There are some things in life which endure decades, which keep cropping up in the most unlikely of places and conversations simply through sheer indelible characteristics. They might not attest to the greatness of the subject concerned, but these things have made it to the hall of fame because they stand out – for better or for worse.
It was on this note that, while seated around a low table enjoying a few Friday drinks, that a friend noted how even movies for example are sometimes remembered not because of how great the cinematography was or how gripping the storyline was – but how bizarre some elements from it were. This spun-off at a tangent when someone pointed at an old Dracula movie poster on the wall and we were quickly listing off our favourite, weird, sometimes scary, sometimes hilarious (though not intentionally) monsters which had one thing in common – they were timeless.*
- The Pale man from Pan’s Labyrinth
Source: Villains Wiki
Pan’s Labyrinth is a masterpiece from start to finish. Set against the backdrop of the Spanish civil war, the movie is dark, a grey and blue stylised picture of the horrors lived under the fear of General Franco. A young girl finds respite in a parallel world made up of fantastical creatures, amongst which the most noticeable is the Pale Man, a nightmarish creature of sagging white skin, eyeballs on the palms of his hands and a mouth which, we are sure, is a path for hell. When he gives chase, a slow and deadly drag, the audience holds its breath.
- The Wolf Man
“His howl is a dirge of death”, or so the opening credits declare at the beginning of this 1941 horror movie which influenced Hollywood’s depiction of the monster for years to come. The movie (whose working title was Destiny) is a rather sad one, with the Wolf Man being bitten by a werewolf in an attempt to save a damsel in distress. He then proceeds to transform into a werewolf himself, thus becoming the new Wolf Man. He only has vague recollections of being one and is subsequently bludgeoned to death by his own father who despairs when he sees the wolf transform back into his dead son. Always relevant, the Wolf Man has since then made countless appearances, both on the big and the small screen.
Just like Dracula before it, Frankenstein is a household name which has endured for years and has inspired countless spin-offs, from funny cameos in movies to comics, RPG games, themed rides, online games set in Frankenstein’s dungeon, merchandise of every sort – even underwear (not that we would know, of course). And we can bet that you either dressed as Frankenstein once or at least know someone who did. Not the first adaptation, the 1931 classic depicting an experiment by Dr Frankenstein which goes terribly wrong, is an icon today. This is perhaps due to the effect it had on audiences at the time, reaching a new “peak” for horror movies, compared to which everything else felt tame. It is safe to say that “It is alive!” to this present day.
- The Angel of Death in Hellboy
A monster worthy of a monument. The Angel of Death in Hellboy was inspired by a painting in a Spanish church, where angels had eyes on every feather. The director of Hellboy (Guillermo del Toro, incidentally the same director of Pan’s Labyrinth), is renowned for the creation of mythical beasts and this Gothic creature from the Underworld is surely one of his best yet (although, The Shape of Water promises to be just as insanely wicked).
- The Mummy
And we’re not talking about all the remakes ever made until now, including this year’s rather forced remake, which we loved and hated in no equal measure. We’re talking about the original 1932 movie, shot in the wake of Dracula and The Mummy. The audience was hungry for horrors so Hollywood obliged, giving them The Mummy. Once a priest, buried alive for trying to resurrect his dead lover, Imhotep is given life once more when an ancient scroll is read. It was an immediate hit.
- Clover from Cloverfield
Source: Spacebattles Forum
Aliens meets Blair Witch meets Apocalypse. It is definitely due to the overall great cinematic effect of the movie, the right setting of the mood and believable actors, which helped this monster survive in our minds, given that it only appears for mere seconds at one go.
- The Creature from the Black Lagoon
A classic in its own right, the movie was received well, partly due to the great filming of underwater sequences. The creature turns deadly when it is attacked but is also intrigued by the beautiful Kay who is part of the geology expedition, which might – by the stretch of the imagination – give good qualities to the beast, through his appreciation of beauty. This underwater creature was inspired by the Oscar statuette as, director Jack Arnold states, it would have looked exactly like the creature they were trying to get, if only they put fins, scales and a gilled head.
For many years when I was younger, every monster to me was “Godzilla”, like it had replaced the word in the dictionary. That only goes to show how much this monster has made it into popular culture. Far from the stomping model of the first movie in 1954, Godzilla evolved in this city-smashing mummy monster, hell-bent on protecting her young so they might hatch and pretty much make New York their final address. It haunted my entire nineties.
- Crawlers from The Descent
Subterranean humanoids which make your skin prickle, crawlers hone in on their prey very much like bats – they emit echoes which bounce off walls, like a biological sonar. In The Descent, a fun spelunking activity turns into a nightmarish ordeal for a group of girls who are trapped in subterranean caves, with no way out. Fun.
The list wore on but the main sensations they evoked were all common: spine-tingling sensations, in-controllable shivers, eyes shut tightly against what you know, will be the scare which will age you at least 5 years. But man will always love horror movies and horror movies will keep on coming, whether they’re received well or not. It might be because we love the scare every once in a while or maybe it’s because it appeals to a darker side we all have somewhere, buried deep within.