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Friday, September 17, 2021

There’s a Monster in My Basket: Six More of the Most Unique Movie Monsters!

Last week, we shared a list of Six of the Most Unique Movie Monsters that were created exclusively for the big screen. While these beasts were carefully chosen according to originality and the quality of the special effects used to bring them to life, there are just so many great creature-features out there that it’s hard to stop at a meager six.

That’s why we’ve come up with Six More Unique Movie Monsters that impressed us with their creative designs and backstories. Like last time, we’ll only be considering creatures that were specifically conceived for the big screen, so no giant versions of regular animals or anything based on existing books or folklore. Remakes with re-imagined versions of existing monsters are also off-limits.

While we won’t be featuring some popular favorites like The Ritual‘s Moder (because it’s based on mythology and adapted from Adam Nevill’s eponymous novel) and The Relic‘s Kothoga (also adapted from a book by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child), don’t let that discourage you from telling us about your own favorite movie monsters in the comments below.

Now, onto the list…

6. The Stuff – The Stuff (1985)

Folks who haven’t seen Larry Cohen’s brilliant 1985 horror satire might scoff at the idea of industrialized junk food showing up on this list, but fans of The Stuff know that there’s something sinister going on beneath the surface of this addictive little treat.

Part The Blob and part zombifying parasite, this ice-cream-like substance is actually an alien organism hell-bent on taking over the world through corporate greed and massive advertising campaigns. While its effects are subtle at first, the titular Stuff excels at making its hosts perform disturbing acts of body-horror, earning its place on this list as a unique and terrifying movie monster.

And the scariest part? Even after seeing the movie, I still think it looks delicious!

5. Mister Babadook – The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook

While it’s a love-it or hate-it kind of movie, there’s no denying that Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook was a turning point for art-house horror films. Not only that, but it also introduced the world to one of the most unique monster designs to ever come out of Australia (and a funny meme where the titular creature is represented as an LGBTQ+ icon).

Brought to life through low-fi makeup and effects popular during the silent film era, Mister Babadook is both charmingly retro while also boasting a creepy presence. The handmade storybook announcing his arrival is also a nice touch, adding a mythic quality to an already-memorable antagonist.

4. Belial – Basket Case (1982)

Having directed classics like Frankenhooker and Brain Damage, Frank Henenlotter is one of the most underrated genre filmmakers out there. However, the director is probably best remembered for the Basket Case franchise, which introduced us to the menacing Belial (curiously named after a primitive term for the devil) and his bizarre penchant for murder.

While this “monster” is technically just a conjoined twin that was separated from its beloved sibling, a single glance at Belial’s horrific design is enough to convince you of his place on this list. As a diminutive monster that lives in a literal basket, half the fun of these movies is in watching this angry little killer find new and creative ways to off his victims despite his unique size and shape.

Belial also scores bonus points for spawning those insanely creepy basket babies in Basket Case 3: The Progeny!

3. Gwoemul – The Host (2006)

Bong Joon-ho is now best known for his Oscar-winning thriller Parasite, but the critically acclaimed South-Korean director is no stranger to creature features. Back in 2006, he co-wrote and directed The Host, a satirical take on giant monster movies boasting a unique antagonist popularly known as the Gwoemul (literally “monster” in Korean, though the special effects crew referred to it as “Steve Buscemi”).

While the Gwoemul’s origins were inspired by a real mutated fish found in the Han River, its design is much more reminiscent of a Lovecraftian abomination, making for a freakishly intimidating and memorable monster in an already-entertaining film.

2. The Krites – Critters (1986)

While it’s often accused of being a Gremlins knock-off, the original screenplay for Stephen Herek’s Critters was written long before the Mogwai were even a glimmer in Joe Dante’s eyes. Allegedly based on a “real” incident where a family had to fend off tiny alien invaders from their Kentucky farmhouse, the film introduced the world to the mischievous Krites, intergalactic criminals on the run from shape-shifting bounty-hunters.

Despite their small stature, these ravenous creatures are a force to be reckoned with, growing to monstrous sizes as they consume everything in their path while also working together to form rolling balls of doom. This is all brought to life by phenomenal practical effects work that the more recent sequels and reboots still can’t quite replicate.

The Krites are also surprisingly charming, speaking to one another through absurd and often vulgar dialogue, subtitled for our viewing pleasure.

1. The Yautja – Predator (1987)

I don’t think I need to explain how John McTiernan’s Predator is a genre classic that excels as both a horror, sci-fi and action flick, but it’s worth remembering that this macho masterpiece initially had a much less terrifying antagonist. Originally played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, the bulky prototype was replaced by Stan Winston’s now-iconic design (with the mandibles being suggested by James Cameron). This resulted in a legendary alien monster that still prowls the big screen over three decades later.

Now known as The Yautja (after all, Schwarzenegger’s Major Dutch was the real predator in the first film), these trophy-obsessed extraterrestrials are fascinating in both design and behavior. Following a bizarre code of honor as they stalk their prey with advanced weaponry, the hulking Yautja balance out the sci-fi elements with a primitive set of teeth and claws.

After 5 sequels and crossovers (not to mention comics, videogames and other media), there’s no denying the enduring appeal of these intergalactic hunters, and I can’t wait to see them again in the upcoming prequel.


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