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Mark Kermode | 13:30 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

There's a new book out called Monsters in the Movies by the director John Landis.

It's a pictorial history of cinematic terrors of the last 100 years and got me thinking about which one I find the most frightening and why...

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think movie monsters benefit greatly from the 'I saw it as a kid' effect, which for me means it was down to John Carpenter's The Thing to keep me sweating at night. As did Raimi's Evil Dead demons, and the single frame flash of The Exorcist's pezuzu/possessed Karras.

    Taking youth out of it, the creature from Xtro still bothers me for some reason. But the winner has to be the naked space-siren-cum-vampire (pun intended) Mathilda May from Life Force. She wouldn't be half as unsettling if she wasn't in the buff. Have you seen what she can do in a helicopter? Stay away from that woman. She's properly terrifying.

  • Comment number 2.

    The Giant Claw, it's a bird as big as a battleship, just Google it and you will see why.

  • Comment number 3.

    In recent years, it would have to be the internet-fomented urban myth known as "The Slender Man," as appears in the projects "Marble Hornets," "EveryManHybrid," and "TribeTwelve."

    There's something about the manner in which the entity is presented; as a tangential horror that elicits extreme paranoia and distorted perceptions of reality that is uniquely horrifying. This, coupled with the creature's utter lack of motivation (there is nothing explicit about what the creature wants from or does with those it stalks) makes it a manifestation of post-millenial concerns; the unseen, unknown, but always present authority that can undo everything you presume to know in the space of a thought. Deeply unsettling.

  • Comment number 4.

    A number of movies have had great monsters.

    The innocuously named Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. I put it down to the jerky painfull motion with which he walked on his emaciated legs and also his eyeless face with those unrelenting jaws. The lighting and decor of his lair creeped me out too, too rich. Not to mention the hideous fleshy creaking noise he makes when he awakes.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think I have to agree with Whitchfinder, 'I do think movie monsters do benefit from the 'I saw it as a kid' effect' thus no monsters ever actually scare me enough to keep me up at night because I was not born in an era where monsters were inventive and most important of all scary. The best (Alien, The Exorcist, The Thing) had gone by. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the brilliance of them and at the time of watching the film they scare me but they never really stay in my mind and if I do think about them I think about how brilliant and imaginative they are and how well they are designed but never how scary they are. I guess it is a generation thing or duplications of the genre or maybe I’m just so brave that these things have no effect on me. However, that said, I do have one memory that always springs to my head, it’s not a film but it is from an episode of Dr Who. The Gas Mask wearing things creeped me out when I first saw them and to be honest, they still do. There is just something about them, that voice calling ‘muuuummmmmy’ just made me feel uneasy. Why these things stay in my memory I do not know but they do

    My Grandma told my an interesting story about Before I Hang (1940 horror film starring Boris Karloff) and how she, after viewing the film, needed a friend to sit by her bed until she fell asleep because she kept seeing those black gloves. I just wish horror had the same effect on me because that was the horror genre is all about.

  • Comment number 6.

    Close runners up include The Mummy (1999) which did a splendid job of terrifying me as a small child. Particularly imhoteps early stages of regeneration. Mostly it was because you were never quite sure what he really looked like throughout most of the film. when he fully regenerated he was considerably less frightening.

    Pennywise from Stephen King's IT, played exceptionally by Tim Curry. The insane, anarchic and capricious cosmic clown left you never knowing what would happen next. His enigmatic line "They float....." is great fun to deliver at halloween parties.

    Finally, Jaws of course for obvious reasons though i'm still in two minds whether a shark, even of exceptional size, is a monster.

  • Comment number 7.

    The Bum behind Winky's in Mulholland Drive. Probably the scariest because you never really see it, it has around 30 seconds of screen time and yet it has a power over the entire film. Also perhaps the scariest attribute it has is that it is human, but a warped human. It has a burnt face, and bizarre features that suggest the environment has somehow transformed a human into a monster.

    It also contradicts Landis' idea of monsters fleshing out fear, when what the Bum appears to be is an omen and not a character to be taken literally, a subconscious monster. Of course the character itself is actually a dreamed creation, and the idea of that horrible thing living inside someone's mind and manifesting itself in reality is what is truly terrifying.

  • Comment number 8.

    Pan's Labyrinth -Pale Man cont.

    Another thing that scared me about the pale man was the fact that even though he move so painfully and awkwardly, he still was never very far behind you no matter how fast you ran away. Then ofcourse there was the fact that he ate babies, i mean that probably had a lot more to do with it.

    Maybe it was the fact that he looked like some corrupt and mutated human or that perhaps he was once a man, i don't know.

  • Comment number 9.

    John Carpenters The Thing has some awesome effects that have really freaked me out.

    However I must admit that from a young age Ghostbusters terrified me. THe woman at the beginning 'Get Her!' and the hands coming out of the chair. Being ghosts though do these count?

    I have always found the most terrifying scares on a film are always elements that are mentioned, but rarely seen. Your own mind is the strongest tool to terrify yourself.

  • Comment number 10.

    Ray Harryhausen's Medusa, from clash of the Titans 1981, was also very effective. Her scene in her ruinous palace, is almost totally silent except for punctuations of that death rattle or the sudden screams of dyeing men. That gave me very stange nightmares as a child.

  • Comment number 11.

    @Alex yes! I forgot about the thing. it wasn't the fact that you didn't no who was an imposter for me it was the simply gruesome and graphic way it would rip itself apart and hideously transmorph. the best/worst bit is the resusscitation scene when the doctor has his arms severed in an organic bear trap.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Hand - without a shadow of a doubt. Not the Michael Caine one, but the old black & white version. I remember my father tormenting me every night on my way to bed, cheerfully telling me to 'watch out in case the Hand gets you'. To this day I still occasionally get the heebie jeebies thinking about it.

    Looking back I can see the funny side of my fathers somewhat warped sense of homour, but at the time - YIKES!

    IMDB reminds me the film was called 'The Beast With 5 Fingers'...

  • Comment number 13.

    Frankensteins Monster (Adam) from the 1931 movie Frankenstein, it first started with my brother having a glow-in-the-dark poster on his door. which I had to pass to go to bed every night.
    And then of course to top it off he would regularly watch his Horror collection on video and do the 'Frankenstein walk' to scare me.
    I guess that what big brothers are for........

  • Comment number 14.

    Monsters never scared me when I was a kid, as I knew they wasn't real, they could easily be over-come, so never had any nightmares about them.

    What did un-nerve me was the body horror movies, such as the early David Cronenberg movies, and Tetsuo etc.

    It was the thought of someone (usually a mad scientist) who could manipulate your body in to something unnatural, and you have no control over your own body, and what's happening to your degenerated self.

