream wearing a sailor hat appears standing at 100 feet tall. He turns out to be a monster that would work to destroy New York City and the Ghostbusters. His cuteness is actually the most terrifying thing about him.
What makes Mr. Stay Puft such a fantastic movie monster is the fact that he is down-right adorable. As he makes his way through the busy city streets he gets a strange look on his face - an evil look. His brow narrows and his smile widens as this fluffy wrecking ball steps on cars and people until finally reaching the building where the Ghostbusters are waiting for him. "No one steps on a church in my town!"
Even when he is defeated his destructive capabilities are not over. When the team "crosses the streams" and zaps Mr. Stay Puft he explodes into a million pieces. His marshmallow remains rain down upon the streets below covering everything and everyone is a thick, white cream. (Get your graham crackers and chocolate!)
Films Featuring Pumpkinhead
"Pumpkinhead II: Bloodwings" (1994)
"Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes" (2006)
"Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud" (2007)
"Nothin' can call it off..."
(Before I begin, I would like to thank my big brothers for introducing me to Pumpkinhead at a very young age. Thanks...a lot.)
As many nightmares as I had growing up involving the monster playfully named Pumpkinhead - I do enjoy the scares he gives me. Directed by Stan Winston, (yes, THEE special effects and make-up wizard Stan Winston) 1988's "Pumpkinhead" is absolutely terrifying. The demon is summoned by a man to kill a group of teenagers who accidentally killed his young son. The creature Pumpkinhead, who doesn't at all resemble a pumpkin aside from having a round head, wreaks havoc amongst the teenagers and kills them off one by one while the man who had him summoned quickly regrets his decision.
There is a particular scene that takes place inside of a hollowed-out church where Pumpkinhead has chased the remaining kids into the rotted out building. They are trying to find a way to escape when the gigantic, boney creature appears in the open doorway. It stands in the moonlight and his shadowy silhouette still gives me nightmares to this very day.
The demon was resurrected in three more films including two of which were made for television. No matter the budget of the movie, there isn't anything that can take away from the daunting and horrifying effect the star monster has on the audience.
5. T-Rex - "Jurassic Park"
Year Released: 1993
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum (and of course a ton of dinosaurs...)
T-Rex can also be seen in "The Lost World" and "Jurassic Park III".
"Must go faster..."
I received a few grumbles and groans of discord when I told some co-workers I had T-Rex from "Jurassic Park" on this list. Let me just say this - take a look at that picture above and tell me he's not a perfect movie monster! The biggest and baddest dinosaur of the film had people literally screaming out bloody murder in the theater while watching for the first time and he continues to have the same effect. (The animatronic dinosaurs are another creation of Stan Winston for which he won the Academy Award for best visual effects.)
As if the idea of the dinosaur wasn't scary enough, Steven Spielberg's version of the Tyrannosaurus Rex is especially terrifying. His grand entrance into the film is larger than life and instantly lets the characters and audience know what they are in for. Repeatedly he becomes a powerful danger throughout the movie and shows his true prowess at the end when he ironically saves the day and kills two Velociraptors, allowing the humans to escape.
His roar is as mighty as his size as well as his teeth. I held my hand firmly over my mouth as I watched his snout pierce the glass on top of the jeep containing poor Tim and Lex and I continued to watch in horror as he battered the vehicle until finally flipping it over. My anxiety was at a high as Dr. Alan Grant stepped out of the car to lure the beast away with a flare. (T-Rez was distracted once again, of crouse, by Dr. Ian Malcom. Oops.) T-Rex is undoubtedly the king of the dinosaurs and has earned a place in my movie monster list.
Films Featuring The Count
"Son of Dracula" (1943)
"The Monster Squad" (1987)
"Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992)
"Dracula: Dead and Loving It" (1995)
"Dracula 2000" (2000)
"Hotel Transylvania" (2012)
"I never drink - wine."
The title character from Bram Stoker's Gothic horror novel "Dracula" has had many forms in cinema. Like his fellow classic movie monster Frankenstein, Count Dracula has been portrayed as sinister, romantic and silly. My favorite of the comedic attempts was 2012's "Hotel Transylvania". It was a fun-filled version of Dracula and his daughter, but had plenty of typical monster characteristics. "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" was Mel Brook's parody of Coppola's 1995 film - not Mr. Brook's best effort. Maybe that is simply because I love the original so much.
Bela Legosi's original depiction of Count Dracula is incredibly creepy and set the bar high for any version after him. The black and white film tells the basic story of Dracula, who falls in love with Mina and does whatever he can to seduce her. His true nature is apparent when he holds her fiancé captive and turns her best friend Lucy into a vampire.
Throughout the different forms Dracula has taken my favorite is Gary Oldman's amazing performance in "Bram Stoker's Dracula" directed by Francis Ford Coppola. In this 1992 adaptation there are times when you truly feel awful for Dracula and understand his lust and need for love. On the other hand, he is just as wicked as ever. Oldman's voice haunts my dreams after viewing this movie, "Listen to them - the children of the night. what sweet music they make". He is deeply romantic yet murderous and to elevate the terror-level of the character he transforms into a giant bat-like creature. Gah!
Dracula began my love and respect for vampires and year after year he continues the legacy, keeping himself near the top of my favorite movie monsters.
Year Released: 1975
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss and Bruce the Shark
"You're gonna need a bigger boat..."
