Top 25 Creature Features

If you don’t know this already, I’m a horror movie fan.

Supernatural horror is my milieu, but I do have a penchant for the old creature features of the past. One of my all-time favourite movies, period, is Jaws.

It may be my interest in cryptozoology that has led me to catch some old-school creature features. I wanted to compile my list back in October, but time was in limited supply.

Additionally, I didn’t include one of my all-time favourite thrillers, involving homicidal beasts, due to the fact it’s based on real-life events and is more of an action flick: The Ghost and the Darkness.

Without further ado, my Top 25 Creature Features.

25. Movie: Willard
Year: 2003
Monster: A rat named Ben (Michael Jackson sang about him).
Why: If you’re queasy about when cats meet their Waterloo, then the 2003 version of Willard is certainly not for you. Scully, the orange tabby gets taken out by the rodent hordes who follow Ben (and Willard).
24. MovieWillow Creek
Year: 2013
Monster: Bigfoot
Why: This found footage flick, directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, is an intriguing take on the Sasquatch mythos.
23. MovieCujo
Year: 1983
Monster: Rabid dog
Why: Stephen King. Dee Wallace. And a St. Bernard hell-bent on getting into that Ford Pinto Wallace was driving. (He just didn’t hit the right spot, in my opinion).
22. MovieThe Bay
Year: 2012
Monster: Giant isopods
Why: Oh, there is pretty legit evidence that there are giant isopods. But coming out of the mouths of humans, well that’s just different. And cool.
21. MovieSuper 8
Year: 2011
Monster: Alien
Why: Smalltown Ohio is invaded by an alien that jailbreaks during a train crash.
20. MovieThe Mist
Year: 2007
Monster: Take your pick
Why: One several tales from Stephen King on this list, The Mist provides that Lovecraftian horror that is omnipresent in his universe.
19. MovieThe Blob
Year: 1988
Monster: Killer slime from outer space
Why: Though it was a box office failure, The Blob has aged like a fine wine. Who could forget that telephone booth scene?
18. MovieEight Legged Freaks
Year: 2002
Monster: Mutated spiders
Why: Like a cheesy ’50s B-movie, Eight Legged Freaks has that novelty and self-deprecating humour. It knows it’s cheese. Side note: It was one of Scarlett Johansson’s first films.
17. MovieCloverfield
Year: 2008
Monster: Big, honkin’ monster
Why: It’s a little more than just a glorified Godzilla-esque flick. It has dimension: love, friends and little parasites feeding on people.
16. MovieProphecy
Year: 1979
Monster: Mutant bear
Why: Talia Shire gives use a romp through the woods with a mutant bear savagely attacking campers, right in their sleeping bags.
15. MovieLeviathan
Year: 1989
Monster: Shapeshifting beastie
Why: I know what you’re thinking. It’s The Thing, only underwater. Yes, it is. But it has Robocop, one half of the Wet Bandits and Winston Zedmore in it.
14. MovieThem!
Year: 1954
Monster: Giant ants
Why: Life was so much easier in the 1950s when horror was a simple fabrication of the overt fears of America: nuclear radiation.
13. Movie: Bug
Year: 1975
Monster: Fire-starting cockroaches
Why: It’s an old-school classic from William Castle himself. This time he perpetuates the fears of mutation combined with the disaster theme that was as common in the ’70s as superhero flicks are now.
12. MovieThe Relic
Year: 1997
Monster: Kothoga
Why: My undergrad was steeped in anthropology and archaeology classes. I love myth, legend, and history, so this was right up my alley.
11. MovieThe Monster Squad
Year: 1987
Monster: Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Mummy, Wolfman and Gillman
Why: Much like Super 8, a bunch of kids team up to bring down Lord Alucard and his evil henchmen.
10. Movie: Tremors
Year: 1990
Monster: Giant subterranean wurms
Why: Kevin Bacon. Fred Ward. Reba with a gun. This has it all, and in a desolate landscape too.
9. MovieGremlins
Year: 1984
Monster: Something you don’t feed after midnight
Why: Classic Christmas movie. I mean come on, there are lights, carols and flying grandmas.
8. MovieThe Thing
Year: 1982
Monster: Shapeshifting alien
Why: There is so much awesome about this film, especially its up-in-the-air conclusion. Isolation is the greatest catalyst for craziness.
7. Movie: Graveyard Shift
Year: 1990
Monster: Giant bat
Why: The atmosphere is just so wasteland-esque. This is another Stephen King short story adaptation that just brings to life our fear of rats, blue-collar work and the darkest depths of our souls.
6. MovieArachnophobia
Year: 1990
Monster: Spider
Why: The early ’90s were great for creature features. South American spiders, the size of Huntsmans are pretty frickin’ freaky.
5. MovieSquirm
Year: 1976
Monster: Electrified worms
Why: This is a guilty pleasure that dates back to my dad watching late-night horror and me sneaking in a few movies.
4. Movie: Critters
Year: 1986
Monster: Alien fur balls
Why: This is so much camp in such a little ball of E.T. that it’s incredibly hilarious. It’s ’80s comedy-horror at its finest.
3. MovieLake Placid
Year: 1999
Monster: Giant crocodile
Why: More campy humour with Oliver Platt playing a self-absorbed, rich croc enthusiast and Bridget Fonda playing a paleontologist. The two investigate a giant reptile in a New England lake. Watch it for a foul-mouthed Betty White.
2. MovieCreature from the Black Lagoon
Year: 1954
Monster: Gill-man
Why: While visiting my uncle in Whitby — before we moved there — he would always set me up in their house watching old horror films. This was one of my favourites.
1. MovieJaws
Year: 1975
Monster: Great White Shark
Why: One of the best films for a rogue beast going on a killing spree. Too bad the shark had to die at the end.
 

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Toronto-based journalist, fighting the power one deadline at a time.

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