    Also Jacob's Ladder, really creep-ed me out, because similar to the above, you can run and hide from creatures, or killers, but you can't run away from your own mind.

  • Comment number 15.

    When it comes to creepy characters the first one that always springs to my mind is Zelda from 'Pet Sematary'. Although not from a particularly good movie and not strictly speaking a "monster", Zelda with her gaunt face and emaciated physique never fails to bring a chill to my spine. Interestingly after doing a bit of research I found out that although the character is female she was played by a man (Andrew Hubatsek) since they couldn't find a woman thin enough to play the part. Perhaps this is what led to such an unnerving character.

    Another monster equally/if not more terrifying than Zelda is the Lady in the Radiator from Eraserhead. Although there is nothing inherantly frightening about her (with the possible exception of her massive cheeks), everytime I watch the film she always manages to give me the creeps.

  • Comment number 16.

    Bob from Twin Peaks. The idea of having something like that inside you is terrifying. The way he manifests himself is inherently creepy, such as when he appears in the hallway in the TV series and then climbs over the sofa towards Maddy. Or in Fire Walk With Me when he climbs through Laura’s window and crawls onto her bed. Whether Bob is an evil spirit or he’s some kind of symbolism for the darkness in Leland Palmer almost doesn’t matter because it’s deeply unsettling either way.

    Oh, and the human head/sheep’s body experiment from O Lucky Man! I don’t know what it is, but it’s just wrong.

  • Comment number 17.

    The squid/monster thing from Possession. It's the fact that it's so totally unexplained that makes it so unsettling. I've read countless interpretations of Possession as a metaphor for just about everything from marital breakdown to the division of Berlin, but no one can explain exactly just what that thing is.

    Also, the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. There's something so primal and terrifying about that totally blank face. I suppose it's because Pan's Labyrinth draws you back to seeing things from a child's perspective, so the monster seems so much more terrifying.

    And finally, the baby from Eraserhead. Just when you think the film can't get any more disturbing, that thing comes along. I think it's because of the way something so disgusting is treated so normally, like it's a normal baby. It makes you question everything that you're seeing.

    So it seems on the whole, the most terrifying movie monsters are the ones that are scary because of their lack of explanation. After the credits have rolled, we're left wondering, and checking under our beds.

  • Comment number 18.

    Easy. The shark in "Jaws", still haunts me every time I'm in the water...

  • Comment number 19.

    For me it has to be the troll behind the diner in the David Lynch film "Mulholland Drive".

    Not exactly a monster movie but when I saw that troll for the first time slowly revealing itself from behind the corner I went into a similar shock as the character in the film.

    Something happened in that first viewing that sent my mind racing back to the nightmares of my childhood, compressing the fears and sending them out into my body to cause some sort of sensory overload.

    After the scene was over I was out of breath and I felt entirely numb with a slight ringing in my ears.

    Of course that was a one time event but it still haunts me and I can absolutely sympathize with the character who ends up fainting from the shock.

  • Comment number 20.

    The girl from Ringu. Watched the original (1998) Japanese version on my own in the dark and have no shame in admitting trouser moistness. I suppose she counts as a ghost as she's 'onryō' but so far the only thing to reduce me as an adult to gibbering. Used very successfully in the game F.E.A.R., as well. The juxtaposition of relentless and reckless vengeance and a little girl; Leatherface is comical beside it.

  • Comment number 21.

    I saw Poltergeist when I was two and the two scenes that stuck with me for a long time afterwards were the parapsychologist tearing his face off and the infamous toy clown dragging the boy under the bed.
    Apparently I had nightmares for a month afterwards and the further knock on effect was my mother becoming super strict about what my siblings and I were allowed to watch.

    A few years later we went to the cinema to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Judge Doom's transformation into the manic eyed killer really freaked me out that night...

    Far and away though the one scene that continues to chill my blood to this day is the revelation of Dr Starr at the end of Asylum. I know he's not a monster per se but his deranged expression and hideous laughter which continues over the end credits is terrifying.

    I also have to agree with people citing Tim Curry's performance in 'It'. There's a scene at the beginning of the film where Pennywise is playing peekaboo with a small child, hiding behind bedding on a washing line. There's a brief moment where the bedding blows out of the way and Pennywise goes from being playful to murderous; the look on Curry's face is nerve shatteringly fierce and sincere.

  • Comment number 22.

    Having typed 'Robot woman Superman III' into google and then re watched the youtube clip, I don't stand alone when I remember back to when I was a kid in the 80's and the female villain who gets sucked into a machine and turned into and evil cyborg, freaked me out to the point of nightmares (see other comments below video).

  • Comment number 23.

    Totally agree with earlier contributors concerning the eponymous (John Carpenter's) 'The Thing'. This insidious celluloid nasty is blasé-proof by virtue of its shape-shifting; assuming any one of a myriad of forms - and grotesque combinations thereof.

    Equally memorable is the paranoia it instils within Outpost #31, establishing one of the all-time great movie denouements: two men about to succumb to Antarctic winter - one, or both, of whom may not be all that meets the eye...

  • Comment number 24.

    Iim going to have to nominate Feathers McGraw from The Wrong Trousers.

    If anyone thinks that evil little penguin is not a monster they should look again at its cold and emotionless black eyes

    It scared the bejezus out of me when I was a kid.

  • Comment number 25.

    Pans Labyrinth
    Pale man cont.

    The Pale man is a manifestation of blind greed and gluttony. In his opulant and obscene surroundings he blindly and without thought squanders riches through gorging upon the young, wasting life for his pleasure. I think he is a metaphor for the consequenses of quixotic behavior and is perhaps employed to mirror that of the fascist soldiers in the main plot. Also despite constantly feasting he is always in a state of anorexia as if to symbolise that this behavior can only be detrimental.

  • Comment number 26.

    I suppose the scariest 'monster' for me is well known and old hat in many circles. However, it is the placement or context in which this type of 'monster' is deployed, and the build up of tension with fog, music and genuinely credible acting. I refer of course to Salem's Lot, the original, and the young Danny Glick floating outside the window, scratching his fingernails a the glass asking to be let in. I defy anybody to not find that scary, the point at which it became difficult to watch as an eleven year old, was the floating into the room bit. After that I shut my eyes.

  • Comment number 27.

    A typical answer here but I'd have to say the titular alien from 'Alien'. The whole male rape and impregnation scenario is probably what keeps me up night.

    Also as a child I was terrified of Vigo from Ghostbusters II. There's one shot near the beginning when his forehead just starts to emerge from the painting and as a man of 22 years, I still get nightmares about it.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wholly agree with those citing the vagrant from Mulholland drive. The whole buid up to that scene added to a sense of dread and anxiety and then the reveal scared me witless. Likewise eraserhead, but even the radiators freaked me out in that one and I'm not sure that heating systems count. The kid masked apparition in the Orphanage is also a vastly unsettling experience. What makes all these scary? Apprehension and distorted/unhinged reality.. always get the paranoia and the fear going in me.

