Movie Monsters: Deadliest and Scariest of All Time

There is no better time to enjoy a horror movie than Halloween. Horror movies come in a variety of forms. There are the supernatural horror flicks featuring demons like The Exorcist. There are horror movies with lots of violence and gore such as Saw. There are ones which involve horrific human beings such as Silence of the Lambs. However, nothing can top the fear and excitement of a horror flick which features a magnificent monster. These grotesque creatures scare the hell out of us when they appear on screen and give us nightmares long after the movie is over. Here are

The deadliest and scariest movie monsters of all time:

Xenomorph, Alien


All hail the queen. The Xenomorph, the brainchild of the darkly minded genius H.R. Giger, is what alien nightmares are made of. Part machine, part natural aberrance, the Alien that besets Ripley moves with the kind of haunting assurance befitting of the creature’s power. With acid blood and rows of nested teeth, the Xenomorph is a stroke of pure monster genius that, when it comes to pop culture at least, is truly immortal.


King Kong, King Kong


You don’t earn the title “King of the Jungle” for nothing. Across more than eight decades and countless film iterations, King Kong remains one of the most bewitching and tragic of the movie monster set. And while Peter Jackson’s 2005 film has its strengths, the definitive King Kong is still the 1933 film (despite its unsavory racial overtones). The effects for all their iffy aging, are crafty and admirable even years on, making the original Kong a massive achievement no matter how old the movie magic is.


Gill Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon


Where werewolves, zombies and the rest of the creature feature set are terrifying because of their tenuous ties to humanity, The Creature from the Black Lagoon is terrifying because of his lack of one. A seemingly prehistoric inhuman creature that embodies every innate fear about deep, dark water. Sporting some of the most inspired creature design of any monster on this list thanks to Millicent Patrick, it’s hard not to wonder how a remake hasn’t made its way to screens yet. No matter, the classic is almost as engaging as it was on the day of its release.


Pale Man, Pan’s Labyrinth


What makes Guillermo del Toro the king of the monsters? This guy. While Pan’s Labyrinth is stuffed with amazing creatures, flawless production design and brilliant performances, the real star of the film is on screen for about 3 minutes in total, a shriveled and deeply disturbing humanoid monster with a taste for children. He’s a clear allegory for the oppressive and uncaring governmental regime and specifically, the unfeeling Captain Vidal that turns Ofelia’s world upside down. A clever inversion of fairy tale tropes with a brilliant design, the Pale Man is a disturbing sight whether you’re watching the film for the first time or the fiftieth.


The Predator, Predator


Like many of the scarier entries on the list, The Predator, opts to stay invisible for the majority of the film’s running time, letting director John McTiernan run out the clock before the big reveal. Killing for sport and collecting trophies of his unwitting human prey, Predator couldn’t be a more deadly monster foe, but when it comes time to unmask, the truest testament to his genius character design comes from Schwarzenegger himself: “You are one ugly motherf****r”.


The Thing, The Thing


In a way, The Thing has got this whole monster competition rigged. A shape-shifting alien with the ability to synthesize and morph into the DNA of any of its victims means that The Thing has the unique ability to become anyone’s worst nightmare at any moment, made even more harrowing by John Carpenter’s commitment to terrifyingly grotesque practical effects. Whether your favorite is the grotesque, transformed dog or the iconic spider-head, The Thing is a monster with the ability to transform into the most terrifying thing of all: one of us.


Dracula, Various Iterations


Throughout the course of cinema history, vampires have been portrayed in multiple forms. They have been mindless savages, gothic romantic anti-heroes, kings fighting for their people and (sigh) pale teenage school-going heartthrobs whose skins sparkle under the sun. As a result of that, vampires have become staples of the horror movie world. The most well known, revered and iconic iteration of vampires has definitely been Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The dreaded count has been portrayed on screen by a host of A list actors, including Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman, and, in a regrettably comic turn, Leslie Nielsen. The Lost Boys offered a decidedly ’80s twist to the vampire tale, while Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk ‘Til Dawn was a rowdy, bloodsucking, action film (featuring special effects master Tom Savini in a supporting role). The Swedish sleeper hit Let the Right One In was a story of love and longing between two pre-teens—one of whom just happens to be a vampire.


Frankenstein’s Monster, Various Iterations


It’s hard to beat Frankenstein (or rather, Frankenstein’s monster, if we’re getting technical about it). Technically a zombie re-animated through technological prowess and man’s hubris, it’s a monster unfamiliar with the rules of the world and his own strength, as well as a monster beset with the plight of human connection. He’s tragic, iconic, deeply scary, and hard to beat.


Godzilla, Various Iterations


Though Gareth Edwards‘ fantastic and subtle blockbuster breathed fresh life into the age-old monster, it’s hard to beat the 1954 Godzilla, which was borne out of incredible loss and nuclear fallout. A physical incarnation of some of society’s greatest sins and the ghost of terrible things past, Godzilla has iconic creature design nearly as affecting as its inherent politics.

Brundlefly, The Fly


It’s only fair that the master of body horror hold a high place on this list – and there’s no better Cronenberg video nasty than the dripping, gloopy Brundlefly, a horrifying amalgam of man and fly that obscures the deep humanity of Seth (the ever-quirky Jeff Goldblum). The Brundlefly takes most of the film to arrive as the scientific experiment slowly engulfs Seth’s body, but while he hardly lasts long before being dispatched by his lover, it’s the metaphoric dread of becoming a monster yourself that propels The Fly to the front of the pack.


