With Halloween around the corner on October 31, it’s the perfect time to binge-watch some of the best monster movies. Jump scares, stomach-churning gory scenes and diabolic monsters that wreak havoc make this subgenre of horror movies an interesting roller-coaster ride for thrill seekers.
However, you don’t need to watch these just during Halloween, you can very well dive into their spookiness, anytime you like. A weekend horror movie marathon, perhaps?
From a shape-shifting clown preying on children in It to a giant monster of the seas destroying anything that comes its way in The Host — these scary stories go a step further from the typical horror genre. Instead of treading along the line of evil spirits and murderous ghosts, these movies thrive on the vividness of terrifying beasts and alien creatures ravaging the planet.
It may sometimes get confusing to differentiate between monsters, zombies and cold-hearted serial killers, so it is best to note that monster movies mostly revolve around mythical creatures, frightening alien invaders and gargantuan brutes whom you would rather not cross paths with.
What makes monster movies appealing to viewers
Monster movies have a unique way of impacting the big screen and box office collections. While you know that none of it is true or most of what is shown is the result of incredible VFX or CGI graphics, it somehow eschews the regular small horror movie tropes and flings in higher stakes.
Massive visual appeal making viewers scream when they sense something wicked coming their way, audiences urging on-screen characters to avoid suspicious locations or even smirking at the momentary calmness, is where the cinematic brilliance of such monster movies lie. Devoid of lurking spirits or evil humans, these horror flicks rely on the devilish nature of extraterrestrial giant creatures posing a threat to humanity.
Here are some of the best monster movies for a scary binge-watching session
(Main Image Credit: Pan’s Labyrinth/ 2006 – New Line Cinema/ IMDb; Featured image credit: It/ 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc/ IMDb)
Jump To / Table of Contents
- It (2017)
- A Quiet Place (2018)
- The Host (2006)
- Tumbbad (2018)
- Overlord (2018)
- The Howling (1981)
- Aliens (1986)
- Godzilla (1954)
- Jaws (1975)
- Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
- Pacific Rim (2013)
- Jurassic Park (1993)
- Cloverfield (2008)
- The Blob (1988)
- Frankenstein (1931)
- Wolf Man (1941)
- King Kong (2005)
- Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
- Gremlins (1984)
- The Monster Squad (1987)
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier and Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh
Synopsis: In the small Maine town of Derry, there is a surge in the missing cases of local children and a menacing shape-shifting monster, who goes by the name Pennywise, is reigning terror. This monster appears every 27 years and takes the form of an eerie frightening clown hunting for children. The film revolves around this titular character and the Loser’s Club, a group of young local kids. The group meets at a place called The Barrens, to encounter Pennywise and kill it once and for all.
Based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, this horror movie takes place in the 1980s and Skarsgård’s portrayal of Pennywise is sure to scare you to bits — for instance, his eyes actually roam in two different directions and whenever he chances upon a kid, Pennywise drools as if he is starved and ready to pounce on at any moment.
Watch It here
Directed by: John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt as Evelyn Abbott, John Krasinski as Lee Abbott, Millicent Simmonds as Regan Abbott and Noah Jupe as Marcus Abbott
Synopsis: The Abbott family has to survive the desolate silence of upstate New York in a post-apocalyptic world where a species of aliens have devastated everything alive. These predators are attracted to noise and even the faintest of sounds can prove to be lethal. Depicting the horrors of the fallout after almost 12 months since the big-toothed creatures were last seen, the present time is extremely vulnerable and the family must make sure to remain absolutely silent.
Krasinski and Blunt’s brilliant portrayal as parents and the former’s expertise as the co-writer of the screenplay, make A Quiet Place a great monster movie of recent times. Additionally, the idea of stepping back instead of showing the terror unfold, the movie depicts the aftermath that continues to haunt the family, which makes it a poignant film of the horror genre.
