The Movie: The Day Of The Triffids (1962)
The Amazing: It takes a lot to make a greenhouse-escapee terrifying, but giving it the ability to unplug itself from the terracotta pot is a very good start.
Not only were these photosynthetic hellspawn upwardly mobile, they were also savagely carnivorous, more toxic than Charlie Sheen’s last urine sample, and rolling several squillion deep by the time those hapless humanoids twigged (that’s right ) that they were gonna need a bigger thing of weedkiller.
Genius Detail: The slow, silent, crushingly inevitable way they mooched around the place.
As the character Masen described in the original text, “"When it ‘walked’ it moved rather like a man on crutches...it gave one a kind of seasick feeling to watch it...nevertheless, ungainly though it looked, it was contriving to cover the ground at something like an average walking pace.”
The Movie: It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955)
The Amazing: A first entry for the Godlike Ray Harryhausen on this list, and we're calling you a straight imbecile if you expect it to be the last, sunshine...
This was early on in Ray's career, but already he'd shown his monster-making chops with 1953's Godzilla-inspiring The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms .
His steroid-chugging Kraken is better, though.
The scale here was just as insane as in Beast , but whereas you'd fully expect a colossal fanged lizard to go kill-crazy - it's pretty much their job, right? - there's something far more disturbing about one of Mother Nature's real creations epically losing their shit.
Genius Detail: The fact that Harryhausen was only given enough cash to animate six limbs, leading to the on-set nickname 'the hexapus'.
The Movie: Clash Of The Titans (1981)
The Amazing: A suitably upsetting portrayal of what would surely be the unbeatable character in a game of Greek Mythology Top Trumps . (Oh, and hello again, Ray Harryhausen...)
Medusa not only possesses the power to turn humans to stone with one quick glance, but taking her down also involves a trip to her gaff on the aptly-named Isle Of The Dead, and a wrestle with her two-headed guard dog. She's no part-timer, this cranky old dame.
Genius Detail: Snake hair! Who doesn't want snake-hair, for crying out loud? Oh wait, we don't. Ever, ever.
The Movie: Cloverfield (2008)
The Amazing: Well, it's bloody massive. To be honest, that's the only real reason it got in; there's just no getting away from the fact that a big monster is an awesome monster, however much these CGI newcomers might lack an element of misty-eyed, old-school charm.
Genius Detail: Fair play to JJ Abrams, it has to be said, for keeping ol' Clover (as it came to be affectionately - and not a little reductively - nicknamed on set) firmly off-camera for as long as he can bear to.
Still, there's something not quite right about the reveal when it does finally come: despite the dizzying scale of the smash-beast, it somehow loses a claw or two once it lurches in front of the handicam.
Ought Abrams to have stuck it out as a bravely experimental never-quite-see-it type deal for the duration? Discuss...just don't let young Clover hear you.
The Movie: Basket Case (1982)
The Amazing: Hideously deformed parasitic twin. Now lives in a wicker picnic hamper. Eats New Yorkers and hamburgers with the foil on, whichever really. Screams an awful lot. Yeah, we're pretty much going to rest our case about here.
Genius Detail: It's absolutely all about the sort-of-hilarious, sort-of-terrifying stop-motion rampage scenes. Warning: loud video, and probably not safe for work (unless you're currently employed at the splashy end of an abattoir). All good? Then Belial go room-smash crazy !
The Movie: The Mummy (1932)
The Amazing: Mummies are just cool, period.
Dripping in ancient history and culture (and probably plenty of way more gross stuff), possessed of the least frightening name in all horrordom, and yet still able to monster us up pretty comprehensively when those damn fool archeologists start poking around dead folks' houses.
And - as if you needed telling - to this day, Karloff's 1932 portrayal of Imhotep remains the daddy. Of mummies. He's that good.
Genius Detail: What with the hair-clay, spirit gum, acid-burned bandages and the like, Karloff suffered a great deal in transforming himself to get shots as iconic as the one above. Which is why he only looks like that for a total of about three minutes in the actual movie, but hey - worth every second of his make-up misery, right? Well, for us.
The Movie : The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920)
The Amazing: The fact that he’s a hulking great lump of city-trashing clay is fairly sweet in itself. Too few big-screen baddies are hand-moulded from wet mud and oven-baked to ghoulish perfection.
Golem spawned a long line of imitators by opting to rise up and turn on his creator, making foolish occult-dabbler Rabbi Loew perhaps the first of countless God-playing movie maniacs who just flat refuse to learn.
