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VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
This list has no demons or evil spirits, just beings with a physical, earthly form. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the movie beasts that deserve bigger reputations. Our countdown of underrated movie monsters includes the “Species” franchise, “Deep Rising”, "The Relic", "Super 8", “The Descent” franchise, and more!

#20: Daimajin

“Daimajin” franchise (1966-)
A spirit may reside within the stone statue that is Daimajin, but it’s this physical form that has helped make this film series feel so unique. Daimajin differs from other kaiju creatures, despite its initial origins as an unrealized antagonist for the space turtle Gamera. There’s a god-like reverence for Daimajin in its giant, samurai statue form. The sight of his scowling face is enough to make just about anything cower in fear, while Daimajin’s mental and physical fighting prowess is nearly unstoppable. Only an act of human kindness can return Daimajin to a dormant state, waiting for the next time he is summoned.

#19: Sil

“Species” franchise (1995-2007)
There’s no denying that Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger’s creature design will always draw comparisons between the “Species” and “Alien” franchises. This isn’t a bad thing, however, as Giger’s work on the creature that would become Sil, a combination of human and alien DNA, is excellent. Sil is a violent-yet-tragic character, a creature that didn’t ask to be born, yet which is compelled to mate and propagate at all costs. This results in a lot of carnage along the way, as well as a weaponized sexuality that’s brought to the screen by Natasha Henstridge. Some of the film’s sexual politics and its male-focused gaze haven’t aged well, yet Sil remains a captivating character study and an intriguingly-designed movie monster.

#18: Giant Octopus

“It Came from Beneath the Sea” (1955)
The 1950s were a golden era for monster movies, and those that feature special effects from Ray Harryhausen perhaps best live on today. The giant octopus from 1955’s “It Came from Beneath the Sea” was one of Harryhausen’s earlier jobs, but the maestro’s creative magic is already evident. The stop motion effects feel remarkably fluid, such as during the octopus’ attack on San Francisco. Harryhausen’s noted ability to give his creatures defining mannerisms or traits can be seen here, as well, together with a sound design that lends the giant octopus a lurching, foreboding presence.

#17: Burrowers

“The Burrowers” (2008)
Combining horror and western tropes, the film also features subtext concerning the slaughter of buffalo during the early settling of North America. Because their normal food source has been made scarce, the titular Burrowers have been driven to hunt and feast upon human victims. This may lend the creatures a reason for their behavior, but it doesn’t make their attacks any less gruesome. The Burrowers paralyze their victims and bury them in holes, aware of their surroundings, yet absolutely helpless. The creatures’ physical design is also nightmarish, with gaping mouths, no external ears and an unsettling gait when they attack. All combined, these Burrowers are a unique and uniquely disturbing sort of movie monster.

#16: Underwater Mutant

“Leviathan” (1989)
Ask the average movie fan what their favorite underwater horror movie is, and you’ll probably receive many different answers. “The Abyss” and “DeepStar Six” are two excellent examples of the genre, as is “Leviathan,” all of which were released in the same year. This latter entry featured special effects and creature designs by Stan Winston, however, which gives it a leg up on the competition. The underwater mutant of “Leviathan” is the result of a virus that assimilates its victims. The end results are an aquatic nightmare, a human/marine mutant with physical elements from both worlds. “Leviathan” has often been referred to as “John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing,’ but underwater” and this feels very accurate, particularly thanks to this monster.

#15: The Fouke Monster

“The Legend of Boggy Creek” (1972)
It’s one of the most financially successful and legitimately scary G-rated horror movies of all time. The crew behind 1972’s “The Legend of Boggy Creek” managed to capture lightning in a bottle with this film, an atmospheric slice of cinema that’s based upon the real-life Arkansas folk tale of The Fouke Monster. There’s nothing in the way of graphic violence in “Boggy Creek,” nor is the Fouke Monster displayed in any grand fashion. Instead, this mythical cryptid lurks within the shadowed recesses of our imaginations, as “Boggy Creek” crafts a narrative that’s heavy on docu-drama glimpses of its appearance. Yet, the execution is so compelling, that our mind’s eye connects the dots in a way that further extends the life of The Fouke Monster’s legacy.