Watch A Quiet Place here
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Song Kang-ho as Park Gang-Doo, Byun Hee-Bong as Park Hie-bong, Park Hae-il as Park Nam-il, Bae Doona as Park Nam-Joo and Ko Ah-sung as Hyun-seo
Synopsis: This alien creature is the reason behind the horrors that follow after an American military base releases hazardous toxic chemicals in waters draining into the Han River. It is a giant squid-like monster that crawls out nearly six years later and ravages the city of Seoul. It sweeps up Hyun-seo, a young girl, compelling her family, led by Hie-bong, to retrieve her.
Over a decade before Bong received Oscars for Parasite (2019) and became a household name, it was this monster film that made him a highly acclaimed filmmaker in his home ground. Blending themes of class difference, social satire, family drama and commentary on the bureaucracy, this monster movie is sure to haunt you at various levels. Song Kang-ho’s phenomenal performance is cherry on the top.
Watch The Host here
Directed by: Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad
Cast: Sohum Shah as Vinayak Rao, Harsh K as Hastar, Ronjini Chakraborty as Vinayak’s mistress, Piyush Kaushik as Grandmother and Mohammad Samad as Pandurang
Synopsis: Set in the forlorn town of Tumbbad in the 1920s, the story revolves around Vinayak and his family who build a temple dedicated to Hastar — the first child of the goddess of prosperity. Hastar, a monster, steals all the gold and wealth and when he is about to steal the grains, he is left alive by other gods only on the condition of being forgotten by humanity and never being worshipped.
After years of abject poverty and getting information from his monstrous grandmother, Vinayak heads to the abandoned temple to steal the gold — an endeavour which is not only life-risking but also has an incredibly heavy price.
One of the most prolific monster movies created in India, Tumbbad merges Indian mythology with the British period and dwells on greed and lust that reside in the human mind. Outstanding filming techniques, stellar performance and a gripping storyline make it a must-watch for all monster movie lovers, something not for the faint-hearted.
Watch Tumbbad here
Directed by: Julius Avery
Cast: Jovan Adepo as PFC Edward Boyce, Wyatt Russell as Cpl Lewis Ford, Mathilde Ollivier as Chloe Laurent, Pilou Asbæk as Captain Wafner
Synopsis: The film revolves around a troop of American soldiers dropped behind enemy lines with a mission to destroy a radio tower used by the foes to communicate between Berlin and bunkers at Normandy beach. However, intense firing kills most soldiers and only a handful including Edward and Lewis survive.
Lewis leads the rest of the group and as they move ahead to complete the mission they meet local villager Chloe who gives them shelter. However, things take a monstrous turn when they find themselves inside a Nazi experimentation unit where huge supersized soldiers are being built for the war. With D-Day approaching, these human soldiers have to find a way to survive the grotesque bad guys.
Watch Overlord here
Directed by: Joe Dante
Cast: Dee Wallace as Karen White, Patrick Macnee as Dr George Waggner, Dennis Dugan as Chris and Robert Picardo as Eddie Quist
Synopsis: Karen is a television anchor who is pursued by serial killer Eddie. She agrees to help the police in locating him and when the cops kill him, it leaves Karen unharmed but without memory. Her therapist Dr Waggner sends Karen to a secluded retreat called Colony where a slew of gory macabre events follow, making this monster movie a nightmarish watch.
A classic werewolf movie by Dante, The Howling imbibes references from earlier horror flicks such as Wolf Man and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. Scenes where Karen throws corrosive acid on the werewolf’s face or the transition of a human into a beast deserve applause for meticulous effects and portrayal.
Watch The Howling here
Directed by: James Cameron
Cast: Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks and Carrie Henn as Newt
Synopsis: Taking the idea forward from the first film (released in 1979 by Ridley Scott), Aliens sees Lt Ellen Ripley floating around space for nearly 57 years when her decapitated space shuttle is found by a group of highly trained deep space marines. After surviving the alien attacks in the first monster movie, Ellen encounters more aliens who have taken over a colony on the moon — LV-426. While the marines are faced with more than what they had imagined, Ellen has to rescue Newt, a young girl who is the sole survivor of the wiped-out colony.
