60 Best Monster Movies of All Time

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time 2021 Update 01

While horror may take various forms, one subgenre has always held a special place in the canon: monster movies. From Godzilla demolishing 1950s Tokyo to the beast from Cloverfield stomping through New York in 2008, we’ve spent nearly a century seeing onscreen monsters of various shapes and sizes attempt to kill humanity. While many monster films have devolved into enormous cheese fests over the years, when done well, they can be frightening, suspenseful, thrilling, and even hilarious.

There is a primordial dread associated with seeing anything unreal on the screen, whether it is terrifying or functioning alongside a film’s protagonists. After all, our imaginations run wild daily, and witnessing the fruits of a filmmaker’s fantasizing is every bit as fascinating as any spooky horror picture. With that in mind, and in honor of the theatrical debut of one of the finest monster movies, A Quiet Place 2, in May, here are the 60 best monster movies that everyone should see.

1. Cloverfield (2008)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

This “found-footage” movie grossed over $170 million at the box office, much like how this terrible space monster wreaks havoc on New York City in a couple of days. The monster’s concept is comparable to that of a frightened elephant on the rampage but of colossal size. After severing the Statue of Liberty’s head, it sends a clear message: Flee for your life.

A recording is discovered in the former Central Park by the US Defense Department. The film depicts a group of friends throwing a surprise farewell party at Rob Hawkins’ Lower Manhattan apartment. Rob is a young man leaving New York for Japan to work, and his pal Hud is recording messages from his buddies. They are taken aback by an earthquake and learn via the news that a ship has capsized in the harbor area. They proceed to the penthouse to watch the disaster and observe explosions everywhere; when the building’s power goes out, they flee to the streets to avoid being attacked by the monster.

2. The Thing (1982)

It’s difficult to trust your buddies when a parasitic extraterrestrial life form infiltrates your isolated Antarctic research outpost. The Thing assimilates and mimics other species, making it virtually hard to determine which one it is occupying. That is until it emerges as monstrous and unfathomable monsters.

An early winter 1982 photograph of a US research outpost in Antarctica. A helicopter from a nearby Norwegian research station buzzes the facility unexpectedly. They are attempting to assassinate a dog that has fled their stronghold. Following the destruction of the Norwegian helicopter, the US team members travel to the Norwegian base, only to discover that everyone is either dead or missing.

They do come upon the remnants of a weird monster that the Norwegians set fire to. The Americans transport it to their base and determine that it is a kind of extraterrestrial life. After a period, it becomes clear that the extraterrestrial can colonize and absorb various life forms, including humans, and may spread like a virus. This implies that anybody on the base is at risk of being possessed by The Thing, escalating tensions.

3. Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla is not just one of the most well-known cinematic monsters; he also inspired the world’s longest-running film franchise. With 36 films to his credit, it was difficult to choose just one of these famous kaiju flicks to include on our list, but in the end, we concluded that nothing beats the original. The first Godzilla film, directed by Ishiro Honda, was not your usual fun huge monster film; it has darker beginnings and, at its core, symbolizes nuclear destruction.

The film is a metaphorical tale about a dinosaur creature that fires atomic breath from its mouth and is an all-around unstoppable force that takes to the streets of Tokyo. As the monster tramples the city, the film’s utter chaos and fear echo the real-world destruction caused by the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Apart from these sobering issues, the picture was the first of its type to include suitmation, revolutionizing the subgenre and securing its position in cinematic history.

4. King Kong (1933)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

There are several King Kong films to select from, but despite our affection for Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake, the culturally significant and revolutionary original 1933 monster picture cannot be overlooked. An action-adventure picture centered on a huge gorilla-like creature dubbed Kong, the film depicts the narrative of a monster who reveals himself to be a lover at heart.

A film team travels to an unknown island in search of an ancient beast. However, as soon as they arrive, their leading woman is abducted and given as a sacrifice to Kong by the island’s residents. Fortunately, the enormous ape takes an immediate liking to her, saving her life as the team sets out to rescue her.

5. The Fly (1986)

Jeff Goldblum received widespread critical acclaim for his performance as scientist Seth Brundle in David Cronenberg’s 1986 film The Fly. The film is a blend of science fiction and horror, as Goldblum’s character’s DNA gets unintentionally merged with that of a common housefly after a teleportation malfunction. He then gradually decomposes into a larger-than-life bug. The surprise in this monster film is that the protagonist transforms into the monster.

The film chronicles Goldblum’s metamorphosis, this time into a human-sized fly. Although the visual effects are gory and repulsive, Goldblum’s grounded acting makes the far-fetched situation feel strangely believable, and he manages to elicit empathy as his character rapidly loses humanity.

6. Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

Legends fight on the big screen in a dramatic battle for the ages between Godzilla and Kong, nature’s two most powerful forces. As a squadron goes on a hazardous expedition into spectacular unexplored territory in search of answers to the Titans’ very beginnings and the survival of mankind, a plot threatens to eradicate all creatures, good and evil, from the face of the planet forever.

Godzilla, who has not been seen since his epic fight with his three-headed arch-enemy King Ghidorah, resurfaces and destroys everything in its way. As yesterday’s saviors become a threat to the globe, Dr. Ilene Andrews, an anthropological linguist at Monarch, and her brilliant adoptive daughter, Jia, detect the re-emergence of latent, centuries-old war. 

Now, two gigantic alpha Titans are locked in the final struggle for dominion, and humanity is once again caught in the crossfire. However, Kong is unafraid of anyone, while Godzilla is an unstoppable force of nature. Who will survive and who will perish in the titanic clash?

7. The Mummy (1999)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

It’s difficult to pick a single favorite film on everyone’s favorite Egyptian monster since there are many. A mummy has an allure. Typically, it is an ancient Egyptian member of royalty who has been wrapped in clean bandages and deposited in a tomb (or pyramid) as the last resting place. And, because scientists and treasure seekers are incapable of avoiding upsetting those graves, the mummy wakes and spreads its curse.