  • Comment number 29.

    Ever since I saw the poster for George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead", Zombies have always been the Creatures keeping me awake at night. It doesn't matter if they are shuffling or running, wandering around graveyards or screaming their way through the City streets, the idea of hoards of the undead - who have no other desire than to rip you apart and feast on your innards - genuinely terrifies me, and to this very day, I can't go to sleep without looking under the bed and in the wardrobe to make sure there aren't any hidden about the house!

  • Comment number 30.

    Without doubt, the movie monsters that scared me most growing up were the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. As a kid I was a major dinosaur nut and had all kinds of toy dinosaurs and books etc, etc. But as along as they were only lifeless fossils or inanimate pictures in a book, they weren't scary because I was in control - I had mastery over these fearsome beasts. But that all changed when Jurassic Park came along. Suddenly I wasn't in control anymore. Spielberg's velociraptors didn't move like earlier cinematic dino incarnations. They were swift and graceful which only added to their menace, and had a chilling, almost human intelligence. They also looked incredibly realistic and the idea of them being created in a lab by scientists didn't seem too far-fetched. But above all, the thing that scared me the most was, if they were real, how would I escape from them or defeat them? Freddy Krueger scared me as a kid, the Thing scared me, but I always felt I could have outwitted them or eluded them - if you were caught in the open with a velociraptor, how do you run away from that?!

  • Comment number 31.

    The man behind the diner in Mulholland Drive, like the earlier post said, is not really a monster. But definitely the only monster in recent memory that has not only scared me upon seeing it, but scared me for the rest of the film…in case it appeared again!
    It’s a strange one really because it’s not a monster the protagonists are aware of. So you don't become scared for their sake, you are purely scared because of one small, flashing glance at its face in a scene that could appear completely unrelated to the rest of the film.
    I don't know whether it’s especially scary because it touches on the traditional fear of 'what’s around the corner' we all have, or whether it’s more relative to the plot of the film. This strange, unexplained terrifying man is somehow wrapped up in the nightmare going on around all the characters in the film is definitely an unnerving concept before you’ve even seen him. And boy is that a shock when it happens!

  • Comment number 32.

    There are two that really stand out in my mind from watching films as a child.
    The first is in 'Return to Oz', where the witch has the room full of heads which watch Dorethy. As a child that had me waking up in the night screaming with fear.
    The second one is the chamberlian from the Jim Henson film 'Dark Crystal'. I cannot put my finger on why this character scared me so much, but even now if I watch the film, something about the way he moved and the funny noise he made when watching the other skeksis, really makes my skin crawl. He was almost human, and that is why I think I found him scary (and to be honest, I still do)

  • Comment number 33.

    For me, the most scariest films are those based with a high degree of reality, and if possible portraying a true story. So therefore, the 'monster' that frightens me the most would have to be John Hurt's masterful performance as John Merrick in The Elephant Man. I am both ingrossed by the storyline and horrified at the same time. I saw this film for the first time on BBC1 when I was around 14yrs old and I seriously could not get to sleep that night! The greatest monsters are those based on reality.

  • Comment number 34.

    When I was at the age of 7 or 8, my parents noticed that I was already developing a quite obsessive love of film, so they decided to start showing me old classics on video, rather than just Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

    Among those were James Whale's Frankenstein and Tod Browning's Dracula. Even as a kid I seriously loved those movies. So they went a little further and showed me F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu. That was a step too far. Max Schreck's cloaked, fanged, dome-headed, beady-eyed, long-grasping-fingered, monstrous creation is the ultimate bogeyman, for children especially, but as I can now attest, for grown-ups too. The human being is of course recognizable within that grotesque figure, but he is nevertheless distorted and distended enough to make him the embodiment of the 'other'. Let's be honest here, EVERYONE is afraid of the 'other'.

    Even non-deformed ghostly-human figures can terrify. Someone mentioned Bob from Twin Peaks; I concur. But his expressions were exaggerated and obscene; Bob always instantly brought to mind cinematic ghouls (such as Nosferatu, or rather 'Count Orlok' or whatever he was called; I'd rather not have to think about that anymore).

    Something that always got to me was Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining. The twins in the corridor are iconic horror characters - they were innocent victims, but put in the right time, in the right FRAME of that film, they embody the paedophobia that Dr Kermode has spoken of. And remember the lady in room 237? Even before she transforms into the rotting old crone, she scared me. Why? I dunno. She's not meant to be there (in the hotel), but she is. She slowly emerges from the bathtub and Nicholson slowly approaches. Her face is blank, pale and without expression. She is SOMETHING, and she's going to do SOMETHING, but we don't know what in either case, and we have to wait to find out.

    For me, that's the essence of the cinematic monster. As much as I love the Alien and Bruce the Jawsy-Shark and so on, I am always guaranteed to be the most freaked out by humans, or human figures, whose mere presence in a scene carries mystery, suspense and deadly portent.

    Can you dig it?

  • Comment number 35.

    I, too, choose BOB from Twin Peaks, because he is a monster hidden in plain sight.

  • Comment number 36.

    It's still gotta be ole' Bruce the Shark from 'Jaws'. Even now when I sit down to watch it (at least once a year) I don't see a big rubber fish like everyone else seems to delight in pointing out. I still see the terrifying leviathan that reguarly swam into my dreams/nightmares for months and months to come after I first saw it on Boxing Day, 1975 aged ten. I was even too scared to get into the bath. A proper monster if ever there was one.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well, let us see... when I was a kid the nowadays classics scared me alot. I saw Predator, Terminator and Alien long before I was old enough for them. Also, one that terrified me for weeks was the male spider from Arachnophobia, I to date I still think that that spider's fight with Jeff Daniels is the best duel I've seen in a film between man and beast, just because of the shear differance in sise and form. But it was just a Spider and all the others were beaten by humans, and that kind makes it not so scary. Plus, as the movie progresses, we know more about them and they become less scary.
    However, I spent years thinking that I had seen The Exorcist, but I had in fact just seen Poltergeist. Recently, because of Mark's passion for the movie I decided to finally check it out. And the scariest monster I would say I've seen, because it truly made me feel unconfortable in my seat each time it came up in the film, was the face of the demon that ocasionally flashes between scenes during The Exorcist. Now, for two days after I saw the film, I would still see in my mind that insane face, flashing. A couple of friends of mine said that they had seen a screening of that movie with a special feature which was subliminal messages... they spent days, after seing the film, in which they actually saw the face each time they closed their eyes or were in a dark room. Now that's scary!
    It probably doesn't count as a monster, but its the scariest I've seen so far.

