Fresh on the heels of what appears to be an impressive reboot of a classic franchise (so says our own DR Movie News), we got to thinking about notable movie monsters.
Now, we wanted to keep this nerd discussion pure.
We avoided the human slashers of the world (i.e., Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead) and even the humans with a little something extra to their persona (i.e., Dracula, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Mummy, even the shape-shifting Werewolf).
We talked, arm wrestled, and even held a riveting tournament of paper, rock, scissors to determine this next A-List. So, you’re welcome. Lock the doors. Turn on the lights. And enjoy your popcorn. Here we go…
The A-List of the Top 13 Movie Monsters of all time:
13. The Pale Man
There is a definite reason why Guillermo del Toro is at the top of every CBM fan’s list to make Justice League Dark — the guy has a serious panache for the monstrous. If you didn’t hear about the guy prior to the release of Pan’s Labyrinth, the inventive, grotesque thing known as The Pale Man put del Toro on the map to stay.
Here’s a haggard statue of a creature that likes his protein not-so-aged. He eats children. And, he’s got a voracious appetite. The guy knows how to make ends meet as well. Once upon a time, a cute little girl named Ofelia disturbed his slumber. Good thing he fell asleep at the dinner table because he grabbed two random eyeballs resting in an hors d’oeuvres dish, crammed them into his hands, and … he can see. Only from the mind of GDT.
12. Creature from the Black Lagoon
The DC Universe is bringing back Swamp Thing, and it’s going to be dark, morose, and good. In that spirit, meet his daddy… or, at least, his progenitor. Creatures, as it were, aren’t usually the things you imagine in the deep waters. That space is reserved for something else later in the list.
However, what this thing did to movie goers (and swimmers) in the 1950s was completely terrify them of venturing into deep water where they can’t see the bottom. The Creature personified those fears many people have of the lakes, oceans, rivers, or even the local lake. Fears that are, if anything. profitable these days. No doubt, he’ll be back to a body of (dark) water near you.
A true monster whose presence was so strong initially that the NBA agreed to name a team after them. Sure, when you draft your fantasy prehistoric team, everyone is gunning for the T-Rex, but when you need those agile, nimble, working faster than a Kardashian through an NBA All-Star Weekend, you look for the Raptors.
These Mesozoic menaces were everywhere. They terrorized everyone and probably caused a serious rash of unemployment at Jurassic Park. And then, as if their cackling and running weren’t bad enough, they learned how to open a door?! There’s no hiding from these maulers. Even in the kitchen!
When we, the passengers of the Nebuchadnezzar, were discussing this list, we wanted to consider overall impact of pop culture, box office success, marketing, and even references. The one thing that was missed by this author was put to me this way, “Everyone is effin’ afraid of clowns!” So, there’s that.
In 1986, Stephen King’s book freaked people out (not just the clown, but those horny kids too). In 1990, Tim Curry was masterful in the TV series pushing the envelope to the threshold of where it could go. In 2017, Bill Skarsgard showed what Pennywise was supposed to be — a presence of evil that feeds on fear (and children) only to return for “seconds” every 27 years.
While Chapter Two will be more about the Losers of Derry, the fear we all sense at the sight of clowns may have us each tiptoeing around gutters for the next few years. All because of one man’s imagination… and those damn clowns.
This creature is really the reason this conversation began. As you may have seen — and by the looks of the box office, you did — The Predator has been top-of-mind for several people. Most of which, those interested in if the Shane Black reboot holds up to why this even deserved a reboot. Ahnuld fought this thing and we loved it. This was no different.
An invisible alien with rastafarian dread locks that kills people for fun and yuks, and has a face (once finally revealed) only a mother could love. Or, if you hearken back to Schwarzenegger’s words, an “ugly motherf*ck@r.”
8. The Thing
Wes Craven. Sam Raimi. George Romero. Even Alfred Hitchcock. When discussing harrowing geniuses of horror, all conversations usually start or end with John Carpenter. And to this day, one of the most awe-striking creatures to ever hit the screen was a shape-shifting, DNA-stealing alien parasite making more of its victims than just another kill.
In terms of sheer terror in film, though this movie wasn’t a box office success (only mustering a modern-day equivalent of $51 million), The Thing opened the door to what make-up and effects can really do to the human psyche. It was aberrant and etched nightmare-inducing images in the minds of people everywhere. That, and it was just plain gross.
7. Frankenstein’s Monster
Think about this: 1931. That was the year this creature became a movie reality and just about every time we have seen it since, it resembles the zombie-like brawn exterior of this man-made monster. Even back then, we learned this monster still had emotions. Even though they were buried behind Boris Karloff’s nuts, bots, and a ton of burlap, they were there.