#14: Marybeth Louise Hutchinson

“The Faculty” (1998)
There are a lot of nods to classic horror tropes in Kevin Williamson’s screenplay to Robert Rodriguez’s “The Faculty.” Marybeth Louise Hutchinson is an invader from space (there’s one) who shifts her shape, in order to blend in with humanity (there’s another). Hutchinson’s plan to infect and control the world is eventually revealed, thanks to an experimental drug from the local dealer, which plays like a scene right out of “The Thing.” Meanwhile, it’s a special effects bonanza when Hutchinson’s alien form is revealed later on in the film, setting the stage for a classic, monster mash finale.

#13: Water Worms

“Deep Rising” (1998)
A combination of both practical and computer-generated effects went into creating the memorable water worms for 1998’s “Deep Rising.” The end results are a mixed bag, with some excellent digital effects being utilized for Billy’s death scene, while other reaction shots feature some fairly shoddy CGI work. That said, the backstory of these creatures as an evolutionary offshoot of some Cambrian Era worms is unique, while their underwater attacks are tense and shocking. We’d love to see what these movie monsters would look like with a fully-practical application in the modern day.

#12: Bigfoot

“Night of the Demon” (1983)
You all just gotta trust us when we say that there’s never been a cinematic Sasquatch quite like the one highlighted in “Night of the Demon.” Two different directors shot footage for the film: James C. Wasson’s original feature, as well as all of the exploitation gore footage shot by the film’s producer, Jim L. Ball. This latter footage features Bigfoot ripping off sensitive body parts, disemboweling victims and even utilizing a hot stove for a shocking attack. All of these scenes are shot in grotesque, living color, with nothing spared in terms of boundary-pushing and edge-stepping bad taste. This Bigfoot isn’t merely content with lurking around in the forest, but will come get YOU if his hunting grounds are disturbed. So beware!

#11: Rhedosaurus

“The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” (1953)

Godzilla wasn’t the first tyrant lizard to take down a city. In fact, it was the Ray Harryhausen creature design for 1953’s “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” that would serve as an inspiration for “Gojira” only a year later. Harryhausen’s Rhedosaurus saw its origins within “The Fog Horn,” a short story by legendary writer Ray Bradbury. The film version is a unique design, one that feels more like a dinosaur/lizard composite than anything that actually walked the earth. This freedom makes the Rhedosaurus more menacing and aggressive, which works wonders as it tears down lighthouses and attacks cities. The Rhedosaurus was hugely influential, and remains a crowning achievement within the art of stop-motion animation.

#10: Graboids

“Tremors” franchise (1990-)

Never underestimate the power of a good gimmick. The “Tremors” franchise has had some serious legs over the years, which is no mean feat, considering The Graboids don’t have any to speak of. These subterranean worms have been making life hell for their victims throughout history, from their 1990 debut to various sequels, prequels and TV series. One thing remains constant, however: The Graboids' determination and unpredictability. Their creature design is gross and memorable, from their triple tongues to the mandibles in their maws. The Graboids can slither and burrow their way into just about anything, including the imaginations of horror fans around the world.


“The Relic” (1997)

The plot and setting of “The Relic” from 1997 is somewhat unique, featuring a hybrid monster of South American origins that runs rampant within the confines of a Chicago museum. This “relic” is The Kothoga, a hormonally chaotic beast that takes the human form of anthropologist John Whitney, before revealing its true nature. This final form is somewhat similar to a chimera, since it combines physical features of multiple animals. Specifically, the Kothoga melds together humanity, lizards, fish, insects and felines into one toothy monster, one that eventually goes on a killing spree. The end results are uniquely designed, fearsome and genuinely interesting, and help make “The Relic” a film that deserves rediscovery.

#8: Kaiju

“Pacific Rim” franchise (2013-)

We just couldn’t narrow down our picks to just one specific kaiju from the “Pacific Rim,” but instead have decided to celebrate the monsters as a whole. This is thanks primarily to how fans of the “Pacific Rim” franchise have taken to these interdimensional beasts, and how fights between these kaiju and humanity’s Jaeger Corps have entertained over the years. Their creature designs may not be as idiosyncratic or unique as, say, Godzilla’s rogue’s gallery, but examples such as Otachi, Slattern, Knifehead and Leatherback have all earned a cult following. The design of Knifehead, in particular, feels indebted to that of Guiron from the “Gamera” universe, helping connect old kaiju history with the new.

