Posted by: Kelsey | October 9, 2013

Top Ten October: 10 Coolest Movie Creatures

Hollywood can do amazing things with technology these days. Gone are the times of filming a tiny spaceship against a 4’x4′ black cloth backdrop to convince viewers they’re going where no man has gone before. Most kids’ movies of the past decade have been entirely digital, and special fX wizards can work magic in creating wild but believable characters. A great example of this is Davy Jones (played by Bill Nighy) from The Pirates of the Caribbean films. With his big tentacle beard and sad, vengeful eyes, he was creepy and real and so, so much fun to watch.


And yet, those twitchy tentacles were all CGI; and I can’t help but miss the days of latex appliances and stellar paint jobs, crafted by master makeup artists. One of my favorite TV shows currently is SyFy’s FaceOff, in which movie makeup artists compete in weekly “creature” challenges, where they begin by sketching an idea and within three days, have produced a totally unique creation, whether it be an alien or demon or (in my favorite episode) a character inspired by the world of Tim Burton. The contestants are undeniably inspired by the horror genre, but there are also obvious influences from Jim Henson to Guillermo del Toro. Henson’s work was absolutely incredible; who else could make a pile of fake fur and puppet strings into a loveable, thinking, feeling creature, able to captivate generations of children? And del Toro seems to have picked up where he left off, letting his actors (often the marvelous Doug Jones) appear on-screen, their movements all the more frightening because they are unnatural for a human. Not to belittle the work of artists creating believable characters like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, but this list is devoted to the coolest movie creatures created from physical elements–some puppets, some flesh-and-blood actors covered in a whooole lot of makeup. Whether heartwarming or fear-inducing, these are 10 memorable, non-CGI movie creatures.

    1. The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth
      pans_labyrinth_05_largeHonestly, I have hardly been more frightened watching a movie than I was during the Pale Man scene in Pan’s Labyrinth. If you haven’t seen it, this film is a MUST. One of my favorites. And you’ll know immediately after this scene why this guy got the number one spot. YIKES.
    2. Bib Fortuna from Return of the Jedi
      BibFortunaHS-ROTJI was trying to keep this a secret, but I watched the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time this summer. (If I lied to you about this, I’m sorry. It’s been a hidden source of shame for a long, long time, so I’ve frequently pretended to be a fan just to avoid the humiliation.) Anyway, there’s a lot of cool creatures in the trilogy, but this guy was BY FAR my favorite. More than Yoda, more than Chewy, more than anyone… I loved Bib Fortuna. His sharp piranha teeth, sick red eyes, and that big elephant tusk-like ponytail all make this guy so cool. “Nay Jabba no bodda.” ❤
    3. The Alien from Alien
      Part of the cool factor with this character is the wait. We watch most of the movie without seeing the titular creature. As film critic Roger Ebert noted, “Alien uses a tricky device to keep the alien fresh throughout the movie: It evolves the nature and appearance of the creature, so we never know quite what it looks like or what it can do…The first time we get a good look at the alien…it bursts from the chest of poor Kane (John Hurt).” At this moment, it’s only a fiery fetal alien (though a quick little sucker), but the full-grown alien (seen more in the sequel, Aliens) is a remarkable creature created by artist H.R. Giger, based on his drawing Necronom IV, and played by a man who was 7’2″. Unforgettable.
    4. The Angel of Death from Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
      This creature makes only a short appearance in the movie, but quite an impact. Like the Pale Man (#1 above), this creature has no eyes on her face, but she has many on her beautiful, swan-like wings. I love how this character is so dark but so pretty at the same time.
    5. ET from ET: The Extraterrestrial
      Which of us can say that we didn’t fall in love with this little wrinkly guy? He’s not conventionally cute, but boy, could this glowy-fingered dude tug some heartstrings. I still have a hard time believing he was just a puppet.
    6. The Predator from Predator
      As Arnold says when he first sees this nearly indestructible, dreadlocked monster, “You’re one ugly motherf***er.”
    7. Falcor from The Neverending Story
      I adored Falcor as a child. He was a flying “luck dragon” in the film, but his appearance is more like the cutest wittle puppy you’ve ever seen in your life. Look how adorable he is! Don’t you just want to climb on his furry back and fly through the clouds???
    8. Ludo from Labyrinth
      This sweet guy was being tortured by goblins when Sarah rescued him. He became the Scarecrow to her Dorothy, the best traveling companion a girl could ask for.
    9. The Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz
      Speaking of Dorothy… I had this movie entirely memorized by the time I was 5, and one of my favorite moments then and now is the Wicked Witch of the West releasing her winged monkeys and shouting, “Fly! Fly!” I was always thrilled by the scary parts. The actors in the ape suits do an amazing job with their movements, which is especially apparent in that great scene when they rip the beloved Scarecrow apart. That always made me scream at the TV. 🙂
    10. Jabba the Hut from Return of the Jedi
      My second favorite character from the Star Wars land is this giant blob. He’s a funny and disgusting combination of a slug and a big turd. Totally horrible yet totally popular.
    11. What are some of your favorite non-CGI creatures? I know I failed to include some great ones!



  1. The Dark Crystal is also rich with great, often terrifying-to-kids creatures, but this list is pretty impeccable.

    • You’re right. I totally left out Dark Crystal creatures. It was an oversight. Those stilt creatures especially were really cool–very Dali.

      • Those were the exact ones I had in mind! Loping in at #11 as it were.

  2. Industrial Light & Magic had some of the best creature designs:

    The Demon Dogs from Willow:

    Klingon monster dog from Star Trek III:,_Star_Trek_III.jpg

    Gorax from The Ewok Adventure:

    The Eborsisk from Willow:

    The Rancor from Return of the Jedi:

    Terak from The Battle for Endor:

    Gizmo from Gremlins:

    Now for Rob Bottin…

    Kuato from Total Recall:

    Darkness from Ridley Scott’s Legend:

    And an oldie:

    The Man from Planet X:

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