As we demonstrated here, the writers of Toptenz appreciate a good movie monster. But we also appreciate a really bad movie monster. Not just a lazily made, overdone monster like the sharks from any number of Jaws ripoffs or some SyFy original movie. These are hilarious creatures that were truly deranged in design or execution and then put into a serious movie.
10. The Killers of Killers from Space
This is a 1954 movie, supposedly starring Peter Graves as a traumatized test pilot who sees eyes during hallucinations. The real stars here are the aliens, even though they’re on screen for only about five minutes. During that time, they do a good enough job of trying to act scary and superior to the imprisoned pilot to be absolutely hilarious with those ping pong ball eyes. They make the pajama-clad aliens in the notorious turkey Plan Nine from Outer Space look like the Predator.
9. The Conqueror from It Conquered The World
In this 1956 movie from Roger Corman, the town of Beechwood is subjected to mind-controlling bats while (again) Peter Graves runs around trying to figure out what’s going on, giving symbolic speeches about the evils of communism. This movie has a reputation for being better than most of its time and type as far as suspense and pacing go which makes it so much better when the monster shows up, looking like an adorable evil celery plant. And it looks so happy to be evil!
8. Solarites from The Phantom Planet
Monster spotting at 3:31:
Ever had someone tell you their dog was big and scary looking when it was friendly and yapping? The makers of The Phantom Planet decided to devote most of their 1961 movie to that notion in all seriousness with Solarites. Solarites are hulking brutes with weird spines on the back of their heads, growths that look afros on both sides, and snouts to complete the “Goofy in the 1970’s” look. The lead part in this movie is played by Richard Kiel, who would go on to fight James Bond as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, and who was an immense 7’2”. Here he only gets to throw rocks at a force field, carry the female lead for a bit, and push over an old guy, which doesn’t sound like a very tall order.
7. The Giant Claw’s Inter-Dimensional Turkey Buzzard
Even things as silly looking as Solarites at least kind of make sense as monsters (they are hulking looking,) but this monster from 1957 is really flabbergasting even on the printed page. Earth is attacked by a giant bird (it’s supposed to be “as big a battleship”) that goes at supersonic speeds, and it’s made out of antimatter and surrounded by an antimatter force field to explain why it can’t be conventionally shot down. It also has a the goofiest honking nose on top of its beak, a mohawk, fangs, and makes noises less scary than a mourning dove.
6. Hausu’s Piano
At long last we make our way to Japan, and with it we visit 1977’s Hausu, a movie held in high enough esteem in some circles that it was released by the Criterion Films Collection, a company devoted to preserving films of historic importance or high merit. In this haunted house movie, a collection of high school girls visit the home of the aunt of one of them and get killed off one by one. Nothing tops the death by hungry piano. It’s perhaps the most bizarrely shot scene ever put in a mainstream movie, making most movies’ acid trips look like a drive to visit the 7-11 by comparison.
5. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
As weird as the human-eating piano of Hausu is, it turns out American filmmaker George Barry thought up something even sillier in 1972, and spent five years making it. Endowed with life because of the blood of a murder victim, it now digests people with a yellow fluid, even if, as seen in the clip, they attempt to stab it with a knife. Dig that synthesizer music used when it eats.
4. Birdemic: Shock And Terror’s Birdies
Proving that the powers of directors to overextend themselves have only become greater in recent years, this 2010 movie by James Nguyen manages to raise ripping off a hit of yesteryear to a new low. While just doing Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds again with an incredibly earnest environmentalist plot sounds normal, these aren’t any regular birds. They have the ability to spit acid onto humans that kills crowds of them in less than a minute! They have the ability to swoop into the ground and explode in ways that blow up, based on what we are shown, anything from a gas pump to a building! None of the acting or writing is so much as one percent better, but the first shot where the birds attack is probably the funniest single second of the movie.
3. The Creeping Terror’s Aliens
In 1964, this movie explored the possibility of aliens that sent probes to Earth that were mobile laboratories. They were to simulate consuming alien beings, analyze their bodies, and then transmit data to aid in designing bio-weapons to be used on that alien world. That’s what it turns out is supposed to be happening in Creeping Terror (as is revealed in the very last lines in the last scene.) What actually happens: what looks like part of a decommisioned hot air balloon is draped over a bunch of people, while a person or two are in front holding up a papier-mâché head with tubes extending off it like dreadlocks. It’s a monster so slow and cumbersome people have to actually assist their being eaten by climbing into its mouth!
2. Robot Monster’s Ro-Men
While living carpets and ping-pong-eyed aliens are one thing, how about aliens in gorilla suits with diving helmets for their heads? 1953’s Robot Monster does indeed have the silliest, most laughable version of aliens both in terms of how seriously they and the movies they are in insist on being taken. In this movie, a small family on vacation is the only group of people to escape the genocidal onslaught of the Ro-men (which is shown through the use of stock World War II footage), and so Ro-Man spends the movie trying to find and kill them too.
1. The Edge of Hell/Rock N Roll Nightmare’s Demons
Again, they’re only on screen for a handful of minutes at the end of this 1987 horror film, but they’re 80% of the reason to watch it. Before that, the movie is a cookie cutter fantasy slasher movie where a metal band called the Tritons lead by John Triton goes out to a farmhouse to record some music and then gets killed off one by one. Then the cast is reduced to Triton. His girlfriend Randy is killed, and then the demon takes her form, and goes into the recording studio where Triton sits and mocks him with the deaths of his band mates, about which Triton is nonchalant. What happens from there really should not be described (so I won’t).
OK, if you really must know without watching the clip…
…it turns out that the bandleader is actually an archangel descended to Earth. He does battle with the goofy Satan puppet and his demon puppet minions who look like they belong on H. R. PufnStuf, even if one of them does have blood on its mouth. Said fight consists of Satan throwing little demonic starfish at Triton and then wrestling him, which seems really unfair seeing as how the Satan puppet is barely capable of moving its lips, let alone wrestling well. It really does make a movie that’s 80% tedium all worth it.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments and we might add your favorite worst movie monster to our:
TopTenz Worst Movie Monster YouTube Playlist
by Dustin Koski