They elicited screams of terror in movie theatres and sparked millions of nightmares worldwide – now a new poll is paying tribute to the scariest movie monsters ever.
Readers of British magazine Radio Times have voted to select the 10 greatest characters to ever terrorise the silver screen.
The list is an eclectic one, comprised of creepy dolls, vampires, aliens and sharks, proving that when it comes to creepy Hollywood creatures, a lack of creativity is the least of your worries.
Warning: this list could cause serious heebie jeebies.
An already creepy doll is inhabited by the spirit of a serial killer – what could possibly go wrong? A lot, apparently. In the 1988 horror flick Child’s Play, the scar-faced children’s toy goes on a killing rampage, ruining the reputation of dolls everywhere.
J.K. Rowling’s masterful description of the soul-sucking guards of Azkaban Prison were terrifying enough in book form. When Harry Potter hit the big screen, however, they became even creepier. Drifting through the skies in flocks, they brought icy temperatures and fear to the otherwise cheery Hogwarts.
8. Pale Man
The 2010 Spanish film Pan’s Labyrinth was notable for a number of reasons, but none of them more visually arresting than the man with eyes in his hands. Guillermo del Toro’s imaginative apparition represents the violence of the real world in a creative and arresting manner, earning extra points for meaning in the madness.
The Japanese “daikaiju” has been revisited several times throughout cinema history, appearing first in the 1954 original and most recently in the CGI-laden 2014 remake. The image of the giant lizard looming over a cityscape continues to encourage a kind of universal, visceral fear rarely found in the horror flicks of today.
Often copied but never quite replicated, Bela Lugosi’s interpretation of the cloaked vampire in 1931 has endured as something truly genre-defining. Forget the pansy-livered lovers in Twilight, this bloodsucker knew how to terrorise with aplomb.
You could be forgiven for giving up swimming after seeing the 1975 classic that sparked a spate of beach phobias. The malfunctioning mechanical shark used was famously difficult to work with, an issue that prompted a stroke of brilliance on the part of director Steven Spielberg, who realised what people truly fear is the unknown. With menacing music and murky underwater shots, Spielberg created an atmosphere of terror that was far bigger than the monster it centred on.
4. Freddy Krueger
The child-hunting, clawed villain of 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street has appeared in countless movies and incarnations since his horrifying debut. With his lopsided hat and gnarled face, Wes Craven’s creation was a true horror movie original. “One, two Freddie’s coming for you…” can still elicit groans of terror today.
3. The Thing
A shapeshifting creature that assumes the appearance of those it kills? Aw, geez. In the 1982 remake of the 1950s original, The Thing appeared in all of its gooey, gnarly-toothed glory with the help of the special effects legend Rob Bottin. Memorably disgusting.
2. Skeleton Army
The bony army from 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts was impressive for its time and, despite somewhat lacking in the benefit of modern special effects, still somehwta terrifying. The ghoulish soldiers appeared in a group of seven to take on the film’s hero, Jason, and ended up destroying each other to the relief of creeped-out moviegoers everywhere.
The gif above speaks for itself, but it’s fairly clear why the evil alien from the 1979 movie of the same name has topped the list. Providing possibly the most nauseating scene in movie history (RIP, John Hurt’s chest) and material for several remakes, it’s hard to tear your eyes away from it.