Top 5 Movie Monsters of the 1990s

The 90s was quite possibly the absolute worst decade for horror in cinematic history. Summed up best by the word bland. So very bland. One ray of light amongst all this blandness was the good old creature feature, which actually produced a couple of modern-day monster greats. So before I launch into a self-assured Top 5 of the best monsters of the bland years, let’s set some house rules: 1) The creature has to be a new film from the decade and not a sequel to a movie from previous decades (so that’s goodbye to Aliens and Predators). 2) ‘Monsters’ refers to proper monsters, beast type creatures that offer up something a little different from the normal humanoid-type beings we’re all so used to (so that’s goodbye boogeymen, zombies, vampires, and werewolves). 3) I’ll try and avoid animals, both current and extinct (so that’s goodbye giant snakes, crocodiles, and dinosaurs). 4) Get on with it.

5: Machine man-parts ensamble, in Virus (1999): Because I’ve ruled myself out just about every other contender (Jurassic park, Anaconda, Alien’s 3 & 4, Predator 2, Terminator 2, et al), I’ve kind of been left with this less than perfect adition. However the film and creature do have a certain watchability and morbid curiosity. The mixture of flesh and machine is effective, and does bring about decent levels of repulsion. Plus for a film made as late as it is in the decade it relies almost entirely on animatronics and puppetry which is great to see. Plus it pits monster against Jamie Lee Curtis which is no bad thing.

4: The Judas Breed, in Mimic (1997). You’re always guaranteed interesting creatures when they come from the brain of Guillermo del Toro. Giant bugs are a staple diet in the beloved tradition of American monster cinema, but these man-sized cockroaches offered up something new; the ability to disguise themselves as people with clever skull-type masks. As expected with a del Toro film, It’s also a triumph of style.

3: The Kothoga, in The Relic (1997): A great throwback to creatures and creature features of the 50s. You could imagine this warthog/lion/rhino/elephant creature lumbering around a black and white movie operated by Ray Harryhausen. The creature is technically a mutated man, not that you’d really know it by the time It’s fully formed and is galloping around the Chicago Museum of Natural History killing dogs, cops, special ops, and even kids. Great stuff.

2: Graboids, in Tremors (1990): Brilliant, just brilliant. Giant worms with tusks and snake-like tentacles for tongues, terrorising the small Nevada town of Perfection. There’s a joyous simplicity about the Graboids that makes them ever endearing. Realised by wonderful animatronics and miniatures this is perhaps the single closest thing you can get to an actual 50s b-movie monster flick in the 90s (and beyond).

1: Giant octopus/squid type thing, in Deep Rising (1998): The thing that makes Deep Rising so wonderful is it’s embracing of everything it is. It’s a monster movie and proud of it. It conjures up memories of virtually every genre favourite from It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) to King Kong (1933), from Jaws (1975) to Alien (1979). The creature, realised almost entirely with CGI, may be looking a little ropey today, but the clever idea to make all tentacled killers part of a single monstrous whole keeps the viewer guessing and allows the film to check off just about every single expectation monster fans have. As satisfying as it is underrated.

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5 thoughts on “Top 5 Movie Monsters of the 1990s

  1. Fun list. The 90’s really did suck for horror… it was mostly Scream and then all it’s clones. Can’t really think of any Monsters you’re missing. Tremors might top my list, but Deep Rising & Mimic are both very underrated.

  2. Jason says:

    You’re right about the 90s demise of monster movies. The monster movies list is more so a mediocre rather top monster movies.

    We can fault Hollywood for making their best monster movies in the 70s and 80s. There’s nothing left in the 90s.

    Hollywood rebounded in the 00s with Jeepers Creepers, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn, The Descent, and many more.

    Good opening to disqualify non monster movies.

  3. whats the top pic, might we ask?

    • deadlymovies says:

      Well I thought it was from the song ‘Monster’ by ‘The Automatic’ (album artwork or the like) but on further investigation it isn’t! So I’, at a loss as to where I found it! Sorry!

  4. “The 90’s was quite possibly the absolute worst decade for horror in cinematic history”.

    You can’t open with a comment like that when you then discount a load of great horror movies because they weren’t creature-features.

    The 90’s had a lot of good-to-great horror films. Just to name a few (and I know these fall outside your no sequels / no standard monster categories, but the decade needs defending) -:

    Basket Case 2
    The Guardian
    Innocent Blood
    Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
    Bride of Chucky
    In the Mouth of Madness
    Army of Darkness
    From Dusk till Dawn
    Event Horizon
    I Know What You Did Last Summer (the first one was a pretty damn good slasher)
    Urban Legend (again, the first was pretty damn good)
    Needful Things
    Demon Knight
    Death Machine
    Ice from the Sun
    Lord of Illusions
    Night Flyer
    The Craft
    The Dentist
    The Prophecy
    The Faculty
    Halloween H20
    Lake Placid
    Stir of Echoes
    Tokyo Fist
    The Frighteners
    The Last Broadcast

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