Undefended: Top Five Movie Monsters

With the recent release of Jurassic World, we decided to take a look at the greatest movie monsters of all time.

Fraser Martens

  1. The Xenomorph, Alien. A list of 5 great movie monsters is really a list of the 4 greatest monsters other than the Xenomorph. None of the sequels have done justice to how disturbing it was to imagine that somewhere in space, this was waiting for us.
  2. Babyface, Toy Story. Not only was it a robot spider with a child’s head, it was under your bed. Hands up if you watched the scenes in Sid’s room through your fingers.
  3. The Thing, The Thing (1982). Great monsters make physical the dark things that hide in our souls. The Thing makes our distrust of others real. It’s also incredibly disgusting.
  4. The pale man, Pan’s Labyrinth. Who is he? What is he? Why are his eyes in his hands? Is the food on the table his? Are the fairies his friends? Why is he eating the fairies??? Why is he getting up???
  5. The Black Beast of Arrgh, Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Of course, sometimes monsters are simply ridiculous. The Black Beast of Arrrgh (you pronounce it in the back of the throat) was the downfall of Joseph of Arimathea and is without a doubt the most fearsome creature ever conquered by a fatal heart attack on the part of its animator.

Remy Wilkins:

  1. The Nothing (The Neverending Story) : There’s one handful of good ideas and two great scenes from this movie, but The Nothing is one of the more existentially potent fears in cinema. To this day I tremble over the Rock Biter’s failure conquer it: “They look like big, good, strong hands, don’t they?”
  2. Body Snatchers (The Invasion of the Body Snatchers) : A universal fear that will continue to appear in cinema. The shift of meaning along its various iterations keeps it fresh.
  3. Hellboy (Hellboy) : I like my monsters Godfearing. I still get tingles when Hellboy prays for the life of his friend saying, “Hey, you, on the other side – let her go. Because for her I will cross over, and then you’ll be sorry!” Brusque and blustery, but Joblike in its fierce faithfulness.
  4. The Eborsisk (aka: the Two Headed Monster in Willow) : Wanna see how fast I run? Show me one a those.
  5. Graboids (Tremors) : I gathered some important skills from this movie. Like never touching the ground for days on end if need be. If you thought Jaws was crazy wait’ll you see the Jaws of the earth.

Note: Yes, I had to google the name of the monster from Willow. I’m not some nerd. I did know the names of the worms in Tremors however.

Timothy Lawrence:

  1. The shark from “Jaws” : THE prototypical movie monster.
  2. Roy Batty of “Blade Runner”: An achingly human variation on Frankenstein’s misunderstood monster.
  3. The titular monsters of “Monsters”: On a shoestring budget, Edwards deftly pulls off a Spielbergian transition from ominous mystery to unexpected awe and wonder – what Abrams tried and failed to accomplish in “Super 8.”
  4. The Velociraptors (Jurassic Park): The T-Rex is the big one, but the raptors provide the film’s most indelible moments of tension.
  5. James Sullivan and Michael Wazowski (Monsters, Inc.) Pixar turns its delicately humane and empathetic (not to mention hilarious) touch on the literal stuff of children’s nightmares.

Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette:

  1. Edward Scissorhands: A twist on the Frankenstein monster: an innocent who remains (mostly) pure because of the love of another.
  2. The Weeping Angels, “Blink,” Doctor Who: Playing off the universal fear of the unseen, Steven Moffat crafted a villain that we easily “see” every day. I have felt mistrustful of stone statues ever since.
  3. Gollum, The Lord of the Rings trilogy: A depiction of how evil can transform any being into a monster, and also one of the more compelling, well-rounded monsters of film.
  4. Toothless, How to Train Your Dragon: While all of the dragons in this film are creative, Toothless has such a personality of his own.
  5. Jabba the Hut, Star Wars: The very first film monster to creep me out and a wonderful example of how live-action monsters often surpass computer-generated beasts.

Christian Leithart:

  1. Maleficent/the Dragon, Sleeping Beauty: No one alive who watched this film as a child sees the dragon as anything but the embodiment of pure evil.
  2. King Kong, King Kong (1933): The ape that kicked off the monster movie genre, including the recurring theme of Man’s reach exceeding his grasp.
  3. Godzilla, Godzilla (1954): Any monstrous thing becomes a “-zilla” these days. That speaks to the impact of this lumbering lizard.
  4. Them, Them! One of the first monsters that appeared en masse, rather than as a single threat. A nest of giant ants taps into the same fear as a mob of zombies, only with six legs and a pair of giant mandibles each.
  5. Bubba Ho-Tep, Bubba Ho-Tep: An aging Elvis and a black John F. Kennedy fight a mummy feeding on the souls of the residents of a nursing home. Unexplained and unexplainable, but disturbing nonetheless.

Joshua Gibbs

  1. The blob from The Blob: A monster of the nuclear scare era, although given the irrationality and spinelessness of the current secular temperament, the blob is perhaps the most prophetically conceived of monster of the 20th century.
  2. The alien from Alien 3: More terrifying than the original Alien because its intentions are unknown for most of the film.
  3. Ursula from The Little Mermaid: What does she do with all those shriveled souls?
  4. Whatever it is that walks out from behind the garbage dumpster in that one scene in Mullholland Drive: The most terrifying split second of filmmaking ever.
  5. Pinhead from Hellraiser: The cover of the VHS rental box back when I was nine was sufficient that I never needed to actually rent it.

Though it was already taken, I should mention…

Jabba the Hutt: When I was young, the fact that Jobba kept a tank of living creatures to eat and a chain mail bikini around for lady visitors was Freudianly terrifying to the nth degree.

The two headed monster at the end of Willow: Back in the era when evangelicals thought D&D was demonic, I watched Willow and thought the final twenty minutes were conceived by the devil himself.

Joshua Gibbs

Joshua Gibbs teaches great books, collects records and jogs to work. He and his wife have two children, both of whom have seven names. He tweets at @joshgibbs and blogs for the CiRCE Institute.

2 Responses to Undefended: Top Five Movie Monsters

  1. “Whatever it is that walks out from behind the garbage dumpster in that one scene in Mullholland Drive: The most terrifying split second of filmmaking ever.”

    Amen. The setup to this is magical.

  2. These are all great lists, but I’ve got to give a shout out to the girl who walks down the stairs face first in “The Grudge” as the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in a movie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *