The Best-Designed Movie Monsters of the 21st Century

When you think of well-designed movie monsters, you probably think of iconic nasties like the Xenomorphs from the Alien movies, the Yautja from the Predator franchise, Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and the eponymous Creature from the Black Lagoon.

That's perfectly fine – they're all great-looking bloodthirsty antagonists – but the movie monsters of more recent times deserve recognition, too.

There have been enough aesthetically-great movie monsters since the turn of the new millennium that we've made a list of the finest among them. Let's get to it.

21. The Grant Monster (Slither)

The Grant Monster
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Slither is a 2006 sci-fi comedy horror about a small Carolina town that gets invaded by an evil alien parasite. Michael Rooker plays Grant Grant, a man who becomes a host for the parasite and undergoes a horrific transformation.

He mutates into an amorphous, messy blob with tentacles. It's slobbish, slug-like, slow, and, by design, equally terrifying and humorous. Designed by Emmy award winner Dan Rebert, the Grant monster is disgusting, and that's why it's so great.

20. The Crawlers (The Descent)

The Crawlers (The Descent)
Photo Credit: Pathé Distribution

The Descent is a 2005 British horror movie about six women who go caving in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. There, they encounter terrifying creatures known as “crawlers.”

The crawlers are pale, blind humanoids that the creators wanted to be, in essence, “cavemen that never left the caves.” Prosthetics creator Paul Hyett designed them, and they are somewhat vampiric in appearance. As a result, they look terrifying in The Descent's night vision scenes.

19. Clover (Cloverfield)

Clover (Cloverfield)
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Cloverfield is a 2008 found footage monster movie that follows six New Yorkers forced to flee from a giant creature of unknown origin that attacks the city and prompts a substantial military response.

The beast's given name is Clover, and it's an underwater lifeform that's well over 200 feet tall. Its intricate design includes; a tri-forked finned tail, double-jointed squat legs, multi-fingered hands, and boney features. It looks great – and so do the dog-sized parasitic organisms that live on it. Artist Neville Page designed it.

18. Craig (Creep)

Craig (Creep)
Photo Credit: The Duplass Brothers/Blumhouse Productions

Creep is a 2004 British horror movie about a woman locked in the London Underground overnight. There, she finds herself the target of a grotesquely deformed killer, Craig, who lives in the sewer system below.

Played by Sean Harris, Craig is a mentally disturbed hermit who looks horrifying. Created by the skilled prosthetic experts at Hybrid Enterprises, he looks inhuman, unnerving, and creepy (as the movie's title would suggest).

17. The Babadoook (The Babadook)

The Babadoook (The Babadook)
Photo Credit: Umbrella Entertainment

The Babadook is a 2014 Australian supernatural horror movie about a single mother who has to cope with her son's fear of the eponymous monster in their home. Inspiration for it came from director Jennifer Kent's 2005 short film Monster.

Tim Purcell plays the Babadook – a tall pale-faced humanoid wearing a top hat and taloned fingers that torment its victims after they become aware of its existence. Its vast amount of tiny sharp teeth is unsettling. Kent conceived the design herself, citing the Man in the Beaver Hat from 1927's London After Midnight as a significant influence.

16. The Lipstick-Face Demon (Insidious)

The Lipstick-Face Demon (Insidious)
Photo Credit: FilmDistrict

Insidious is a 2010 supernatural horror about a married couple whose young son inexplicably enters a comatose state. While unconscious, the boy becomes a vessel for various demonic entities in an astral dimension known as “The Further” – one known as the Lipstick-Face Demon.

Joseph Bishara – a music producer not known for his acting who produced Insidious' score – plays the Lipstick-Face Demon. It's tall and muscular with black skin, coarse fur on its legs, dark cloven hooves, and a devilish tail, and its face has blood-red paint on it. It looks terrifying.

15. The Tooth Fairy (Darkness Falls)

The Tooth Fairy (Darkness Falls)
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Darkness Falls is a 2003 supernatural horror movie about the vengeful spirit of a woman named Matilda Dixon, that takes the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the eponymous town that lynched her 150 years earlier.

Antony Burrows plays the Tooth Fairy, and Gary A. Hecker voices her. She's a cloaked figure in a porcelain mask, behind which hides a badly burned face. The horrifying character design was by the late makeup artist Stan Winston.