One of the best horror movies from Cameron, Aliens shows that the hegemony over making stunning sequels doesn’t only belong to the likes of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The film seamlessly blends the themes of sci-fi, adventure, thriller and a mother-daughter relationship.
Watch Aliens here
Directed by: Ishirō Honda
Cast: Takashi Shimura as Dr Kyohei Yamane, Akihiko Hirata as Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, Akira Takarada as Hideto Ogata and Momoko Kôchi as Emiko Yamane
Synopsis: It follows the sinking of 17 vessels off the shore of Odo island and Dr Yamane and his daughter Emiko set out to investigate. They are taken aback at the sight of this giant dinosaur-like creature, whom the locals call Gojira. As it advances to destroy Tokyo, Emiko has to convince Dr Serizawa to use his latest creation to stop it.
The first film featuring the giant monster stomping over Japan was an instant box office hit. Replete with World War II connotations and a response to the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Honda’s sci-fi Godzilla raised the cinematic bars in more ways than one and paved the way for numerous ensuing Godzilla movies. Scenes of the creature emerging from smoke and spotlights blinding it against a dark night make it a classic monster movie masterpiece.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Roy Scheider as Martin Brody, Robert Shaw as Quint, Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper and Murray Hamilton as Mayor Larry Vaughn
Synopsis: When a young woman is killed by a shark and her corpse is washed up, Sheriff Martin intends to close the beach but is interjected by Mayor Larry who fears that it will cause a dip in the summer tourists coming for a beach vacay. In a bid to help, Ichthyologist Matt Hooper and a local experienced fisherman, Quint, battle the deadly shark.
Before the Star Wars era set in, Jaws grabbed attention at the global box office. Such was Spielberg’s mastery and use of out-of-the-world filming techniques that it instilled the fear of going into the waters in the audience’s minds for years while they awed at the actions on the big screen. No wonder, this classic film gave rise to several sequels thereafter.
Watch Jaws here
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Ivana Baquero as Ofelia, Ariadna Gil as Carmen, Sergi López as Vidal and Maribel Verdú as Mercedes
Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, the film is about Ofelia, a young girl obsessed with fairytales and fantasies. She arrives at the military post to stay with her new step-father Vidal, a merciless army officer. One night, a fairy takes her to the centre of a labyrinth and reveals that Ofelia is actually a princess and must survive three deadly tasks to prove her blue blood.
This monster movie is a grand celebration of Del Toro’s aesthetic vision and the idea of a creature feature film which seamlessly narrows the borders of reality, magic and fantasy.
Watch Pan’s Labyrinth here
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Becket, Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori and Charlie Day as Dr Newton Geiszler
Synopsis: Giant monsters called Kaiju began emerging from the seas in a bid to wipe out humanity. In the face of such tremendous destruction, all the specialised Jaegars robots prove to be incompetent. Now, former pilot Raleigh and trainee Mako are the only hopes to save the planet.
Another Del Toro gem, this is one of those monster movies which cemented his position as a master of giant creatures and horror flicks. With Pacific Rim, Del Toro revisited the pulp genre of ‘Kaiju’ flicks and perfected the art, first introduced by Ishirō Honda in the 1954 Godzilla, with modern technology and adept craftsmanship.
Watch Pacific Rim here
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Sam Neill as Dr Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Dr Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Dr Ian Malcolm, Richard Attenborough as John Hammond
Synopsis: Palaeontologists Alan and Ellie are among the few chosen ones to explore a theme park where a variety of dinosaurs roam. While the creator and owner of this famed Jurassic Park, billionaire John, assures that it is safe, a faulty electric fencing lets the giant beasts out loose.