  • Comment number 38.

    He's technically not a monster. But Christopher Walken as the hessian horseman in Sleepy Hollow scares the bejesus out of me. It's those teeth, and he came for the love of carnage, tonight he rides... to the hollow and back... and tonight he comes FOR YOU!!! THWUMP!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    I agree with those who have mentioned Bob from Twin Peaks, genuinely monstrous, disturbing and continues to be powerful now. Even the few appearances he has in the TV show were pretty strong stuff for what it was - particularly the scene where he murders Maddy. The way Lynch cuts from Leland Palmer to Bob, the latter all in slow motion, the sound slowed down, his actions animalistic and vile, it's seriously distressing stuff.

    The only other, more "conventional" monster that has really stayed with me is the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. It's such a bizarre and frightening creation, a fairy tale gone seriously wrong.

  • Comment number 40.

    Recently i was really shaken by the creature that haunts Lucie in 'Martyrs'. Something about the way it/she moves combined with the screaming and the films atmosphere which really stuck with me.

  • Comment number 41.

    The Skeksis from The Dark Crystal gave me nightmares for weeks, it was always of me Being chased by them down a blood red tunnel, I think it just the way they moved,and spoke. Even though now I can see them as silly characters there is still something that creeps me out about them!

    Of course another one would be the Grand High Witch from The Witches, but I don't really know if you class that as a monster?

  • Comment number 42.

    Scariest Monster - The Thing. Even when I watch it again whenever it turns up on some late night TV channel it still scares the bejayus out of me.

    Why? Because it comes from within an apparently normal person and therefore any of us could have one in us ....... don't let anyone test your blood with a hot needle as it could be you!

  • Comment number 43.

    Kurt Barlow – from the 1979 version of Salem’s Lot.

    I saw this in the late 80s. I was an atheist as a kid - but this guy had me Macgyvering crosses out of used lolly pops. He still unsettles me.

  • Comment number 44.

    Perhaps the most inescapable monster of all is the one found in all the 'Final Destination' series. 'Death' never lets up. Can't be beaten, and if you were on the list, who you gonna call? not them.

  • Comment number 45.

    If people mention the 20s monsters, they'll mention Nosferatu, which until very recently has been haunting the open doorways of my life for quite some time. They'll mention the reveal of the Phantom of the Opera, which is quite terrifying initially.
    But for my money, it's the monster from the 1927 film, THE CAT AND THE CANARY. There's something so grotesque about the creature in that film, with it's jutting underbite fangs and its enormous bulging, Peter Laurie eyes.
    I think what made each of these 20s creatures so terrifying is that they were humanoid. They weren't really monsters, they were monstrous people.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think the scariest monsters are nearly always the ones you hardly see, i.e the ones in your head. The idea of something is usually worse than the reality, which is why once you've seen what's under your bed it's not so frightening any more.

    I guess this is why seemingly tame films, such as Ghostbusters can scare the hell out of us as kids, as we still have active imaginations that haven't been blunted by experience.

    I will get shot down for this one, but i find the aliens in Signs to be properly scarey. It's not that they are a particularly good monster on their own, but it's the way they are used in the film and mostly the characters reactions to them, that makes them so frightening.
    I wonder what it must have been like to see Alien for the first time in 1979, a monster that is terrifying on its own, used perfectly. All tho it's hard to imagine now as the creature is so familiar to us it has lost all its terror.

  • Comment number 47.

    Fats, the dummy from Magic with Anthony Hopkins.

    I don't like dummies/dolls at the best of times and still to this day I will not watch that film again..

  • Comment number 48.

    The first monster that scared me as a child was Chucky from "Child's Play." Nowadays the little guy seems harmless and ridiculous fun, but to a five-year-old a homicidal doll was truly terrifying. Something about a monster being down at my eye level made him far more disturbing than all the tall, hockey mask-wearing, chainsaw-wielding maniacs combined.

  • Comment number 49.

    The thing that really got under my skin was the pig mask from the first 'Saw' film. Having someone coming out of the dark at you wearing that is really scary when you have to get up for work in the dark and having the central heating pipes clanking and banging whilst your taking a shower is not appreciated when your alone in the house and have 'Saw' rattling around your head.

  • Comment number 50.

    Oh, and the Gmork (the wolf creature) from The Neverending Story terrified me as a child

  • Comment number 51.

    For me, it's a very obscure choice. It's for a film that I don't think many people have seen, but I can certainly describe the reasons why the monster really creeps me out.

    The film in question, is surrealist director Jan Svankmajer's 'Otesanek' (Little Otik) - and it is the creature of Otik that genuinely unsettles me. I saw it on an AS Film Studies trip 10 years ago to the wonderful Duke of York's Cinema in Brighton. I was really geared up for seeing this absurd-sounding film, which my teacher had described to me as "about a piece of wood coming to life and eating people". Admittedly for the first half of the film I thoroughly enjoyed myself - surrealist imagery and off-beat laughs were present and correct, and I was liking the quirkiness of the director's taste.

    However, when the wooden baby Otik started eating people and leaving 'remains' of his victims, I became deeply disturbed. There was something about the aesthetic of Svankmajer's infamous combination of stop-motion animation and live-action footage that really didn't sit well with me. The fact that the animation on Otik is deliberately kept jerky puts 'him' as a being from another world. Combining this with the very recognisable sounds of a crying baby as it writhes around, needles to say I was creeped.

    And finally, I now realise that I am disturbed by creatures that eat you whole - not limbs or parts like we see in 'Jaws' or 'Piranha' for instance. But just the idea of being swallowed whole really gets me. And so this combination of filmic technique, which in itself is now outside of the Hollywood 'norm' for SFX production, but also the connotations of the story.

    Hope this was of interest and a bit different.

    Andy Carr (now Teacher of A-level Film and long-time fan).

  • Comment number 52.

    For me, it's the unseen thing in The Haunting. Yes, it may be a ghost, but I suspect not. The most frightening thing for me is not knowing what or why it is, and not knowing its limitations, although it does seem unable to cope with opening a door...

  • Comment number 53.

    @Paul re: 22

    Yikes! How scary was that, considering how camp and cheesy the rest of the film is (particularly Robert Wagner shooting missiles at Superman in a sequence that looks suspiciously like a rubbish 8-bit side-scrolling shoot-em-up) - Superman even gets half-cut, and yet, how creepy is the robot?

    I'd also add the Wheelers from "Return to Oz", the Alien Queen from "Aliens" splitting Bishop in half and the melting nazi in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"...

  • Comment number 54.

