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Movies for Grownups

Movie Monsters We Love

Here are 11 of our frightening favorites



He's fearful of the unknown, incapable of controlling his emotions, desperately in need of a friend — wait a minute, Dr. Frankenstein's creation is really just a 7-foot 3-year-old. Through inches of makeup, Boris Karloff miraculously expresses the ultimate sadness of the movies' most iconic monster.

Archive Photos/Getty Images



Furious at having been awakened by a nuclear blast after eons of hibernation, the 164-foot creature fends off attackers with bulletproof skin and atomic breath. The original Japanese film was butchered for U.S. audiences (new scenes with future Perry Mason Raymond Burr were even inserted); the original remains a thought-provoking testament to Japan's post-World War II anxieties.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

Ghostbusters, 1984

"Well, there's something you don't see every day!" observes ghostbuster Bill Murray as the most unlikely of monsters waddles up Broadway. Maybe it's that ghastly, ghoulish grin, but for some reason the pudgy predator became the soft stuff of countless kids' nightmares

Mary Evans/Columbia Pictures/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

T. Rex

Jurassic Park, 1993

First we are almost giddy at the sight of harmless brontos cavorting in a field — but it's not long before this theme park's most dangerous attraction, a rampaging tyrannosaurus rex, starts chomping everyone's tickets. Audiences had never seen anything like Steven Spielberg's computer-generated dinosaurs; consequently, they had never been terrified quite like this before.

Murray Close/Getty Images

The Alien

Alien, 1979; Aliens, 1986

Here's a monster that came crashing in to terrorize Sigourney Weaver with no backstory at all. In Alien and its sequel (forget the other rip-offs that followed), directors Ridley Scott and James Cameron want to get just one thing clear: These mean mothers live only to kill, eat — and make little baby mean mothers.

Bureau L.A. Collection/CORBIS

The Golem


The horrors that lay ahead for the Jews of Europe make all the more poignant this silent German classic, cinema's first great monster movie. A Prague rabbi, desperate to protect the city's Jews from persecution, summons up a figure from Hebrew legend: a huge man made of clay. Of course, everything goes wrong.


Robot Maria

Metropolis, 1927

Created as a tool of vengeance by a mad scientist, the shapely robot is programmed to impersonate Maria, a beloved leader of the city's underclass. Robot Maria whips the masses into a violent frenzy; ironically making the humans the true monsters of the film.


The 50-Foot Woman

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, 1958

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned — unless she's a scorned woman who's also been irradiated by aliens and turned into a giant rampaging monster. Luckily for '50s-era censors, Allison Hayes' bikini costume expands with her as she yanks off every roof in town looking for her philandering hubby.


Sand Worms

Dune, 1984

Say what you will about director David Lynch's failed take on the Frank Herbert sci-fi book series, his depiction of the gigantic, toothy worms that lurked beneath the spice-laden sands of the planet Dune was pretty perfect. Summoned by vibrations, the tubular beasts attacked from below, swallowing entire settlements with one gulp. Their little brothers turned up in later films such as Beetlejuice and the campy Tremors series.

Universal Pictures/Album/Newscom

King Kong


Snatched from his island home, held in chains for a gawking New York audience, Kong became one of the first movie monsters you actually felt sorry for. He deserved better than his fatal fall from the Empire State Building, but then again, he did nosh on those island natives in the first couple of reels.

John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

The Blob


The title monster in Steve McQueen's first starring film lacks both a personality and a defined shape. But the red, throbbing creature from outer space nevertheless terrorizes a small town, absorbing everyone in its path. The famous scene in which a movie theater-full of teenagers runs for their lives is reenacted each year in the town where The Blob was filmed, Chester Springs, Pa.

Courtesy Everett Collection

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