The top 100 TV and movie monsters
Covering the gamut of TV and cinema from the past to the present, here's Rob's rundown of the 100 finest screen monsters...
Love monsters? If you're like us, then sure you do. But which is the best one ever? Well, that’s what our epic 100 countdown tries to work out. So come along and delve into a vast bestiary of iconic monstrosities, filled with all manner of Pinheads and Predators and Things, plus plenty of lesser visual effects nightmares...
Note: to save on load times, we've split this over four pages. We're not trying to get you to click lots of times to read the material on the site, but it seemed logical for a list this long.
100. Hungry Beast Alien - TerrorVision (1986)
When the Puttermans, a middle-American family (who may possibly be swingers) buy a new satellite system, things go insane when the dish accidentally beams down a huge gelatinous blob brimming with teeth and dubiously shaped eyes on stalks. The thing is voiced by Megatron himself, Frank Welker.
When the Hungry Beast Alien starts ransacking the local neighbourhood and chomping its way through the family, it’s (as always) up to the teenagers to try and kill off this lump of latex, with the help of an insane grandparent and an Elvira-like late night horror hostess. Sheer 80s madness, the film is full of weird colours and strange sets, and honestly, what sort of ordinary American family has a large mist-filled swimming pool in the middle of their house?
99. Cellar Dweller - Cellar Dweller (1988)
A creature created from the pages of a comic book, this minotaur-like creation is the result of what happens when teens get their hands on ancient magical texts, party too hard and have a little too much imagination. Combining comics and horror as it does, you might have thought this film would have been a little more popular, but seeing it again recently, I can see why it wasn't a major cult hit. There are, however, some good kills, and the monster itself is actually quite impressive, even if it does have a rather rubbery look to it.
98. Ghoulies - Ghoulies (1985)
These gremlin-like monsters are just one of several miniature creatures to star in sci-fi and fantasy films of the 80s. And while the more alien Critters or lamentable Munchies could have made the list it, has to be the Ghoulies that get the credit, just for the fact that one of them comes out of a toilet on the front of the video box, and that FX guru Stan Winston also did the effects.
While not particularly menacing, these demons are summoned by a would-be warlock to show his acolytes the full strength of his black magic power (and to impress the ladies). Although laughable as a horror flick, Ghoulies is great fun, and its special effects, which comprise a mixture of puppets and stop motion, give each mischievous creature a unique look and personality.
97. Sam the Alien - Xtro (1982)
A very early 1980s sci-fi horror film in the same vein as Alien, this is an obscure and very British film, from the full-sized Action Man to the plethora of late 1970s cars. Xtro may be showing its age, but for some reason, it's still surprisingly creepy. This could be because of the slow pace; there's hardly any running, screaming or panicking, even when villagers are being killed by the pus-leaking bad-guy.
Directed as quite a serious sci-fi movie by Harry Bromley Davenport, Xtro missed the horror highs of the late 1970s, but still has that arty quality to it, even though for a time it ended up on the banned video nasty list. Creature-wise, when Sam the main protagonist is finally revealed, the directors and special effects guys try as hard as they can to make an alien that doesn't look like Giger's Alien. The result is a commendable if not completely original piece of prosthetic creature work.
96. Torok the Troll - Troll (1986)
A weird fantasy film that is a little too silly for adults and a little too horrific for kids, Troll is known for three things. Firstly, that the main character is called Harry Potter. Secondly, the inclusion of Rat-Burgers. And finally, for having possibly the worst film ever made as its sequel.
While Troll is really a bit of a mess, that’s not to say the effects are all terrible. Putting aside the table full of puppets and the weird mushroom thing for a minute, the actual Troll creature is actually a superb mix of puppetry and animatronics, and looks like Hoggle from Labyrinth's angry older brother. A forgotten gem, Troll's creature work and effects show you just how much work and passion went into what was essentially a straight-to-video movie.
95. Alien parasites - Slither (2006)
Taking David Cronenberg's Shivers to the next level and well, hillbilly-ing it up, this horror comedy stars everyone’s favourite browncoat Nathan Fillion as he tries to tidy up his town as it's exposed to alien parasites. While the initial monsters are little more than super-fast slugs, when they start latching onto their human hosts, they start mutating. And much to the discomfort of Michael Rooker, start turning into tentacle-based horrors which hark back to the very best oozing horrors and practical effects of the 1980s. A great, silly B-movie throwback, Slither is a fantastic homage to video nasties, and director James Gunn plays the whole thing for fun – even when people are being bloated up to obscene proportions ready to explore with evil alien slugs.
