Creepy Countdown: The scariest monsters in horror
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Horror films exist for a very specific reason: to tap into people’s nightmares and fear of the unknown and play them out in front of them. Monsters, however fictional they are, have always been at the backbone of the genre, providing some of the most iconic and memorable moments in cinema. For this Halloween, we’re taking a look at some of the scariest movie monsters that horror has to offer, to make your Tuesday night truly terrifying. Prepare yourself, because it’s not going to be pretty. The alien parasite in The Thing (1982) The Thing isn’t hailed as one of the most iconic horrors of all time for no reason. Hellish gore and intense paranoia shared by both characters and audience alike are just a few of the ingredients that give it its power, as it follows a crew of men trapped in an Antarctic research station with a parasitic alien creature that has the ability to take the appearance of anyone it absorbs. It’s difficult to decide what’s more terrifying about the alien: when it mutilates and transforms into various members of the crew, or when it does nothing at all, hiding in plain sight as one of the crew. It’s as scary in metamorphic appearance as it is in essence, while the special effects are seriously disturbing and continue to hold up remarkably well. The ‘Infected’ in 28 Days Later (2002) Within two years of each other British cinema gave us two very different scenarios as to what would happen to our society should it fall to a zombie apocalypse. The first was Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, then, as if in response, there was Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. The latter makes frequent jokes at one of the most obvious pitfalls of the zombie genre: how do you make them scary when they’re so slow? Screenwriter Alex Garland had a solution - make them fast! Yes, the zombies in 28 Days Later along with its sequel not only have the ability to render you a raging, murderous monster with no goal but to attack those who aren’t yet infected, but they can also do so at a frighteningly fast speed. Boyle specifically cast athletes to play the Infected, so unless you've been keeping up a pretty intense workout routine lately, your chances of survival in such a scenario are pretty bleak.
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Pan’s Labyrinth plays as a (very) dark fairy tale, so of course the inclusion of a monster goes without saying. No one, however, could have been prepared for the petrifying nightmare fuel that is The Pale Man. A nauseatingly grotesque humanoid creature with saggy, pale skin and eyes that are seen from his hands rather than his head, he’s pretty horrifying to look at it. But that’s not even the worst of it. The Pale Man likes to eat children, and his soulless lack of humanity make the witch from Hansel and Gretel look like Mary Berry. Since our protagonist Ofelia is a child - and because it’s Guillermo Del Toro - his brief appearance within the story is naturally its most agonising, and its most unforgettable. The baby in Eraserhead (1977)
How upsetting is that to look at? David Lynch is renowned for his surrealist imagery but this is easily his most horror-oriented creation, crossing over into the gore of body horror. Is it a puppet? A skinned rabbit or lamb fetus? We'll never truly know. Lynch isn't a fan of discussing his work's meanings, instead preferring to leave it completely up to the audience's own interpretations. Some have theorised it to be a metaphor for the fear of fatherhood, and, Lynch’s own artistic vision aside, it does create an extremely uncanny feeling of dread and discomfort in a symbol that most would associate with joy and blessing. The most Lynch has ever really given in terms of the origins of the deformed infant is that "it was born nearby," or "maybe it was found”. His savvy for using fear of the unknown over concrete graphic detail only adds to the discomfort of it all. The Xenomorph in Alien (1979) Alien is a slow film to get into at the beginning, but it’s best to enjoy the safety of it all while you can. All sense of it disappears forever once the Facehugger arrives. Later on is the chestburster, the film’s most famous moment not only for its technical power and unostentatiousness, but also for the fact that the actor’s reactions are all genuine: none of them had any idea what was about to happen. They were as fearful as the audience, and in turn the audience feels their characters’ unbearably realistic sense of claustrophobia and panic as the film goes on. The alien grows ridiculously fast, managing to reach its full adult stage just in time to up the stakes drastically for the final act. Brundlefly in The Fly (1986) The way David Cronenberg depicts disease in his remake of the 1958 classic is ultra-hard to stomach (one person allegedly vomited during an early screening), but that’s what makes it so iconic. The Fly tells of eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (played by eccentric actor Jeff Goldblum) who, after one of his experiments goes awry, slowly starts to turn into a humanoid fly-hybrid creature. The thought alone should be enough to make you feel ill, but if not then the makeup they use on Goldblum will. Brundle’s decay into the monster he calls ‘Brundlefly’ is as tragic as it is gory, with its sickening visuals enough to haunt your mind for some time.