(By the way, the whole thing’s up on YouTube here , should you fancy a quick dip into the, er, Cloverfield of its day...)
Genius Detail: That almost Quaker-style clay mullet: business in the front, apocalypto-rampage in the back.
As a bonus, the significant physical challenge of playing a rigid bloke on a set composed mostly of steps is one that actor Paul Wegener rose to manfully.
The Crawling Eye
The Movie: The Trollenberg Terror (1958)
The Amazing: One of those brilliantly insane '50s monster-mashes that barely makes any sense at all on paper,
The Trollenberg Terror is in fact a huge slithering eyeball thing that lives in a ski resort and sort of sends everyone around the place killspree-mental from up in his mountain hideaway.
Whenever any stronger-minded humanoids fail to finish one another off, Mr Eye rather huffily shuffles down the slopes to stare around creepily and then slaughter everyone.
Genius Detail: Check out the brief monster close-ups in this trailer - the eyeball FX are queasily impressive for the time. They certainly don't pull as many cheapo football-with-a-painted-pupil punches as you might expect for one of the first films to get ripped on by Mystery Science Theatre 3000 ...
The Movie: Return To Oz (1985)
The Amazing: Director Walter Murch had his work cut out trying to dream up a classic kid-traumatiser on a par with the winged monkeys of the 1939 original. Still, he didn’t half make a decent stab at it with these cackling, roller-footed aberrations.
Of all the twisted crimes against nature on this list, these might very well be the ones we’d least want to have chase us around a deserted school. Our old school. Just like in the dream! Whimper.
Genius Detail: The nails-down-a-blackboard squeal of poorly-oiled bearings that tells you they’re coming...still coming...oh, and we’ve always had a peculiar dread of monsters whose exact intentions are a trifle unclear.
What are this lot going to do when they catch us? Like... wheel us up ? Does that even hurt? IT’S THE NOT KNOWING THAT HAUNTS US.
The Movie: Gremlins (1984)
The Amazing: Ok, probably not 'amazing' in the context of this heavy-hitting list, but hey - we desperately wanted Stripe as our mischief-making buddy once upon a time, back when we were too young to appreciate what a colossal pain in the ass he'd be after 10 minutes, but too old to still wanna hang with lame-o Johnny 5 from Short Circuit .
Genius Detail: Gotta be that finger-to-the-man flash of white mohawk. If more misbehaving alien critters showed up looking like they'd just done a trolley-dash through Vivienne Westwood, there'd certainly be high hopes for intergalactic peace and harmony from where we're sitting.
The Movie: An American Werewolf In London (1981)
The Amazing: Yes, the transformation scenes were indeed eye-popping, and still look pretty impressive today.
But what we like best about this wolfman above all others is the humanity he retains even when in the grip of full-moon fever.
Each 'comedown' looks like a really awful hangover, complete with confusion and residual guilt and occasional unexplained nudity.
All of which we can most definitely identify with. In fact, we'd quite like to go for a pint with David. An a fternoon pint, mind.
Genius Detail: Oh, go on then. The bits where he turns into a big snaggle-toothed gizzard-chewer and goes crazy on some dude's abdomen. We're folk of simple pleasures, really...
The Movie: The Host (2006)
The Amazing: Quick, clammily amphibious and with precisely the correct ratio of face-flaps to fangs, this is one river-dwelling rotter whose prehensile tail you really don’t want to end up copping a big mucus-dripping hug from.
Genius Detail: Keeping the gross fish-pig more or less out of sight throughout much of the early film may have had more to do with budget constraints than anything, but it’s a canny move that too many directors ditch in favour of an easy money shot.
It’s also refreshing that Bong Joon-ho decided against a creature of more typically Leviathan proportions. Sometimes, more than a screenful’s a waste.
The Movie: Tarantula (1955)
The Amazing: Pretty much racking up a big fat zero for monsterous originality here, but what it loses in innovation it sure makes up for in scale. Whichever way you slice it, that is one seriously overweight arachnid.
Genius Detail: The fact that it's so obviously a normal spider stopming around Modelsville actually represented a significant leap forward at the time, and was far more convincing than the risible goggle-eyed sock puppets that had plagued most monster movies previously.
Our big hairy guy was amongst the vanguard of the 'when small animals go big' movement, and for that we salute him. While running for our lives, naturally.