Evelyn Carnahan, an English librarian, becomes interested in conducting an archaeological excavation in the ancient city of Hamunaptra. She enlists the assistance of Rick O’Connell after rescuing him from certain death. What Evelyn, Jonathan, and Rick do not realize is that another party of explorers is also interested in the excavation. Regrettably, for everyone, this gang ends up unleashing a curse placed on the recently deceased High Priest Imhotep. Now that ‘The Mummy’ has awoken, it will take more than firearms to return him to his origins.

8. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth, directed by Guillermo del Toro, is less of a horror picture than the majority of the films on this list. It’s more of a dramatic fairy tale set against the backdrop of a Spanish political uprising in the 1940s. Consider that this is a strange film. We are aware of this. However, it is also wonderfully directed and has garnered several accolades, including three Academy Awards.

In 1944, during Spain’s post-Civil War period, rebels continue to battle Falangist soldiers in the highlands. Ofelia travels to the country with her pregnant and ailing mother Carmen Vidal to meet and live with her stepfather, the vicious and brutal Captain Vidal, in an old mill. Ofelia encounters a fairy during the night, and the two travel to a pit in the heart of a maze, where they meet a faun who informs them that she is a princess from an underground realm. 

Additionally, he informs her that her father is waiting for her, but she must first complete three cruel, difficult, and hazardous missions. Meanwhile, she befriends Mercedes, a servant who is the sister of one of the rebels and is really assisting the gang. Ofelia lives in a dark, harsh, and dangerous world, attempting to complete her responsibilities and reuniting with her father and king.

9. The Evil Dead (1981)

Is The Evil Dead trilogy a true monster film? We discussed this internally for a long, but eventually determined that Deadites and Kandarian Demons (not to be confused with outright zombies) do qualify as monsters.

Ash Williams, his fiancée Linda, and three other pals travel to a remote home in the Tennessee woods. They rented the cottage for a song – sight unseen – and discover it to be in decent condition, however, they immediately face odd happenings and noises. They discover a weird book and audio recordings with a translation of the text in the basement. They unleash a malevolent force intent on annihilating them when they play the tapes. They gradually get possessed and begin attacking one another. Only one will survive in the end.

10. Frankenstein (1931)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel of the same name, James Whale’s gothic monster thriller Frankenstein (1931), starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, and Boris Karloff remains one of the most renowned horror films ever created. The narrative is about a young scientist named Henry Frankenstein and his helper Fritz, who dig up numerous corpses and put them together in an attempt to create life.

Henry Frankenstein is a talented scientist who has been performing research on the re-animation of deceased beings. He has done experiments on tiny animals and is now ready to generate life in a man he has constructed from body pieces he has been gathering from various places such as graveyards or the gallows. His fiancée Elizabeth and friend Victor Moritz are worried about his health as he spends much too many hours in his laboratory on his research.

He’s succeeded and the creature he’s made come to life is kind but plainly terrified of fire. Henry’s father, Baron Frankenstein, brings his son to his senses, and Henry agrees that the monster should be mercifully exterminated. Before they can do so, however, the creature escapes, and in its innocence, it murders a small child. The villagers rise up focused on killing the deadly monster.

11. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Lane is a 2016 American science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Dan Trachtenberg. J. J. Abrams and Lindsey Weber produced the film. It is the sequel to the Cloverfield film franchise. The narrative concerns a young lady who awakens in an underground bunker with two guys following a vehicle collision. They insist that an event has rendered the Earth’s surface uninhabitable.

Michelle awakens in a strange bunker with two guys called Howard and Emmett following a vehicle accident. Howard hands her a set of crutches to assist her in remaining mobile while recovering from her leg injuries received in the automobile collision and instructs her to “get good on those” before exiting the bunker. 

She has been informed that an extraterrestrial attack occurred and that the outer world has been poisoned. However, Howard and Emmett’s motives quickly grow suspect, and Michelle is forced to consider the following: Is it better to be here or out there?

12. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Wes Craven developed a totally different type of creepy creature in his 1977 masterpiece The Hills Have Eyes before inventing Freddy Krueger. The film plays on Americans’ worries about nuclear testing. It follows a family on vacation who is terrified by a mutant family dwelling in the Nevada hills. The hill people had all mutated as a result of the area’s nuclear experimentation and had developed cannibalistic tendencies as the film devolved into a battle between the two families, with only one surviving.

While traveling across the desert in a trailer to California, retired investigator Big Bob Carter and his family stop at an isolated gas station for gasoline and relaxation. Bob is traveling with his wife Ethel, son Bobby, daughters Brenda and Lynn, son-in-law and Lynn’s spouse Doug, as well as their infant daughter Katy. When they exit the petrol station, the proprietor encourages Bob to remain on the main road. 

The obstinate driver, on the other hand, takes a shortcut through a nuclear testing site, completely wrecking his station wagon. Bob and Doug travel down the road in search of assistance for the family that is trapped in the middle of nowhere. Bob is captured by a crazy and vicious member of a neighboring wicked household. Doug returns to the trailer, and the Carter family is assaulted during the night by a gang of crazy cannibal criminals. They are completely entrapped by the murderers and must battle for survival.

13. Jeepers Creepers (2001)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Another film that, like ‘The Howling’ (see above), becomes less frightening after the monster appears. The opening thirty minutes of this unexpected old-school sleeper hit are truly remarkable: first, a thunderous, ‘Duel’-inspired truck chase, followed by one of the all-time great ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ sequences, in which our plucky teen heroes descend a grimy, gore-spattered pipe that leads directly into the beast’s lair. 

Very nothing in Noughties horror comes close to the truly damp, claustrophobic dread of this moment – but regrettably, director Victor Salva is unable to replicate that atmosphere throughout the film, and after the winged demon appears, things meander towards an enjoyable though not particularly stunning conclusion.