This movie monster doesn't even need to be seen to completely terrify you. The impending doom that lingers in the water around you from knowing he's down there somewhere is enough. Using the swimmer-filled beaches along Amity as his hunting ground the enormous Great White shark terrorizes the small beach community over a busy holiday weekend. Even more recognizable than the shark itself is the daunting theme song that goes along with him. Composed by John Williams, the subtle droning quickens its pace as the monster comes closer to biting down on his prey - it also won the Academy Award for best score.
One of the scariest aspect of the film "Jaws" is that fact that you don't even see the shark for quite some time into the film. You see several glimpses of his pointed fin cutting through the water until you finally see the creature underwater after he tips a small boat over and drags the man inside under.
Bruce the mechanical shark (jokingly named after Steven Spielberg's lawyer) was the star of the film along with several clips of real sharks used for the underwater sequences. Spielberg and the crew have consistently complained about the problems that were caused by the robotic monster and stated the "fakeness" of Bruce was only masked by the incredible and believable performance by the actors. Whatever they did worked for me. After watching "Jaws" I repeatedly look underneath myself when swimming in any body of water - including a pool.
2. Xenomorph from "Alien" Franchise
Films featuring the Xenomorph
"Alien 3" (1992)
"Alien: Resurrection" (1997)
"AVP: Alien Vs. Predator" (2004)
"AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem" (2007)
"Game over, man - game over!
Ironic, but I had a tough time selecting which monster to place in which spot (1 and 2). I thought incredibly hard on which creature deserved to be at the top of my list and my decision simply came down to which one I think is more B.A. (excuse my letters...)
"Alien" is one of the very first films that scared the be-jesus out of me. It was only one Xenomorph, hatching from an egg as a Facehugger and latching onto a crew member of the Nostromo. It unknowingly implanted its seed deep inside of the man. In a gory escape, the tiny alien burst out from the man's chest and scampered across the floor only to grow into a full-sized alien designed by artist H.R. Giger. (Along with the rest of the effects team, Giger won the Academy Award for achievement in visual effects for "Alien".) For something so big it's extremely stealthy. If it doesn't impale you with its razor-sharp tail it will hold you close and kill you using its secondary mouth that shoots out from inside its primary jaws.
As if the one alien wasn't scary enough, in "Aliens" there are hundreds of them (hence the name). A heavily armed rescue team is sent to the planet from the previous film that has since been colonized (great idea) and has lost contact with the outside world. Everyone in the colony has been killed or captured by the Xenomorphs with the except of a little girl named Newt. Along with the usual aliens there is a massive Queen who is laying more and more eggs. She's even larger than the others and goes to battle with Ripley who is played by franchise regular Sigourney Weaver.
Multiple films followed in the franchises footsteps, all of which kept the intimidating nature of its title stars. In 2012's "Prometheus" we began to learn where these monsters came from. Even as a little guy the Xenomorph is a terrifying force to be reckoned with.
Films featuring Predator
"Predator 2" (1990)
"AVP: Alien vs. Predator" (2004)
"AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem" (2007)
"You are one ugly mother..."
Now - here is my debate for (no pun intended) Predator vs. Alien. I do agree that the Xenomorph alien is a better MONSTER. They are way scarier, especially in large groups. BUT - I LOVE Predator. He's a total B.A. He really is. He's got dreads. Each time these two characters have met - Predator has come out on top. I realized they were both killed in "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem", but it took a hybrid of the two monsters to take on a single Predator. As many times as I changed the order of these top two creatures I kept moving Predator back to the top spot. I have always loved this character and I just couldn't take the number one ranking away from him. (Because I'm afraid of how he would react if he found out...)
In 1987's "Predator" action star Arnold Schwarzenegger and his group of soldiers are hunted by the alien warrior Predator. Using a cloaking device, Predator is able to hide amongst the thick jungle trees and unleashes several deadly weapons to kill his prey including a lasers, blades and uses infra-red vision to seek them out. The seemingly only way to avoid being harmed is to remain unarmed. A civilian woman is spared during the bloodshed given she has no weapons. Predator is mortally wounded in the end, but he has one last trick up his sleeve. Letting out a deep, maniacal laugh the alien uses a keypad on his wristband to set off a bomb that destroys the surrounding forest and gives Arnold barely enough time to escape.
The Predator alien species is extremely intelligent and a keen hunter. They kill for sport and set traps for those they are hunting. "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" shows off their hunting skills as a small group arrives on earth after human scientists accidentally awake the Xenomorphs. The Predators hunt the Xenomorphs while they hunt the humans. In the end a human and Predator work together to kill the Alien queen although the Predator hunter dies from his injuries.
The actor who originally played the part of the Predator in "Predator" and "Predator 2" was Kevin Peter Hall who stood at a towering 7' 2". (Fun fact - he also played the part of Harry in the family film "Harry and the Hendersons"!)
Even the newest edition to the franchise "Predators" kept me entertained and made me respect the awesome character even more. The different variations of the alien gave them each a unique personality although they were still just as dangerous and lethal.
What about YOU?
Which of these movie monsters is your favorite?
Honorable Monster Mentions!
- Two-Headed Dragon from "Willow"
- "The Creature From the Black Lagoon"
- The Spider Gremlin from "Gremlins 2"
- Ants from "Them!"
- Monsters from "Cloverfield"
- "The Fly"
- "The Thing"
- "It" (Clowns are the scariest thing EVER.)
- Lord of Darkness from "Legend"