Friday, October 30, 2009

History's Greatest Monsters

Halloween is upon us, and what better time to take a look at the monsters of myth, legend, and nightmare and put them in a list in ascending order based on arbitrary criteria I make up as I go along? No better time, that's when.

13. Wolfman

I watched the original movie a few months back, and I must say it wasn't scary. Basically, a guy gets attacked by a wolf, turns into one himself the next full moon, goes after his love interest and gets shot by a gypsy. Or maybe it was a guy from town. There were definitely gypsies involved though. But really, it was as simple as shooting him. The werewolf hasn't got much tougher in the intervening years.

12. Zombie Zero

This is a stand-in for all zombies everywhere; the protozombie, if you will. Terrifying in Night of the Living Dead, the years have not been kind. 28 Days Later tried to liven things up by giving them the ability to run, but dozens of videogames in which you kill thousands of them with everything from a howitzer to a steely glare make them the red shirts of the monster kingdom.

11. Mummy

I first saw this as a kid and it was plenty scary. The idea that this implacable thing would just keep coming after you, never making a sound was very frightening. Then I realized it was all a metaphor for taxes and it fell apart. Oh, and Abbot and Costello kicked his ass.

10. Frankenstein

Easily the most sympathetic of the lot. He didn't ask to be. Some dude bolted his head on someone else's body like a bad nudie photoshop, shot him full of lightning, and made him wear uncomfortable platform shoes. All he wanted to do was be nice, make contact with people and fall in love. He had a bad temper, but so does Al Franken. Whoa.

9. Freddie

Could have been one of the greats, but multiple sequels diluted the product until it became a parody of itself. Still, the original idea of a pedophile getting burned to death in the school basement by parents then coming back to seek revenge by giving free haircuts in their kids' dreams was plenty freaky.

8. Pinhead

The image of a WWI soldier sitting in a room playing with a puzzle box that, when solved, opens a gateway to Hell is just awesome to me. Pinhead, number one evil dimensional time traveller and leather trenchcoat afficiando long before New came along was super creepy, as all people with British accents are.

7. That Head-Spider Thing From John Carpenter's Remake Of The Thing

One of the great unsung horror films of all time, this movie is still freaky as all-get-out even with the 80's special effects. The chest-giving-way-sprouting-teeth-and-chomping-the-guys-arms-off was bad. The dead guy's head detaching itself from the body, sprouting legs and running away was badass.

6. Jason Micheal Voorhees-Meyers

The implacable silent killer with a mask was a great concept in its original iteration. Personally, Halloween was a far better movie. But I've had nightmares about Jason, never about Michael. Weird.

5. George W. Bush

Maybe should have been considered for the top spot. I mean, here's a monster reputed to be the cause of every single thing that went wrong for eight years, and is still being invoked today! 9/11, flu scares, lead in toys, gas prices, hurricanes; he's been blamed for all these things!

4. Little Japanese Girls

True story: when Macy was two she would sometimes wake up early in the morning and come into my room to wait for me to wake up. She would do this by standing silently by my bed and stare at me. Eventually I would open my eyes and see a ghostly figure standing silently in a darkened room six inches from my face, just staring. And that's why I have rubber sheets.

3. Dracula

The original mac daddy. He can change into wolves and bats, he can command the same (and rats!), chicks find him irresistable. Then there's the less-suave, far scarier-looking version from Nosferatu, which the makers of the TV version of 'Salems's Lot later ripped off. Freaky freaky.

2. The Original Alien

The best horror film of all time featured the most terrifying monster in space. The thing had one form where it launched itself at your face and latched on like a spider and pooped eggs down your throat. The baby form exploded out of your chest and had stainless steel teeth. Then it grew up, became ten feet tall, could crawl on the ceiling, had a mouth that could shoot another mouth at you. Then, if you got lucky enough to wound it, it bled acid that would burn through every level of your spaceship until you lost compression. The best part of the film is that all the characters are grossed out by the gross stuff, scream when they see the monster, and scared to death the rest of the time. Just like you would be in that situation.

1. Shelob

I do not like spiders. The Shelob scene in The Lord of the Rings scared me when I first read it as a kid (see also: Mirkwood Forest in The Hobbit) and when that friggin spider came after Frodo in the movie theater I squirmed the whole time. The way spiders move freak me out. The way Shelob rolled Frodo while it spun webs around him made me want to throw up. I would gladly fight an army of zombies or a space cruiser full of aliens rather than take the chance that I might be awake when Shelob started rolling me.

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