14. IT (2017)

Tim Curry will forever be associated with Pennywise the dancing clown, a representation of dread. However, in this 2017 version of Stephen King’s epic novel, set in the 1980s rather than the 1950s, Bill Skarsgrd is the one who terrifies you to death. Skarsgrd’s eyes move in two separate directions as Pennywise, giving the monster a genuinely hideous and insane appearance. 

He drools as he interacts with the youngsters, as though starving and desperate to eat them and their terror. Excellent performances by the young actors help avoid any discomfort associated with child acting, while the themes of friendship and the loss of innocence are evocative of both ‘Stand By Me’ (another King adaption) and ‘ET’. It may be romantic at times, but when it terrifies – and it truly does frighten – it serves as a stark reminder that clowns are dangerous regardless of your age.

15. The Descent (2005)

While the theme “humans are the true monsters” has been utilized in horror films for decades, The Descent blazes a new route with its deft use of heinous protagonists and humanoid animals. The less said about this one, the better, but it thrives on the claustrophobia generated by both the cave location and the interpersonal connections that collapse fast when the “crawlers” come out to play. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for those who enjoy both terrifying and genuine creatures.

A year after her husband and daughter are killed in a car accident, she and five other ladies travel on their yearly “expedition” to North Carolina, but things go tragically wrong when they find that the cave they are in is inhabited by weird, humanoid beings.

16. The Babadook (2014)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Amelia’s husband was killed in a vehicle accident while bringing her to the hospital to deliver their baby, Samuel. She has ceased creating children’s books and is now working in a nursing home to raise Samuel alone. However, the child is troublesome and is shunned by his peers, as well as his aunt Claire and cousin Ruby. Amelia always reads books to Samuel before he falls asleep, and one night he presents him with the intriguing book Mister Babadook, which he discovered in his room. 

Amelia and Samuel are concerned by the book, which details a mysterious creature that torments humans, and Samuel claims that Babadook haunts him at night. Amelia tears up the book and discards it, but they are soon plagued by Babadook. Amelia takes medications, which enables her and Samuel to sleep through the night. When the book Mister Babadook is discovered repaired at her front door, strange occurrences occur in the house. Is Mr. Babadook a genuine person?

17. Colossal (2016)

This is a monster film with a difference. While the world is terrified of a monstrous creature causing havoc in South Korea, an alcoholic single lady from New England (Anne Hathaway) finds that she is somehow in charge of the monster’s every action. When her buddy Oscar offers assistance, he manifests a massive robot in South Korea, creating an odd Pacific Rim feel with human puppeteers.

To put it succinctly, Gloria’s life is a complete disaster. She suffers from severe alcohol addiction, she parties like there is no tomorrow, she is an unemployed online magazine writer caught in a creative rut, and she was just evicted from her ex-New boyfriend’s York apartment. Inevitably, Gloria returns to her hometown’s old house, shamefaced and destitute, to sort things out, get her life together, and lick her wounds, when she will unexpectedly meet paths with Oscar, an old elementary school buddy. 

While hazed Gloria tries to begin her life in any way possible, on the other side of the world in Seoul, an unprecedented emergence of a colossal Kaiju monster shocks the busy metropolis, wreaking destruction without mercy and precipitating a worldwide state of emergency.

18. Pacific Rim (2013)

Pacific Rim lacks nuance and a compelling storyline, but who needs that when you have kaiju fighting huge robots? It’s the end of the world as we know it, as gigantic creatures attack humanity’s last bastions. Their sole rebuttal? Building-sized mechs resemble enormous Gundams and require precise coordination between two pilots to operate. The action is worth seeing in its entirety, and the film’s last half-hour is a devastating, exciting set piece that should delight monster fans everywhere.

For years, Earth has been assaulted regularly by Kaiju, enormous creatures that emerge through a gateway beneath the Pacific Ocean. The sole viable defense is the Jaeger program, which involves the development of huge sophisticated robots that need pairs of neurally connected pilots. However, as each Kaiju onslaught grows in strength and frequency, Humanity’s strategies must alter. 

To that purpose, Raleigh Becket, a former Jaeger pilot, is reactivated as part of a desperate attempt to destroy the gateway. While Raleigh works to repair his inner wounds and assist his new companion in overcoming hers, an intrepid scientist discovers a means to communicate with the Kaiju’s minds to learn about them. Unfortunately, this proves to be a mixed blessing, as critical information is unintentionally passed between the two factions, raising the stakes for the last confrontation.

19. Them! (1954)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

After many individuals go missing or are killed in the New Mexico desert, including an FBI agent and the majority of his family, police Sgt. Ben Peterson partners up with FBI agent Bob Graham to determine what is causing the unusual happenings. They submit an unusual print discovered at one of the prime locations to the Department of Agriculture. Doctor Harold Medford and his daughter, Doctor Patricia Medford, arrive in the location of many disappearances and want to be transported there.

When they arrive, they are astounded to see giant ants, whose mutations were induced nine years previously by the first atomic bomb detonation. They eventually demolish the ant nest, but not before two-winged queen ants and a few drones hatch and flee. It’s now a race against the clock to locate the two queen ants before they construct further nests and birth additional queens.

20. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Aficionados may object to this persistently cheerful and adorable Pixar classic being included on a list of prowling lurchers from beyond. To them, we can only say this: if a film’s title contains the word ‘Monster,’ it almost certainly merits a spot on our list.

Monstropolis, a city of monsters without people, is centered around the city’s power corporation, Monsters, Inc. James P. Sullivan (better known as Sulley), a lovable, confident, tough, furry blue behemoth-like giant monster, and his wisecracking best friend, short, green cyclops monster Mike Wazowski, discover what happens when the real world collides with theirs when a 2-year-old baby girl dubbed “Boo” accidentally sneaks into the monster world with Sulley one night.

