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Monday, December 27, 2021

The 10 Best Horror Movie and Television Monsters of 2021

Monsters rank near the very top of reasons why we love horror so much, and luckily 2021 horror gave us plenty. Archetypical vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and serial killers dominated, and franchise icons made their return. In such a packed year for horror releases, especially on the indie front, a monster needs to stand out through its design, personality, or mythology—many on this list ticking off multiple checkboxes at once. 

Here are 2021’s most memorable TV and movie monsters!

The Suicide Squad – King Shark

The apparent creature default in James Gunn’s delightfully violent anti-superhero movie is, understandably, Starro, the alien Kaiju with a talent for gruesome mind control tactics. But Starro didn’t capture hearts quite the same way as King Shark, played by Steve Agee and voiced by Sylvester Stallone. The man-eating shark-human hybrid proved challenging to kill and even more formidable in appetite. What he lacks in intellect he makes up for in heart; King Shark just wants to not feel alone in the world. He’s just as likely to rip you apart, though. Nom nom.

Godzilla vs. Kong – King Kong

Whether you’re on team Godzilla or team Kong, the giant ape wins in terms of sympathy. His bond with child Jia (Kaylee Hottle) brings the pathos in this high-stakes battle, as does his need for a permanent home away from human captors. While ultimately the underdog in his grudge match, which we’re always a sucker for, the expressive Kong comes into his own in Hollow Earth. All of that would warrant his spot alone, but the Kaiju earns bonus points for axe-wielding spectacle.

Army of the Dead – Alpha Queen

Zack Snyder’s Las Vegas heist meets zombie movie leveled up with an alien twist to the undead outbreak. The horde within the city is far more organized thanks to a hierarchy ruled by the more intelligent Alpha and his Alpha Queen. The intelligence, the animalistic screeches and movements, and the glitzy costuming of her past life make the Alpha Queen one of the most compelling characters. It also helps that she’s got a pet zombie tiger at her disposal.

The Vigil – Mazzik

Sometimes all it takes to freshen up a familiar formula or subgenre is introducing untapped mythology. Enter the Mazzik, a demon of Talmudic mythology. In The Vigil, the Mazzik feeds off the suffering of its host. Considering the demonic parasite’s decades-long host died, the Mazzik sets its claws on an unwitting Shomer who’s harboring a lot of guilt and grief of his own. The Vigil gives glimpses of its demon, enough to make an impression. The concept and mythology behind it drive it all home.

“Evil” – Demons

You can’t narrow it down to just one demonic entity in this fantastic and wildly underseen series that works as a revolving door of excellent creature design. Every single one deserves this spot, and season two brought the goods. A forensic psychologist, Catholic seminarian, and tech whiz find themselves navigating bizarre criminal cases intertwined with supernatural and Hellish forces. Luckily “Evil” takes great care in its demon designs, ensuring no shortage of memorable and unique denizens of Hell.

“Chucky” – Doll Army

Don Mancini brought the pint-sized horror icon to the small screen to continue where Cult of Chucky ended, exploring Chucky’s plan behind splintering his soul across numerous Good Guy dolls. Each one feels slightly different than the rest, more like newborn killers. That doesn’t even touch on the surprise finale reintroduction of a fan favorite. Between the number of killer dolls and the quality of kills, this Good Guy doll army spoiled us in terms of fun.

PG: Psycho Goreman – The Archduke of Nightmares himself     

The eponymous alien conqueror imprisoned on Earth meets his match when a sociopathic child unearths then subjugates him. But his awakening alerts the intergalactic council that locked him away in the first place, putting a bounty on his head. That means that Steven Kostanski introduces a slew of distinct alien killers to pit against PG, including his former army, the Paladins of Obsidian. But it’s PG’s personality and gory punishments that stand out above the rest in this wacky horror-comedy.

Antlers – Wendigo

An opening scene sees a young boy’s father attacked by an unseen creature in the mines. He survives, but it begins a slow transformation into a Wendigo. That happens slowly in stages until a creature effects-heavy third act reveals a wholly monstrous Wendigo without a trace of humanity left. The 10-foot tall monster induces all the awe and terror you’d want in a horror movie finale, enough to leave you clamoring for more full-throttle Wendigo carnage.

No One Gets Out Alive – Ītzpāpālōtl 

Much of No One Gets Out Alive plays like a familiar haunted house story, save for a few critical clues that something’s amiss. Namely, a strange box that lurks in the shadows. The final act reveals its contents; the Aztec goddess Ītzpāpālōtl. The goddess, whose name translates as “obsidian butterfly” or “clawed butterfly,” requires ritualistic sacrifices to remain satiated, and her arrival is a sight to behold. We can thank creature designer Keith Thomas for one of the year’s most unconventional and unique movie monsters. Thomas also happens to be behind another fan-favorite creature; the artist designed Raatma for the Bloody Disgusting produced V/H/S/94 segment “Storm Drain.”

Malignant – Gabriel

James Wan wanted to give his spin on Giallo, and the result was a wild ’90s throwback that delivered the year’s most talked-about monstrous villain, Gabriel. The parasitic twin could control electricity and broadcast his thoughts through speakers. Gabriel’s short temper and deep-seated grudges sent him on a path of murderous revenge, holding his twin hostage to do it. Malignant and Gabriel dominated social media discussion upon release and still have fans clamoring for more. Gabriel might be Horror’s “Person” of the Year, more than just a movie monster.


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