6. The Howling (1981)
Dee Wallace stars as newswoman Karen White, whom is investigating serial killer Eddie Quist, who has been molesting her via phone calls. She is bugged by the police and meets Eddie in a peep-show cabin at a red-light district. When Eddie makes a move, the police takes him out, but the situation leaves Karen traumatized. She decides to go to ‘the Colony’ a secluded retreat inhabited by creepy residents which coincidentally seem to have a connection to Eddie Quist. When Karen ventures into the forest next to the retreat she makes a haunting discovery.
Another werewolf film to make the cut! This might be the most talked about film on here, it’s not the only movie on this list with sequels, but it certainly has the most sequels to its name. But still… since Joe Dante’s Gremlins films are talked about more, ‘The Howling’ could do with some more love.
7. Slither (2006)
Before the various creatures from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, James Gunn already explored the inhuman with Slither. Strongly influenced by the master of creature features, David Cronenberg, Slither starts with leech-like monsters similar as we saw in Brain Damage, but also touches on the Zombie genre, as these leech-like creatures use humans as hosts, absorbing their minds.
As a meteor crashes into the woods near the town of Wheelsy (crashing meteors seems a common theme), little leech-like aliens slither away from the impact zone. The unfortunate Grant (Michael Rooker) is their first victim. Grant goes back to his home were his wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) awaits him and all seems normal. Gradually Grant changes and his need for flesh becomes apparent. When Starla discovers the reason for Grant his strange behavior she teams up with a couple town folk in an attempt to stop an alien invasion.
Slither might not be the scariest, or best-crafted monster flick out there, but it sure has a lot of the right ideas going for it. On top of that, its comedy is worth the watch in itself!
8. Mothra (1961)
Mothra started off as an independent kaiju film, before she eventually joined the Godzilla universe. After Godzilla she has the most appearances in the kaiju movies, but when you share a world with the talk of the town; the king of the monsters, you’re bound to be forgotten in conversation. It’s a sad story for Mothra when her most popular film is the one with Godzilla in the title: Mothra vs. Godzilla.
Ishiro Honda’s second most popular monster draws from a similar theme as Godzilla, being the nuclear aftermath from the atomic bombs that landed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Mothra, shipwreck survivors are discovered on an island, desolate due to nuclear testing. During an expedition on the island two small fairies are found (portrayed by the Ito sisters). The fairies are taken against their will, even after they warned the expedition members that ‘Mothra’ will save them. Low and behold, their threats weren’t empty, as Mothra, a giant moth-like creature awakes from her sleep and causes havoc in her path to recover the sisters.
Although it might not be a match to Godzilla, Mothra is a strong film, proving Honda to be a master of the Kaiju genre.
9. Crawl (2019)
The French director Alexandre Aja first really broke through with his thrilling horror ‘Haute Tension’ and has since then made plenty of underrated films in the horror genre. His remake of The Hills Have Eyes was his first venture into the US film industry and with it he gained both fans and haters. More recently he made films like Horns and Piranha 3D, also both sadly having trouble finding the right audience. All these films arguably being underrated and certainly being received with mixed reactions, might have been one of the reasons that Crawl was approached with caution as well. However, Crawl might be Aja’s best film since he left French cinema for a Hollywood career.
Crawl has a basic story; Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a competitive swimmer drives into a category 5 hurricane to her hometown to check in on her father. Arrived at her town, the streets rapidly disappear as water rises. Worst of all, the water is filled with six-meter long alligators. Stuck in her father’s home, she must now find a way to escape these predators.
The story is simple, but very effective. The monsters are familiar, but scary nonetheless, and the setting turns increasingly thrilling. Because of this, Crawl definitely deserves a place on this list as well as to be watched and talked about by many more.
10. Mimic (1997)
Entomologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) creates a mutant breed of insects to kill disease-carrying cockroaches. The breed is engineered to die after one generation, but after three years Susan finds out that the breed has survived and evolved into giant monsters that can mimic human form.
Guillermo del Toro is one of the most unique voices working today. With his eye for detail he creates the most beautiful worlds with the most unique inhabitants. He’s a master of creature films and many of his works have been talked about endlessly. Of course, Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the best movies of the century, of course The Shape of Water is a beautiful work of art, Cronos is disturbingly good, and Hellboy is a ton of fun… But why is it that the perfectly fine- the very thrilling- Mimic is ignored so often?
Admittedly, Cronos is a hard one to follow up and the switch to the US studio market is a very big step, but still Mimic manages to be such a fun, unique film that deserves much more recognition. The giant monster insects look scary as can be and their mimic qualities make them unpredictable and unique. Overall, it’s a very fine entry in del Toro’s filmography and deserves to be talked about more! Note; Del Toro released a director’s cut in 2011 which is available on Blu-ray and digitally, so if you want to see it, the director’s cut is recommended.