The Movie: Gamera (1965)
The Amazing: Another out-of-the-park home run for the Japanese, who come up trumps yet again by basically picking the least threatening-looking inmate of the local petting zoo and expanding him to ludicrous proportions.
So he's a turtle, yeah? A bipedal, fire-snorting uber-terrapin? Fine. We like it. Now make him all angry and put him in a fight with a giant whelk. Job done.
Genius Detail: By retracting his arms and legs into his shell and spinning around like a sort of appalling amphibious breakdancer, Gamera can take off like a flying saucer and travel around in the air. We are not making this up.
As a bonus, he doesn't have to eat lettuce or sleep in a cardboard box, either of which would've lost him some pretty major monster points.
The Movie: The Blob (1958)
The Amazing: Brilliant, isn't it, how literally the crappiest concept imaginable for a monster can yield such delicious (and we use that term loosely) results in the right hands?
Genius Detail: There's definitely something powerfully mesmeric about the way it blancmanges itself through air vents and doorways to reach its destination. There's something pretty darn WTF about a big blob of gelatinous goo having a destination in the first place, but whetever. Beware!
The Movie: Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958)
The Amazing: Massive lady!
Genius Detail: Lady! Massive! What? Oh like you're so hard to please, Captain Discerning-Pants. Sheesh.
The Movie: LOTR: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)
The Amazing: "What is this new devilry?" quakes Boromir, and well might he ask.
In case all his kittenish scampering to safety left him too breathless and squealy to notice, we feel duty-bound to inform him that the Balrog is a...well, it's a sort of giant lumbering sheep-dragon-antelope deely that enjoys trying to cross very narrow bridges with its gonads all riotously ablaze.
Genius Detail: The ability to fashion its own crotch-fire into a whimsical array of A-grade weaponry including massive swords and flailing horsewhips?
Yeah, we'd probably take that to be honest.
The Movie: Christine (1983)
The Amazing: The only (supposedly) inanimate object to make this list, Christine is awesome for precisely that reason.
She's a murderous 1958 Plymouth Fury and she really has something rotten in her glovebox.
As her geeky owner restores her to her former glory and starts to reap the rewards of their frankly unwholesome relationship, Christine's demented acts of vigilantism spiral out of control...and we start to want this car more and more and more.
Genius Detail: One word: vintage.
How lame would this whole set-up be if the car was some fresh-off-the-line '80s cheesefest with a huge spoiler and spinning rims?
Very lame, that's how.
In fact, it'd basically make it an even camper Knight Rider without the cool technonerd aspects.
And nobody wants that, trust us. However, did we mention we definitely do want this badass car?
The Movie: The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (1958)
The Amazing: Yet another stone-cold shoo-in from Ray Harryhausen, this cloven-hoofed freakazoid actually managed to make us temporarily frightened of beaches, caves, horns, eyes and woolly trousers.
We're fine with all that now, obviously. Apart from the trousers bit.
Genius Detail: As with all Harryhausen creations, it's a combination of the epic scale and that deliciously disjointed stop-motion lurching.
However, the Cyclops is something of a claymation rarity in that he covers ground at a truly upsetting lick , adding an extra frisson of fear to all that hideous bear-headed bellowing.
The Movie: Jurassic Park (1993)
The Amazing: So you're fleeing from a snarling, sabre-toothed gore-lizard that can eat a toilet cubicle out from around you and barely breaks sweat keeping pace with a speeding Jeep? Yeah, you've probably got all the reasons to respect him you need.
Genius Detail: His one weakness - iffy eyesight - is, oddly enough, what makes a close encounter with him truly hellacious.
Our protagonists' minimal chance of survival hinges on their ability to keep absolutely statue-still while Rex snorts dino-phlegm into the hoods of their stegosaurus-print anoraks...and that, fellow cushion-hiders, is what's known as a movie screwing with us.
The Movie: Eraserhead (1977)
The Amazing: Ok, so not exactly a threat to us perhaps - he's newborn, swaddled tightly in gross bandages, and basically falls apart like a badly-cooked souffle if you try to unwrap him at any point. And all he does is lie around by a kettle and wail.
And he breathes like a bulldog drowning in custard...
Genius Detail: ...none of which is particularly monsteriffic when taken at face value, but all of which comes together in the quietly horrifying 'feeding' scene that we've basically been unable to shake from memory at any point in the years since.
There's some stuff you just can't un-see , you guys.