    I agree with Mic C. It's always the monsters you don't see that are the most frightening, that's why for me Blair Witch had one of the scariest endings. You see the victims but not the monster. We can imagine ourselves as a victim far more easily than we can believe in a monster and so we become more involved and ulitimately more terrified. If you're left to imagine the worst, you will. Revealing the monster too soon or too often is the biggest mistake to make in a horror movie for me. It numbs you to their presence and of course once a monster is revealed we know the limitations.

  • Comment number 55.

    I would quickly put Jaws and if it's allowed, Michael Myers as two of my favourites but the monsters I genuinely fear for are Zombies. While all three have a common theme being the fear of a relentless attack, Zombies are the only ones that scare me as I continue to age.

    Zombies were once us which is scary enough but I find the evolution of the Zombie only moves closer to the real threat we represent to ourselves.

    What would've the mindless rioters been if you had swapped their stollen TV and DVD players for brains and gore? Also the ever growing worry of viruses and plagues that will one day wipe us out comes into it, for example 28 Days Later.

    But what if it is simply because we lose everything that makes us individual and become a mindless entity?

  • Comment number 56.

    Perhaps not strictly a monster but for me the Devil at the end of Quatermass And The Pit scared me witless 40 years ago and the thought of it still scares me now.
    Likewise I found the birds in The Birds monstrous, especially when they were pecking out the school teacher's eyes.

  • Comment number 57.

    It really would be quicker for me to name a monster that DIDN'T scare me.

    I've been scared of The Thing, the wolf from Neverending Story, the reptile in the Hammer horror of the same name, the spider from Arachnophobia, The Predator (sans helmet) and countless assorted werewolves.

    The worst of them is Freddie Kruger, of whom I've had more than a few dreams of him stalking me in broad daylight, surrounded by people who can't see him. A monster who stalks you in your dreams is perhaps the worst, as you're already at a disadvantage. Who's ever been able to escape from ANYTHING in a dream?

    HR Geiger's aliens never scared me, so at least that's something.

  • Comment number 58.

    For me the great white of "Jaws" is top of the list. Like many having seen it as a child i still have a bit of a fear of the sea because of it.
    You can't communicate or reason with this monster, you can't swim fast enough to get away and if it fancies ripping your limbs off, it will.
    Thats scary!!

  • Comment number 59.

    I agree that Bob from "Twin Peaks" maybe the most scary screen presence, but I think the tree spirits, sped up chasing Bruce Campbell in "Evil Dead II", is THE entity that keeps me up at night.

    Whether a monster can be a ghost or presence, or must be made of flesh and blood, gets away of the nature of a monster. Whether "Pin Head" is really or not in our reality doesn't mean he is any less a monster, or any less scary.

  • Comment number 60.

    The Chatterer Cenobite from the original Hellraiser film. Being bitten to death is an unthinkably nasty way to go.

  • Comment number 61.

    An early one to scare me was the monster in The Crate from Romero and King's Creepshow. For all its OTT gaudiness this collection of vignettes has some genuinely terrifying moments. I think what scared me the most about this monster was the size of its jaws and the idea that it could probably bite your head clean off in one go. I had a very similar reaction to Clive Barker's Rawhead Rex short story from the Books of Blood and the consequent movie, again it's those huge jaws. Thinking about it, this probably all stems from my fear of the great white Bruce from Jaws! But there's no safety on dry land from these teeth!

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    That’s easy! The 'sand sharks' in Magic Island (1995, Dir. Sam Irvin).

    I saw the film as a pre-teen, and from what I remember, I liked it a lot, that is, except for one thing.

    ‘Jaws’ left me terrified of climbing into bath water, let-alone the sea, but I could always rely on the fact that sharks couldn’t survive in-land, or so I thought. Magic Island features (critter like) sharks that can tunnel through sand at high speed and are the only ‘monsters’ to date that have genuinely scared me silly.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think Mark’s been asking for monsters as something organic,
    visual or viscereal, as distinct from ‘entities’, as I see other
    commentors listing, but neymind.

    The first physical manifestation that springs to mind for me is in The
    Others; the scene when Grace’s daughter is playing on the floor,
    turned away from her, and she notices that the hand of her daughter is
    an old woman's hand, but her child's (humming) voice remains
    normal. Grace approaches slowly to face her and sees an old woman's
    face who says in her child's voice, ‘I Am your daughter, are you mad?’
    Grace then goes a bit mental and shakes the torso and stops when the
    now-returned daughter cries.

    This short scene seriously freaked me out when I first saw it, shivers
    went down my spine, and still gives me the creeps to this day. And I
    find it very difficult to explain. It's not that old people are so
    frightening, they're just old.

    At a guess, it may be that the juxtaposition of children, who are
    supposed to be reliably innocent with the strange and unsettling. (The
    Exorcist, Omen, anyone?) At a deeper level, you could even consider
    the whole scene as a metaphor for the struggle between a parent and
    their child, as the child becomes more mature, independent, behaves
    unpredictably and strangely, this frightens and alienates the parent.

    A more recent disturbing monster was from the TV show The Walking
    Dead, the pilot episode (imho the only episode worth watching), in
    which the protagonist and two survivors (father and son) of The Zombie
    Apocalypse are camping in the dark in the house of father and
    son. Turns out that the mother was zombified and, at night, the
    zombies start strolling around in their slow, confused state, and the
    mother zombie, who isn't so disfigured, but has VERY good make-up to
    just appear more gaunt and animalistic, with empty, dead eyes, still
    dressed in her night gown approaches the front door of the house, and
    rattles the door handle, evidently recalling some distant memory of
    this house, and then peers into the peep hole which the protagonist is
    peering through on the other side. Very, very, eerie and disturbing.

    As some others have said, the room full of heads in Return to Oz was
    highly disturbing to me as a child.

    Chucky from Child's Play, as a child was very frightening to me. Dolls
    are creepy enough. They're put in an intimate position of trust—they
    get to be in close proximity to you as a child (even an adult) all the
    time, their eyes often watching you. The slightest hint that there is
    consciousness behind those eyes is VERY creepy. Even years ago when I
    walked to school, there was a street with a house which had a doll in
    the window, facing the street. Walking past that was uber creepy.

    A more embarassing one, but probably not a candidate for the monster
    list, is from a TV show called Are You Afraid of the Dark, which shows
    my age, I was only a 5-6 year old in the 90s. There was an episode in
    which a baby sitter, a figure of trust, reads from a story book and
    the stories manifest themselves physically. After various goblin and
    war-like scenes are played out, as he's sat by her on the sofa, she
    reads about a witch, to which the boy reacts, “I don't see any
    witches! …” and turns around to see her now subtly but noticably
    transformed face and gait leering over him. To have the figure of
    trust inverted like that frighened the hell out of me so badly. After
    that I used to literally run downstairs and between rooms for months
    afterwards, afraid that such a figure might appear over my shoulder.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think what is so scary about the Onibaba mask is the look of terror it holds in it's eyes.
    Is it scared of us, the viewer; do we then become the monster? Or is it reflecting back our own fear, placing us deeper inside the world of the film. Good stuff.