94. Sardo Numspa - The Golden Child (1986)
Another forgotten gem, this film came out when Eddie Murphy was still popular enough not to have to rely on a CG donkey to get a laugh. Based around the kidnap of a Tibetan child who possesses the power of light and goodness, the film has Murphy as a social worker who becomes wrapped up in supernatural battle between good and evil where he has to fight chain-wielding mutants and Charles Dance, who plays the demon.
While for the majority of the film Murphy continually mocks and belittles Dance, his motor-mouth antics finally cease when Numspa is revealed to actually be an impressive-looking winged demon. A great mix of model work, faced-paced editing and a car chase make for an unexpected climax in this forgotten classic.
93 - Tar Man – The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)
The first (but not last) zombie on our list, the Tar-man monster isn’t from Romero’s classic trilogy, but rather from Dan O'Bannon's more light-hearted but still gross-out Return Of The Living Dead. Stuck in a biohazard airtight container, Tar-man is a government experiment gone wrong, and sits there like the undead equivalent of a tin-of sardines until his container is cracked. Once again, this oily monster can chew his way through as many 1980s nubile teens he can get his hands on. Cleverer than your average zombie, and surprisingly fast for a dead thing, this slick dripping mess of a monster is one of the most impressive undead creations ever seen on screen.
92. Talos – Jason And The Argonauts (1963)
How do you give a 100 foot metal statue personality? Well, in Jason And The Argonauts Ray Harryhausen, did just that. When Hercules ‘borrows’ a piece of treasure from the horde of the gods (against the advice of Hylas), he inadvertently activates the treasure trove's guardian, the immense titan, Talos. Based on the Colossus of Rhodes, Talos is probably the most immense creature Harryhausen ever animated, a vast automation who rips apart Jason’s ship as well as squashing a crew member or two.
It’s not just the fluid animation that is spectacular, but also the sound that make the scenes featuring Talos so memorable – from the first screech of metal as he slowly twists his head towards the fleeing Hercules, to the metallic gurgle he gives out when Jason finds its literal Achilles heel, the setting, effects and scale of this beach-located set piece is just perfect.
91. Russell Edgington – True Blood (2008-)
Our first bloodsucker of the list, this monster may well be a surprising choice, but of all villains from the five seasons of True Blood we've seen so far, only Russell (Denis O'Hare) really stands out. A charming, even jovial vampire, the king Mississippi revels in being a vampire, loving every minute of his blood-filled 500 year old existence.
Russell oozes charisma, but is so very dangerous for that fact, with the ability to swap from being the perfect dinner host to a savage, vicious killer in a split second. His monstrousness lies not so much in his being a vampire, as the fact that when ripping you to pieces, he'll be enjoying every single second of it.
90. Hector - Saturn 3 (1980)
From what could have been another ponderous sci-fi movie from the 70s to rival Solaris and Silent Running, Saturn 3 instead goes the Alien route by having the placid homely world of Saturn 3 turned upside down by the arrival of the insane Harvey Keitel. As an evil genius, Keitel's Captain Benson takes his rival's place to go to Saturn 3, where a naked Farrah Fawcett and Kurt Douglas live in a space utopia.
Why Benson wants to go there isn’t really explained, nor is it clear why he constructs for a super-heavyweight killing machine with no head for a companion. While the whole plot and 1970s futuristic utopia is all rather dated, the menacing Hector, who's a demi-god robot designed to replace the crew, has dated pretty well. So well in fact, that he was to a point parodied in Red Dwarf when Kryten's replacement comes aboard but is defeated when he cannot compute the fact of there being no silicon heaven. Whether Hector knew where all the calculators go is unknown, but this cybernetic bruiser would still give the Terminator a run for his money.
89. Rawhead Rex – Rawhead Rex (1986)
A primal ancient god of chaos, Rex is an ancient unstoppable engine of destruction that came courtesy of Clive Barker's warped imagination. While not as impressive visually as it could have been (Barker once described the cinematic Rex as a nine-foot phallus with teeth), Rex is a pagan blood god who rampages through Ireland, killing off villagers and holiday makers, and is only really stopped by the limiting budget of this mid-1980s horror film. While the execution of the creature does not live up to its literary counterpart, this hulking beastie is still quite impressive, being as it is a huge slavering creation whose sole purpose is to destroy and possibly mate with things.
