10 Brilliant Horror Movie Monsters You Were Completely Unprepared For

Old man demons! Old lady snakes! Surprise fish people! Vampire girlfriends!

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
Momentum Pictures

Some movies, horror or otherwise, live and die by their creative creature designs. Whether it's a mega budget blockbuster effort like Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim or a no budget indie like 2005's underrated Isolation, the monster movie cannot hope to succeed unless it impresses with its inventive design.

After all, no one is going to watch An American Werewolf In London so they can get a glimpse of London, or Americans.

However, plenty of famous horrors never reveal their monster, such as The Blair Witch Project, whilst many more are infamous for having embarrassing effects which result in the filmmakers attempting to hide their antagonist in the shadows as long as possible (cough Jaws' rubber shark cough).

With this in mind, it's always a welcome surprise to see a horror which gets by fine without a monster, only to suddenly throw one at the audience. It's all the better when the creature in question is a well-designed, memorable monstrosity, so this list is designed to count the movies which you didn't think had it in them before they floored you with a creative, terrifying, or straight up surreal monster.

10. Uxia - Dagon

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
Lions Gate Entertainment

Anyone familiar with the oeuvre of iconic horror author/ infamously problematic fave HP Lovecraft could probably have guessed that a film based on his dark, disturbing body of work would feature a few malignant monstrosities lurking in the darkness. Ditto anyone who knows anything about Dagon director Stuart Gordon's filmography, as the late horror helmer's most famous efforts Re-Animator and From Beyond are both gory body horrors which adapted Lovecraft's work in visceral, grotesque fashion.

So it's a surprise that 2001's Dagon starts out as a slow, somewhat plodding small town mystery, more akin to a humdrum Twilight Zone instalment than a true monster movie. As the flick's slow-moving story of a couple lost in a strange Spanish seaside village wears on, the audience becomes convinced this is a rare subdued outing for Lovecraft and Gordon.

Of course, it isn't.

That pretty local girl with the enchanting eyes? This’s a still Lovecraft adaptation, so she’s got a set of horrifying fish-tentacle-leg-things which appear near the end of the tale. From that point on all Hell breaks loose, and this apparently subtle mystery turns into a gory horror show, the genre shift signalled by the arrival of this tentacled terror.

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