The world fell in love with Mary Shelley’s creation — not Dr. Frankenstein, just his monster. The thought of something like this really happening was far-fetched at best; yet, people thought it could happen and that this thing could actually be real. And to this day, he is.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon made our fears of what lives in large bodies of water real. This gargantuan white shark took those fears and spiked them through the stratosphere. And be honest, who doesn’t go to the beach and hum a few bars of the what has to be the most iconic two notes of film score in history. (Daaa-DUM)
There are so many reasons why Jaws should be this high on the list, most of which is it throttled beach tourism for at least 20 years. Watch any shark attack news in the media. Jaws is referenced. Go swimming in any dark body of water. Who is mentioned? Jaws. Oh, talk to anyone is petrified to walk off the seashore and what’s their reason for fear? Ol’ Tricentennial Teeth himself. That’s gangster.
When this movie came out, no one saw it coming. Before shape-shifting was en vogue by a few X-people, there were the Mogwai. So cute. So cuddly. So friggin’ cantankerous, namely when they fall upon some spilled water. It was the perfect mix of yuletide joy and end-of-the-year misgivings. The movie was greatly popular and the marketing was so far beyond what Amblin could have prayed.
What was Gizmo became Spike. What was terrifying for little children became everything they wanted for Christmas. For years. Names withheld to protect dorkly, some of us may have sprinkled water and the sporadic amount of orange juice on domestic pets on the off-chance they become mongoloids or some such. That was the power of Gremlins.
In the world of on-screen transformation and devolutions, there was nothing more sickening and captivating (concurrently) than watching Jeff Goldblum slowly and painfully become The Fly. David Cronenberg, owner of a rather affectionate nom de plume as ‘The Baron of Blood,’ took a once-forgotten movie from 1958 starring the iconic Vincent Price, and made an instant horror classic.
It had a twisted theory, a bit of science, and an awful endgame that… well, looks like that. Talk about sprucing things up. No one had ever seen anything as vile and realistic as Seth Brundle’s anthropomorphic insect amalgamation. The reveal took most of the movie and it was so worth the wait. And this was back in the day of no spoilers. It was bliss. Dreaded bliss.
3. King Kong
In a world of monsters, this overgrown ape usually stands alone. He is mighty. He is powerful. And he never seems to age. King Kong first came onto the scene when he scaled the Empire State Building in 1933. No one had ever seen anything as imposing and intimidating on screen as Kong. You always imagine someone with a certain height, but an ape more than 40 floors high?!
There’s Kong. He was comfortable at home (even then on Skull Island) where he was captured and brought to the states as a circus attraction. And then he finds a blond (played then by Fay Wray and later in 1976 by the smoldering Jessica Lange) and you should be able to connect the dots from there. A brother just can’t handle it. We understand. Kinda.
Gamera. King Ghidorah. Rodan. Mothra. Mechagodzilla. Much more than an endoskeleton riddled with nuclear energy, this “King of the Monsters” carries so much swag, that even the monsters throttled by him are made famous. In the original 1954 film, Godzilla was 164 feet tall!
He is the definition of a movie icon. Sure, he has ‘God’ in his name but how many other ‘Zillas’ have been out there? It’s a marketing must. From Bridezilla to Beerzilla, somehow adding that suffix establishes ferocious power and rage. Ever since Godzilla — the god of lizards — stormed through Japan, he has brought fear to people and oodles of profits to Toho Studios (The 1954 film was a $25,000 investment that earned more than $2 million.)
It took the power of World War II to create him. Whether he is feared by the military or cheered by the people, Godzilla is definitely the king without a crown. And only a majestic trailer would befitting of a royal monster. Fortunately, we have one…
Nothing but majestic.
Its cinematic legacy began with a little “peek-a-boo.” Granted, it was through someone else’s stomach, but a grand appearance nonetheless. These eyeless, armored acid hounds brought terror to the screen in the form of a true monster. And she’s a queen.
The Xenomorphs have terrorized people in multiple sequels, a couple of prequels, and a kinda reboot. The Xenomorph has even faced the Predator. Twice. She is a marketing machine, aside from a carnivorous hellion determine to kill anything in its path. These figments of H.R. Giger‘s sardonic imagination are everything they were created to be and more.
Two of the most influential directors in modern history have taken on the Xenomorph — James Cameron and Ridley Scott. Yet, these fighting machines have taken on thousands and killed them all. More directors will take on the Alien, and to their dismay, the royal rancorous beast will devour them too.