88. Dr Pretorius – From Beyond (1986)
Changing, expanding and updating the HP Lovecraft short story, director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna lead the film into more adult themes of sex and stimulation rather than the quite dry mathematical and scientific theories put across in the original tale.
So with sex and slime being the focus, From Beyond is a sort of mix of Japanese tentacle porn and a low-budget David Cronenberg body horror movie with more prosthetics, goo and transformations that make The Thing look pretty mild in transformative comparison. And while the movie is never going to win any awards for its acting, it's still a benchmark in prosthetics, with some of the creature effects still holding up well today, and the continually shifting nightmare creature that comes From Beyond making for a formidable shape-shifting bad guy.
87. The Bishop of Bath and Wells - Black Adder II (1986)
Okay, he's technically not a monster, but anyone whose full title is The Baby Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells should, by his own confession, be on a list of the top 100 monsters. Added to his toddler nibbling habits, the Bishop (played by Ronald Lacey) is a colossal pervert who would do anything to anything, whether animal vegetable or mineral. When Edmund Blackadder has to repay the debt he unwisely took from the Bishop, it isn’t long before the repugnant clergyman comes calling, red hot poker in hand and wanting his money back - plus interest.
It is only by using a cunning plan, and conning Percy to perform numerous unspeakable acts with a drug-addled Bishop, that Blackadder manages to blackmail the monster into forgetting his debt. So impressed is the Bishop with Blackadder’s guile, underhanded tactics and creative use of blackmailing debauchery, that the bested Bishop admits defeat, wiping the slate clean and even goes so far as to offer Blackadder membership to the clergy...
86. Belial – Basket Case (1982)
Originally not seen until the very end of the movie, Belial is the ‘evil twin’ concept taken to its extreme, and was a suggestion hidden away in an basket rather than an out-and-out monster. But with more of a budget, the sequels saw this monstrous creation fully realised on the screen. Essentially a head with a deformed arm, hand and tentacles, Belial has a certain amount of control over his brother Duane, who he uses to set up his victims so he can extract revenge. While initially a dark horror film with a message, the sequels were a whole lot less serious, silly and over the top, taking things to extremes with early-90s, latex-filled gore and splatter of Basket Case 3: The Progeny.
85. The Gorgon –The Gorgon (1964)
While made on a micro budget by the great British studio Hammer, this gothic horror starring Peter Cushing makes up for its lack of finance by being a tense and tightly-produced film. Not really deserving of its X rating, the teases and petrifying glances of its mystical Greek monster nevertheless lead up to a hideous reveal. Why an ancient mythical Greek titan would take up residence in the crumbling remains of a desolate German castle is anyone’s guess, but all the Hammer trademarks are here: busty maidens, terrified, torch-wielding villagers and, of course, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing adding acting authority to the proceedings.
84. Nanatoo – The Mighty Boosh series 2 (2005)
The first evil grandma ever to appear in a top 100 monsters list, this demon is brought up from the depths of Hell by Vince and Howard as they try to impress some Goth girls by stealing Naboo's book of black magic. The bringer of Nanageddon, Nanatoo is evil incarnate, using her powers over knitting, bingo and summoning other possessed grannies to bring about the end of the world.
Even with the combined help of the board of Shamans, Saboo and Tony Harrison, Nanatoo nearly wins the day, wrapping up our heroes in some satanic scarves, before Naboo eventually saves them and gets the girls.
83. The Unnamable – The Unnamable (1988) and The Unnamable 2 (1993)
Based on a short story by HP Lovecraft, this part fairy, part demon creature appeared in two films in the 80s and 90s. Hidden away in a haunted house, the creature is released by Lovecraft creation Randolph Carter, who finds that the monster is Alyda Winthrop, the daughter of 18th century Lord Joshua, whose family is cursed for dabbling in black magic.
While both films are straight-to-video affairs, the effects and make-up for Alyda are superb, and with the second movie dipping more into the fantasy elements, with the demonic Alyda ensnared by magic and wrapped up in the roots of a tree, these forgotten Lovecraft treats are well worth tracking down.
