There's a reason why the Paranormal Activity movies work: The presence of evil is suggested, but little is shown. It's a tried and true formula that leads viewers to imagine the worst possible horrors and freak themselves out.
When filmmakers reveal their movies' monsters, the results can often deflate the tension they've built up. It's impossible to be scared of laughable baddies that suffer from cheap special effects and/or silly makeup work. But strides have been made in recent years, and the creations of sick and twisted writers and directors have come to life in a way their predecessors never could.
Still, it's important to pay homage to the ones that came before, without whom we wouldn't be here today, shaking in our boots. For those who can appreciate a good scare all year round, these are the scariest movie monsters in history.
50. The Blob
Appears In: The Blob (1958), The Blob (1988)
Scariest Moment: In the 1988 remake, a cook, working in a diner's dirty kitchen, reaches into the sink to unclog it when the blob shoots out of the drain, hugs his face, and pulls his entire body through the drain. Excruciating pain, anyone?
Weakness: Freezing cold
Not scared by what closely resembles a wad of raspberry jam gone horribly wrong? Just try to outrun it, as many of the victims in the 1958 cult classic The Blob do, to no avail. The byproduct of a crashed alien meteor, the jelly-like substance attaches itself to people and basically swallows them whole, all while slithering around town and jamming out to its own beautifully cheesy theme song, "Beware of the Blob," sung by who else but a group called the Five Blobs. That's scary for an entirely different reason.
49. The Predator
Appears in: Predator (1987), Predator 2 (1990), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), Predators (2010), The Predator (2018)
Scariest moment: The Predator fires a laser beam that rips an arm clean off
Weakness: Fighting former Mr. Universe champions
Director John McTiernan's thoroughly badass Predator made all aliens presented as little green men look almost cute. The film's titular baddie is a technologically advanced extraterrestrial that uses laser weaponry and active camouflage invisibility to hunt special forces fighters (led by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his prime) for sport in a Central American jungle.
Thanks to those inept Alien vs. Predator flicks, the character was diluted in the aughts and early 2010s, until 2018's The Predator upped the spook factor for the 21st century. And no matter where things go from here, the Predator's once-sterling reputation won't ever completely fade away.
48. The Triffids
Appears in: The Day of the Triffids (1962)
Scariest moment: One particularly disruptive triffid crashes through a window and terrorizes a fancy dinner party
Inherently silly, yet somehow efficiently executed, director Steve Sekely's adaptation of author John Wyndham's 1951 novel presents a poisonous plant-form known as the triffid. The offending fauna can uproot itself, move around as if it have legs and feet, communicate with other triffids, and murder people with the aforementioned stinger. Light work, really.
47. The Rheodsaurus
Appears in: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Scariest moment: Rampaging the streets of Manhattan, the huge dinosaur withstands military gunfire as it crushes its way through buildings
Weakness: Radioactive isotopes
Before anyone accuses The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms of cribbing all of its ideas from Japan's Godzilla, consider this: Beast was released a year earlier than Godzilla. So is it actually the other way around? Frankly, who gives a damn?
Both films are monster movie blasts in their own right, though only one (Beast) has creature effects from Mr. Ray Harryhausen. And only one (Beast, again) features the wicked plot development of the monster's blood, let out by a soldier's bazooka fire striking the Rhedosaurus' scaly throat, turning human bystanders into beastly humanoids, albeit briefly.
Appears in: Gremlins (1984), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Scariest moment: Inside a toy store, while showering atop a small water fountain, Stripe fires handgun rounds at Gizmo as baby Mogwai convulse in bubbles on his back
Weakness: Sunlight. Strictly spray tans, dig?
Set during the Christmas season, Joe Dante's family-approved horror-comedy Gremlins is perfect viewing near a yuletide tree with glasses of non-alcoholic eggnog. Gizmo, the cute Mogwai with a heart of gold, allows for the kiddies to enjoy Gremlins. For the most part.
Once Stripe, the evil product of feeding some Mogwai after midnight, makes his grand entrance, Dante's holiday classic adopts an insidious undertone. A minuscule but destructive nihilist, Stripe lives for no other reason than to terrorize, specifically our boy Gizmo (and generally all child viewers).
Appears in: Pumpkinhead (1988), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994), Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes (2006), Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud (2007)
Scariest moment: The seemingly lifeless Pumpkinhead impales his “killer” with his own rifle
Weakness: Any harm done to Ed Harley, the father of the dead boy whose vengeance Pumpkinhead seeks
It should come as no surprise that Pumpkinhead, a wholly original horror film marked by its ingenious premise, was the brainchild of Stan Winston, the master of special effects. Who else could imagine a large, hideous demon spawned when a witch combines a pumpkin and a human corpse?
Lance Henriksen shines as a grieving father who's hell-bent on making the bastards who inadvertently killed his young son—via reckless dirt bike riding—pay with their lives. Hence his meeting with the aforementioned witch and her decision to save the orange squash from being used as a jack-o-lantern.
44. The Pack
Appears in: The Pack (2010)
Scariest moment: The humanoid cannibal monsters crawl out of the ground and feed on corpses while a living, kidnapped victim hangs nearby
Weakness: English subtitles
In the nifty, if not altogether memorable, 2010 French horror flick The Pack, a hitchhiker lures a beautiful, rebellious woman to his mom's isolated farm, where she harbors a twisted secret: Buried underneath the ground outside her cabin are the bodies of her deceased seeds, who were killed in a mining accident.
Using the chicks her living son brings back to her, Mommy Sickest feeds her zombified offspring by stringing the ladies up by their feet, cutting them, and letting their dripping blood entice the ghouls to rise up from the ground and chow down.
Appears in: Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)
Scariest moment: The serpent plucks a pesky sniper out of a building's tower with its mouth and spits him out into the air
Weakness: Poorly concealed green screens
Today, Larry Cohen's Q: The Winged Serpent registers as one of those seriously dated '80s oddities that play best for crowds of midnight audiences. But just imagine how the resurrected flying Aztec god Quetzalcoatl must have played in 1982, to moviegoers who weren't conditioned to MCU-level visual FX.
OK, maybe Q: The Winged Serpent's campiness was apparent back then, too. Nevertheless, the idea of cult members bringing a winged demon back from the dead to wreak havoc in New York City is definitely unsettling. If that were to happen in real life, you wouldn't be laughing. Trust us.
42. The Critters
Appears in: Critters (1986), Critters 2: The Main Course (1988), Critters 3 (1991), Critters 4 (1992), Critters: A New Binge (2019 web series), Critters Attack (2019 TV series)
Scariest moment: Ok, so it's not exactly scary, but during the climax of 1986's Critters, two of the titular beasties are about to bum-rush a house, right before a woman blows the other Critter away with a shotgun. The surviving one's response: “Fuck!”
Weakness: Human feet (which can punt them with ease)
These puny, carnivorous monsters are members of an alien race blessed with the ability to roll with motorcycle-like speed and launch the spikes on their backs as pointy missiles. Silly, yes, but also the last kind of animal you'd ever want nipping at your heels to play fetch.