And now it’s up to Sulley and Mike to reintroduce Boo to her door before anyone finds out, especially two evil villains such as Sulley’s chief rival as a scarer, the chameleon-like Randall (a monster Boo is terrified of), who possesses the ability to change the color of his skin, and Mike and Sulley’s boss, Mr. Waternoose, the chairman and chief executive officer of Monsters, Inc.

21. Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)

Venus flytrap that speaks? That is the monster at the core of Little Shop of Horrors, a musical comedy with a sinister heart. Seymour Krelborn, played by Rick Moranis, operates a struggling flower store, but when he discovers the Venus flytrap can grow to enormous proportions when given human blood, business booms…as do the shenanigans. While musicals are not for everyone, and those anticipating a straight-up monster film may be disappointed by the unique creature and song breaks, those who enter the Little Shop of Horrors will be rewarded with one of cinema’s most enduring creatures.

22. A Quiet Place (2018)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

A Quiet Place is a 2018 American horror film directed by John Krasinski and co-written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and Krasinski, based on a screenplay by Woods and Beck. The story follows a father (Krasinski) and mother (Emily Blunt) as they battle to live and raise their children in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind creatures with a keen sense of hearing.

In a shattered Earth overtaken by unstoppable predators of unknown origin, the Abbotts struggle for survival in the bleak urban jungle of New York City, marked by a new period of complete quiet. Indeed, because this new species of an invader is drawn to noise, even the faintest sound may be lethal; yet, it has been twelve months since the formidable creatures were first spotted, and this tenacious family continues to thrive. Naturally, mastering the laws of life in this muted dystopia is critical; nevertheless, today, more than ever, and otherwise joyful occasion jeopardizes the already precarious equilibrium. And now, maybe more than ever, the Abbotts must remain silent.

23. A Quiet Place 2 (2021)

With the newly discovered vulnerability of the supposedly invulnerable animals, grief-stricken Evelyn Abbott finds herself alone, with two young teenagers, a defenseless newborn son, and nowhere to hide. Now, 474 days after A Quiet Place (2018)’s an all-out alien invasion, the Abbotts muster every ounce of bravery to flee their now-burned-to-the-ground farm and start on a perilous trek to locate civilization. With this in mind, and desperate to push the boundaries, the tenacious survivors are forced to go into the eerily calm, unexplored hazardous area in the hope of a miracle. However, the adversary is everywhere this time.

24. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride of Frankenstein is the first sequel to Universal Pictures’ 1931 film Frankenstein. It is set immediately after the events of the previous film and is based on a plotline from Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). Its narrative follows a chastened Henry Frankenstein as he attempts to forsake his intentions to create life, only to be seduced and eventually pushed into creating a mate for the Monster by his old mentor Dr. Pretorius and threats from the Monster.

25. The Host (2006)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

If there was ever a chilling cautionary tale about the dangers of dumping contaminated formaldehyde down the kitchen sink (we’ve all done it! ), Bong Joon-magnum Ho’s opus ‘The Host’ is it. Standing up to Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’ in terms of both the beast’s masterful introduction and its brutal attack on regional government bureaucracy, Bong pulls off the deft trick of injecting old-school genre tension into a complex (and ultimately terrifying) human story.

The story centers on Park Hee-bong, a man in his late sixties. He owns and operates a modest snack store along the Han River’s banks, where he lives with his two sons, one daughter, and one grandchild. The Parks appear to live a very normal and pleasant existence, however, they may be a little poorer than the typical Seoulite. Gang-du, Hee-eldest bong’s son, is an immature and inept guy in his forties whose wife has long since left the family. Nam-il is the youngest son, a jobless grumbler, while Nam-Joo is a national archery team member and medalist in archery.

One day, an unnamed creature emerges from the Han River’s depths, spreading fear and death, and Gang-daughter du’s Hyun-Seo is abducted and vanishes. Each family member is in pain at the loss of a loved one. However, when they discover she is still alive, they vow to save her.

26. Basket Case (1982)

Once synonymous with creative cinematic sleaze, modern horror aficionados have mostly forgotten the name of Frank Henenlotter. ‘Basket Case’ was his early ’80s calling card, the story of a browbeaten, ethically ambiguous twentysomething and his murderous, basket-bound vestigial twin as they go on a quest of revenge against the physicians who forced them apart. To modern viewers, this darkly humorous tale of monster brotherly love is most intriguing as a picture of New York in its terrible heyday, a broken metropolitan hellscape populated almost entirely by hookers, thieves, addicts, and murderers and illuminated by flickering neon and the flash of ambulance sirens.

Duane Bradley, a charming rural bumpkin, checks into a hotel room in New York with a basket and a rucksack. In a flashback scene, we find that the basket contains his surgically removed Siamese twin – who is not only physically disfigured to the point that physicians struggle to call him a person, but is also the spiteful driver of their journey, intent on murdering everyone he holds accountable. However, Duane obtains his first date, with the receptionist, in one of those physicians’ offices, and wishes to begin a positive life. When the bizarre twin escapes, the stage is set for a bleak conclusion.

27. Cabin in the Woods (2012)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Joss Whedon’s parody of horror film cliches is fundamentally a monster horror-comedy. Cabin in the Woods, which follows a group of teenagers who are exposed to unspeakable atrocities while being controlled by mysterious (and funny) office workers portrayed by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, upends expectations all the way to its memorable finale.

Five teens escape to a remote cottage in the woods for the weekend. They arrive to discover that they are completely secluded from the outer world, with no means of communication. They naturally descend to explore as the cellar door flings open. They discover an unusual collection of relics and curiosities, but when one of the ladies, Dana, reads from a book, she awakens a family of vicious zombie murderers. There is, however, much more going on than meets the eye.

28. Swamp Thing (1982)

You know the green pulp that results from overcooking spinach? That appears to be the motivation for disgruntled swamp man Swamp Thing, who was first created for the pages of DC comics to indicate that when we debate the environment, we must consider horrible mutant avenging vegetable men alongside magnificent redwoods and fresh bouquets of azaleas.

