Written by: Daniel Hadley
Monsters have been staples of horror since the day that man decided to paint the walls of his cave with the juice of crushed berries – or whatever the hell cave men used for paint – and throughout history we have been gifted some fantastic and monstrous creatures. From the werewolf to the banshee, myth and legend has brought forth some truly nightmarish killing machines. Now in the 2000’s a new generation of filmmakers have taken up the mantel and began creating some nightmares of their own. We as horror fans have the privilege of watching these creatures go to town on their victims in a variety of beautifully brutal ways, so I thought why not craft a list of what I think are some of the best creations of the new millennium?
10 The Flesh Eating Virus – Cabin Fever
Not a creature in the traditional sense, Cabin Fever‘s threat has no real form or will, it’s a simple microorganism passed from host via direct contact, be it through sex, ingestion or simply blood splatter. If this thing gets to you then the only thing left to do is to count down your remaining lifespan by the rate your fingers drop off your hand. Once you have the virus you are dead and there is no cure.
It could be argued that this is the most terrifying killer on the list as a result of how easy it is to contract and how painful and drawn out your inevitable death will be. There is literally nothing you can do except watch your soft tissue get slowly eaten away as your body becomes so fragile a light slap would be enough to dislocate your jaw.
Over the course of three movies (four when factoring in the recent remake) we have seen this thing kill dozens of people and every time – for me at least – it’s a very unpleasant viewing experience. I’m not the biggest fan of the Cabin Fever movies but I can’t deny the genius of its killer’s simplicity.
9 Spiked Fungal Parasite – Splinter
Coming off a virus we move onto a parasite. The fungal spores of this nasty little critter appear as small spikes and after implanting themselves into a warm blooded creature, it absorbs all their organic material, creating more spores. When a large enough cluster is created it can animate its host’s flesh in order to attack and spread its spores. The host is often both alive and conscious during this process and can feel everything, and being that these splinters aren’t opposed to snapping bones and tearing open flesh to suit its needs, I would imagine it’s not a pleasant experience. Once the host has been fully assimilated it can combine many host bodies creating a much larger and more dangerous creature. It also can’t really be destroyed by any conventional means being that it is a colony of billions of microscopic organisms.
A pretty horrific way to die wouldn’t you agree? Luckily this thing lacks any real intelligence and will just attack anything warm blooded, so at the very least you could out smart it easy enough. But if you prick your finger on this thing, be ready for your arm to snap backwards at the elbow and go after your loved ones.
8 Gwoemul – The Host
Gwoemul is the result of gallons of toxic chemicals being dumped into the Han River in South Korea. Supposedly mutating from a tadpole, which would explain its amphibious traits, it is an extremely aggressive predator, around the size of a bus which doesn’t add much credence to its tadpole origins, but being that I know nothing about mutation I could be wrong.
Gwoemul isn’t shy about showing itself. It happily bursts from the Han river and terrorizes everyone in sight, killing anyone not quick enough to get out of its way. It seemingly eats as much as it can and simply regurgitates the bones later. I suppose it can survive for long periods of time by storing food in its body which would explain why it took so long to surface. The intelligence of this beast is up for debate but it doesn’t appear to be particularly smart, though its ferocity alone more than makes up for this.
Given that we have been promised a sequel for years now it should go without saying that there are more than one of these things. There was some additional footage released showing a pretty well done attack sequence, but as of 2016 no new movie has surfaced. Come on guys, we all want to see the weird tadpole mutant wreak some more havoc – make the damn sequel already!
7 The Long One – Slither
In James Gunn’s great Creature Feature, Slither we were introduced to the long one, a parasitic alien life form that has been around for billions of years consuming life on countless worlds. After landing on earth and choosing a host It begins its life ending process once again.
The long one has four forms. The first being the needle which it uses to infect a host, then there is the host which is self-explanatory, then there is the womb which is probably the most unpleasant – a female is chosen to gestate thousands of slug like creatures, looking almost like the Violet Beauregarde blueberry, only much grosser – after the slugs have matured the womb rips open and the slugs are free to spread out like worker bees and in an attempt to enter and control other organisms via a hive mind. It’s a pretty cool, if kind of gross process.
