Blogger Q&A: What’s the best-designed movie monster?
In the Blogger Q&A series, we ask our bloggers here at Flickchart to share their opinions on a movie-related question. Got something you want to ask the bloggers? Submit a question on our official Flickchart Facebook page and it could be featured in a future post!
A monster can be anything a filmmaker can imagine and the costume/makeup/effects departments can make. With so many different kinds of movie monsters to choose from, selecting a favorite is hard. But this is Flickchart! Hard choices are our business. This week the bloggers weigh in on their favorite monster designs.
David: Count Orlok, Nosferatu (1922)
Silent movies are eerie anyway, what with the no talking and the fact that everybody in them is dead. More so than most movies, they feel like portals for looking into another time. As we go back to 1922 to take a look at the gothic vampire film F.W. Murnau made, the creature played by Max Schreck seems to have come forward in time to meet us halfway. He materializes in a darkened doorway, stiff and emotionless, giving the impression of having waited there, sleepless, for centuries. Our eyes travel downward to the long, clawed hands, so inhuman, so unlike the genteel vampires of literature, but we cannot look at them for long; we feel Count Orlok’s eyes on us despite the time and distance that separate us. The eyes are set in a mask-like face with misproportioned features: ears that are too pointy, a nose too long, a forehead too heavy. Even his fangs are too close together. It’s all wrong for our expectations, and, therefore, right for unnerving us. Orlok’s tight-fitting, high-collared coat is a mockery of our social mores and fashions, a grotesque attempt to make the undead appear more like the living. “You see, I am one of you!” the coat seems to say, while the face and hands and bearing all silently insist the contrary. Orlok’s name was an invention born of necessity, since “Dracula” was under copyright when this thinly-veiled adaptation was made, but his design makes him a truly original creature in his own right. — David Conrad
- Globally ranked #225
- Wins 49% of matchups
- 7 users have it at #1
Nigel: The xenomorph, Alien (1979)
Part of the genius of Ridley Scott‘s Alien (1979) is how the titular creature is never really fully viewed on screen. The old adage is exactly true: what you can’t see is often much scarier than what you can. Yet it is a testament to the late H.R. Giger’s horrifying design that the “xenomorph” continues to be scary throughout the various films in the Alien franchise, even as we become more familiar with it. It terrifies in all its forms: from those oozing eggs that house the skeletal-looking facehuggers, to the bizarrely phallic-looking chestburster that so indelibly makes its exit from John Hurt. But the final evolution of the creature is the most horrific, shiny and black, and lurking for our heroine in the shadows. Some of Giger’s “biomechanical” designs were used — heavily modified, or considered and rejected — for other films, but he was only ever really happy with Alien. And it’s no wonder. For all its many triumphs, the biggest achievement of Scott’s seminal film is tapping into the abhorrently appealing madness of Giger’s imagination, and bringing it to fearsome life. — Nigel Druitt
- Globally ranked #18
- Wins 63% of matchups
- 768 users have it at #1
Jandy: the aliens, Attack the Block (2011)
To me the scariest things in horror movies are things you can’t see — suggestions that create psychological terror, elusive creatures that slip around corners before you really get a good look at them, and the horrible things human monsters do to each other. So when it came to thinking about my favorite monster designs, I had to think of something that captures that sense of not really seeing what you’re dealing with, while also being a solid and unique design. The aliens in Attack the Block (2011) are creatures with hair so black it doesn’t reflect light – they look like blobs of negative space, like shaggy black holes on screen. But, and it’s a big but, with rows upon rows of bright blue glowing teeth. So they’re all but invisible in most light, impossible to differentiate from each other in groups, but with glow-in-the-dark teeth. That’s terrifying, and also a design I hadn’t seen before.
- Globally ranked #1230
- Wins 57% of matchups
- 8 users have it at #1
Connor: Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This is perhaps pushing the definition of “monster”, but as Nigel already chose to write about the Xenomorphs, I had to go for my close second. From Freddy’s first iconic appearance, the supernatural killer has terrified. Unlike many monsters which are clearly inhuman in shape and appearance, Freddy is very much human. He wears human clothing such as a fedora and sweater. He even wears working boots suggesting he is one of us. It is only badly burnt and scarred skin that sets him apart from a normal human. Wes Craven said that Freddy represents the neglect of children. His dark, burnt face is a twisted mirror of humanity’s cruelty. The contrasting colors of his sweater, crimson and dark green, are in fact colors that are the most clashing to the human retina. Freddy’s signature weapon, his bladed glove, has helped define his look and persona as a killer. Though his design has undergone small changes throughout the years (especially in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare), he has maintained an iconic place in horror and is always immediately identifiable. That is the best trait any horror killer can possess in cinema. — Connor Ryan Adamson
- Globally ranked #799
- Wins 43% of matchups
- 37 users have it at #1
Jeff: Zombies, various movies
Most if not all of the other horror figures on this list represent an Other. The Xenomorphs, the aliens from Attack the Block, and even to a certain extent the Nosferatu all represent fears from the outside. Heck, the prefix xeno- is even a Greek term meaning something other or foreign. Zombies, on the other hand, show us a fear unlike many other creatures, if you can even call them that. They represent us. When we see zombies in films, the characters are literally facing their own mortality. They show us something that is absolutely inevitable for every human: death, decay, and emptiness. If you look at the design of a zombie, you see the frailty of the human form – the eyes are sunken, the skin is gray and falling away from the bone, and the organs that once kept them alive no longer matter. And, as Shaun of the Dead asked, what if the face you see coming for you is a familiar one? A loved one? What would you do? I think what is most chilling and sobering about the zombie is the fact that, although zombies are not currently real (that I’m aware of), nor, hopefully, will they ever be real, they perfectly mirror an end that awaits us all. Sweet dreams. — Jeff Lombardi
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And check out last week’s Q&A about the bloggers’ most traumatic horror movie experiences