Robot Monster

Weekend Roundtable: Lamest Movie Monsters

We’ve done Roundtables in the past about Favorite Monster Movies and Favorite Giant Monsters. Unfortunately, not every monster flick that Hollywood cranks out is a winner. This week, we give dishonorable mentions to some movie monsters that are just flat-out lame.

Shannon Nutt

It would be so easy to go back to the lame sci-fi B-movies of the 1950s and ’60s and pick one of those poorly designed monsters (like the monster from ‘Robot Monster’, which was essentially a guy in a gorilla outfit with a deep sea diving helmet on his head). Instead, I decided to go modern and pick one from a movie I actually like quite a bit: JJ Abrams’ ‘Super 8‘. After teasing us through much of the film about an alien presence that has escaped a train derailment and wreaks havoc on a small town, the big reveal gives viewers little more than an updated version of the ‘Cloverfield’ monster (a movie Abrams produced) who isn’t really evil, just misunderstood and wants to get back home. Give me a break.

Luke Hickman

I know it’s a cult classic and that I’m likely to rub some the wrong way with this one, but my pick is ‘Attack the Block‘. I love the concept and the story of the film – inner city kids versus an alien invasion – but the lame design of the alien monsters has kept me from ever giving the movie a second viewing. I commend the filmmakers for opting for a minimalist creature design over something of terrible CG quality. However, the black nothingness creatures are a joke to me. Deep black silhouettes with hideous glowing CG teeth is a major turn-off. It’s as if they got into post-production and realized that they hadn’t thought of a creature design yet. For this one, I’d be in favor of someone pulling a George Lucas down the road and giving the movie the monsters it deserves.

Brian Hoss

I can’t think of lame movie monsters without thinking of Danny Boyle’s ‘Sunshine‘. On what is clearly a last-ditch mission fraught with practical issues and susceptible to combustible individual crew morale, Captain Magic Zombie Pinbacker appears to basically steal the joy out of an otherwise impressive feature.

M. Enois Duarte

Just as I about to write about ‘Troll 2’ featuring some of the dumbest monsters ever, I suddenly remembered the alien in ‘Signs‘ has those little forest creatures beat by light years. After the success of ‘The Sixth Sense’ and the surprise follow-up of ‘Unbreakable’, M. Night Shyamalan made a sudden left turn straight into traffic with a promising sci-fi thriller starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. For the first three-quarters of the movie, Shyamalan maintains a great level of suspense, and the build-up towards the climax felt as though we were in for an unforgettable showdown. Instead, the battle for the planet was a massive disappointment. The aliens, in their infinite wisdom, decided to invade a world covered in water without first knowing they were deadly allergic to water. And all that was needed to save the planet was a baseball bat and a living room with glasses of water everywhere. That is not only really dumb, but they’re by far the lamest monsters ever!

It Conquered the World

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

The story goes that when Beverly Garland first saw the Venetian invader in her latest fright flick, she quipped, “That conquered the world?” and promptly kicked it over. I can’t say I blame her. There is no other straight-ahead sci-fi/horror flick whose monster so consistently makes me burst into laughter as ‘It Conquered the World’.

Believe it or not, director Roger Corman did sincerely invest some thought and consideration into Zontar’s design. Corman figured that the creature hails from a large planet, so he’d accordingly be short and squat to best compensate for that heavier gravitational pull. Zontar wound up looking like a gigantic piece of candy corn, and he’s about as animated as one too. The only parts of his body that really move are his cartoonishly long arms. Zontar’s tiny, tendril-like legs barely wiggle, his eyes are locked forward, and his expression is frozen into place.

At the same time, I kind of love the little guy, and Zontar’s design is certainly unforgettable.

Josh Zyber

When I sent out the topic this week, ‘Super 8’ was the first thing I thought of. Shannon is so right about what a letdown the ending of that movie turned out to be. After that, I immediately thought of ‘Signs’, but E. was already on that same page as well.

It’d be too easy to pick on some no-budget B-movies from the 1950s, or even the 1980s, here. To my mind, the truly worst movie monsters appear in big-budget studio films, which pour tons of resources into all aspects of their production and have no excuse for getting something so basic wrong. The first half of ‘I Am Legend‘ – in which Will Smith tools around through an abandoned New York City as the last human survivor after an apocalyptic virus has devastated the planet – is actually pretty great. Then the hordes of CGI zombies that leap around all over the place in flagrant defiance of physics appear, and I totally check out.

Help us out here. Tell us about the other movie monsters that failed to scare you.