#7: Blade

“Puppet Master” franchise (1989-)

A lot of different puppets have come and gone within producer Charles Band’s “Puppet Master” franchise. Many of them are cool as heck, but perhaps none of them possess the same, enduring cult status as the “Puppet Master” OG, Blade. This living puppet was created by one André Toulon, a French puppeteer and sorcerer who imbued Blade with the soul of a renegade surgeon, on the run from the Nazi army. This leader of Toulon’s tiny puppet army is a keen spy, and also quick with a knife, cutting down his enemies with precision. Blade also possesses tons of personality, and a distinctive look, thanks to his trademark hat and trenchcoat. He may be small, but never count Blade out of a fight.

#6: Cooper

“Super 8” (2011)

The creative stamp of producer Steven Spielberg was all over this creature feature from 2011. This isn’t a bad thing, mind, as writer/director J.J. Abrams was able to combine his own sci-fi pedigree with a little of that family-friendly, Spielbergian magic. Cooper is the central monster here, a highly intelligent alien creature that crashed on earth, and after escaping from government captors, attempted to rebuild his spacecraft. Cooper’s desire to escape from Earth is understandable, even if he does eat more than one person in pursuit of that aim. Additionally, his creature design is scary, but also human enough to make Cooper somewhat relatable, and this ultimately helps “Super 8” succeed as a film.

#5: Trolls

“Trollhunter” (2011)

The CGI technology in “Trollhunter” is nothing short of extraordinary. The crew behind this found-footage film knocked it out of the park when it came to developing modern-looking trolls that appear every bit the stuff of nightmares. Don’t go looking for any good luck toys here. Instead, the beasts here in “Trollhunter” feel more carved from monstrous myth, out for blood and causing destruction at every turn. The found-footage style of filmmaking also allows for the trolls to be witnessed from a proper perspective, as we receive a first-person view of what an attack might be like…in other words, it’s terrifying.

#4: Belial Bradley

“Basket Case” franchise (1982-91)

“What’s in the basket?” This is a question that’s asked often of Duane Bradley, yet the answer is truly stranger than fiction. That’s because inside the basket is the sentient remains of his brother Belial. The pair were formerly conjoined, but have since gone insane, and seek out the doctors that split them up. Writer/director Frank Henenlotter has created other movies such as “Brain Damage,” but it’s “Basket Case” that’s probably his most well-known work. Belial’s misshapen design is disturbing, to say the least, while Henenlotter employs both practical effects and stop-motion in order to bring the monster to life. A word to the wise: if you ever see Duane Bradley on a subway train? Just leave him alone.

#3: Clover

“Cloverfield” (2008)

Fans have long speculated about all of the easter eggs contained within the various forms of “Cloverfield” related media. What they can all largely agree on, however, is the impact of Clover’s debut in the original 2008 film. Director Matt Reeves and screenwriter Drew Goddard helped create the film in a found-footage style, and “Cloverfield” largely stays its hand in regard to its monster reveal. The end results, while perhaps not unique, are certainly gigantic and impressive. Clover’s underwater origins don’t necessarily predicate an aversion to land attacks, as evidenced by the iconic sequence featuring Lady Liberty’s decapitated head. That said, we’d love to see more of Clover for future franchise entries.

#2: Crawlers

“The Descent” franchise (2005-09)

The original film in the “Descent” franchise was also quite patient when it came to revealing its monsters. The first half of the film is mainly centered upon character development, as well as the establishing of its claustrophobic, underground setting. Then, almost without warning, the Crawlers strike. The sight of their hideous visages in the darkness almost feel like a dream, while the practicality of their design lends them weight and heft. “The Descent” is a film that benefits greatly from restraint and old school moviemaking, and the impact of Crawlers feels so much more earned as a result.

#1: Gamera

“Gamera” franchise (1965-)

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” This old saying could be applied to the cinematic legacy of Gamera. Sometimes a giant monster, sometimes guardian of the universe, this Japanese kaiju has starred in numerous films over the decades. Yet his public profile has never risen to the heights of fellow giant monster stars like Godzilla. This could perhaps be due to the fact that many Gamera films were largely aimed at the children’s market. Still, there’s no denying that this space turtle possesses tons of charm and charisma. He also faces off against a cool rogues gallery, with battles against kaiju like Jiger, Guiron, Gyaos and Barugon. We’ll say it here and now: Give it up for Gamera!

What’s your favorite movie monster? Let us know in the comments!