The Movie: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Amazing: One of the more tenuous inclusions on this list, given that he's not really a 'monster' as such at all - and we're not allowing ourselves just any old naughty blokes (Dr. Lecter would've been a shoo-in if so).
But Leatherface just about qualifies, we feel, because of the extent to which Tobe Hooper dehumanises him.
With barely a line of dialogue or a minute of face-time, it's hard to think of him as a person - he's an entity .
And he's definitely hiding under our bed with all the proper monsters.
Genius Detail: Skin mask + chainsaw = horror GOLD, it turns out. Actually, it doesn't look all that surprising when you write it down, does it?
The Movie: Return Of The Jedi (1983)
The Amazing: Back in innocent '83, our early fascination with this yawning cake-hole of Carkoon stemmed from the fact that it was tricky, at first, to work out just what the sobbing Christ it actually was. A tunnel? A thing living in a tunnel? A mouth? An...oh God, an anus ...?
Genius Detail: Crucially, this horrifying ambiguity wasn’t ruined by, say, a set of thick flailing hentai tentacles and a gittish toucan beak waggling out the top of it like some offal-crazed Mister Cadbury's Parrot .
Well, not until the 1997’s franchise-rescuing CGI tart-up, at any rate. Last one in prefers the prequels…
The Movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The Amazing: Ok, so we said Christine was the only inanimate object to have made this list - but the point is, HAL was supposed to be doing stuff of its own accord.
Just not, y'know, slaughtering its own flight crew in a fit of pique at the merest mention of being put on standby for a few hours.
Genius Detail: HAL's voice software retains an eerie calm while the machine goes about offing crew members on a whim, and all we ever really see is the dull red glow of the above interface - both of which contrive to make the computer so much more menacing than it should've been on paper.
(Paper also numbering amongst the things he'd like to destroy, we presume.)
The Movie: Hellraiser (1987)
The Amazing: Every inch an '80s punk Dracula, we love Pinhead because he was suave and sophisticated in his epic nastiness.
And this was a refreshing change in a decade when 80% of 'monsters' did little more than stagger around gurgling and waving cleavers in the general direction of any screaming sorority girls who'd forgotten to put on all their clothes. Yawn.
Genius Detail: Well the pins, obviously.
We can intellectualise this as much as you want, but at the end of the day, dude's got a head like the cheese/pineapple section of an 80s birthday buffet. Win.
The Movie: Rodan (1956)
The Amazing: Well, there’s the small matter of him being a stupidly rad pteranodon. If that doesn’t do it for you (and by the way, you frighten us), then how about the fact that he stands around 80m tall, flies at mach 3 and can lay waste to an entire film set simply by doing a sort of omnicidal Funky Chicken ?
Genius Detail: A bewildering gentility cowers behind all that Cretaceous killing power: one of his incarnations, Fire Rodan, could revive fallen comrades through self-sacrifice, donating his life force to save others like some kind of hideous spine-bellied Captain Oates.
Also he could ‘sonic boom’ at will, dropping cataclysmic destructo-farts just wherever and not even caring who clocks him.
The Movie: Ringu (1998)
The Amazing: Sweet baby Jaysus, she bothers us. In fact we haven't been this petrified of anything staggering from our TV sets since the Peter Stringfellow episode of Celebrity Come Dine With Me .
Genius Detail: The fingernails. Or rather, lack of. Anyone fancy chipping in for a manicure voucher?
The Movie: The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
The Amazing: In mad science (certainly at degree level and above), there’s a well-known graph charting the direct and linear relationship between garment-rending creepiness and things having wings when they shouldn’t.
The fact that it even applies to monkeys – the go-to animal for highlighting nature’s inherent LOLworthiness – merely underlines what pro monstermakers have known for years: if in doubt, make ‘em sprout.
Genius Detail: In the original book, the monkeys chatted away to Dorothy and her nerdy chums like there was an invisible garden fence propped between them.
Giving monsters the ability to talk almost always makes them considerably less sinister, so Victor Fleming did precisely the right thing by painting his movie horrorchimps as a grunting, squealing, but otherwise pointedly mute flock.
The Movie: Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
The Amazing: It's difficult not to harbour a soft spot for creatures whose names are basically just a massive half-arsed shrug of pure whatever , and Gill-Man pretty much wrote the book on that curious '50s phenomenon. Or at least he would've done, if his hands weren't just big webby cabbages of pond-gunk.