The long one seemingly has only one goal, which is to basically consume all life on whatever planet is unlucky enough to get in its way. It’s seemingly intelligent, able to talk through its hosts, but it never really divulges any information. What it does do though, is kill hundreds of people and assimilate them into some weird amorphous blob looking thing. Like I said earlier it’s gross but cool.
6 Dark Entity – Lights Out
Being that this movie is pretty new I won’t go too much into what this thing actually is to avoid spoilers, but the short end of it is, this is an entity that exists only in the darkness. So if you’re in the light you’re good, but if the lights go out it has no qualms about ending your life. The darkness itself is inherently scary as the fear of the unknown is pretty universal and darkness as we all know shrouds everything. So the idea that there is this thing that only exists within that darkness is a simple but terrifying idea. It surprises me that no one came up with this before, but the same can be said of all great ideas I suppose.
The thought of simply turning out the light only to be met with one of the most sinister looking silhouettes to grace our screens is the definition of creepy, and if I’m honest I’ve hesitated to hit the light switch more than a few times since seeing Lights Out.
5 The Creeper – Jeepers Creepers
For all anyone knows this thing has been alive since the dawn of time. There is a deleted scene from Jeepers Creepers 2 where we see ancient Greek chariots overturned and destroyed implying the creeper has been around for a hell of a long time. The words demon and gargoyle have been thrown around to describe, but I personally don’t want his origins explain. The creator of the Creeper has seemingly confirmed his origins now, but I will reframe from divulging them here as it’s a massive spoiler for the upcoming third movie. And because they’re incredibly disappointing, at least in my mind.
Seemingly indestructible he is able to sustain massive amounts of damage only to replace lost flesh and organs with those of his victims. He’s always on the lookout for new pieces he likes the smell of, having an almost unquenchable hunger, he roams America’s highways and kills anyone that sets off his creepy third nostril. Using a variety of self-made weapons that he fashions with bits and pieces of his victims, such as a large battle axe, a variety of daggers and shuriken’s, which he wields with great skill, also given the ability to fly at tremendous speeds with huge bat like wings and having a near superhuman level of strength, the Creeper has proven time and again that he is incredibly dangerous and more than capable of killing you with ease.
He is shown to have killed hundreds of people and given how old he seemingly is, his kill count could possibly be in the hundreds of thousands. Luckily for humanity he can only operate every twenty-three years for only twenty-three days. In the meantime he lapses into some form of hibernation, which makes sense. He would pretty much be common knowledge if he was knocking about every day of every year just killing willy nilly. I mean if I knew there was a killer demon looking thing going all trigger happy with bone shuriken’s I would never leave the house.
4 Buhguul – Sinister
Buhguul the Eater of Children (great name) is a pagan deity dating back to Babylonian times. He exists within a realm of his own and has the ability to travel into our realm via his own images – photos, painting, recordings and the like. He does so with the sole proviso to lure in children, then groom them into murdering their whole family in some incredibly unsettling ways. He then takes the child back to his realm to feast on their soul over time.
Being responsible for the deaths of many families, his antics can be viewed through mysterious nine-millimetre film reels which show children under his influence brutalising their families. It’s unknown how long he has been killing via these means, but being that he is an ancient deity he is probably responsible for more than a few deaths.
He is definitely one of the most malevolent beings on this list (beaten only by the next entry) and appears in one of the creepiest and most unsettling films I have ever seen. Bold statement I know, but those film reels are damn haunting.
3 The Lasser Glass – Oculus
So the Lasser glass is an antique mirror containing something very sinister indeed. Everything about this thing is unknown: how old it is, where it came from and why it does the things that it does. All that is known is that this thing is evil. But how evil you ask? Well it is known to literally sap the life out of everything within its radius of influence. Oh, and it will kill you in some incredibly tortuous and agonizing ways, such as dying of dehydration in a full bathtub, or perhaps breaking every bone in your body with a hammer except for the arm you are using to wield said hammer. Or simply chewing through some powerlines. The Lasser glass is well known for messing with its victims and prolonging their torture for as long as it can. But why? Who the hell knows? It’s just evil!