14. Gabriel (Malignant)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Malignant is a 2021 supernatural slasher movie about a woman who experiences visions of murders, only to discover the events are happening in real life and the parasitic twin living on the back of her head is committing them. The twin is called Gabriel.

Ray Chase provides Gabriel's voice, while Marina Mazepa gives the unsettling physical performance. Gabriel is a deformed tumor-like wretch whose appearance is gruesome. His creation stemmed from the real-world medical phenomena of teratoma tumors and parasitic twins, and the concept shares many similarities with the urban legend of Edward Mordake.

13. Death Angels (A Quiet Place)

A Quiet Place
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place is a 2018 post-apocalyptic horror movie that spawned a 2020 sequel, A Quiet Place Part II. The franchise revolves around a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by blind monsters with an acute sense of hearing – the Death Angels.

Production designer Jeffrey Beecroft headed the creature design, and they look fantastic. They're slightly taller than the average human, and their posture mixes that of a gorilla and a flightless bat. They possess large jaws, sharp teeth, no eyes, and no visible nose.

12. Victor Crowley (Hatchet)

Victor Crowley (Hatchet)
Photo Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Hatchet is a 2006 slasher movie that spawned three sequels; 2010's Hatchet II, 2013's Hatchet III, and 2017's Victor Crowley. The series focuses on the urban legend of serial killer Victor Crowley – the vengeful spirit of a deformed man murdered by his father on Halloween night.

Director Adam Green created Victor Crowley when he was only eight – and he looks frightening. He is a hulking man in dungarees, with long hair surrounding his head but not on top. His chin, jaw, and cheekbones are badly deformed, and some of his teeth are missing. In addition, he has a hatchet wound down his face. Horror legend Kane Hodder plays him.

11. Gwoemul (The Host)

Gwoemul (The Host)
Photo Credit: Showbox Entertainment

The Host is a 2006 South Korean monster movie about a man whose daughter gets kidnapped by a monster and his subsequent attempts to rescue her. The beast in question is called Gwoemul.

The monster is wholly CGI and designed by Wei Chin Chen. Inspired by an actual mutant fish found in the Han River, it's a giant mutant predator with a segmented jaw and multiple other mandibles rowed with incredibly sharp teeth. In addition, it has characteristics reminiscent of snakes, crocodiles, amphibians, fishes, monkeys, and whales – all of which come together to look great.

10. Bioraptors (Pitch Black)

Bioraptors (Pitch Black)
Photo Credit:
USA Films

Pitch Black is a 2000 sci-fi action-horror movie about a dangerous criminal transported across space to a prison. When the spaceship he's on crash lands on a barren desert planet, predatory creatures attack – the Bioraptors.

Visual effects guru Patrick Tatopoulos designed the Bioraptors. They have thin, streamlined bodies covered in thick, leathery skin, wings with limited flight capabilities, and a twin-forked tail with sharp pointed ends. Hidden in both legs are bone spears and their blood is thick and blue. They're scary as heck – and the fact they dwell in the darkest imaginable environment aids that.

9. Indominus Rex (Jurassic World)

Indominus Rex (Jurassic World)
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Jurassic World is a 2015 sci-fi action movie and the fourth in the Jurassic Park franchise. It takes place in a world where scientists have brought dinosaurs back and have them as exhibits in a theme park. While most dinosaurs in the films existed in the real world, Jurassic World introduced a fictional transgenic hybrid species – the Indominus rex.

Aaron McBride and his team at ILM designed it. The Indominus rex contains the DNA of more than a dozen creatures – most notably the Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptor, which give it a frightening appearance and makes it incredibly dangerous. Cuttlefish DNA also enables it to camouflage, which is terrifying. Even scarier is that it's symbolic of consumer and corporate excess.

8. Cooper (Super 8)

Super 8
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Super 8 is a 2011 sci-fi thriller about a group of small-town teenagers in 1979 who are filming their own Super 8 movie when a train derails, releasing a dangerous alien creature known as Cooper.

Cooper is large enough to manhandle humans easily, and his face resembles a praying mantis. He has six limbs and generally moves like a spider, but he can stand on his two hind legs and has two long-jointed arms. Neville Page designed him – the same guy who created the monster from Cloverfield – and Bruce Greenwood provided the motion-capture performance.