Anyway, he may not have aged that well, but he'll forever remain a top-ranking Hall Of Fame fixture. Respect due, we feel.
Genius Detail: Not only did Gill-Man come along early enough to spawn (yep, went there) countless homages and parodies in the decades to come, but he also pioneered a brave new monster model that has stuck with us through the ages - the "sad, beautiful monster" envisioned by producer William Alland that would "frighten you because of how human it was, not the other way around."
The Movie: Predator (1987)
The Amazing: Given how many bajillion waves of extra-terrestrial nutjobs our puny race has engaged with throughout movie history, it's amazing how few have really managed to hold up a mirror to our own Earthly quirks.
Obviously one of Predator's many awesome abilities is to pretty much turn into a mirror, but that's not what we mean - these dudes trophy hunt dangerous species purely for sport, rather than for fuel or food or the extension of a bloody mining colony like every other tentacled troublemaker that lands in our corner of the galaxy.
And, wrong as that makes them, the worst part is that we kind of get it...
Genius Detail: Dreadlocks. Hey, if we're all gonna be chewed to pieces by a far superior race of relentless killing machines, it's comforting to know that they might at least be doing it from a kind of enlightened, peaced-out Rastafari perspective.
The Phantom Of The Opera
The Movie: The Phantom Of The Opera (1925)
The Amazing: If we've learned one thing about monsters in our time, it's that less really can be more on occasion. Which is principally why silent films freak the hell out of us even when they're not about awful twisted ghouls pawing mournfully at our faces for reasons we don't entirely understand.
Happily, that's precisely what this pre-'talkie' version appears to focus on - well, sort of - and yep, it's profoundly spine-tingling as a result.
Genius Detail: Lon Chaney was known as 'the man of a thousand faces'. Most of them were make-up, obviously. Still, he rocked a spook like nobody else of his era or since - his portrayal of the Phantom remains one of the most oddly unsettling screenshots on file, and there's nary a weapon nor a drop of claret in sight.
The Blair Witch
The Movie: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Amazing: Love it or loathe it, it's arguably unsurpassed as a textbook example of how to deliver a savagely traumatising movie monster without actually having one to show us.
Genius Detail: Precisely that - whatever you come up with in your own head will be far creepier to you than anything a director could dream up. The face-the-corner screenshot up there was the closest directors Myrick and Sánchez ever came to a money shot, but it's those God-awful 'cracking rock' noises that kept us on edge for nights afterwards...
The Movie: Halloween (1978)
The Amazing: Is he literally the walking personification of pure evil, or just a real bloke who's got a few bats in the belfry and has a hard time internalising his issues? Is that ever really answered in the films themselves, or has the off-set cult of slasher fandom clouded the waters?
The degree of ambiguity surrounding Myers' status and exact purpose is what makes him a fascinating movie monster, though - but unfortunately, it's also what makes him feel somehow locked in his own franchise, dulling the edge of those lingering, take-home scares we crave from a proper A-list movie monster.
Nevertheless, an instant late-70s classic and a sterling effort all round. B+, Mr Myers.
Genius Detail: That featureless white fizzog is clearly his defining physical characteristic, and one which sails through our fairly rigorous "Aaaargh!" test like it ain't even no thing.
The Movie: Mothra (1961)
The Amazing: A giant radioactive moth is pretty sweet, we'll concur. But see, Mothra is multiple hideous mutant beasts in one tidy (female, hooray!) package - you get all the stages of the lepidopteran life cycle thrown in for good measure.
So, to recap, that's egg (not scary), larva (gross), cocoon (useless), and MOTHRA (er, Mothra). Now that's bang for your monster buck, ladies and gents! Well sort of.
Genius Detail: She somehow really looks female, and that makes her all the more kick-ass and also kind of enchanting in her own gigantic, terrifying, silk-spewing way. And if that's wrong, frankly we don't want to be right.
The Movie: Tremors (1990)
The Amazing: Ticks all the classic monster boxes without trying to be all clever-clever. Big? Yep. Gross? Youbetcha. Hiding in plain sight, either behind you or under you or somewhere close enough to make you completely mega-paranoid about setting foot off the front porch even for a goddamn second? And how!
Genius Detail: They smell properly grim, which really is a very under-used monster characteristic. Bonus point to the Graboids, then.
