11 Scariest Horror Movie Monsters Of The 1990s, Ranked
The '90s was a strange decade for horror. On one hand, this was an era that delivered some incredibly successful horror movies, with the likes of Scream, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Halloween H20, Blade, and The Blair Witch Project all proving to be box office smashes. But on the other, it was not a decade where originality was particularly rewarded. While the '70s and '80s had frequently pushed the genre in bold and exciting new directions, the 1990s was largely marked by remakes, sequels, adaptations, and self-referential deconstructions of existing movies.
But what the '90s did give us were some great monster movies. Every decade has had its fair share of scary creature features, but this was the decade that saw great advancements in CGI; from the moment Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park showed what could now be done with digital effects, filmmakers started to embrace the new technology. And while it's fair to say that some of these early uses of CG haven’t dated that well, used in moderation, digital effects have allowed horror filmmakers to enhance and improve their physical creations.
The 1990s also showcased a wide variety of monsters. There were giant snakes and crocodiles, alien shapeshifters, gigantic seabeats, subterranean worms, rampaging lizards, demonic invaders, and entire communities of weird and scary creatures. So here's our look at the 11 scariest horror movie monsters of the 1990s.
11. Mary and Charles Brady (Sleepwalkers, 1992)
The '90s were somewhat short on great werewolf movies, but we did get this very odd werecat film. Sleepwalkers has an original screenplay by Stephen King and was directed by horror veteran Mick Garris (The Stand, Master of Horror). The movie centers on an incestuous mom and son, who transform at night and cause gory mayhem in a small town. It's not a particularly good film, but there are some cool ideas in here, one being that the only thing that can stop these shapeshifting felines are other cats, who both fear and hate them.
10. Giant Crocodile (Lake Placid, 1999)
There's something way more ridiculous about a gigantic version of a real-life creature than one that's been entirely invented for a movie. The team behind Lake Placid knew this and didn't attempt to play their giant crocodile thriller too seriously. The result is an enjoyable horror-comedy, in which the 32-foot creature makes its first appearance by chowing down on a grizzly bear, before moving onto a variety of human victims. For some reason, Bill Pullman and Bridget Fonda ended up in this nonsense, but the film is more memorable for both its monster croc and the scene in which Golden Girls star Betty White feeds an entire cow to it.
9. Sil (Species, 1995)
Species was a real '90s oddity--it combined sci-fi horror with Basic Instinct-style erotic thrills and had a high-profile cast that included Ben Kingsley, Forest Whittaker, Alfred Molina, and Michael Madsen. The film's monster is Sil, a human/alien hybrid created in a laboratory by injecting a human egg with extraterrestrial DNA. Inevitably, as an adult Sil escapes and sets about trying to find a human mate. For much of the movie, Sil is seen in the human form as she tries to seduce unwitting men, and is played former model Natasha Henstridge. But the movie's climax reveals Sil's true appearance, a spikey, tentacled humanoid monster, with the powers of regeneration. Sil was designed by HR Giger, the amazing Swedish artist behind the original Alien design.
8. Giorgio (Castle Freak, 1995)
Most of the monsters on this list are big and scary, but the deformed creature of this dark and disturbing gothic horror gem is every bit as memorable. Castle Freak was directed by Re-Animator's Stuart Gordon, and focuses on a couple (played by Re-Animator stars Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs) who buy an Italian castle, only to find Giorgio living in the basement. This hideous beast man is the deformed son of Duchess who sold them the castle, and he sets about satisfying his cravings for blood. Giorgio was played by stuntman Johnathan Fuller, who manages to make him both highly sympathetic and very scary.
7. Giant Anaconda (Anaconda, 1997)
As previously seen with both Species and Lake Placid, the '90s was the decade where a B-movie revolving around a cheap-looking monster could feature an unusually impressive cast. Anaconda takes the top prize on that front, with a ridiculous line-up that includes Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, and Ice Cube. As the title suggests, the monster here is a giant snake. And that's basically it--it's huge, it's hungry, and very, very strong--as villainous Voight discovers when he is crushed to death at the end. The movie is a deliriously daft and fun film that somehow spawned four direct-to-video sequels (including 2015's Anaconda vs Lake Placid!)