  • Comment number 66.

    It's got to be the scary woman and little boy from Ju-on: the grudge. I still come out in a cold sweat when I hear that noise she makes. Bob from Twin Peaks is a close second though.

  • Comment number 67.

    I totally agree with you Mark about "Onibaba" - Another Japanese film for me is "Kwaidan" especially the second story "The Woman in the Snow" - Creepiest Demon in human form I have ever seen -

  • Comment number 68.

    I have to echo those who have mentioned the youngest of the Glick brothers (Ralphie), last seen floating and scratching at his older brother's window enshrouded in spectral mist in Salem's Lot. I'm not sure but I think the scenes may have been filmed in reverse to enhance the creepy effect.

    He still scares the hell out of me. There is something so intrinsically unnatural about the image, perhaps partly due to the fact that small children are rarely so successfully portrayed as vampires - until the late seventies they were mostly 'adult' aristocrats moping around gothic castles and stalking young virgins. There is no sexual motive with the Glick brothers. Ralphie simply returns to Danny because of their strong bond. And therein lies the fear for me. Ralphie is death, he is grief, he is bereavement, he is the universal dread of death, which no matter how much we push away will one day be scratching at our own windows.

    And this was a time when vampires were actually scary. Wraith-like demons that didn't wallow in existential angst about their immortality like the Twilight emos of today. There is nothing frightening about vampires with souls and 'feelings'. That's crap. The Ralphie Glick vampire clearly has no soul. But there is something there, and not quite knowing what it is makes him all the more unsettling.

  • Comment number 69.

    Not really a movie monster but more a TV monster. The scariest thing I've ever seen on TV was a Doctor Who villain: the cleaners. I believe Silvester McCoy was the doctor, and the story was set in a high rise building where the "enemy" was referred to as "the cleaners". what was scary was that they would attack out of ordinary kitchen appliances, like the sink or the washing machine (I think there was a water connection), which made them grounded in everyday situations. You didn't have to be on a spaceship (Alien) or the Antarctic (The Thing) to be scared, just being in your own home could give you nightmares!

  • Comment number 70.

    Actually, one of my favourite screen-monsters is Mr Staypuft from Ghostbusters. He's not remotely frightening but the vision of him stomping through New York is just so wonderfully absurd.

  • Comment number 71.

    The scariest monster to me has been in films but is indeed in my opinion a real life creature and it's Bigfoot or Sasquatch (not the Yeti, there is a difference). It goes back to my childhood.... I was born in Portland, Oregon which is a biggest town in the state of Oregon which is one of the 2 American States with the most sightings other is Washington. I literally as a child thought Bigfoot lived in my backyard and watched me, Bigfoot has entered my nightmares many times in my life.... I still vividly remember a nightmare i had about the age of 5 or 6 of Bigfoot killing my mother. I've met people who claim they have seen it and seem legit.

    I don't really know what scares me about Bigfoot, it might be the unknown, it might be if i ever saw one it could easily rip me too, I really don't know but it still creeps me out.

    the creatures in Ghostbusters 2 creeped me out as a kid as well.

  • Comment number 72.

    I've always been scared of the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gollum looks up and you can only see his eyes. I don't like scary eyes...

  • Comment number 73.

    For most people the monsters seen in their childhood filmography will have the most impact. Therefore, I nominate Jaws and the Facehugger from Aliens. Also, if Pennywise from IT counts, then make it the third

  • Comment number 74.

    Anne Widdecombe ...

    ... and pwheller, if you interpreted Joseph Carey Merrick, the elephant man, as a 'monster' then I sincerely suspect that you missed the point of the film ...

  • Comment number 75.

    I don't know how many people from the blog have watched Possession yet, the movie that Mark said inspired AntiChrist, but i think the weird octopus-man monster should be considered. Even though it is totally passive throughout the film it still has a great deal of menace surrounding it and its sheer bizarrity is very disturbing.

  • Comment number 76.

    My vote goes to Mr. Noah Cross. 'You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of ANYTHING.' The line Amon Goeth must've been influenced by.

  • Comment number 77.

    No screen monster has ever affected me as much as the gargoyle in 'Fantasia'. The emptiness of his shadow and those piercing orange/yellow eyes haunted my dreams for many years as a child. Even watching it now, I still feel uneasy.

  • Comment number 78.

    Another mention for the Pale Man. There was just something so realistic and original about it. Not even the only monster of note in that film. But what was so creepy about it for me were the unexpanded on paintings of the monster eating children, and the pile of Childrens' shoes in the corner. The man's imagination is just second to none and I'm actually a bit gutted he's no longer involved with the Hobbit. The Rings trilogy has dated in a way that I doubt Pan's Labyrinthine ever will. Another thing I noticed about the Pale Man is what bad shape he seemed to be in, as if he hadn't fed in a long long time. So many questions raised in that short scene, and as we all's the imagination that does the scaring, not the blood or the effects. Though they do help.

  • Comment number 79.

    Throwing in the picture from Picture Gray 1945 with george sanders.

  • Comment number 80.

    As a kid, the movie monster that scared me the most was the Joker from the 1989 Batman film. (Does he even count as a monster?) Something about the way his face was deformed, and the creepily huge smile... *shudder* And Jack Nicholson can do creepy very well indeed.

    Also, the corruption of Dr Weir and the others onboard the Event Horizon ranks pretty high up there. The 'monster' is never really defined, whether it be something from the hole in the universe or what, but that movie still scares the hell out of me. (also, hello to Jason Isaacs...)

  • Comment number 81.

    Xenomorphs tear me apart at night. H. R. Giger's work is absolutely terrifying so something that looks like H. R. Giger's work, is more vicious than any animal that has ever existed and stands several feet taller than you takes the all important and, most assuredly, delicious cake.

  • Comment number 82.

    Totally agree with Alys about 'Event Horizon' that one left me creeped out for a week. But I also agree with Whitchfinder, it is the frights you have as children that scare you and stay with you. I know some people see 'An american werewolf in London' as a kind of 'comedy horror' or at least I'm told that. But my miserable cousins made me watch it when I was 11 and I was completely terrified, not of the werewolf, but of the gradually decomposing friends and other kills that followed him around at various stages of the film. I wasn't quite old enough to cope with the concept of Death let alone putrefaction, at 11 years of age. I slept (barely) with the light on for 3 weeks. It's probably why I never became a big horror fan. These days that sort of thing (although not living dead) is shown routinely on CSI or Bones or any of those forensic science crime procedurals 15 times a day and before the watershed, but 20 years later when I saw they were showing AWIL on one of the channels I was still creeped out and unable to watch it. Left the landing light on too.