7. The Mother (Barbarian)

The Mother (Barbarian)
Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios

Barbarian is a 2022 horror-thriller about a woman who is double-booked with a man in a rental home. There, they discover a dark secret in the basement, including a violent inbred woman, the Mother.

The Mother is severely deformed and appears warped by decades of parent-child incest. Her face is malformed, she has long raggedy hair, and her body is frail (she is still inhumanly strong). It's such a simple design but so effective. Matthew Patrick Davis plays the character.

6. The Angel of Death (Hellboy II: The Golden Army)

The Angel of Death (Hellboy II The Golden Army)
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a 2008 superhero sequel to 2004's Hellboy. In the film, Hellboy and his team must stop an evil prince from locating the all-powerful Golden Army. It features a creature called the Angel of Death – a personification of Hellboy's death.

Guillermo del Toro directs this movie, and the Angel of Death's appearance reflects that. Visual designer Wayne Barlowe designed it, and the iconic Doug Jones portrays it. It has a skeletal face and eyes on its giant wings, and to say it looks alarming would be a colossal understatement.

5. The Mega-Kaiju (Pacific Rim Uprising)

The Mega Kaiju Pacific Rim Uprising
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Pacific Rim Uprising is a 2018 sci-fi monster movie and the sequel to 2013's Pacific Rim. It takes place in a world where giant monsters named Kaiju emerge from the sea, forcing humans to fight back in giant manned robots called Jaegers. The Mega-Kaiju is a hybrid creature and the largest of the monsters.

The Mega-Kaiju is enormous – it towers above the Jaegers – and is the amalgamation of other Kaijus (notably Raijin, Hakuja, and Shrikethorn), as swarms of more minor, robotic hybrid Kaiju merged them. It has six legs, two tails with spear-shaped ends, ten eyes, two tusks, and spines on its back. It's (literally) monstrous and was designed in-house at the DNEG studio.

4. Psycho Goreman (Psycho Goreman)

Psycho Goreman (Psycho Goreman)
Photo Credit: RLJE Films

Psycho Goreman is a 2020 sci-fi action comedy-horror about a young brother and sister who inadvertently resurrect an ancient alien overlord. The siblings name the creature “Psycho Goreman.”

Psycho Goreman is a green-skinned humanoid with a spiny head, pointed ears, and armored shoulders. He carries a weapon known as the Flesh Sword, made from the flesh and guts of one of his victims. Steven Kostanski, the movie's writer and director, designed the character, Matthew Ninaber played him, and Steven Vlahos voiced him.

3. Art the Clown (Terrifier)

Art the Clown Terrifier
Photo Credit: Dread Central Presents`

The Terrifer slasher horror franchise and related media include 2013's All Hallow's Eve, 2016's Terrifier, and 2022's Terrifier 2. Each movie features Art the Clown as the antagonist, a vicious killer with seemingly supernatural abilities.

The character's look is quickly becoming iconic. Art wears a black and white clown costume, with his face painted white, a white bald cap, and a small black hat. He often carries a black trash bag filled with crude weapons. Mike Giannelli and David Howard Thornton have portrayed him, and franchise director Damien Leone created him.

2. The Pale Man (Pan's Labyrinth)

The Pale Man (Pan's Labyrinth)
Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

Pan's Labyrinth is a 2006 dark fantasy horror movie about a bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer who escapes into a scary but captivating fantasy world. One of the creatures residing there is the terrifying child-eating Pale Man.

The Pale Man is another creature that reflects director Guillermo del Toro's preferred aesthetic. The excellent Doug Jones plays him. He resembles a pale older man, and his facial features resemble those of a manta ray. However, the most frightening thing about his appearance is that he can place his eyeballs in the palm of his hands. Goya's painting “Saturn Devouring His Son” heavily influenced his creation.

1. Moder (The Ritual)

Moder (The Ritual)
Photo Credit: Netflix

The Ritual is a 2017 British horror movie about a quartet of friends who take a hiking trip into a Swedish forest and encounter an ancient evil. The ancient evil in question is a Jötunn from Germanic and Norse mythology.

This particular Jötunn is called “Moder,” and it looks terrific. It's a vast, elk-like creature with bright yellow eyes, a skeletal head with antlers, and a pair of human-like hands on its head. It looks absolutely terrifying when it peers into an open doorway in the movie.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.