The Movie: The Fly (1986)
The Amazing: We love Jeff Goldblum's bonkers self-experimentalist at all stages of his hubris-induced transformation. However, we're especially fond of the part where he starts resembling a melted waxwork of himself dressed entirely in corned beef and earwax. And still he's smooth-talkin' his way around (a now forgivably standoffish) Geena Davis, the crazy charmer!
Genius Detail: See that picture up there? Yeah, he kind of keeps doing that. It's pretty awesome.
The Movie: Frankenstein (1931)
The Amazing: Karloff on absolutely iconic form once again, bringing a magnetic depth to one of the all-time classic monster roles - oozing with malevolent menace, of course, but with a dizzying dose of all-too-human pathos.
Genius Detail: Neck-bolts. Seriously, if that ever becomes available as a piercing on a walk-in-walk-out service, we're having it done immediately.
The Movie: Jason And The Argonauts (1963)
The Amazing: Often cited as one of undisputed stop-motion champ Ray Harryhausen’s finest animating hours (which is a big fat understatement, given that the scene took him closer to four months), this stab-happy gaggle of bony bastards are made all the more shackle-raising by their appropriately jerky, rattling gait.
Genius Detail: The steady creep forward, followed by the blood-curdling group shriek as all hell breaks loose. Who says having zero muscle mass means you can’t get your bumrush on?
The Movie: The Thing (1982)
The Amazing: There's nothing better than a really schlocky B-movie monster name, and consarn it if The Thing isn't king of the tribe in that respect.
It's so hilariously vague, it almost overshadows the massive alien shape-shifting-and-infinitely-divisible hellspawn at the centre of all the grotesque SNAFUs going down in John Carpenter's seminal Arctic horrorshow. And that, as you may imagine, is no easy feat.
Genius Detail: Turning a dog inside out? That's going above and beyond the call of duty in the pursuit of advanced monstering. Caps have been duly doffed.
The Movie: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The Amazing: A genuinely chilling foe, thanks largely to spectacular shape-shifting abilities which rendered it not only borderline indestructible (see above), but also bloody hard to hide from. Audience tension is palpable whenever there's the merest hint of an unfamiliar figure onscreen - truly a sign of a smartly designed antagonist.
Genius Detail: The regeneration after taking a massive physical hit is, of course, the T-1000's pièce de résistance...but from a movie geek perspective, we're pretty happy knowing that Robert Patrick studied the movements of cats, eagles and praying mantises in prep for the role.
The Movie: Friday The 13t h (1980)
The Amazing: Admittedly slightly late to the party started by John Carpenter's Halloween a couple of years earlier, but we reckon there's plenty of scope for claiming that Jason has outshone Michael Myers as a latter-day slasher icon since then.
Apart from anything else, we sort of feel we understand him a little more - after all, we've seen behind the mask. Jason has let us in .
Yes, we made out excuses and left quite shortly afterwards. No, that's not really the point.
Genius Detail: Obvious, yes, but seriously - that hockey mask. Never has a piece of sporting equipment had such an immediate and lasting impact as a movie prop. No, not even in The Mighty Ducks .
The Movie: Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
The Amazing: Movie monster design often gets a bit crusty towards the middle of a decade, particularly in an era where advancements in scaring the pants off us tend to wait around for the next big leap in CGI technology.
Well, Guillermo del Toro wasn't having any of that - here is a chuffing brilliant creature of nightmarish originality and flair, and what's more we get to see it properly, close up, before we run shrieking from it down the sort of dead-end corridor that has us all blubbing helplessly into our popcorn. Kick-ass.
Genius Detail: The eye-palm business was all gloriously freaky, but was anyone else more disturbed by the hideously emaciated legs that thing was chasing us on? Anyone would think it hadn't gorged on child-flesh in weeks .
The Movie: King Kong (1933)
The Amazing: He's a very, very big primate. If you needed us to tell you why that's a good thing, you'd have stopped reading this list about 39 entries ago.
Genius Detail: His eye for the lay-deez. Not in a gross, monkeyish, frantic humping sort of a way, you understand...in a profoundly human way, that gives the film its beautifully affecting emotional centre.
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
The Movie: Ghostbusters (1984)
The Amazing: He’s a 12-storey-tall campfire snack, what’s not to dig?
Plus his existence constitutes a beautifully observed bit of brand satire from Dan Ackroyd – hands up if you assumed he was the mascot for a real foodstuff...
Of course, the closest thing to Stay Puft you’ll find on the shelves of a 7-Eleven is the Pillsbury Doughboy, but that all-too-probable deliberate misspelling kept the more gullible amongst us scouring supermarket shelves for most of the 80s.
