The Creature Feature is a pretty broad sub-genre that has gone through various highs and lows in movie history. They are often horror films, though branch out into other genres like action and adventure. They started out as mainly being horror films that featured “giant monsters”, and gained their rise especially during atomic fears. Through the years the sub-genre grew to include just creatures of any sort. Most people would argue that the idea of man vs the creature is still a key component to the creature feature, though as with most genres the definitions have gotten murkier. I am a huge fan of the creature feature. I tend to prefer them being horror and having the creature be not of our world as is. Other than that I find the diversity of the genre one of the biggest appeals. Here are some of my personal favorites.
The Relic is pretty much the perfect representation of the 90s horror creature feature. It is by no means one of the best movies out there. Some of the writing gets to be a little weak and unfocused. The pacing could use a touch of work, and it has that 90s feel that can range from being totally charming to completely off-putting. Despite this, it’s still one of my all time favorites. The characters are interesting (if underdeveloped), the focus of having everyone locked in the museum adds a lot, and the creature itself is fairly terrifying. It’s one of my go to flicks, and I find myself having fun every time I watch it.
8 Legged Freaks
8 Legged Freaks to me is one of the perfect examples of a misunderstood movie. Even I struggled to understand the appeal the first time I saw it. Upon watching it again I realized it’s a great blend of horror comedy as well as a solid throwback to the drive-in movies of the past. It has its missteps, but for the most part, it does everything well. It’s action-heavy, has good comedic timing, brings a few tense moments to remind us of horror, and does what it sets out to well.
I am a huge fan of this movie. It’s intense, scary, has insane practical effects, and an ending that is simply brilliant. The idea of the movie is scary in and of itself, and the execution is so well done. Everything from the feeling of isolation, paranoia, even the cold manages to seep through to the audience and keep you interested. It is also a great blend of surprise and suspense.
Tremors often gets written off because likely many movies the sequels have gotten so insane over the years. While they all have comedic value, I think that the first movie is the best, hands down. It also, to me, maintains a horror comedy rather than just something I would label as “dumb but fun”. It’s heavier on the comedy so I think the few scares getting forgotten or written off, but they exist. It’s also a very clever plot, and they make good use of the idea of not being able to touch the ground but still needed to escape.
For some reason, I have a hard time classifying Alien as a creature feature despite putting other Alien movies in the creature feature sub-genre (see The Thing). Despite that, most people would consider this one, and it is, in fact, one of my favorite horror films. It is a shining example of suspense done right. The tight quarters of the film do wonders for keeping the fear factor up. I am not a huge fan of the direction the series took after this film, but looking at Alien on its own it’s one of my all time favorites.
I have an iffy relationship with found footage movies overall. I feel like it’s a technique that has been used far too frequently, and I am underwhelmed by them more often than not. Knowing this I went into Troll Hunter not expecting much and was I wrong. This movie seriously blew me away. It’s entertaining, well done, and manages to set itself apart from many other found footage films. It is a truly unique experience, and one I will continue to recommend.
Looking at modern horror this is one of my favorite. The CGI leaves something to be desired in multiple scenes, but beyond that, it’s pretty incredible. It’s well acted and there is an amazing use of space and lighting with this film. I almost like it more as a man vs nature film than a creature feature, which is my biggest hesitation with including it. While the “chud” like creatures do add true terror to the end of the movie I often find myself imagining The Descent with the heroes being picked off one by one by the cave itself instead of creatures. Despite these imaginings, we have what we have, and it is something pretty awesome.
This film often gets lost in people’s lists of great horror films and/or creature features, and I am not sure why. It has a compelling plot, interesting characters, a solid underlying question of what is the price of science, and is actually pretty darn scary. It, like all 90s movies, has its moments of 90s cheese, but for the most part, like The Relic reminds me why I like movies from this time. There is a good build up to the horror, and time is taken to develop an interesting plot before diving in.
I have mentioned before and will mention again, I have a love/hate relationship with the shark horror movie. I hate them because I do actually really love sharks as animals, and there is something to be said for shark movies and humans negative relationships with sharks. In spite of that, a good shark horror movie can be damn scary, and Jaws is the best. It is scary, well shot, has incredibly compelling characters, and is just pretty darn close to perfect.
Over the years this has remained one of my favorite movies. I, like so many other kids, was a huge dinosaur nerd. Jurassic Park gave us something we all thought we wanted, the idea of living dinosaurs, then reminded us why that would be a terrible, terrible idea. I love the practical effects, I love the characters, I love the thrills and chills. I love this movie.
The Fly (1986)
I love/hate this movie because I truly feel for Seth Brundle, which is what makes it so effective. Brundle is on the brink of such an amazing discovery, and one moment of insecurity turns something that should have been wonderful into something awful. Add on top of that you have Cronenberg doing what he does so well, making something truly grotesque that you just can’t turn away from. It’s a creature feature with a large focus on the creature.
As I said in my intro these are just a few of my personal favorites in the creature feature category. They are hardly the best, nor are they the only ones I even like. They are the ones that really stand out in my mind and that I find myself returning to time and time again when I have that creature feature itch that needs to be scratched. What are some of the creature features you, love? Do you disagree with any on the list? Let me know in the comments!