Gwoemul, The Host


Big. Amphibious. Mutant. The fearsome, deadly Gweomul is about as gross and dangerous a sewer dweller is likely to get, and is the violent fuel for Joon-ho Bong’s The Host. Sporting some brilliant monster design and some terrifying, lumbering creature features, Gweomul runs on pure evolutionary instinct, and it seems natural selection isn’t on our side.


Reapers, Blade II


Guess who? While vampires have gripped the cultural imagination for decades, it’s del Toro that went pedal to the metal with his designs for the bloodsuckers. Taking the concept of a human parasite quite literally in Blade II, del Toro envisions a new breed of vampire with an unhingeable jaw, revealing a deeply disturbing ringworm like sucker within. The transformations themselves are notable enough, but to see them unfurl from an otherwise normal vampire visage, makes the Reapers pop culture’s most specific and affecting iteration of vamps.


The Behemoth, The Mist


Though it has much less screentime than other unspeakable beasts in Frank Darabont’s The Mist, The Behemoth (also fittingly known as “The Impossibly Tall Creature”) has the most impact of all of the film’s monsters combined. Slowly, silently skulking through the mist and dwarfing everything in sight, The Behemoth is chilling mostly in its complete obliviousness to any of the human suffering it has unwittingly caused at its feet.


Clover, Cloverfield


If we’re being honest, the Cloverfield universe so far has largely been defined by the visual absence of a monster rather than its imposing presence, but it’s a testament to the filmmaking that such a small amount of screen-time can make such an indelible impact. Toxic, deadly, and ugly as hell, “Clover” is an awfully cute name for one ugly and terrifying cretin.


The Crawlers, The Descent


Part of the terror of Neil Marshall’s exceptionally uncomfortable horror is a primal one — the idea of being stranded underground in the dark with no idea of how, and fading hope if you will be able, to escape. But most of it comes from the blind, feral cave goblins — sorry, “crawlers,” though we like cave goblins more — that menace the stranded woman that Marshall’s film centers on. Nearly human, but also quite far from it, they’re truly frightening, all the more so because we mostly only get quick glimpses of them.


Rancor, Return of the Jedi


One of the many elements of George Lucas’ genius, at least in terms of maximizing the appeal of his films to their target audience, was that he knew that every eight-year-old boy loves a good monster, and the “Star Wars” films were always happy to throw one in — it’s why there isn’t just a trash-compactor scene, but a trash-compactor scene with a giant squid in it. The best beastie, however, is the Rancor, the slimy, giant-clawed motherfucker that Jabba attempts to feed Luke to, until he gets nailed by the gate to his cage (in an oddly pathetic death, thanks to his keeper’s tears).


Dementors, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


From three-headed dogs and giant snakes to werewolves and dragons, the “Harry Potter” series had its fair share of monsters (to say nothing of the ‘Fantastic Beasts‘ spin-off, which is stuffed with magical creatures, albeit mostly benevolent ones), but its most memorable are clearly the Dementors, which first crop up (and are best used) in Alfonso Cuarón’s third film in the series. Wraith-like creatures that act as guard to the magic world’s prison, they are clearly inspired by the Lord of the Rings’ Nazgul. They have the ability to drain people of all their happiness (inspired by JK Rowling’s depression).


Pinhead and the Cenobites, Hellraiser


Whatever the flaws of the “Hellraiser” franchise — namely that the first film is rough around the edges, and the eight sequels are all completely rubbish — its principal adversaries, most famously Doug Bradley’s aptly named Pinhead — are not one of them. Clive Barker’s original could have made its Cenobite fairly normal demons, but instead, these grotesque, S&M-tinged creatures, each more disgusting than the last, manage to be continually upsetting to look at (and impressively made up) even at the franchise’s worst. Also, it should be noted that Pinhead & The Cenobites is a great name for a punk band.


Graboids, Tremors


A little overlooked these days (a potential TV reboot could fix that), Ron Underwood’s joyous horror-comedy pits Kevin Bacon & Fred Ward’s Nevada handymen against an army of “Dune”-style giant sandworms, later named “graboids.” With B-movie tongue firmly and bloodily bursting through cheek, and the basic premise made for plenty of don’t-touch-the-ground tension, the beasts are achieved with impressive practical effects that are much more fun than a CGI version would ever be.


Gremlins, Gremlins


Attempts to recapture the magic of “Gremlins,” even by the film’s director Joe Dante, have almost always been in vain. In part it’s because the film’s alchemy is a tough thing to replicate. As Mogwai, they’re adorable, but after their food-after-midnight transformation, with their smirking, triangular faces and enormous wing-like ears, they’re delightfully mischievous while still being relentlessly, demonically evil.


The Great White Shark, Jaws


If “Frankenstein” and “King Kong” created the monster movie, Steven Spielberg created the modern version with “Jaws.” His adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel is textured, funny, suspenseful, shocking and very human, but it also manages to make a whopping great fish into one of the scariest things you’ve ever seen. Or rather, haven’t seen — Spielberg’s genius (in part aided by malfunctioning effects) was to keep it mostly out of sight, contributing to that sense that the ocean is a giant, dark void of things that want to kill you. But when arrives, it doesn’t disappoint, a hulking great thing that, you suspect, would eat every single last person on Earth if it had the chance.

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