Genius Detail: The creepy-cute rictus grin adds an exquisite chill to Stay Puft’s downtown smashathon, but above all we love the fact that he’s vulnerable to being toasted just like a regular-sized marshmallow.
The lesson here? Just because there’s a 100-foot confectionary demon smiling through penthouse windows as he crushes central Manhattan, there’s no need to abandon logic entirely ...
The Movie: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
The Amazing: Although he's about as stereotypical an '80s monster as you're likely to come across (deformed, check; slashy, check; teen-hating, check), Freddy's meteoric fear-factor derives from the fact that he gets you in your dreams.
A pretty genius plot device, this crafty conceit ensures that nobody's safe from Freddy's hideous DIY face-gardening glove - not even us, the audience, when we slope home to our once-cosy beds...
Genius Detail: Tempting to go with the snazzy pullover, but we guess we'd be fools to ignore those razor-sharp pinky-shears...
The Movie: Nosferatu (1922)
The Amazing: Ironic, you could argue, that of all moviedom’s stone-cold fangtastic takes on Dracula over the years, this unauthorised German knock-off pretty much beats them all to the jugular in delivering the screaming black chatters.
Most of the fictional ghouls on this list have, at some point, left us cowering behind our duvets; far fewer have made us immediately want to suffocate ourselves with them.
Genius Detail: The distinctly rodenty vibe rocked by Max Shreck’s iconic bloodsucker, thanks to a silhouette-mangling combination of bat ears, rat teeth and jerky, moon-eyed shadow-lurking. Alas, you’re unilkely to defeat this cheeky fella with a lump of Red Leicester and a springy trap.
The Movie: Godzilla (1954)
The Amazing: You almost have to give this grumpy bugger a top-5 spot for sheer generosity - 28 films for his creators Toho, a roll-call of pop culture guest appearances as lengthy as his Christmas card list is brief, and more quality enemies introduced for the sole purpose of fighting him than pretty much any other monster in movieland.
Genius Detail: We've always been deeply enamoured by the fact that Godzilla, like most kaiju creations, has been portrayed with bewildering inconsistency in terms of physical properties, fighting abilities and even allegiances over the years.
Still, if you've got to pick one aspect of his artillery to justify his icon status, it's got to be the atomic breath - if only because it puts things sharply into perspective when mulling over our own trifling hygiene issues.
The Great White
The Movie: Jaws (1975)
The Amazing: There are only a couple of tenuous entries on this list, but you could certainly argue that old bitey-pants here is one of them. Clearly he's a preposterously well-developed member of the oceanic surfer-chewing community, but a true monster ?
Thing is, a good five summers of being too frightened to take a dip in Skegness after watching this say hell yes, so sod it - he's in.
Genius Detail: Der -dun. Der -dun. Der -dur- der -dun- der etc etc. (Repeat until limbless.)
The Movie: Alien (1979)
The Amazing: There's a lot to be said for a monster which appears absolutely purpose-built for carrying out its appointed task, and even more to be said if that task is doom-shafting any meat-based life-form idiotic enough to stumble into its (apparently infinite) hunting ground.
Genius Detail: And it goes without saying that we're absolutely in love with the whole face-hugging, stomach-bursting reproduction technique - just delightful, in terms of inventive monster-lore. But a mouth within a mouth? Oh Ridley, you're spoiling us! And look, we're spoiling our underwear.
George Romero's Zombies
The Movie: Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
The Amazing: Sick of wobbly extra-terrestrials weirding it up all over your movie screen?
Tired of colossal horrors from the deep squelching over land to suck your shoulder blades out with a giant radioative tentacle?
Yawning in anticipation of another folkloric bogeyman prowling around your local Forest Of Doom this evening?
Yep, so were the moviegoing public in 1968, which is why Romero's zombies caused such a seismic ruckus when audiences got their first glimpse of 'em: they were, quite simply, us.
Gone pretty drastically wrong. And there's simply nothing more horrifying to us than forced engagement with the notion of our own frailties and failures.
Genius Detail: Romero pretty much patented the slow, deliberate zombie-shuffle that would go on to define the genre for more or less the next three decades.
Couple that with the grainy, sombre, almost grittily realistic vibe of his epoch-shattering first Dead project, and you've got an insidious, skin-crawling horrorshow that all the giant snot-mutants in movieland can't hold a candle to.