Like Star Wars, Spielberg set the bar incredibly high in terms of visual effects and the use of CGI. Such is the mastery of his craft that audiences completely accepted the CGI monsters to be real and the result was one of the most successful films of all time, which paved the way for countless sequels being released even today.
Watch Jurassic Park here
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Cast: Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins, Michael Stahl-David as Rob Hawkins, Odette Annable as Beth McIntyre and Lizzy Caplan as Marlena
Synopsis: Rob’s girlfriend Beth and a bunch of his New Yorker friends throw a farewell party after his major promotion but all the fun and frolic abruptly ends when a giant scaly reptilian creature destroys Manhattan and even tears the Statue of Liberty into pieces. Only a camcorder is left to record the whole incident.
Reeves’ impeccable camera angle and mastery showed that monsters and creatures need not be at the centre stage of a monster movie and that human suffering and pain can very well sum up the havoc the other-worldly creature has inflicted.
Watch Cloverfield here
Directed by: Chuck Russell
Cast: Shawnee Smith as Meg Penny, Kevin Dillon as Brian Flagg and Donovan Leitch Jr as Paul Taylor
Synopsis: High school students Meg and Paul are out on a date when they see an old man run with the local teen rebel Brian behind him. Although Brian is blamed for chasing the poor man, when he is taken to the doctors, it is revealed that an acidic blob-like substance on the man’s fingers is what causing all the pain. The Blob soon consumes the whole living person and spreads its tentacles to gobble anyone who is not careful.
This remake of the 1958 original film of the same name starring Steve McQueen, dwells on the vivid grotesque and disgusting scenes and gives a more detailed visual of how the blob swallows someone in a closed space. Play this movie and be assured of a gory and gut-wrenching Halloween.
Watch The Blob here
Directed by: James Whale
Cast: Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein, Boris Karloff as The Monster and Mae Clarke as Elizabeth
Synopsis: Dr Henry Frankenstein is a freak experimenting to make the dead walk again. To his credit he becomes successful but what he creates is a sulky looking monster with a square face and bolts in his neck, who finds it tough to adjust to the living world. He kills a young kid in the process but when you look at the bigger picture you are caught in the dilemma of whether to sympathise with or fight the monster.
Considered a pioneer of Universal monster movies and one of the earliest instances of sci-fi movies, Frankenstein was and remains a superior example of technical filmmaking in terms of a brilliant performance by the ensemble cast and Whale’s direction. Based on Mary Shelly’s 1818 novel of the same name, the film explores themes of human hubris and adds a helpless angle to a ferocious monster.
Frankenstein has also given rise to other successful sequels such as Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and other films including The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Young Frankenstein (1974).
Watch Frankenstein here
Directed by: George Waggner
Cast: Claude Rains as Sir John Talbot, Lon Chaney Jr as Lawrence ‘Larry’ Talbot, Bela Lugosi as Bela and Fey Helm as Jenny Williams
Synopsis: Post his brother’s demise, Larry returns to his ancestral home in Wales after residing in America. Here, he visits a gypsy party with Jenny who is a simple village girl. At the party, Jenny is attacked by Bela, who has taken the shape of a werewolf. While saving her, Larry kills Bela but gets bitten in the scuffle. Bela’s mother says that he will be transformed into a werewolf every full moon night. While he reveals this to his father Sir John, who doesn’t believe his son, Larry is seen as a growing werewolf menace, who, despite his unwillingness, doesn’t have any control over his monstrosity.
This monster movie entails a lot of human drama like Frankenstein and is an iconic film due to its groundbreaking makeup and use of special effects at that time, especially seen in the transformation scenes. Plus, old gothic tropes of foggy graveyards, looming cobwebs and dark forests make this a Halloween classic.