Dr. Alec Holland, hiding in the murky depths of a swamp, is attempting to develop a new species – a hybrid of animal and plant capable of adapting to and surviving in the harshest environments. Regrettably, he becomes a victim of his own invention and is changed… Arcane, eager for the formula, seeks to catch the Swamp Thing. A wild chase ensues, culminating in a showdown between Holland and a transformed Arcane…

29. Creature of the Black Lagoon (1954)

This is a famous monster film that spawned several sequels and spin-offs and contributed to the early 1950s 3D film craze, despite being fully shot in black and white. With Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, and the now-iconic Gill-Man, director Jack Arnold introduced moviegoers to the creature from the Black Lagoon in 1954.

The monster is a member of a long-lost species found deep in the Amazon jungle. Although Gill-Man eventually kills many of the people attempting to capture it for further research, this film does an outstanding job of portraying the odd fishy man as the victim, compelling viewers to empathize with the monstrous monster. After all, he is only defending himself and his property against violent intruders.

30. The Wolf Man (1941)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

The Wolf Guy is a film directed by Curt Siodmak about a man named Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) who returns to Wales following the murder of his brother. Talbot is assaulted shortly after his arrival by a wolf, which he ends up killing with his silver walking cane. Talbot quickly discovers that the wolf he killed was actually a werewolf and that he, too, would soon become one after being bitten during the attack.

While The Wolf Man is unquestionably the most renowned werewolf film of all time, it was not Universal’s first. Stuart Walker’s Werewolf in London made its premiere in 1935, six years before the publication of The Wolf Man. Although the picture was not well-received, some reviewers believe Henry Hull’s portrayal was superior to Chaney Jr.’s, which we respectfully disagree with. Chaney’s preparation and commitment to the part are major reasons why Hollywood continues to regard his performance as the standard.

31. The Mist (2007)

The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont, was one of the finest adaptations of a Stephen King book. The narrative centers on a mysterious mist that spreads throughout a tiny New England village during a thunderstorm, bringing many evil monsters with it that attack the residents. It confines a group of inhabitants in a grocery shop, resulting in a Lord of the Flies-style setting in which we witness how frail and vicious individuals can be under great duress. Additionally, this film has an incredible and rather melancholy finale.

32. Tremors (1990)

Valentine “Val” McKee and Earl Bassett find themselves diverted while attempting to leave their dead-end lives in the desert hamlet of Perfection, Nevada when bodies inexplicably begin piling up around them. When Val and Earl have an encounter with some frightening tentacled creatures that have eaten a road crew for lunch, they flee to the town to spread the word. While these monsters are not intellectuals, their mental abilities are nonetheless astounding. When they discover a human sheltering in a car, they dig beneath it, sinking it into the soil. Val and Earl receive assistance from several community residents. Val and Earl slay one of the creatures with the assistance of Rhonda.

However, there are three of them remaining, each around 30 feet long. Walter begins referring to the monsters as graboids. When the survivors believe they have outwitted the graboids by seeking refuge on the rooftops of buildings, the graboids simply demolish the foundations of the structures, killing two individuals. Graboids are quick learners when it comes to tracking their prey, and humans must always be on their toes to survive while attempting to fight the graboids.

33. Gremlins (1984)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Although the 1980s were a golden age for unbridled cruelty and bone-crushing brutality masquerading as children’s entertainment, nothing came close to Dante’s extravagantly chaotic satire on materialism, conformity, and publicly maintained small-town ideals. 

The Gremlins, on the other hand, are completely insane – as if the Alien had crossed with a toilet brush – and behave like a revved-up pit bull while decimating the Christmas celebrations in beautiful backwater hamlet Kingston Falls. All manner of lofty allegories may be taken from the devastation wreaked by these punks, but what counts most on this list is that they’re quick, loose, and out of control.

34. Jaws (1975)

jaws poster

We’ve been scared to dip our toes in the water ever since Steven Spielberg established a high-concept bar with Jaws in the summer of 1975. The violence with which the gigantic man-eating shark preyed on defenseless beachgoers – and spectators’ psyches – made this picture a candidate for the scariest film of all time.

One week before the little summer resort town of Amity Island’s traditional Fourth of July celebrations, Martin Brody, the new police chief, has reason to think that the mutilated body of the missing teenage swimmer washed up on a beach is the work of a voracious shark. Concerned for the safety of unwary tourists, Brody insists on closing the beaches; however, greed and Mayor Larry Vaughn obstruct security, resulting in a series of more deadly attacks. 

Now, all eyes are on the deep blue ocean, where Brody, marine researcher Matt Hooper, and professional shark hunter Quint are on the lookout for the sea’s uncontested ruler: a huge, slate-grey great white shark that patrols the seas, ravenous for human flesh. However, can they outwit the ultimate aquatic man-eater and evade its colossal jaws?

35. The Fly (1986)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Jeff Goldblum received widespread critical acclaim for his performance as scientist Seth Brundle in David Cronenberg’s 1986 film The Fly. The film is a blend of science fiction and horror, as Goldblum’s character’s DNA gets unintentionally merged with that of a common housefly after a teleportation malfunction. He then gradually decomposes into a larger-than-life bug. The surprise in this monster film is that the protagonist transforms into the monster.

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a research scientist at Bartok Sciences who created “Telepods”-two-matter transmission pods capable of teleporting anything through space from one “Telepod” to the other. However, it is not until Seth meets journalist Veronica Quaife that Seth accomplishes effective teleportation.

However, something goes tragically wrong when Seth uses himself as a guinea pig in a matter transmission experiment, teleporting without realizing his genes have been merged with those of a housefly stuck in the telepod with him. Seth now finds himself progressively changing into the horrific mutant monster known as “Brundlefly,” fighting a losing struggle against his altered DNA.

