Top 12 Scariest Movie Monsters

Monster movies have always been one of the most popular type of horror film, beloved by genre lovers from all cultures. We horror fans love to watch a bunch of one-dimensional characters get mauled by emotionless, otherworldly creatures. Monsters are inhuman – there’s no reasoning with them. They feel no sympathy, remorse or guilt. Monsters have physiologies that we cannot relate to, even if they still look human on the outside, and they live and die by special rules that we may not always know, so fighting them can be sketchy at best and deadly at worst. They creep, they crawl and they infect. They can be microscopic, as big as house or even invisible.

Worst of all, they can’t be talked down, made to feel guilty or tricked emotionally in any way. If you don’t happen to have a shotgun or a machete on you, let’s hope you can at least outrun the guy behind you. After much thought and deliberation (there are a lot of monsters out there!), PopHorror has come up with a list of the top 12 movie monsters and why they’re so freaking scary.

12. Godzilla/Gojira from Godzilla (1954)

One of the most famous movie monsters of all time, Godzilla has been stomping his way across Tokyo and our hearts since 1954. Everyone loved dinosaurs as a kid, and what does Godzilla look like more than a giant dinosaur? Plus, he stomps the shit out of everything in his path. He doesn’t wait in line. He doesn’t get stuck in traffic. He just goes anywhere his reptilian heart desires. Who doesn’t want that power?

11. Gage from Pet Sematary (1989)

He still looks and sounds like the sweet little boy we all grew to love over the first half of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, but after a visit to an old Native American burial ground, 3-year-old Gage is slashing people left and right, including his own mother. The only way to stop him is to kill him. Is there a soul alive who could heartlessly take out a cute, blonde toddler who says he only wants to play? He is pretty handy with that scalpel. Besides, it’s not like poor Gage buried himself in the pet cemetery. He can’t help being a revenant who’s full of murderous rage.

10. David Kessler’s werewolf from American Werewolf in London (1981)

The idea of losing control is terrifying. Things like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy can eat away at you from the inside out and turn you into an unrecognizable horror. How would you handle it if you lost control of your mind and body? Poor David was trying to be the good guy by saving his friend from a grisly fate and look what happened to him – and look we do. David’s transformation in American Werewolf in London is one of the most thought out and painstakingly done scenes ever in a werewolf movie, even though his time on screen as the wolf was short lived. Just imagining your own body going through that on a monthly basis is enough to make you run screaming into the night at the sound of even the quietest growl heard during a full moon.

9. Christine from Christine (1983)

Anyone who has ever worked on a classic car engine has thought about how much it would hurt for their soft, tender flesh to be ground up in the metal teeth of such a monstrous mechanism. On the other hand, sitting behind the controls of such a machine would give you a feeling of power like no other. The roaring exhaust, the grinding gears and the bone crushing tires, all yours to control at the turn of a key, and woe to anyone that gets in your way. Not only did Christine restore herself, but she also turned Arnie, the geekiest kid in school, into the coolest guy in class in a matter of weeks. So what if a little bully bloodshed was needed from time to time?

8. The Poltergeist from Poltergeist (1984)

It’s invisible, powerful and pissed off at being disturbed. You have no idea where it’s hiding or what violent tactic it will take next. A poltergeist is born from upheaval and violence – in this case, the death of an entire church of woebegone parishioners and an insane, megalomaniacal preacher who let them all die. Unlike other ghosts, this one can leave the house where it resides and follow a person anywhere. It doesn’t go after the sex crazed, drunk teenagers, either. A plain old American family will do, especially that blue eyed, blonde innocent Carol Ann. Who didn’t want to save poor Carol Ann?

7. Zombies from Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Let’s face it – everybody dies. One day, we will all be stinking, rotting worm food buried deep underground. You can’t outrun it and you can’t outsmart it. As if this idea isn’t bad enough, if you were to become a zombie, your putrid, disintegrating corpse would not only still be walking around, scaring the hell out of your family members, but you would also be consumed by an unquenchable hunger that can never be satisfied, a feeling so powerful that all human thought is pushed out of your head until only the animalistic instincts of eating are left.

Of course, if you manage to stay uninfected, you not only have to survive everyday life, but you also have to watch as, one by one, every person you’ve ever known is turned into a mindless flesh hunter. Your siblings, your friends, your spouse… no one is safe from being turned into the walking undead. Even your mom, who once cooked your favorite meal on your birthday and helped you fill out Valentine’s Day cards when you were in second grade, is now an unreasonable, gnawing monster who will not tire, cannot plan ahead and has no choice but to keep trying to tear your flesh from your bones and pass on her infection. It’s just a matter of time before she and her friends are numerous enough to finally knock down your barricaded front door.

6. The Midianites from Nightbreed (1990)

When we dream of monsters, what’s the image that comes to mind first? We imagine disfigured faces and bodies, hooked claws and razor sharp teeth… all physical traits that could do a number on us at the slightest provocation. What if the real monster is the man standing next to you in the three-piece suit who just might be hiding a filet knife beneath the folds of his coat? The people of Midian were, on the surface, very different from the people we are used to seeing. From the gill-faced Lylesburg to the scalped Narcisse to the porcupine woman Shuna Sassi to the moonfaced Kinski, these people were hard on the eyes but only wanted to live their lives in peace. It was the average looking yet psychotic Dr. Decker that wreaked havoc, first blaming his own murders on the innocent Boone and then bringing death and destruction to the town under the cemetery where the Midianites lived. Don’t judge a book by its cover indeed.

