Earlier this week I dropped my Top 7 Horror Movie Villains on you, distinguishing them from the baddies that follow below by stating that at one time they had been or are human.
The entries below have never been human. They’re straight up monsters, aliens, entities, and even animals. Their lack of humanity often makes them all the more scary, though there is certainly an argument to be made for the very opposite thought.
Here are my Top 7 Horror Movie Monsters!
The Entity – It Follows
Many of you may not have even heard of this film, but it is so, so good and you need to go watch it now. The “entity” (I can’t recall if it is actually named in the movie) is sort of a sexually transmitted haunting. If you have sex with the person it is after, it is now after you until you pass it along to someone else. And it sort of has this Michael Myers quality to it in that it is always in pursuit but it only ever walks steadily. So it can be outpaced but it cannot be lost or deterred.
Seems like an easy monster to avoid, yeah? Just have sex with someone and you’re free! But could you do it? Could you knowingly put someone in the path of the murderous entity? Oh, and by the way, should the entity catch and kill the person you passed it on to, it resumes pursuing you. So you may never be safe.
There are some really interesting themes surrounding the narrative of the film, too. You can watch it for the scares alone and enjoy it plenty on that level, but it is also widely open to any number of interpretations that might open up the commentary for you. It is a wickedly smart horror movie and one of my favorite from the last decade.
Xenomorph – Alien franchise
This thing’s very lifecycle is the stuff of nightmares: A face hugger emerges from an egg and latches on to your face to deposit an embryo that later bursts forth from your chest and mature into what you see pictured on the right.
And it isn’t friendly.
The xenomorph is pure nightmare fuel from the top of its oblong head to the tip of its slashing tail. Oh, and if its bared teeth isn’t enough to scare you – don’t worry, there’s more!
The greatest testament to the xenomorph’s scare factor is its longevity. Its immediate sequel, Aliens, is fantastic and its third and fourth installments, while not fantastic, fair far better than most franchises that carry on for that number of films. And that’s not to mention the crossover movies its had with Predator (which are fun but mediocre).
The Thing – The Thing (1982, not that 2011 poser)
The alien life form in John Carpenter’s The Thing remains one of my favorite horror movie monsters of all time because it works on so many levels. Yes, its definitely got the gory, abnormal, malevolent thing going for it, but it also has a shapeshifting ability that prevents you from knowing which of your friends it has replaced.
The paranoia and tension generated by this creature is nearly unrivaled in cinema in my opinion. With most of the other villains on this list (excluding the T-1000), you know when you’re looking at it. But this thing could be your dog or your best friend and you wouldn’t even know it…until it was too late.
“Bruce” – Jaws
Jaws works extremely well because it is based on reality. While normal great white sharks are not likely to harass a boat with quite the tenacity that Bruce did The Orca (at least not for such a sustained period of time), they can indeed be 25 feet long – or very near it. And they’ve got a proven history of sinking their teeth into man.
It is no accident that the movie is said to have scared a generation out of the water. After watching a professional fisherman, a marine biologist, and a sharp-shooting sheriff fail to assert themselves over this beast for over two hours, how do you walk away and think you’ll fare any better?
And sharks always seem to roll a higher initiative than humans, don’t they? I mean, if we knew they were nearby and could get an action or movement off before their Surprise Round, we’d be fine. We’d Dash out of the water and fear them from a distance (even from the safety of dry land!). But our fears are amplified by the fact that we just aren’t sure where they are or when they’ll strike, so we ignore them until they’re literally biting us in the butt.
T-1000 – Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The T-800 was scary enough, but Terminator 2: Judgement Day amped up the fear factor with the introduction of the liquid metal T-1000.
It has next level infiltration abilities and is a walking weapon that is programmed to seek and destroy you. Programmed, guys. Its all he knows and its all he’s ever going to do.
Bullets pass right through him, he passes right through barriers, and he can reassemble himself after what appears to be his complete destruction. The T-1000 is so scary that they brought it back in Genisys.
Listen, without the aid of the T-800 (Schwarzenneger’s model) John and Sarah Connor wouldn’t have even known what killed them. He’d have easily gotten close and done the deed were it not for that meddling T-800.
Do you have a fancy (even if outdated) cyborg assassin friend that’s gonna point this thing out to you and help you take it down? No? Nice knowing you, then.
Velociraptors – Jurassic Park
The T-rex was undoubtedly scary, but the Velociraptors completely steal the show in the first Jurassic Park movie. They are the ninjas of the dinosaur world. The movie invests a great deal of time hyping up their fright factor:
- The cow that gets lowered and, in short order, completely decimated by them.
- Muldoon’s eery explanation of their intelligence (testing the fences).
- Capable of running 50-60mph (for reference: Usain Bolt hits about 30mph).
- When the power goes out, Muldoon’s first question is, “The raptor fences aren’t out, are they?”
That’s right: There’s the risk of a T-Rex getting out of its cage too, but Muldoon is way more afraid of the Raptors. And rightfully so. The scene in the kitchen is as scary as it gets. I mean, they open a freakin’ door to get in there!
The Raptors feature prominently in every single one of the Jurassic Park movies as people killers. Not even the T-Rex can lay claim to that particular accolade.
Merman – Cabin in the Woods
I couldn’t help but include this guy on my list. I’ll confess that it isn’t so much that he is scary as it is that he is subtly built up and forgotten until his big reveal, and the payoff is golden. He’s onscreen for less than 60 seconds I’d bet, but he totally steals the show in my opinion. I’ve never been more satisfied by the sight of a monster than by this guy right here.
Plus the movie he’s wrapped in (Cabin in the Woods) easily ranks among my favorite horror movies of all time.
Between this list and the last one, I’ve given you plenty of leads to keep you busy this week and well beyond it. Here’s hoping that come this time next year I’ll be able to add some new faces and franchises to my list of favorites. I hear Don’t Breathe is pretty great…
And of course my list probably looks very different from yours because horror is very subjective! I personally think it also has to do with timing. For instance, I watched It as an adult so Pennywise never phased me. But I know a bunch of people who watched him as a young child that had the pants scared right off of them!
So who do you think should rank among the scariest (not necessarily the most iconic!) movie monsters of all time that you don’t see represented above? Let us know in the comments!
Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth is not responsible for any nightmares incurred upon watching any of the movies represented on either of these lists.