36. Jurassic Park (1993)

What begins as an idyllic journey into the world of dinosaurs rapidly devolves into a blood-spattered journey through the horrors of cloning and the perils of resurrecting the dead. Jurassic Park produced a franchise, theme park attractions, and a slew of memes, but the picture itself is all adventure and tension, pitting a group of specialists against a tough adversary in the shape of a hungry T-Rex and the deadliest raptors ever filmed. While the T-Rex is unquestionably the headliner, the human analogs, particularly Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm, do just enough to pique the audience’s interest beyond becoming the huge dino’s next meal.

37. It Follows (2014)

Sex is frightening. That is the premise of It Follows, a horror film about a creature that chases down everyone who has had intercourse with someone who has already been “infected” by the entity. While It Follows is an obvious and unsubtle metaphor for sexually transmitted illnesses, it works by amplifying the atmospheric thrills and growing fear of mortality. While the film works on its own terms, it is boosted by a wonderfully frightened Maika Monroe in the main part of Jay, an unlucky victim of the monster’s inexplicable fury.

38. The Brood (1979)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

David Cronenberg has made some of the most unsettling films in history, and his 1979 horror film The Brood may be the most unnerving. This is a body horror film about a husband and wife whose relationship has deteriorated to the point that their anguish and sorrow appear on their daughter.

Frank Carveth is growing more concerned about Dr. Hal Raglan’s authoritarian therapy treatment of his troubled ex-wife, Nola, at the distant Somafree Institute of Psycho-Plasmics. After years of research, the controversial therapist has developed a cutting-edge procedure that focuses on the physical manifestations of his patients’ symptoms, most notably their bottled-up rage; however, the horrifying purple-black bruises and nasty scratches on the back of Frank and Nola’s shell-shocked little daughter, Candice, are alarming.

Is it hazardous for the poor girl to have those personal mother-daughter encounters at the institute? And what about the town’s recent run of inexplicable horrific murders? Finally, are they related to Somafree’s enigmatic practices?

39. Attack The Block (2011)

Though aliens are technically monsters, the alien horror film subgenre merits its own topic (which we have covered!). Attack the Block, on the other hand, plays less like the classic Alien by focusing the terror on earth and making it quite humorous. John Boyega is unquestionably the star, and if this was not the role that catapulted him to fame, it was certainly the one that demonstrated he possessed it. Invasion by aliens has never been this entertaining.

40. The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook was a 2014 Australian “monster” film that served as a metaphor for more serious, real-world concerns. The Babadook is based on filmmaker Jennifer Kent’s 2005 short film about a mother parenting her six-year-old son Samuel alone following her husband’s death. Her son has developed insomnia and believes he is being pursued by a monster, prompting him to begin constructing weapons to combat the beast. The whole film is a metaphor for sorrow, with the monster being the trauma that almost destroys the mother’s family.

41. Hellboy (2004)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Praise be to Ron Perlman for his portrayal of Hellboy in Guillermo Del Toro’s monster-filled adventure. Hellboy might have bombed due to its ridiculous character design and fantasy-infused narrative, but the care with which that concept was executed and Perlman’s performance elevate it to new heights. It also helps that Del Toro and his team have built some fantastic monsters; without ruining anything, the climactic set piece is a miracle of monster filmmaking.

Hellboy, the scarlet-skinned, cigar-chomping, gun-toting, hornless demon with the heart of a human who was spawned in the flaming bowels of Hell, finds himself facing the same evil forces over sixty years after foiling Adolf Hitler’s occult plot in 1944.

Hellboy, along with his similarly unusual brothers-in-arms—the telepathic amphibious man Abe Sapiens and the gorgeous fire-starter Liz Sherman—join forces with FBI agent John Myers to thwart the dangerous Russian mystic Grigory Rasputin’s ambitions. Once again, the destiny of the planet is at risk. Is Hellboy, the hellish hero, capable of rescuing the day?

42. The Day of the Triffids (1962)

On a clear night, the world’s inhabitants are treated to a magnificent meteor shower. Bill Masen is unable to attend the concert in London due to his bandaged eyes. The following morning, he awakens to find his bell unanswered. He self-administers the bandages and quickly finds he is one of the only individuals left with sight since everyone who witnessed the meteor shower has gone blind. Bill intervenes in a collapsing society by rescuing a little blind girl. Their struggle is not just to survive in this new environment, but also to resist the assault of triffids, flesh-eating plants that are quickly expanding and devouring humans.

43. The Blob (1958)

Although The Blob was recreated in 1988, the film was a critical and commercial failure. For this installment, we’re going back to the original 1958 version of a monster film designed specifically for drive-in theaters. Seriously, it was part of a double feature with I Married a Monster from Outer Space that Paramount Pictures specifically marketed for drive-in theaters, which were a popular trendy activity for teens and young adults in the late 1950s.

Steve McQueen (who would go on to greater and better things) made his feature film debut as Steve Andrews, a youngster who witnesses a weird object crash land in rural Pennsylvania, containing the all-consuming Blob. The bizarre beast attacks a cafe and a theater before being extinguished by carbon dioxide fire extinguishers – the Blob, it turns out, despises the cold.

44. The Toxic Avenger (1984)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

This is the story of Melvin, the Tromaville Health Club mop boy, who trusts the hedonistic, scornful, and vain health club members unwittingly and naively, to the point of accidentally finding himself in a tank of hazardous waste. The disastrous consequences subsequently have a transmogrification effect, releasing his alter ego and giving birth to the Toxic Avenger, with fatal and hilarious consequences. The neighborhood mop boy has evolved into a neighborhood Superhero, a savior against corruption, thuggish bullies, and apathy. Troma classic with excellent make-up and stunts, a nice surprise.

45. Alien (1979)

The commercial spacecraft Nostromo intercepts a distress call from a faraway moon in the distant future, on her way back to Earth. The crew of seven is awoken from hypersleep, and the spaceship falls to the moon. While exploring the moon, a three-member crew discovers a derelict spaceship and a massive room within it filled with thousands of eggs. When an inquisitive team member approaches the egg, the parasite within attacks and knocks him out. He is escorted onboard and the spacecraft is launched. After a little while, the parasite dies and his host resurfaces presumably unharmed. Everything quickly returns to normal, but not for long.

