Halloween is just over a month away, but it’s never too early to start watching monster movies and spreading the festive terror. So let’s kick off the season with a list that I’ve been meaning to post for some time now: 5 Underrated Movie Monsters! This one took me a while to complete, simply because I needed to find just the right creatures that both had awesome designs and are mostly unknown. In a lot of these cases, the monster is the only thing that the movie has going for it, but so what? Every horror fan loves a good monster, so here are my top 5 favourite underrated movie monsters.
5. Humanoids from the Deep – Aqua-rapists
Humanoids from the Deep is probably the sleaziest movie on this list. Produced by Roger Corman, the film takes place in a small fishing village where humanoid fish-mutants begin emerging from the water to kill all the men and rape all the women. The movie follows the 80’s horror formula strictly and without variation. A couple goes to swim at the beach, one gets pulled under the water, the other thinks it’s a prank, and then she’s attacked as well. Two people are getting ready to have sex in a tent, then the monster attacks. The monsters are all defeated with big explosions, but then in typical 80’s fashion, there’s a cliffhanger ending as well. For all that it’s exploitative and formulaic, Humanoids from the Deep has some enjoyably cheesy monsters in the sex-hungry fish-men, and while it’s in undeniably poor taste that the monsters rape women, this actually manages to make them into a greater threat than if they were just killing everybody. Regardless of the plot, these monsters deserve more exposure.
4. Basket Case – My Twin Brother
I hesitated to put Basket Case on this list, because it’s fairly well-known in cult movie circles, but it’s just too much fun not to include. Duane Bradley appears to be a fairly normal young man, except that he carries a picnic basket with him where ever he goes. We quickly find out that the basket contains Belial, Duane’s deformed Siamese twin brother. Together the twins exact revenge upon the doctors who separated them. Belial is a ridiculous design, so he ranks low on this list even though I enjoy this movie a lot. It’s the details of this monster that make him great, for although he’s just a sort of tumor-like blob with a face, the idea of him living in a picnic basket and eating copious amounts of hot dogs is just too much fun.
3. The Deadly Spawn – The Space Hydra
The Deadly Spawn is a straightforward movie. Alien creature lands on earth. Alien creature eats people. Alien creature grows bigger. Alien creature is defeated by a young boy who’s a big fan of monster movies. That’s really all there is to it, but damn, that monster design is top notch, especially considering what a low budget this film purportedly had. According to some reports, The Deadly Spawn only cost $25,000, and it’s clear that the bulk of it went into making the monster as memorable as possible. Sporting multiple heads that are basically gaping mouths filled with rows upon rows of teeth, this is a movie where you watch it for the monster and ignore everything else.
2. Monster in the Closet – The Troll with a Face Hole
I’ll admit, I’ve never seen Monster in the Closet all the way through – just clips. It’s a Troma production, which instantly tells you that this movie had a low budget and probably no much in the way of a decent script. Apparently it’s a spoof of monster movies, which would be right up my alley if it weren’t for its 4.8/10 rating on IMDb. If there was ever a reason to watch this movie, though, it would be the monster. This creature has the appearance of a hulking troll, and its most unique feature is its circular mouth lined with spiky teeth. A tongue-like appendage extends from this mouth-hole to attack people, and the appendage even appears to have its own little head and mouth.
1. TerrorVision – The Monster from Planet Pluton
TerrorVision is a bizarre movie from the 80’s that takes place on a weird alternate version of earth where everyone carries guns, even the kids. After installing a new satellite dish, a family finds themselves terrorized by a lumpy, toothy monster, whom they eventually discover to be an alien pet that was shot out into space and found its way into their home. TerrorVision isn’t exactly a masterpiece of cinema, but the monster design is wholly original and fun. Look at him! He looks so happy! Part of what I love about the design of this monster is how asymmetrical and illogical it is. It’s just a deformed living mass of teeth and flailing limbs; the kind of thing that would more likely be the result of mutation than evolution. Its one enormous bulging eye and its bent bone-ear-thing almost give it a puppy-like quality. Until it dissolves your head.
BONUS: The Creature from the Haunted Sea – Cookie Monster’s Evil Cousin
I’m including this one as a bonus because the monster design in this case is just so utterly terrible that you can’t help but love it. Creature from the Haunted Sea is another Roger Corman movie, and the monster here has no motivation beyond killing whoever dares to sail through its territory. With its googly eyes and derpy expression, it looks like it could be a muppet, and it is in no way frightening. But it makes me laugh every time.