Watch The Wolf Man here
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Cast: Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, Andy Serkis as Kong, Jack Black as Carl Denham and Adrian Brody as Jack Driscoll
Synopsis: Ann is a struggling actress who is roped in by filmmaker Carl to finish his incomplete project. The crew comprising Carl, Ann and playwright and Ann’s beau Jack Discroll, set out for the mysterious Skull Island despite several warnings. The island is home to an enormously giant gorilla who scoops up Ann while the rest of the crew is left to fight other deadly creatures in an attempt to rescue their heroine.
An example of incredible filming technique and splendid VFX, this retelling of the original 1933 King Kong movie is a success at multiple levels. A strong emotional connection between the ape and Ann, the depiction of dinosaurs and other creatures on Skull Island along with stunning action sequences make King Kong an incredible monster movie.
Watch King Kong here
Directed by: Frank Oz
Cast: Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn, Ellen Greene as Audrey and Vincent Gardenia as Mushnik
Synopsis: Little Shop of Horrors is about a florist named Seymour who works at Mushnik’s flower shop and has a crush on fellow worker Audrey. Tending the plants, Seymour comes across a mysterious plant which feeds on human flesh and names it Audrey II. While the plant brings humongous business to the ailing store, things take an odd turn when Seymour feeds Audrey’s boyfriend’s corpse to it and now he has to look for more dead bodies.
An ultimate monster mash of the 1980s, the film brought vegetable violence to the forefront and is a sure-shot Halloween blockbuster monster movie.
Watch Little Shop of Horrors here
Directed by: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan as Billy, Phoebe Cates as Kate and Hoyt Axton as Randall Peltzer
Synopsis: On Christmas eve, a young teenager receives a small mysterious creature that multiplies and creates nuisance all over the town. Soon a riot of mayhem and hilarious chaos follows and violence unleashes in the name of children’s entertainment as these puny little monsters are let loose.
Eschewing the familiar tropes of large mammoth-sized monsters, this horror comedy adds a new stream of thoughts and innovations to the otherwise gory and terrifying monster movie genre.
Watch Gremlins here
Directed by: Fred Dekker
Cast: Andre Gower as Sean, Duncan Regehr as Count Dracula, Tom Noonan as Frankenstein’s monster and Robby Kiger as Patrick
Synopsis: Dracula is determined to unleash his wrath on the world and for this, he teams up with other iconic monsters such as Frankenstein and Wolf Man. However, a group of young pre-teenagers form a club to sabotage this evil plan.
If you enjoy light-spirited and fun Halloween monster movies, then The Monster Squad is the one for you. The exaggerated makeup and ghostly appearance of the monsters might seem quite laughable but that is what makes this horror comedy such a fun watch.
Watch The Monster Squad here
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Some of the best monster movies include 'Little Shop of Horrors', 'Aliens,' 'Godzilla,' 'Wolf Man,' 'The Howling' and 'The Host.'
Answer: 'The Monster' (2016) is a good horror movie which revolves around an alcoholic mother Kathy and her teenage daughter Lizzy, who are attacked by a pack of giant monsters when they are left stranded on a deserted road.
Answer: Some of the highest-grossing monster movies include 'Jaws,' USD 470 million; 'King Kong,' USD 550 million, 'Kong Skull Island', USD 566 million, 'Jurassic Park,' USD 1 billion, 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,' 1.3 billion, 'Jurassic World,' USD 1.6 billion as per a report by The Richest.
Answer: 'King Kong' (1933) can be considered the first full-fledged monster movie. However, there are a number of splendid movies in this genre that perfected the craft much later such as 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms' (1953), 'Godzilla' (1954) and 'The Host' (2006).
Answer: Some of the scariest movie monsters include Pennywise from 'It', Death Angels from 'A Quiet Place', 'Xenomorph' from Alien and The Entity from 'It Follows.'
Answer: Films featuring giant monsters include 'Them!' (1954), 'Godzilla' (1954), 'Cloverfield' (2008), 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms' (1953) and 'Jurassic Park' (1993).