46. Night of the Lepus (1972)

Cole Hillman’s Arizona property is infested with mongrel rabbits, and he wishes to eradicate them in an environmentally responsible manner. Elgin Clark, the college president, enlists the assistance of biologist Roy Bennett as a favor to campus patron Hillman. Bennett immediately begins injecting hormones and genetically altered blood into rabbits in an attempt to discover a way to interrupt rabbit reproduction. After one of the test, subjects escapes, a race of violent, wolf-sized, man-, horse-, and cow-eating rabbits are born. The National Guard is eventually summoned for a last confrontation with the rampaging bunnies.

47. Nightbreed (1992)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

A masked serial murderer is committing atrocities against families. Meanwhile, Aaron Boone, a young man, is having nightmares about creatures in a region called Midian. He receives counseling from psychiatrist Dr. Philip K. Decker, and his girlfriend Lori Winston wants to accompany him on vacation. When Aaron sees Dr. Decker for a session, the psychiatrist convinces him that he is a serial murderer and requests that Aaron surrender to the authorities. Additionally, he administers a sedative to relax him.

Nevertheless, it is a hallucinogen, and Aaron gets struck by a truck. He regains consciousness in a hospital, sharing a room with the crazy Narcisse. Aaron discovers the location of Midian when he overhears the guy discussing it. He arrives at the location and discovers that Midian is a graveyard. Additionally, creatures are hiding underground from people that are bitten by Peloquin. Aaron runs from the creatures and is greeted outside the cemetery by Dr. Decker, Detective Joyce, and a squad of police officers.

Decker fabricates and shouts that Aaron possesses a firearm, and he is assassinated by the police. However, the bite revives him, and he travels to Midian, where he joins an underground society of monsters. Meanwhile, Lori is on the lookout for him, while Decker is determined to exterminate the old breed of monsters.

48. IT Chapter 2 (2019)

Following the survivors’ irrevocable blood oath in It (2017)—and nearly three decades after their bloody encounter with the demonic shape-shifter Pennywise the Dancing Clown—the estranged members of the Losers’ Club are faced with a terrifying obligation: to return to Derry and honor their promise. Once again, the terrible death of an innocent brings up horrible memories, reuniting the old band of comrades, as the terrifying monster returns from the shadows of oblivion to terrorize the little town, determined on vengeance and killing. 

Whether they like it or not, the now-successful Losers must delve deep into the basic anxieties of their difficult upbringing and have the resolve to put an end to the awful creature’s reign of terror. Derry’s surviving supernatural soldiers face one final battle. Will this last encounter bring the Losers Club to an end, or will it bring an end to the horrible entity known as IT?

49. Dragonslayer (1981)

Before Peter Jackson gave Sword and Sorcery (because that is what they are) an irresistibly seductive gloss, this 1981 effort took a boldly cod-medieval stride through damsel/dragon terrain, eventually becoming the lodestone of dark-tinged family fantasy. In a world, the trailer may have implied, where the dung hovel is the normal unit of social habitation, all that stands between a big fire-breathing beast and a somewhat fey cadre of aristocrats set on offering up their virgins to the monster is a kid on the verge of adulthood. 

Not the perfect setup, but one that worked until Sir Ralph Richardson’s perennially befuddled wizard became a have-a-go retiree and laid the stage for a wonderful revenge story for his young apprentice. Despite his early immolation, Richardson steals the film, but the Industrial Light & Magic special effects come in a close second and retain an ethereal beauty that CGI-drenched progeny like Beowulf cannot equal. Disney’s graphic mash-up sequel, ‘Pete’s Dragon Slayer,’ was canceled following test screenings that left young audiences in tears.

50. Willow (1988)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Ranon and Mims, the children of Willow Ufgood, a dwarf farmer and magician, discover a baby girl in a river and take her into their care. However, when a frightening canine-like beast assaults Willow’s community in search of the infant. Willow talks with the village council and The High Aldwin, a magician. The High Aldwin assigns Willow a mission, and Willow departs from the community to complete the duty of delivering the newborn girl to a responsible individual. 

However, Willow quickly discovers the baby is Elora Danan, the newborn girl prophesied to bring the terrible witch Queen Bavmorda to her knees. Willow, aided by his companions, swordsman Madmartigan, sorceress Fin Raziel, and the Brownies Franjean and Rool, takes it upon himself to protect Elora from Queen Bavmorda, who plans to murder Elora and prevent her from achieving her destiny. 

And Willow and his companions are chased by Queen Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha and the wicked commander of Queen Bavmorda’s army General Kael, who are looking for Elora and bringing her back to Queen Bavmorda’s castle, where Queen Bavmorda plans to execute Elora in a ceremony to avert the prophecy of her demise.

51. The Monster Squad (1987)

Dracula and other monsters survived a hundred years ago when Dr. Van Helsing and his soldiers attacked his castle with a miraculous amulet. Dracula goes to the United States in the modern-day and settles in a tiny village. He enlists the assistance of the Werewolf, the Mummy, the Swamp Thing, and Frankenstein’s monster to reclaim the amulet. In town, a guy pretends to be the werewolf and goes to the police station to request that he be locked up. Meanwhile, a mummy mysteriously vanishes from a nearby museum, and police detective Del is sent to investigate. 

When Sean, a monster aficionado, learns of the news, he meets his buddies Patrick, Horace, and Rudy in their monster club to read a Van Helsing diary that his mother sent him. They are unable to translate the book, however, because it is written in German. Thus, they seek assistance from their strange neighbor, whom they refer to as Scary German Guy, and find that they must collect the amulet and a virgin to ward off Dracula and the monsters. 

