Motion pictures have been around since the late 19th century, when they first captured the imagination of the public even though they were black and white and silent. Back then, just as now, filmmakers produced movies in a variety of genres or categories according to public demand. These included romance (Rudolph Valentino), comedy (Charlie Chaplin), horror (Vincent Price), westerns (Annie Oakley) and, of course, monsters (Frankenstein).
The last category in particular has proved to be one of the most enduring, exhilarating and yet polarising. This is because just as some movie goers actively crave the adrenalin, thrill and excitement of having the you-know-what scared out of them by larger-than-life movie monsters, others are only too happy to run the other way. Fans of the monster movie genre, however, have many decades of magnificent monsters of the movies to choose from.
Below we have featured 8 of our most notable movie monsters with a short description of each. It’s worth noting that there are two kinds of movie monsters in this list; non-human monsters, and people whose deeds and actions make them monsters. Which is worse is for you to decide. For our ticket price, however, the latter is far more frightening, especially in cases where the monster within is so well hidden that nobody knows that it exists.
Here is our list of the most magnificent monsters of the movies:
When English author Mary Shelley published her book Frankenstein in 1818, little did she know that it would become one of the world’s literary greats and be adapted into a slew of movies. Although the first of these was released in 1910 at just 16 minutes long, it wasn’t until the 1931 film of the same name that Frankenstein’s monster really came to life.
The original mad scientist, Dr Frankenstein was played by Colin Clive while his creation / monster was portrayed by horror specialist, Boris Karloff. The image of Karloff’s monster with its extended post orbital brow and trademark bolt through its neck is still the image that many people equate as the quintessential Frankenstein’s monster, even today.
The monster unfortunately succumbed in the end as a direct result of mob justice.
Dr Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
In 1981 American writer Thomas Harris unleashed one of the most infamous and terrifying monsters on the world in his novel Red Dragon in the form of genius psychiatrist, serial killer, cannibal and monster Dr Hannibal Lecter. Harris’s second book, The Silence of the Lambs was published in 1988 and adapted for the big screen in 1991 to great applause.
Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins scared the hell out of audiences around the world with his creepy spine-tingling portrayal of Dr Lecter. In fact, few people that have seen the film have forgotten Lector’s immortal line; “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti”, which he delivered to co-star Jody Foster, who played tough FBI Agent Clarice Starling.
Silence of the Lambs is a chilling film that even today many people cannot watch alone.
Godzilla is considered by many film buffs to be the ultimate monster of the movies because of its sheer size and savagery. A product of Japan, this enormous prehistoric dinosaur-like sea monster that feeds of radiation has appeared in countless films, TV shows, comic books, video games, and is even a top online slot players can enjoy for real money or just for fun.
The shows were famous for their detailed set pieces of miniature Japanese towns, buildings, streets and cars that Godzilla and co systematically smashed to smithereens. Both films and TV shows in the franchise typically showed Godzilla fighting one or more equally large and terrifying monster rivals to the death including Mechagodzilla, Gigan and King Ghidorah.
Despite Hollywood’s 2014 Godzilla being accused by Japanese fans of being ‘too fat,’ the film still grossed $529 million from a budget of $160 million.
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
Based on US writer Bret Easton Ellis's shocking 1991 novel American Psycho, the 2000 Hollywood film also depicted the depraved thoughts and actions of a polished young rich Wall Street-based investment banker, Patrick Bateman played by Christian Bale. Set in the 1980s, the film perfectly captures the excesses of the era including greed and drug use.
With this as a backdrop, the insecure and pedantic psychopath that is Bateman starts to show his true side. And while he envies the business cards of colleagues by day, by night he satisfies his blood lust. Under the cover of darkness in New York City, Bateman partakes in murder, torture, animal cruelty and many other depravities as his true monster emerges.
Even when Bateman tries to turn himself in at the end of the film to get his just punishment, fate prevents him from doing so, ensuring he can continue on as before.
Coming off the success of space opera Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) in 1977, 1979’s space horror Alien gave audience a completely different take on space and aliens. Inspired by the haunting work of Swiss artist H. R. Giger, the film’s Alien with its sleek dragon-like body, oblong head, and multiple metal-teeth jaws frightened audience across the globe.
Here was a space monster never before seen on celluloid and one so sinister and monstrous that it seemed only natural that it would take a tough, no-nonsense female crew member like Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) to eventually bring the Alien to its knees. But not before the slimy Alien managed to rip apart pretty much all of Ripley’s fellow crew mates.
Alien spawned another five sequels / prequels which combined earned $1.3 billion in box office receipts off a budget of $371 million.
Amon Goth (Schindler's List)
Amon Goth is a particularly nasty movie character because he has the distinction of being the only real life monster on this entire list. Brought to the fore in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 historical drama Schindler's List, Amon Leopold Goth was in charge of the infamous Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp in German-occupied Plaszow, Poland during World War II.
There, he oversaw the systematic extermination and torture of countless men, woman and children, the exact number of which is still unknown today. Even in his personal capacity Goth tortured and murdered a substantial number of people for the smallest reasons or even no reason at all. He reportedly shot his cook dead when his soup was served too hot.
Fortunately this real-life monster was tried for his war crimes after the war, found guilty and executed in September 1946.
Nobody has done more to instil such a deep and unwarranted fear of sharks in the public consciousness than Hollywood director Steven Spielberg thanks to his 1975 blockbuster Jaws, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel. Made on a shoestring budget of $9 million, this epic killer monster shark movie earned over $470 million at the box office worldwide.
Set in the fictional beach town of Amity Island, the film follows police chief Martin Brody (played by Roy Scheider) as he tries to convince the town committee that a killer shark is the cause of recent deaths. Needless to say nobody listens to him and the body count increases before the monster shark is finally dispatched by a lucky shot and an exploding oxygen tank.
Apart from the mechanical shark made famous by the film, Jaws is also known for composer John Williams’ bloodcurdling score that won him an Academy Award.
Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)
Alex DeLarge, the monster portrayed so vividly in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange by actor Malcolm McDowell, was so disturbed and warped that the film was banned in many countries. Based on the 1962 novel by English author Anthony Burgess, the film portrays a dystopian Britain through the exploits of a gang of violent juvenile delinquents.
Under the leadership of Alex, the gang regularly partakes in ‘ultra-violence’ that results in gang fights, the crippling of a well-known writer and the rape of his wife, and the murder of a rich old lady. Caught and sentenced to 14 years in prison, Alex is supposedly rehabilitated, but then at the very end of the film it’s revealed that he is still the same depraved monster.
Upon its release, A Clockwork Orange was deemed so violent and sexual in nature by the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures, that it forbid Roman Catholics from watching it.
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