For 75 years, J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels have stood as some of the preeminent literary works of the 20th century. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy blended elements of Norse mythology, Christianity, and modern social commentary into a sprawling saga that worked as both pure escapist entertainment and dense scholarly fare. But the story of Middle Earth wouldn’t be half as interesting to readers everywhere if it wasn’t for Tolkien’s knack of bringing the fantastic to the page.

By introducing us to hobbits, wizards, elves, and dwarves, Tolkien created a stable of heroes that people could strive to emulate in their daily lives. However, whether we want to admit it or not, we’re always much more interested in the wide variety of monsters that he created. Trolls, orcs, dragons, and countless other fantasy staples have appeared in Tolkien’s texts, and though we have seen some of these creatures in other stories, none of them were the same after the author finished with them.

In preparation of Peter Jackson’s big screen return to Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (out Friday), we're counting down The 10 Best Tolkien Monsters in Movies. These are the purely evil beasts that brought unmitigated terror to the screen, so don’t expect the conflicted, and sympathetic, Gollum to appear here. Also, once you see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, you’ll realize why Smaug couldn’t make the list yet either.

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Written by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)