Unfortunately, not every horror movie is a winner. There’s a lot of good out there, but there’s also a lot of bad and a whole lot that falls somewhere in the middle. Sometimes, these less than memorable features still have a lot of impressive special effects, mostly due to some of the amazingly talented artists working in all areas of the genre.
These monsters can definitely stand on their own. Some of these images have been cemented as iconic in the genre, and were definitely memorable for me and many others as young fans. I’ll often track down a film just for having a monster I remember from my youth, only to discover that the movie itself is not that good.
A few of these movies are actually passable, but when you compare the quality of the creature to the quality of the feature, one is definitely on a much more memorable level than the other. Read on for our top six picks for memorable monsters from unmemorable movies!
Shrieker is not the most well known or remembered movie from Full Moon and that’s saying a whole lot from such a niche, low budget company. Still, the Shrieker was successful enough to get his own action figure—which was where I first saw the monster long before I actually saw the feature itself. For the extremely small amount of money that went into it, this is a great monster design that really could have shined in a better movie.
I’ll admit, I really like Cellar Dweller and I’ve written about it before, but that movie has its fair share of flaws. I won’t pretend. And the best thing about it is definitely its neat, ogre-ish monster. It’s like a troll on steroids. The mythology of the film, the whole idea behind it, that stuff is interesting but it’s the dweller himself who really shines in this one.
Graveyard Shift is a lower-tier Stephen King adaptation, centered on a cleanup crew looking to rid an old mill of its rat problem. The monster here is an enormous, leathery, winged rat that’s got a great design. It truly is a cool and imaginative monster that’s also properly teased out so that you never see too much of it. But at the same time, Graveyard Shift certainly doesn’t have much else going for it, except for the always excellent Brad Dourif.
Recently, I’ve begun to warm to the late Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse. But that doesn’t change the fact that nothing really happens for the first forty minutes. Really, it kicks into gear in the third act when things go insane and the monster is revealed. The design is so cool, it makes you wonder why it was hidden behind a cheap Frankenstein mask. Again, I certainly enjoy The Funhouse more than I used to, but nothing in the film itself matches that iconic image of the monster unmasked.
The Lurking Fear
Another Full Moon production, The Lurking Fear is one of the lesser quality H.P. Lovecraft adaptations. But it’s got some truly creepy subterranean creatures. Their design, with yellow skin and bulging white eyes, is honestly pretty haunting. Even if they kind of look like Halloween decorations, they look like the high-end stuff. But something falls apart in execution for Lurking Fear and the rest of the movie sort of falls flat.
Invaders from Mars
Tobe Hooper’s Invaders from Mars is one I remember liking a lot more when I caught glimpses of it as a kid. Nowadays it doesn’t so much work for me. It’s goofy when it shouldn’t be and stoic when it should be silly. But it had some truly bizarre and excellent extraterrestrial creatures. The whole thing is worth watching for those effects and those monsters alone, even if it’s on the lesser end of ‘80’s remakes of a ’50s classic.