6. Octalus (Deep Rising, 1998)
As the success of The Meg showed last year, there's something about the unexplored depths of the ocean that appeals to filmmakers wanting to scare an audience. Back in 1998, director Stephen Sommers made full use of its mysteries in this aquatic adventure. If you can ignore the terrible dialogue, dubious acting, and idiotic plot, then there's a lot of fun to be had watching the movie's giant mutant seabeast attack an luxury cruiseliner and devour its unlucky passengers. Each of the Octalus's many tentacles open up to reveal razor sharp teeth, enabling it to chow down on several victims simultaneously. Although much of the monster action was rendered digitally, the creature itself was designed by Rob Bottin, who is best known for his pioneering effects work in John Carpenter's The Thing.
5. Demons (Demon Knight, 1995)
Ernest Dickerson started out as Spike Lee's cinematographer but has subsequently become a popular horror director, most recently helming various episodes of The Walking Dead. His 1995 film Demon Knight is a wildly entertaining horror-comedy, spun off from HBO's Tales from the Crypt TV series. It features a whole host of demonic monsters who have been summoned to retrieve an ancient key from a drifter who is holed up in a weird motel. The monsters are nightmarish humanoid creations, with lots of teeth, slime, and talons, and it was creatively shot by Dickerson to make them seem like otherworldly invaders.
4. Judas Breed (Mimic, 1997)
Guillermo Del Toro did not have had a happy experience directing his English-language debut Mimic, with producer Harvey Weinstein reportedly interfering throughout production and refusing to allow Del Toro to release his preferred cut. The far superior director's cut was eventually released, but in any form, the monsters of Mimic are truly disturbing. The Judas Breed are huge, human-hunting mutant termite/mantis hybrids that can imitate people by folding their wings and arms, shortly before they rip your head off.
3. Kothoga (The Relic, 1997)
The late make-up effects genius Stan Winston helped create some of the scariest big screen creatures in modern cinema, from The Predator and Pumpkinhead to many of the rampaging dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. The '97 creature feature The Relic is a less memorable film than those, but it does feature another doozy of a Winston monster. Kothoga is a terrifyingly big South American beast, somewhere between a lizard and a rhino, which is described in the movie as "as fast as a greyhound with the intelligence of a human." Kothoga spends much of the movie rampaging around the Chicago Natural History Museum--the filmmakers originally planned to film it in New York, but were denied permission when museum owners decided that it might scare kids from ever visiting their building.
2. Tribes of the Moon (Nightbreed, 1990)
Where to start with Nightbreed? We could fill out this entire list with some of the amazing monsters from Clive Barker's adaptation of his novel Cabal. The movie focuses on an underground community of creatures who live below the surface of a remote, abandoned graveyard called Midian. For once, the monsters are the heroes, shunned by mankind, but ready to fight when their existence is threatened. There are so many cool, fantastically designed creatures, including the dreadlocked Peloquin, poisoned-quill covered Shuna, moon-headed Kinski, and their terrifying deity Baphomet. Nightbreed was a commercial failure on release, but it has since grown a major cult reputation. In 2013, Barker was able to release his extended original cut, which delivered even more insane monster footage.
1. Graboids (Tremors, 1990)
Of all the monster movies of the 1990s, Tremors was the most obvious homage to films of the previous decades. It wasn't particularly gory and relied more on humor, action, and great characters than it did on scaring the audience. And yet it remains one of the most purely enjoyable movies of the whole decade, with some hugely memorable monsters. The giant sandworms known as Graboids were brilliantly designed and ingenious creatures, who race unseen below the surface of the small Texas town before emerging from the ground to munch on their victims. This leads to some incredibly tense and exciting sequences, as the human characters (including Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward) attempt to outwit these ravenous beasts. There have been several sequels since, but nothing tops this stone-cold monster classic.