Meanwhile, Sean’s younger sister Phoebe meets Frankenstein’s creature as she is unsuccessfully attempting to join the club. The unlike group invites Patrick’s sister, who claims to be a virgin, to recite the chapter that banishes the monsters. Will they succeed in their mission?

52. Lake Placid (1999)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Shortly after the terrible underwater assault in Maine’s Black Lake, local Fish and Game inspector Jack Wells enlists the assistance of paleontologist Kelly Scott of New York City to conduct an investigation. 

With just a mutilated body to guide them, Jack and Kelly go on a perilous journey to discover the elusive predator, while Sheriff Hank Keough, a mythology professor, and an eccentric resident all want to identify the elusive animal first. However, something lethal is waiting under the quiet pond, and it has already developed an appetite for the succulent human flesh. What is Lake Placid’s secret?

53. Pitch Black (2000)

When a meteor shower strikes the transport ship “Hunter-Gratzner,” pilot Carolyn Fry awakens from cryogenic hibernation and attempts to control the vessel’s forty passengers. Carolyn, the bounty hunter William J. Johns, the pious Abu “Imam” al-Walid, the dealer Paris P. Ogilvie, Sharon ‘Shazza’ Montgomery, the runaway adolescent Jack, John ‘Zeke’ Ezekiel; Suleiman; Hassan); Ali, and the deadly criminal Richard B. Riddick survive. Riddick flees, and Johns warns the survivors of his threat. 

The party becomes stuck in the desert and discovers that the area is heated by three suns, prompting them to band together in search of water and supplies. They soon find that the planet is under assault by flesh-eating aliens that strike in the dark; moreover, the world will be completely dark due to a total eclipse. They decide that they need not be concerned about Riddick.

54. Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Edward Parker is abruptly left on an island belonging to Dr. Moreau after being rescued by a passing freighter when his ship sinks. He is made to feel comfortable there, though his host cautions him not to pass judgment on whatever he sees on the island too soon or harshly. Moreau has been performing genetic experiments on animals, transforming them into hybrids of man and beast. While Parker is repulsed by what he has discovered, Moreau determines that he may be useful in some of his experiments. Meanwhile, Parker’s fiancée arrives on the island in an attempt to entice him back. Finally, Dr. Moreau must bear the cost of his experiments.

55. Piranha (1978)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

A young couple discovers an abandoned US Army test site on the side of a mountain, complete with a massive pool. They jump in, believing it to be an average swimming pool. However, this pool is inhabited by piranhas, and the pair is devoured alive. A young lady private investigator is hired to locate one of the missing children by the father, and she encounters an alcoholic outdoorsman who lives on the mountain. They locate the test site and empty the pool to determine what’s within. 

As they leave, they are approached by Dr. Hoak, the test site’s sole resident, who informs them that the inhabitants of the pool were the result of a gene-splicing experiment called ‘Operation Razorteeth,’ which aimed to create a mutant strain of piranha fish for deployment against the NVA during the Vietnam War. The fish could survive in cold water and reproduce rapidly. Recognizing that a children’s summer camp and the Lost River Lake Resort are directly in the path of the piranhas, they set out to halt them. 

The piranha is well ahead of them, and on their journey downstream, they murder numerous individuals. They are detained for attempting to alert the camp director and resort owner of the risk. They escape incarceration thanks to the woman’s resourcefulness and speed down to the camp in a state police car to warn them. However, the piranha has already attacked – and others wish to keep the piranha threat a secret…

56. Dog Soldiers (2002)

A British team is deployed on a training assignment against a Special Operations unit in the Scottish Highlands. Ignoring juvenile “campfire” tales heard about the region, they continue their mission and come discover the bloodied remains of the Special Ops Squad, as well as a ferocious howling piercing the night sky… They flee with two critically wounded men, encountering Megan, a biologist who knows precisely what is after them. What began as a training assignment quickly escalates into a life-or-death struggle against the most improbable adversary they could have imagined – werewolves.

57. The Stuff (1985)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Though his work as a writer-director remained sporadic and his health deteriorated for another decade, ‘The Stuff’ is widely considered as Larry Cohen’s final and maybe finest subversive statement. Cohen portrays a universe in which a strange sentient dessert substance is known only as ‘the stuff’ has captivated the hearts, minds, and stomachs of an increasingly couch-bound society.

A delectable, mysterious goo that seeps from the soil is advertised as the next dessert craze, but the delectable delicacy rots more than teeth as zombie-like snackers obsessed with consuming more of the weird material at any cost infest the planet.

58. Re-Animator (1985)

Obsessed with the notion of transcending death and desperate to prove his hypothesis, Herbert West, an aspiring medical student, comes to New England following the tragic tragedy at the Swiss Institute of Medicine. Soon, Herbert would resume his experiments with dead feline tissue and subsequently with new human cadavers, persuading his skeptic roommate, Dan Cain, to join his ambitious endeavor. 

Inevitably, as the two young scientists go deeper and deeper into unexplored territory, the campus will begin to overflow with West’s reanimated corpses, attracting the attention of Dr. Hill, West’s arch-nemesis, who yearns to claim credit for this astonishing discovery. Even with a little assistance, the dead will rise again; but, can the youthful reanimator harness the potential of his phosphorescent green reagent?

59. The People Under The Stairs (1991)

The People Under the Stairs is the narrative of a young slum boy (Fool) on his thirteenth birthday. In an attempt to burglarize the home of his family’s wicked landlords (together with two others), he becomes stuck inside their huge suburban house and finds the mystery of the “children” his mad brother and sister have been “raising” beneath the stairs.

60. Nightbreed (1990)

60 Best Monster Movies of All Time (2021 Update)

Clive Barker, the horror author, filmed his own bizarre monster film Nightbreed in 1990, based on his novella Cabal. It was an unusual monster film in that the monsters were the good guys, creatures that desired solitude but were pursued and slaughtered by humans who despised and frightened them. Craven’s kaleidoscope of monsters fighting for their homes and lives was both ugly and scary.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments