Which alien scares the bejeesus out of you?

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Ridley Scott’s classic Alien, we decided to revisit our childhood (and sometimes adulthood) nightmares. We locked the GamesRadar team in a small room with nothing but some angry bees for company until they told us which ET from games or movies scared them the most. This is the latest in a series of big questions we'll be interrogating our writers with, so share your answers and suggestions for topics with us on Twitter.   

The Thing

Image credit: Universal Pictures

Image credit: Universal Pictures

I first discovered the best science fiction horror movie ever the way '90s kids discovered everything cool - at a sleepover at someone's house while their mum was away. I was around 11 and thought I was pretty hardcore until that poor sled dog split open like an overripe melon and became a mass of glistening puppy meat and eyeballs. Then just when you're getting over that, the alien parasite makes Norris' chest turn into a chomping mouth and his head DROP OFF AND BECOME A SPIDER. Sure the xenomorphs are freaky and you know Ewoks would murder you in your bed for a candy bar, but The Thing still haunts my nightmares. All hail John Carpenter, king of darkness and head spiders. Rachel Weber  

Necromorphs from Dead Space 

To paraphrase Pam from The Office, when you squish a bug with a book you know you're going to be grossed out, but you just have to look at its mangled body and check it's dead. Imagine that feeling playing on a loop throughout the entirety of Dead Space and Dead Space 2. Necromorphs, the horrific alien organism which takes bodies then breaks, twists, and mangles them into creatures that look horribly familiar, are the most terrifying alien out there. Because the necromorph organism isn't fussy: it'll even turn babies into killing machines, for god's sake. So when you find them shambling along Dead Space's corridors with their distressing speed, there's part of your brain that actually recognises some of its features as human, like a nightmare zombie on overdrive. Plus the bastards actually play dead every now and again, turning you into a neurotic jumpy mess when you round a corner and see necromorph 'corpses' littering the corridor. Even worse, they're liable to still come sprinting after you even when you chop off their limbs. Shudder. Oh, and don't look up Infectors. Because then you'll see what they do to live humans to turn them into necromorphs, and it ain't pretty. Zoe Delahunty-Light

Headcrabs from Half-Life 2 

Forgetting the fact that Valve shamelessly ripped off Alien's Facehuggers for a second, the Headcrabs of Half-Life are the most terrifying aliens you can encounter during your adventures as Gordon Freeman. Not only are the pouncing parasites capable of leaving you a paranoid wreck whenever they jump straight at your face from all manner of hiding spots, but anyone who does succumb to their, uh... internal organs is turned into an even more grotesque zombie husk, whose muffled moans of pain can be heard from beneath the Headcrab's clenched grasp. There's a reason that Ravenholm is considered to be one of the scariest levels of all time, let alone the Half-Life series itself, and you can thank those pesky, pesky Headcrabs for the entire frightfest. Alex Avard

The Manti from Defender  

I will take any excuse to gush about Defender (the PS2 game, not the 1981 arcade game), but I'm not just making things up when I say the Manti scared the bejeesus out of 10-year-old me. I will likely never forget the cutscene in which a hapless mechanic is abducted and slowly devoured by one of the flying bastards, and that's not just because I've seen it dozens of times. I was not prepared for that scene as a kid. You know those skill crane machines? Imagine a glowing, fleshy version of one of those scooping you up and using its claws to force you into a hideous squid-like beak. And then it evolves and becomes way harder for 10-year-old Austin to shoot. Actually, don't imagine it. Skip to 23:19 in this video from the LongplayArchive YouTube channel and experience the horror for yourself. Austin Wood

The Xeno from Alien: Isolation 

The beast that stalks you around the Sevastopol is just the biggest bag of alien nope for me. Just when you’ve got comfortable in the game and used to its nuances and mechanics et al, the Xeno appears, draping its snake-like tail over Ripley Jr.’s leg as she hides under a desk - a breath-holding moment for her and us. From this point, the fear has truly manifested and the alien is part of your life. It stalks almost silently, not on regular ‘patrol’ patterns that you can learn, giving it hunter-like qualities, deliberate and calculating, like it’s learning how to find you - and it inevitably will. Such was the impact of the alien on me, there was a time where my Ripley was just sat hiding in a cupboard, for 30 real-world minutes or so, just totally incapacitated by terror as I bathed in The Fear. It was absolutely paralysing, and the most acute horror I’ve ever felt in a game. In fact, because I put the game down for a bit, my Ripley just stayed in that cupboard for several days and that was my ‘whole’ Alien: Isolation experience. When it did find you, it always finished you off with a closeup, ball-retractingly terrifying move that was just as scary, every time. It’s terrifying-ness is heightened by the quality environment and perma-tense atmosphere that prevails throughout Alien: Isolation, but in terms of a scary alien, there’s really no alien worse/better. Rob Dwiar

Edgar the Bug from Men in Black 

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Image credit: Sony Pictures

I've seen Men in Black many times, but I don't know if I've ever watched every frame in sequence, and it's all because of Edgar. The giant cockroach alien that wears a brutish farmer as its human skin costume is both hilarious and horrifying, and Vincent D'Onofrio is astoundingly good at acting like an extraterrestrial insect is cooped up inside his body. When you actually see the Bug in its full form for the finale, it's more gross than frightening (save for that gooey jumpscare), but the scenes where Edgar's body stretches, decays, and eventually molts still give me the heebie-jeebies. That bit in the taxi where twitching mandibles poke out of his throat - ye gads. Lucas Sullivan

Ewoks from Star Wars

Image credit: Disney

Image credit: Disney

If science fiction has taught us anything, it’s this: exploring the universe is a stupid, stupid idea. I would say that the bug queen from Starship Troopers is the perfect example (as well as being an icky demon-slug with pincers, it has a proboscis that sucks out people’s brains), but that’s not true. The scariest monster in all the cosmos would be an Ewok from Star Wars. I mean, just look into their eyes. Their cold, dead eyes. These betray a complete lack of empathy. They’ve seen some serious s*** too, and they liked it. Yes, I know; Ewoks are cuddly teddy bears who sing ‘yub-nub’ ballads from the treetops and are weirdly proficient at braiding hair. However, they also goddamn eat people, clothes and all. Although it was played off as a joke in Return of the Jedi, the Ewoks were going to cook Han and Luke alive on a spit. With that in mind, fans have wondered what that means about the Stormtrooper helmets they use as drums in the film’s final scene. Where’s the rest of the Stormtrooper? It’s probably best not to ask. Benjamin Abbott  

Thin Men from XCOM: Enemy Unknown 

Any mission can be frightening in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, especially in the early game when your troops are at their most vulnerable and you're only starting to learn the extent of the alien threat. As you finally master putting down diminutive sectoids without losing half your squad, you meet the Thin Men. They look human at a glance, but also... off. Their limbs are too long, their skin too pallid and green, their sunglasses not quite able to conceal their reptilian irises. Then you see the hideous way they move - like a knot of snakes trying to escape a second-hand suit - and how they spit poison from their freakish faces. You'd think Thin Men would become less scary after you manage to capture one and study it, but seeing the way they face their demise like this was all part of their plan just makes them even worse. Connor Sheridan 

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Rachel Weber
Managing Editor, US

Rachel Weber is the US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+ and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She joined GamesRadar+ in 2017, revitalizing the news coverage and building new processes and strategies for the US team.