Author Guest Post: Christopher Carton
5 Movie Monsters to Haunt Your Halloween!
It’s that time of year where those partial to the delights of horror usually ramp up their intake of the frightfully macabre, and those less inclined towards all things jumpy and terrifying attempt to dip a toe into the world of fear-filled media.
Iconic horror films can take many forms. Some viewers are creeped out by the shifting shapes and creaking floorboards of Paranormal Activity, others find the stalking menace of Jason Voorhees and other slashers disturbing and thrilling in equal measure. Classic monsters, abominations of unnatural makings, have preyed on audience members’ fears for over a century. Demons, vampires, the undead and other cursed creatures bring the dread, blood and screams like no other cinematic threats.
In order to bring an otherworldly aura to your October movie marathons, here are five of the most terrifying and unique creatures to ever grace the silver screen.
Ridley Scott’s original 1979 classic, Alien, brought an extra-terrestrial menace to the big screen in a science-fiction horror masterpiece. The film is a seminal piece of cinema, introducing a beast unlike any other. Aboard the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and crew find themselves fighting for survival against a deadly creature that picks them off one by one.
Based on drawings by controversial and influential artist H.R. Giger, the alien is unnerving and deadly, with its elongated, phallic head baring deadly teeth and seeming to lack any optical organs. It’s nevertheless an impeccable hunter, crawling and walking about on claws with speed and agility, and procreating using living hosts for its spider-like facehuggers to impregnate. The results of the birthing process have led to some of the most graphic scenes in the long-running film series, and are sure to have viewers watching with gritted teeth.
While the early movies in the series deftly mix action and horror, later films, such as the prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, have brought in heavier themes of existentialism while still delivering terrifying space operas filled with inventive creature design and stomach-turning body horror. The xenomorph is an essential movie monster.
The malformed monster is summoned throughout this cult film series as a “vengeance demon”, a hellish killer that exacts revenge on unsuspecting people who’ve wronged others. Part supernatural menace, part modern slasher, Pumpkinhead is a classic monster brought to life with practical effects.
The first film was directed by special effects wizard Stan Winston, known for his storied history in Hollywood with some of the most impressive special effects in the industry. Tom Woodruff Jr., another special effects and make-up expert (the genius behind the impressive visuals of the dark comedy, Death Becomes Her) was the man to step inside the suit and control the terrifying beast.
Pumpkinhead is a bulbous monstrosity with a twisted form filled with jagged points and claws, a pumpkin-shaped head and a long, sleek tail. Once summoned, this demon helps Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) gain a brutal brand of justice for his late son. Dealing with themes of loss, grief and the ultimately pointless pursuit of revenge, Pumpkinhead is a cult Halloween beast, one that you better hope stays on your side!!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a Halloween staple, but the dark goings-on at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle can be enjoyed any time, by fans of musicals, horrors or comedies. Tim Curry gives an amazing performance as the mad doctor, leading the adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s stage show.
The doctor himself is a self-described “transvestite from transsexual Transylvania”, and he welcomes the stranded couple of Brad and Janet into his domain. There, the two bear witness to macabre musical numbers, questionable experiments and the ungodly creations of the manipulative doctor. The creation closest to his heart is Rocky, a Frankenstein’s monster-esque experiment that is the doctor’s attempt to make the perfect man.
Driven by his insatiable need for debauchery, Frank-N-Furter toys with the muscle-bound soul, using him as a slave to manipulate Janet, Brad and the various other denizens of the castle. Rocky is an innocent soul at heart, but, being at the mercy of his creator’s whims sees him used for nefarious means. The movie has gained cult status and there’s still excitement today when screenings take place. The catchy soundtrack and surprisingly dark tone make The Rocky Horror Picture Show a perfect Halloween treat.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
This ’80s horror-comedy is filled with a dark atmosphere that manages to stay playful enough while preying on the fears of both clowns and extraterrestrials. In Crescent Cove, a comet crashes and brings with it a host of malicious clowns, intent on wreaking havoc as they kill or capture the town’s unsuspecting residents.
Full-body suits and inventive visuals make this band of determined creatures a joy to witness. Their gurgling vocalisations, array of savage and ridiculous weaponry – such as tangible shadow puppets and candy-floss cocoons – are sure to delight and horrify in equal measure. These invaders need to be seen to be believed, and the film has become a regular watch, personally, and is a great pallette cleanser if you’re used to slasher flicks and paranormal goings-on.
David Cronenberg’s gory take on the classic tale of science gone wrong is a masterpiece of terror and a showcase for some of the most impressive practical effects in cinematic history.
Seth Brundle (played by Jeff Goldblum) is working on revolutionary teleportation technology. When he decides to use himself as a test subject, something unexpected occurs, and his DNA ends up fusing with that of a common house fly.
A prolonged and gruesome transformation sees Seth – later self-appointed as “Brundlefly” – slowly lose his humanity as his rational thoughts slip away and his body goes through some…interesting alterations.
Jeff Goldblum gives a heart-wrenching performance as someone on the brink of cataclysmic change, while simultaneously dealing with his failure and impending death. The transformation scenes are something to behold, with all manner of bodily fluids and mangled appendages making The Fly one of the most effective body-horror movies in history.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to spooky, deadly and hilarious movie monsters, so turn out the lights and get exploring this wonderful world of the macabre!
The Ultimate Book of Movie Monsters is out now.