Demons. Vampires. Werewolves. Mummies. The horror genre has them all. More so, thanks to Stephen King’s dramatization as well as subsequent creature movies, even clowns have become a common scare. From secluded geeks to talking dolls, anyone and anything can become a horror movie villain, as long as they’re fueled by fear and special effects.
Some directors, however, can’t stop at the first textbook monster. They need to take things further, either to pure genius territory or to the hilariously insane. And no, we’re not talking about the unforgettable grin of Freddy Krueger or about Pinhead’s traumatizing apparition. We’re not even gonna mention the multiple horrible faces of “The Thing”. These are indeed creative foes, but they’re still part of the horror canon.
We’re talking about the kind of creatures that first elicit the “whaaat?” reaction, rather than pure horror. Soon after Ed Wood finished his “pioneering” work, the 70s and 80s became filled with such creative monstrosities. This is why, before getting on with our list (centered on more recent and lesser-known apparitions), we’d like to hear your applause for two great classics.
First of all, give it up for “Night of the Lepus”, a 1972 movie so bad that it’s difficult to not admire it, and the flick that gave us giant mutant bunnies. Second, we mustn’t forget “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”, a movie from the same decade. Nevertheless, it’s a movie with three sequels, all of them filled with vegan nightmares.
The 90s were not without their merit, offering us “Leprechaun” along with its multiple sequels, and of course, the unforgettable (trust us, we tried) “Troll 2”, a movie that lacks any trolls, but which does feature goblins that turn people into plants. Alas, we should now stop reminiscing and get on with our list!
1. Darkness Falls (2003)
A forgotten 2003 film, “Darkness Falls” gave us not only a young Emily Browning, but also a menace that few children would suspect: the Tooth Fairy.
Armed with a “dramatic” backstory, the new Tooth Fairy is more interested in children who stay awake at night than in dentistry. It’s an unusual villain in a questionable role. Who knows, maybe next time she could forge an alliance with the Easter Bunny?
2. Trick’r Treat (2007)
While we’re still stuck in the 2000s, we mustn’t forget “Trick’r Treat”, a delightful blend of several horror stories, all united by a single foe: Sam.
Now, we’re aren’t specifically told who or what Sam is, but his name comes from Samhain (the original “Halloween” celebration) and his appearance is troubling. Short and childlike in appearance, Sam looks like your average trick-or-treater, save for his lust for blood and his demonic skull.
3. Teeth (2007)
A throwback to the gory fetish films of earlier decades, “Teeth” alludes to the woeful theme of sexual assault. How does the movie slip this into its narrative? Does it do it with subtlety, like more recent productions? Nope.
“Teeth” crashes the party with an aggressive, toothed vagina that assaults potential rapists. While some critics called the movie “feminist” at release, we’re quite sure that mutation-powered vaginas were not on any group’s agenda.
4. Splinter (2008)
Hey! Remember when your friend was accidentally stung by a monstrous porcupine and his dead hand took on a life of its own? Neither do we, but “Splinter” seems to have created an entire epic based on this.
While the movie does try to offer us some sort of scientific explanation, when your entire cast is running away from porcupine-created zombies, you either fight for your life or die laughing.
5. Pontypool (2008)
This is a movie with decent ideas and a competent cast, but without the budget to make them work, “Pontypool” pits us against an enemy that should make stand-up comedians run in terror. Words, and spoken words in particular!
In this “isolation horror”, certain words become part of a viral infection. Simply hearing or mentally repeating them will eventually get you and others killed. It’s an interesting concept, especially when reading a dreadfully long movie list.
6. Blood Creek (2009)
Back when Michael Fassbender was more interested in horror films and less interested in being awesome, “Blood Creek” was released. It featured Henry Cavill (who had not yet discovered he was Superman) and Dominic Purcell (who was on a break from “Prison Break”) as two brothers hellbent on taking revenge on a family who held one of them captive.
With Joel Schumacher at the helm, you would expect nothing less than a battle between two enraged siblings and a demonic Nazi warlock that drinks blood to keep his immortality. Wait, what? Exactly! The plot of “Blood Creek” reads like a boss battle from a Wolfenstein game.
7. Rare Exports (2010)
Now, Santa Claus and his many local variations have long become dark figures in multiple productions (“Krampus” being one of them), but this Finnish production, based on a short film, was among the first to do it right.
The Santa Claus of “Rare Export” is an abysmal creature whose helpers, the elves, look like escaped sex offenders. Good one, Finland!
8. Vanishing on 7th Street (2010)
While darkness, as a metaphor for the unknown, has been a villain since the beginning of cinema, “Vanishing on 7th Street” takes it to a whole new level. In this movie, which features future “Westworld” star Thandie Newton along with a couple of former Hollywood darlings, darkness becomes a real and palpable enemy.
Unfortunately, the film seems to offer no explanation to why a “global darkness plague” is decimating our world. Are the characters actually living in purgatory? Is there a chemical or supernatural “mist” involved? We’re left in the dark.
9. Orcs! (2011)
Hey, wait a minute! Multiple fantasy films feature orcs as villains. Why is this pseudo-comedy on the list and why should we watch this garbage? As much as we tried, we could only offer you one reason: Andrew Black. He’s a writer and producer who has titles such as “Narcos” credited to his name, and who directed this masterpiece under a pen name.
Other than that, “Orcs!” could have been an excellent parody, if it weren’t pure crap. A stoner park ranger has to fight a horde of rampaging orcs, who’ve been recently released from the underground. The only thing worse than the back story are the jokes, with one of them involving an urine sample.
10. Citadel (2012)
A dark and harrowing picture, Ciaran Foy’s first full-length film has been listed before, mainly for its agoraphobic atmosphere and social theme. However, few lists talk about the actual antagonists of this film: demonic hoodlums who kidnap babies and can sense fear.
While this might sound juvenile, the dark tone of the movie manages to avoid the trap of creating another “Attack the Block”. These foes are a horrific plight!