Lest we forget: monsters don’t always have to come from the deep. Outer space, the afterlife and even very distant, yet very real, past are all shadows they can lurk in. There are oodles of ways to classify these creatures but, for the sake of focus, I’m going to keep this squared on the ones whom we can’t assign any comforting human qualities to. On this list, we’re looking at the monstrositieis who can’t be communicated with or related to; the monsters who want to destroy us because that's all they know.
5. The Sandworms from Beetlejuice
Without falling too far into the easy trap of nostalgia, I will say that one thing lost by the abandonment of stop-motion is how intrinsically weird and wrong it'd feel to see things moving in this fashion. Beetlejuice had plenty of moments that hit the horror half of “horror comedy” harder than you’d expect, and I’ll single these abominations out for how they harp rather uncomfortably on one of the more humiliating aspects of death--namely that we're all destined to be worm food in the ground one day. That’s not as psychologically ripe as some of the other monsters on this list, perhaps, but it’s still as icky of an intrusion as any.
4. The Thing
My objection to the use of werewolves, vampires or any of the other famous monsters today is that everybody’s already well aware of their powers and weaknesses--and, in horror, fear's built upon surprise. Pop-cultural osmosis has ruined most of this movies’ twists but, even if you know to expect a shape-shifter, nothing can quite prepare you for how tenaciously this bugger find ways to use its mutations to get at you.
3. The Gatekeeper & Keymaster from Ghostbusters
One part of the genius of Ghostbusters is that Dan Aykroyd’s an actual occultist. All of the parapsychology jargon in between the deadpan gags therefore has a real unsettling authenticity. Quite often, it feels like something unnatural and sinister is creeping onto this light comedy you’re watching. While I think it was a brilliant choice to make all the ghosts into protean monstrosities instead of, say, semi-invisible people, there’s still no denying how downright demonic these big dogs are when they take the movie over.
2. The Xenomorph from Alien
Somebody put is best that the bio-mechanoid creatures of H.R. Giger’s Necronomicon books look like they were just built to fuck. While those necro-erotic creations were toned down some for Ridley Scott’s interpretation, they still had the unstated-but-impossible-to-miss aura of all our most primal button-pushers: sex, death, pregnancy, disease, insects. This thing will rape you (essentially) and after its larvae explodes out of your body and discards your like so much useless placenta, the resultant monstrosity won’t even have the eyes needed to blink with remorse over shredding through your friends.
1. The Raptors in Jurassic Park
People criticize this flick for turning into a monster movie for the second half and I say sure--what, exactly, is wrong with that? As awesome and as terrible as the T-Rex is, the raptors truly felt like the deadlier predators. Clever killing machines that are just hard-wired to hunt you down and eat you alive with instinctual lethality. What makes them the scariest monster on this list is the sinking understanding that these things really did walk the Earth once and if you were ever plucked from your cushy, cozy modern suburbia and dropped into their era, you’d last for all of five minutes.