It was a toss-up between the Lasser glass and room 1408 (1408 is a great film by the way) both have similar traits and abilities but in the end the Lasser glass came out on top due to how it seemingly takes pleasure in prolonging its victims torture. Room 1408 kills you over the course of one night, the Lasser glass takes its sweet damn time.
There was some talk of an Oculus sequel but there has been no news as of late. Personally I don’t want a sequel. the mystery of the Lasser Glass is part of what makes it so creepy and if that were to be explored it would ruin its mystique and therefore take away from its creep factor. Without that all you have is a rehash of the first movie which would only be a disappointment.
2 The Crawlers – The Descent
The Crawlers are blind humanoid cave dwellers who use sonar to hunt their prey. They mainly eat deer but they won’t hesitate to eviscerate anything they come into contact with. And such is the fate of a group of spelunkers that end up in the wrong unexplored cave system.
Neil Marshall the writer and director of The Descent has let on that they are in fact human, just humans that ventured a different evolutionary path, having evolved and adapted to the underground cave systems. What they are exactly is never really explained but I quite like the idea that they are just humans that evolved in a totally different environment to us. They share many features with humans, where they differ is their wet looking pale white skin, their bat like ears and razor sharp claws and teeth. They can tear into a human with relative ease but they can be beaten, mainly with climbing axes shown in some gloriously gory scenes which exhibit some of the most visceral monster on human fights I have ever seen in film.
The reason I like these creatures so much is, well for one, they are in one of my favourite movies of all time, and for two, they aren’t that far out of the realm of possibility. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a subspecies of human existing out there somewhere. There used to be another subspecies, that one being the Neanderthal, so is something like the Crawlers existing that much of a stretch? For the sake of cave explorers I hope not, but it would be cool.
1 The Follower – It Follows
The reason this one takes the number one spot is simple, the idea of this thing scares the shit out of me. It Follows is an exercise in overbearing dread and growing anxiety. It’s not the scariest of movies but to my mind its monster is one of the scariest I have seen in a very long time.
So what is it? Well in simple laymen’s terms it’s an entity that gets passed from person to person via sex that will continuously follow its host appearing as anyone it chooses, and if it catches them they’re dead. Most people dismiss the follower as a haunted STD, if that were the case it would be pretty stupid (editor’s note: that actually sounds kinds of radical in a comedic way), fortunately sex is just the means in which this thing is passed from person to person. Many have made assumptions that it is a metaphor for a everyone’s slow approach to death as they grow older. Fortunately the followers’ origins and what it actually is are never explained, leaving it open for interpretation and discussion.
After watching this movie, I can recall several times in which I would turn a light on in a dark room with the fear that there would be some unknown figure slowly walking straight towards me. Or I would pick up my pace on a darkened stairwell in the fear that something was behind me. That’s what the best movie monsters should do, they should linger in the back of your mind, be the reason you’re scared of the dark and make you more aware of the bumps in the night.
I will concede that the musical score of It Follows went a long way in ramping up the tension, but there is no denying the unsettling feeing that bubbled up in my stomach as I watched the follower slowly make its way toward it’s target, its dead eyed intensity growing with every step. The follower is the stuff that nightmares are made of, and much like Lights Out it’s such a simple idea it’s crazy that no one had thought of it before.
It Follows seems to have fallen out of favour somewhat since its initial release and I put that down to the crazy amount of hype it received. I largely ignored all the hype and watched it without any real expectations and I loved it. There was no denying the fear that stuck with me long after the credits rolled.
So that’s my list, feel free to disagree with my choices, but I stand by them. While the movies they inhabit may not be that good (I’m speaking about Cabin Fever by the way) these beasts are what I consider some of the best creations that horror filmmakers have put to screen in the last seventeen years, and I hope we keep getting monsters like this. If horror continues on its current trend and we keep getting great movies, then hopefully movie studios will take more chances and we’ll get even more horrifying creations on the big screen. Blessed be the movie monster and its insatiable urge to kill and maim in the most glorious of ways.