BEST MOVIE MONSTERS
Frankenstein Though Boris Karloff established the legend of playing Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, the screen incarnation pre-dated him, going back to 1910 – and actors from Lon Chaney Jr. to Robert De Niro would succeed him.
Dracula Here’s another situation where one actor (Bela Lugosi) made a frightening role his trademark, but others actually played it before he did, including in the unauthorized adaptation “Nosferatu.” Christopher Lee and ( on both stage and screen) Frank Langella also would become noted for their interpretations of the character. The 1931 Lugosi version leads off Turner Clsssic Movies’ month of Friday “Fright Favorites” Oct. 2.
The Wolfman Yet another fear-instilling figure who has been brought to the screen many times, this was another character Lon Chaney Jr. was renowned for ... though other performers to sprout a lot of hair upon a full moon have included Benicio Del Toro and (in a Mike Nichols-directed modernization) Jack Nicholson.
The Mummy Karloff also got to do extra monster duty with a part he got all wrapped up in, quite literally. Arnold Vosloo inherited the role (and the bountiful bandages) in a modern retelling and its sequel, and another remake starred Tom Cruise.
King Kong The mightiest ape of all first reigned supreme in a 1933 stop-motion-animation milestone in which he famously carried a shrieking Fay Wray, then returned in a 1976 version (with Jessica Lange in his massive palm) and director Peter Jackson’s 2005 version (featuring Naomi Watts as the apple of Kong’s eye).
Godzilla Originated in Japan and brought to America in a version of the initial movie that added scenes featuring Raymond Burr, this giant sea monster has been revived on film numerous times in projects of varying quality, the most notable of which starred Matthew Broderick (1998) and Bryan Cranston (2014).
The Fly First played by Al (later David) Hedison and then by Jeff Goldblum and Eric Stoltz, this merged being derived its terror from generating thoughts of what could happen if man tampered with nature.
The “transformed” Regan MacNeil The child possessed by the devil in “The Exorcist” put chills down many a spine with her eerie, guttural growls and rotating head – and also taxed actress Linda Blair’s stamina, given what she had to go through in a movie era before computer-generated graphics might have taken care of much of the effect.
“Bruce” the Shark Well, Bruce was the name by which the mechanical creature was known to the cast and crew of “Jaws,” who famously endured many malfunctions while engineers figured out how to get the model working again. Once it was, the scares it provided moviegoers became legendary ... and pretty much cemented the career of a then-novice filmmaker named Steven Spielberg.
The Alien Based on designs by H.R. Giger, the intergalactic enemy that first terrorized a space crew in “Alien” – then had friends and relatives who continued that campaign in the sequels – surely gave astronaut Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and others much opportunity to test the famous advertising line, “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
Tyrannosaurus Rex This mighty dinosaur has reared its head (literally) in numerous movies over the years, but one of its most famous appearances surely was in “Jurassic Park,” with the movie technology of the time making the cloned creature incredibly and scarily realistic.