  • Comment number 83.

    For me it will have to be the Rabbit in Donnie Darko. I know it's probably an obvious one, but it ticks so many boxes for me that its a reliable character to keep me up at night. If I am having trouble going to sleep and I say to myself 'just don't think of something scary' my mind races to the Rabbit and I have to turn the lights on...still.

    Well my reasons are based purely from my own subjective phobias and paranoias which makes Donnie Darko's Rabbit a perfect monster for me.

    1-Just standing there...
    This is probably a common one, but one thing I don't like the thought of is some freaky unexplained thing just appearing out of nowhere in your everyday surroundings. That was set off number one and makes Scary Bob a close contender.

    2-You did something bad...
    When he reveals his human face and we see he is clearly meant to be dead. Which is bad enough, especially with that bullet in his eye, but then we find out he is someone our protagonist will run over. That sends a shiver down my spine, I don't like the thought of ghosts wandering about- but a future ghost! What the hell?! There is a creepy and despairing destiny about our future victim that makes him a very sad and yet malevolent monster.

    3- You said what?
    His voice is pretty freaky. End of.

    Also IT kept me up many a night for a few years, and I still can't swim comfortably in a swimming pool thanks to Jaws. So thanks Horror (AND I WOULD DO IT ALL AGAIN!)

  • Comment number 84.

    When Charlie Kaufman wrote 'Synecdoche, New York', originally it began as a horror movie, and to do that he looked into what frightens him the most: death, failure and abandonment. The film is ultimately about growing old and dying alone, while feeling misunderstood and unsuccessful. What makes the movie so unsettling isn't an undead monster or creature that could devour us, but rather the unflinching look at our fragile humanity and how rapidly everything deteriorates beyond our control. It is easy to forget that these monsters we are so afraid of are really ourselves, and Kaufman pulls the mask of the beast and shows us for what we really are.

  • Comment number 85.

    Just remembered this one: The Fly! The most desgusting monster movie I've seen... and this one is truly a monster. Great work by Jeff Goldblum. I remember as a kid I was both scared of it and scared of becoming it!

  • Comment number 86.

    My pick would be Cronenberg's The Fly. This is surely one of the most terrifying metamorphoses in cinema. The make-up (which is still scary even by today's standards!), a brilliant performance by Goldblum and a truly horrific finale all contribute to what makes this monster so scary. But perhaps the most important factor to consider is that there is still a lot of human within this monster - even though we've quite literally seen the human body parts fall away from Brundlefly, we still recognise the human within. It's the struggle between the human and the animal that makes the metamorphosis so scary, especially when we realise that the animal is going to win. This means that when it comes to the final scene, no matter how terrifying the monster may have been seconds earlier, we feel sorry for the creature that emerges from the teleporter because we can still identify with whatever human part may remain.

  • Comment number 87.

    The demon image that you see for only a few frames from the Exorcist – not that I want to suck up but it also appears on the good doctors book about the movie as well:
    Although the 2nd edition has an alternative image of the demon I can't recall ever seeing?
    Either way I saw this when I was pretty young (@ 15) and it remains my favorite scary monster (does demon count?) image ever.

  • Comment number 88.

    I agree with Whitchfinder! "I think movie monsters benefit greatly from the 'I saw it as a kid' effect"…. and robert hartshorn with Jaws.

    My most terrifying movie monster would have to be Jaws.

    My Father (unwisely) let me watch Jaws at the age 7, and even now (aged 34) I still get very uneasy whenever I'm in deep water (yes EVEN in the swimming pool!!!) such was that films profound and lasting effect on me.

    Why? Because human beings are slow, clumsy, helpless beings in a sub-aqua environment ("we just aren't meant to be in there" as Billy Connolly once pointed out!). The prospect an encounter with a water dinosaur still scares me to death, thanks to Mr Spielberg's brilliant psychological build-up and "non-reveal" of the beast beneath until the last act of the film, and wonderful surface-level camera work.

    In that case, hmmmm.... it might actually be "The Sea" which plays the starring horror character in Jaws? Errr, actually no... Have a look at this...

  • Comment number 89.

    Okay, bear with me. It's impossible for me to cite just one. I LOVE monsters; always have, but I'm scared of all of them practically. I just saw 'The Hole' yesterday(not available in the US) and when I turned off the lights to got to bed, I kept thinking that little dead girl was going to turn up (likewise the dead little girls from the Shining and Samara from The Ring scare me for different reasons... Maybe it was the idea of something that you couldn't escape in both cases).

    Paul and joel_Clooney mentioned a good one... The Robot lady from Superman III, who is really part of the supercomputer that goes on a rampage at the end of the movie... And many have mentioned John Carpenter's The Thing. Both have the victims losing their identity to the monster. Both creeped me out as a kid. I think the fact that the victims are somehow absorbed by the monster is the thing that's the scariest there (see also The Blob). And maybe in the case of The Thing was that it was indiscriminate in its victims... Those poor defenseless Huskies....

    I think the first monster that scared me was the Octopus from 'It Came From Beneath The Sea'. I think my parents let me watch it when I was 3 or 4 thinking because it was a black and white movie from the 1950s that it would have no effect on me. WRONG. To this day, I can't cross a bridge and not think about that film.

    I live near the beach and even as a very young kid, Bruce from Jaws scared me even though it wasn't until I was much older before I was allowed to see that one. But sharks are real and I knew that... And I knew they were all out there in the shallow water waiting to eat me... And they were and are. Anyone that gives you that garbage about "you're more likely to be struck by lightning than to get eaten by a shark". Yeah, well if you're in the ocean with the sharks, I'm betting that argument doesn't hold up as well.

    The Xenomorph from Alien always scared me, even though I owned the toy replica (I think it didn't sell very well since the movie wasn't aimed at kids). I didn't see that one until I was much older, either, though. I think that was a combination of a fear of the dark, of the unknown AND the fact that Ridley Scott didn't let you see what happened to the victims (in the original version anyway) that you had no idea what the alien wanted with its victims. You had already seen what had happened to Kane onscreen, so you knew whatever it was it had to be something gruesome. That one just left everything up to your own imagination.

    In Hellraiser, I wasn't scared by the Cenobytes so much as from when Frank returns from Hell. The creepiest scene in the entire film is when Julia (the stepmother) goes up to the attic to find the crippled Frank (her ex-lover), fresh out of Hell, locking her in and crawling around the floor after her with no skin. Maybe the best image in the entire movie is when the still skinless Frank, wearing a white shirt lights up a cigarette. I think that one was just the fear of a skinless dead guy crawling after me in a dark attic. I'm pretty sure that would be at the heart of what scares me the most about that.

