5. THE ALIEN – Alien
From the moment this Alien is conceived by means of an alien face-plant and after its chest popping birth in Ripley Scott’s Sci-fi horror masterpiece, The Alien in the movie Alien, has become one of the most recognizable horror monsters of all time. From its stealth movements, long curving head and saliva pouring mouth, this monster has made movie-goers cringe for decades.
I place The Alien at number 5 because no other sci-fi horror monster comes close to magnitude and terror they have caused. The film sequels were highly successful and launched this unhuman being into classic status within the horror and sci-fi genres of film.
4. FREDDY KREUGER – Nightmare on Elm St.
Since, both Michael Myers and Leatherface are both human, you won’t see them on this list. But out of the two highly successful slasher-film monsters, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kreuger, I had to choose the one that still makes me shutter with fear at his very sight.
Nightmare on Elm St. gave us one of horrors most iconic figures in Freddy Kreuger. Born out of the mind of Wes Craven, who claims he was inspired to create Kreuger from an experience as a boy looking out his window and seeing a man in a stripped sweater and fedora peering through his garbage that gave him nightmares, Kreuger has given plenty of nightmares to movie-goers for years now. Which, when you think about it, having a nightmare about Kreuger (seeing that he kills people in their dreams) is a terrifying experience. Despite the more comedic turn he took over the years, no one can disregard this burnt, knife wheeling monster his iconic status.
3. ZOMBIES (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, etc.)
Scene from Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead Since Romero introduced us to these flesh eating beings, Zombies became part of the horror genre. Constantly, movies about these trance walking duds with infinite appetites for human flesh are being made on film.
Recently the success of 28 Days Later and horror-comedies Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, have put zombies back on the map. Personally, I don’t find zombies very frightening, but their cult-like status in the genre most be rewarded. The original zombie films by Romero will continue to be the scariest, but new filmmakers are finding more and more ways to revive this cult icon.
2. FRANKESTEIN’S MONSTER (KARLOFF)/DRACULA (LUGOSI)
We can argue that all the Universal Monsters from the 1930’s and 1940’s should be on this list, but Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s Monster and Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, are two of the most recognizable movie monsters of all time. Both of these monsters terrified audiences in 1931, giving birth to the main stream era of horror films. Lugosi’s powerful stare and Karloff’s incredible make-up made them instant symbols of horror movies. Their success gave birth to Universal Studios’ other monsters, like Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man and Karloff’s return to screen as the Mummy. An adaptation of H.G. Well’s “The Invisible Man” continued Universal’s rise. But both Karloff and Lugosi will forever remain the symbols of these iconic literary figures. The success of The Bride of Frankenstein only made Karloff and the Universal Monsters even more successful.
Today neither of these monsters seem all that scary. But taken in the context of the times they were released, these two monsters were at the top of the world – scaring audiences everywhere. They may not be accurate adaptations of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” but they have now become our first image of these fabled creatures.
1 BRUCE THE SHARK – JAWS
No other monster has continued to terrify us more than Bruce (bet you didn’t know that is what he was called on set). Spielberg’s Jaws, an adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel of the same title, became a world-wide phenomenon in the summer of 1975. Although the movie is anything but the traditional dark, ominous horror films that are a staple of the genre, this bright, sunny classic made more people scream than ever before.
Till this day, people who see this film are afraid of going into the ocean. Admit it, that even today when you are wading through the murky shores of the Jersey shore or Martha’s Vineyard or wherever you may be, that you think about Bruce pulling you under and tearing you limb from limb. Let’s face it, shark attacks are real, despite the fact that something the size of Bruce with the mindset of solely eating humans probably doesn’t exist, a shark bite can still happen – and still do.
No matter what genre you put Jaws in, it is still one of my all-time favorite films. Spielberg’s ability to create a peachy, warm and sunny beach town with a horrifying monster lurking in it is a pure cinematic masterpiece. Over 30 years later no other shark movie has had the impact that Jaws has had. The other monsters on our list may scare us and may be unforgettable, but none of them can continue to scare movie-goers like the 25-foot great white shark named Bruce.
Honorable Mentions: Pinhead, The Candyman, Chucky, and Pennywise the Clown.
If you object to any of my picks please let me know. I love getting feedback as everyone will have a different interpretation of the best horror monsters. If you have your own lists of the 5 Greatest Horror Monsters please feel free to post them in your comment.
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