82. Mahars – At The Earth's Core (1976)
The only Doug McClure production on the list, this mild monster movie from Hammer has our hero teaming up with Peter Cushing to explore a psychedelic jungle filled with, for the most part, lumbering men in unconvincing dinosaur suits, and buxom cave girls. Weirdly colourful, hot and sub-tropical, this completely in-set interpretation of the Earth’s core looks pretty impressive, especially when McClure and Cushing come across the overlords of the world, the vicious part bird, part dinosaur Mahars.
These carnivorous budgies have bat-like wings, snapping beaks and, most impressively, the ability to hypnotize people into becoming their lunch. While the movie was never going to break box-office records, this colourful Saturday afternoon affair is fun, entertaining and everything you can expect from McClure at his very best. And with the added bonus of the Mahars being pretty good monsters, this is one monster movie worth rediscovering.
81. Armus - Star Trek: The Next Generation - Skin Of Evil (1988)
Not so much a monster as an angry oil slick, the incarnation of evil that was Armus was a futuristic muck monster you would not want to mess with. So why does a somewhat inarticulate blob of black goo make the list of top 100 monsters? Well, the reason is that Armus is such a total bad-ass, and for all his inability to move or pop down the shops, he can certainly dish out the pain and evil.
While not the best Star Trek episode ever, Skin Of Evil is remembered for one thing: the fact that Armus quite calmly kills off security chief Tasha Yar, swatting her aside casually, and then spends the rest of the episode gloating about it. He's not as terrifying as some other creatures on the list, but Armus' attitude, and the sheer amount of time he spends mocking Deanna Troi about what he did (and that she can't do anything about it) surely justifies his place the list. A bad attitude and the willingness to casually kill unlikeable Star Trek characters is reason enough.
80. Creeper – Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Why would a winged monster would find it necessary to drive a truck - and for that matter, how would he get a driver's licence? Once you get over the silliness of this and down to the actual creature design, the Creeper is a winged nightmare with a tendency to pick you apart. Just don’t let him near your eyes.
79. Zelda – Terrahawks (1983-1986)
Part puppet, part nightmare granny from hell, the bane of Doctor "Tiger" Ninestein and his Terrahawk crew was an insane cackling presence on Saturday mornings. While not physically imposing, this android from the planet Guk is an insane scheming harridan who sends wave after wave of monsters to try to conquer the Earth. While her plans are the not the most ingenious, and her Earth-conquering aspirations are always thwarted, this evil OAP is one of Gerry Anderson's most memorably villainous creations.
78. Aquatic alien – The Faculty (1998)
This forgotten mid-90s monster movie is notable for a few things, such as Elijah Wood's portrayal of a high school geek and a cameo from Harry Knowles, but also its updated take on Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. This homage is obvious, and even noted in the film, which see a high school slowly infected by an alien presence, prompting a game of Guess Who to find out who has been ‘taken’ and who hasn’t.
With some superb twists, this all slowly comes to a climax with a fantastic showdown in a school swimming pool where the monster, in its aquatic element, taunts and teases our would-be Hobbit, but the quick-thinking Wood literally brings the house down on the slimy menace.
77. Angel of Death – Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
With Hellboy’s life hanging in the balance, Liz and the rest of the BPRD plough their way through the bowls of Ireland trying to stop the rise of the Golden Army. There, they encounter this hideous creature, who will repair the damage inflicted on Big Red by Prince Nuada - but at a price. And while that price is never revealed, we are shown evidence that one day Hellboy will take a stand against humanity, and that with Liz saving him there and then, she may well have doomed everyone.
Like most of Guillermo del Toro's creatures, the Angel of Death is brought to life by a mixture of expert performance (courtesy of Doug Jones) and some stunning prosthetic effects. The results are both hideous and beautiful.
76. Peloquin – Nightbreed (1990)
One of the nightmare creatures that inhabit the labyrinthine passageways of the mythical city of Midian, Peloquin (Oliver Parker) is part vampire, part wise-cracking Rastafarian. More a guard-dog who loves to fight than some of the more exotic and mysterious citizens of Clive Barker's flawed but creature-filled 90s horror movie, Peloquin is a warrior creature etched in ancient symbols and runes. While not on screen as much as he should be, he's one of the most iconic and memorable monsters in the movie, and a stand out from the menagerie of creatures highlighted elsewhere.