    Zombies used to be a no fail way of making me sleep with the lights on for at least a couple of nights afterwards. There's another example of relentlessly creeping and inevitable doom looming. Shambling, literal metaphors for death. And it's not just the good zombie films that do it (like the original Dawn or Day of the Dead), but it's even the comedies. That zombie in the basement from Return Of The Living Dead Part II... the one that was SO excited with the prospect of eating some brains. Just repulsive.

    The Shape... the original Boogie Man (Michael Myers) kept me up at nights. Surprisingly, I don't think I've read anyone mention him. He also represents the thing in the dark that exists only to kill indiscriminately. And you have no idea what he looks like, so that also plays into the fear of the unknown... Of strangers...

    Hmm, I FEAR that I'm running long again... I could go on, but I think you only wanted one good answer. Sorry, but like I said, I can't cite but one. I think horror films in general are made for people like me. Those susceptible to be easily scared by them (and keep coming back for more).

  • Comment number 90.

    Oh! Pumpkinhead! Pumpkinhead scared the living daylights out of me. The thrust of the story is the downward spiral of revenge, but as far as what's scary about Pumpkinhead himself, I don't think there's a whole lot of 'subtext' with him unless you hjust want to say there's something primal about being relentlessly pursued by a creature much larger and stronger than yourself that wants to rend you limb from limb.... And playing dead won't help, because he'll actually take your pulse to make sure you're not playing dead. yet another thing in the dark. I guess (genius FX by Stan Winston, BTW).

  • Comment number 91.

    For me, it's the man behind Winkies from Mulholland Drive. Seriously, he tells us it's there, we all know it's coming, it even happens slowly, but it still scares the sh*t out of everyone. Lynch is a genius.

    My mom saw Alien at the cinema when it came out and has nightmares about the facehugger till this very day... I think maybe the fact that she suffered from asthma a lot when she was a child makes it worse.

  • Comment number 92.

    Back in the 70s, when I was about 10, I saw Tourner's Night of The Demon. I remember thinking about the demon a few days later as I was riding home on my bike. It was just getting dark and irrationality took over. There was no one else around and I was convinced that that demon just might materialise and carry me off. Filled with dread, I pelted for home and safety. Crazy, I know but I'll never forget that feeling.
    Meanwhile, the only monster that has given me nightmares is the Alien. I think it's the fact it is huge, has no eyes, is relentless and can follow you anywhere.

  • Comment number 93.

    The "Salt Monster" from the Star Trek (The Original Series) episode "The Man Trap" still freaks me out.
    Oh for a world class psychologist to figure out why!

  • Comment number 94.

    I think the one that chills me the most every-time I see it is actually Nurse Ratched played by Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. Strictly speaking off course she's not a 'creature' in the horror or sci-fi definition, she's just a monstrous person. But look at her hair, the make up...tell me Milos Forman didn't add an other worldly physical aspect to her appearance. There is slightly difference between the harsh coldness of an asylum to that of a space ship or a haunted house.

  • Comment number 95.

    I would have to say Pennywise the Clown from the excellent 1990 TV Movie of Stephen King's 'IT'. It's the perfect horror monster in that it embodies everything that we are afraid of as children: strangers, abduction, growing up and coming to realise that the world, and those in it, is by no means perfect. All of these things are placed into King's creation and Curry's execution of Pennywise - a clown who typically is supposed to be a source of fun for children but, in fact, scares many of us well into adulthood. Curry's Pennywise has, and always will, scare me!

  • Comment number 96.

    Another nod for Barlow and the Glick children from Salem's Lot but think it has to do with being a certain age when i watched it, young teen in the mid eighties. Used to watch the black and white 50s films late at night, Beast with Five Fingers had me climbing up the back of the sofa.
    For me the more outrageous the monster is the less frightening it is, anything human-like is far more scary.

  • Comment number 97.

    I've also got to add zombies: they are currently enjoying a major renaissance in more recent years with the likes of The Walking Dead and World War Z. To me, they represent the fear of an enemy who can attack from within i.e. terrorism. The fear that the person sleeping next to you, or on the same road as you for that matter, is not who they first appear to be.

    Zombies play on our fragile concept of trust and teach us that we should be careful of those that we put faith in as they will, at times, turn around and bite us.

    Also, is is of no surprise that zombies seem to come up whenever we are at war - feeding off our fears and concepts of safety. In the 21st century these shambling bags of corruption have gained pace in order to fit into the fast-paced nature of human life and increasing consumerism; something in which Romero pointed out all those years ago in 1978, three years before I was born.

    It was Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' that first introduced me to them though as an 8 year old boy: that video scared the living daylights out of me, but made me the horror (and zombie) fan that I am today.

  • Comment number 98.

    Being 8 years old and hearing Pinhead announce "we'll tear your soul apart" for the first time was enough to to give me a fear of attics for quite some years. Added to that, the hammer wielding Julia had the exact same haircut as a family friend. Oh Lorraine, if you only knew how much you frightened me.

  • Comment number 99.

    What gets me is the dark or shadowy figure, probably lurking just behind me.

    I think it’s because we fill in the vague figure for ourselves with the basic fear of another human being angry or threatening towards us, and us not understanding why or being able to reason with it.

    So many monsters are concealed with robes or cloaks (like Ringwraiths or Dementors) or have their faces covered (like in ONIBABA, or Michael Myers, or the gas-mask child from DOCTOR WHO).

    There's something of it in the Xenomorph from ALIEN, in the best M. R. James (like Jonathan Miller's WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU) and definitely in the many many long-haired scary women from Japanese horror. It’s why one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen is just Bob’s face behind a bed in TWIN PEAKS. I think zombies tap into this too, as recognisably human shapes, but mindless and threatening.

    Probably the best one is Michael Myers from HALLOWEEN, who’s very appropriately known as The Shape because he’s at his scariest not when he’s slashing a babysitter, but when he’s just looming in the background.

    Personally, the one thing that can keep me awake at night is the very last image from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Just the figure of a man in the corner of my bedroom facing away from me...

  • Comment number 100.

    Mine would be-

    Jeffrey Jones' villain from Howard The Duck. I've never seen the film but I had nightmares for weeks after seeing the trailer for it before Transformers- The Movie (cartoon not MB)

    Pipes from Ghostwatch.

    The Slender Man from Marble Hornets. His appearances in the last episode of "Season 1" had me screaming.

    Bob from Twin Peaks. I managed to make my girlfriend cry on Monday night by crouching down at the foot of the bed & peering at her with mad eyes. Not one of my best jokes.

    & there was a Disney film I remember seeing one Sunday afternoon when I was a child where 2 kids were being chased through the woods by an unseen assailant. It is the thing you don't see that most scares you.


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