5. The shark from Jaws (1975)

While humans may be the rulers on land, 3/4 of the earth is covered by water. Beneath the waves, we cannot survive without special equipment, and even then we’re slow and almost blind. Yet there are creatures that live – albeit thrive – in those watery conditions. When we decide to trade the safety of land for the unknown dangers of what’s hidden beneath the water, we give ourselves over to the mercy of the murky depths where anything could be lying in wait for a tasty snack. Not only was the monster in Jaws a 25-foot great white shark, the up-close-and-personal view of his giant head breeching the water for Sheriff Brody’s chum gave us a good look at the hand sized, razor sharp teeth that could easily chomp a hole in the boat’s hull, leaving the Sheriff and his men completely defenseless in the water. So when that very thing does happen, we’re terrified (although not really surprised) when the beast swallows shark hunter Quint in one bite. Even after the Sheriff blew the shark up into food for all of the smaller fish in the ocean and he and Hooper swam home on a piece of wreckage, we can only wonder what else is swimming around beneath their kicking feet.

4. The vampires from 30 Days of Night (2007)

There are a lot of vampire movies out there. The character of Count Dracula alone has been set to film over 80 times so far. While the Count is suave, seductive and sexy, we personally prefer a different sort of bloodsucker. The pale, black-eyed, animalistic vamps from 30 Days of Night are by far the scariest creatures ever to gnaw a vein on film. Although they’re in Alaska in the depths of winter, they’re not slowed down by the 40 below freezing temps. They rip and tear with abandon. They walk down the middle of the street, having no fear or desire to hide from the humans that they are hunting.

To them, the people of Barrow, Alaska are cattle, just waiting to be herded to the slaughter. Reasoning with them is like trying to reason with a snake. The opposite of the people from Midian, these creatures look relatively human on the outside, but their reptile brains control only the basic of animalistic urges – food and survival. When your most effective weapon goes away for 30 days straight, these guys are set up for a month long all-you-can-eat buffet and you’re the main course.

3. The alien from The Thing (1982)

Along with vampires, there are countless movies out there about extraterrestrials. There are aliens who stay in space until we bring them home, aliens who secretly come to earth and aliens who start blowing shit up the second they arrive in our atmosphere. The alien from The Thing not only snuck onto the planet, but once it was here, stayed alive in a frozen chunk of ice. Once it was thawed, it was able to hide inside its mammalian host until threatened or wanted to outright attack. The infected looked and sounded exactly like the original people, making the Thing nearly impossible to identify by sight alone.

Noticing something is off about one of your loved ones may make you feel paranoid or even that you’re suffering from Capgras delusions, but what if you’re right? What if your friends are aliens in disguise, ready to chomp your hands off or whip tentacle-like appendages at you at the slightest provocation? What if everyone around you are mindless Things who only want to fly under the radar until they can take over the entire world? Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.

2. Brundlefly from The Fly (1986)

Mad scientists are a dime a dozen. Most of them – with a few exceptions – coldly attempt their experiments on others and sit back, waiting to see if their hypothesis is proven. On the other hand, Seth Brundle reacts purely on emotion when he decides to teleport himself and a common household fly with his barely tested Telepod device, and it’s this emotional reaction that captivates us as we watch Brundle’s mutation from human to the human/housefly hybrid that he calls the Brundlefly. At first excited by his newfound strength and stamina, we cheer Brundle on, happy for his sudden superhuman powers. It is also these emotions that provoke both horror and sympathy in us as we imagine ourselves falling apart and twisting back together in painful, disgusting ways. We’re nauseated and horrified when we realize how he has to eat his food yet sympathetic to his pleas to Veronica to keep their baby. As Brundle begs Veronica to put him out of his misery, we feel as much at a loss as she does.

1. The devil/Pazuzu from The Exorcist (1973)

The most ruthless monster of all, the devil himself sits at the top of our list. Not only can he pass undetected into a person’s body, but he gets there through one of the most innocuous ways ever – through a child’s board game. Young Reagan was a sweet, precocious pre-teen that, out of boredom, found a Ouija board in her and her mother’s rented house and began to talk to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Captain Howdy. It all started off so innocently. She wasn’t a bad girl, blindly reading from the Necronomicon or ignoring the warnings of an old gas station attendant. She only played a game. Unfortunately, this was all the devil needed to get inside her and begin to tear her apart, physically, emotionally and mentally. To make things worse, the priests that tried to help her only provided her with more suffering as the devil tortured the girl from the inside. Once he took control of her, she had to go through Hell or high water – literally – to get him out. Of course, it wasn’t so cut and dry as casting the devil out of the girl – he needed a place to send it. No one won this battle.


There you have it – PopHorror’s top 12 scariest movie monsters. Who’s your favorite? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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