  1. It’s probably unfair to pick on amateur shoestring film efforts, but in THE CREEPING TERROR (1964) the alien spacecraft is part of a Winnebago and the creature some guys under a bit of carpet.

  2. Elizabeth

    I don’t understand all the dislike for Super 8. The movie was completely an homage to 70’s/80’s Spielberg alien movies. If you at any point during the movie thought the alien was going to turn out to be an “evil monster”, you should seriously consider surrendering all the film critic creds you thought you had.

    • Josh Zyber

      Well, let’s see, the monster spends 9/10ths of the movie rampaging through town, destroying everything, stomping on anyone in its vicinity, and eating innocent bystanders. Then in the last ten minutes, the movie tells us that it’s really a cuddly sweetheart and only wants to go home. Uh huh.

      I seem to remember Spielberg making a movie in the 1970s about an evil shark that didn’t turn out to be misunderstood in the end.

      Also, the aliens in Close Encounters are fucking evil monsters that kidnap people and hold them for decades, and rip a little boy right out of his mother’s arms. When Richard Dreyfuss gets on the spaceship at the end, he doesn’t realize he’s about to spend the next 30 years being anal probed.

      • Elizabeth

        “Fucking evil monsters.” You’ve got to be kidding. Is that seriously your takeaway from Close Encounters or are you just indulging in some revisionist plot interpretation to support your current misinterpretation of the Super 8 monster? I’m guessing the latter. You have absolutely no idea what the Close Encounters aliens motives are because it was never the point of the movie.

        And I’m not sure what Jaws has to do with anything I said about Spielberg alien movies. Pretty sure Jaws was crystal clear what it was. Much like Super 8 was clear on what it was.

        • Sorry, Elizabeth – I actually like Super 8 quite a bit, but Josh is right about the monster – he’s killing people left and right throughout the movie and then the story asks us to feel sorry for it? Sorry, but that dog don’t hunt.

          • William Henley

            Yeah, I am also with Josh on this one. I LOVED all of these movies, but the “monster” in all of them was hokey. At least with Super 8, you are kind of expecting it – it is supposed to be ripping off 70s and 80s Spielberg-style movies – you have to expect a warm fuzzy ending. Just like Gremlins are not really bad monsters, but just don’t like getting wet and get tummy aches if you feed them before bedtime.

            You can have a great movie and still have a cheesey villian or monster. Or the “it’s just misunderstood” line.

            Shoot, you could say that the monster in Alien was just looking for a place to hatch her young, and is a misunderstood monster. That would be an accurate description of the movie. Or that the Terminators are just self-aware and looking to survive, and are fighting against the evil mankind that is trying to unplug it. These do not diminish the movies in any way, and are accurate descriptions of the movies.

          • EM

            I love Super 8 but do find the monster’s dénouement a tad disappointing. That said, my take is a little different from Josh’s. While I think it’s clear that the creature does have legitimate serious grievances, I would agree that such grievances do not excuse all its actions. I don’t think that we learn it’s a cuddly sweetheart; I think we learn that it does have relatable motivations amid its monstrous acts. Joe shows empathy (the regular kind, not the superpower kind the alien possesses) and in effect negotiates a peaceful solution. This is no different from bargaining techniques in the real world. You don’t have to agree with an enemy on all points in order to find common ground and work out a mutually acceptable solution. You can still believe the alien did wrong; it was neither all bad nor all good.

      • DarthTrumpus

        I don’t know. Did the creature in Super 8 really kill that many (or any) innocent town folk? Plus remember it was captured and tortured by the military. Is the creature any less justified in what it is doing than say John Rambo in First Blood? Do we see Rambo as the victim and protagonist of that story (despite killing tons of deputies just doing their jobs) because he’s easier on the eyes than the Super 8 creature?

        • EM

          I guess it depends on your notion of innocence…but yeah, the creature went around killing the townsfolk (or stashing them for snacking later).

          As for “easier on the eyes”…is that like deciding which of two oceans is more microscopic?

          • Josh Zyber

            Also, I will note that the monster didn’t just kill the “bad” people who’d harmed it. It munched on totally innocent townspeople, including children. The last act of the film’s plot is instigated when the monster kidnaps and cocoons Elle Fanning, and sets her aside for a later meal.

            The monster is very much the villain of the story, until suddenly it’s not anymore and we’re supposed to believe that it was innocent all along.

          • EM

            I don‘t think the film asks us to believe the creature was innocent. I think it asks us to believe it was wronged (before it started to wrong Earthlings back…albeit perhaps amid some poetically just retributions).

    • photogdave

      Super 8 was just a lame movie all around. If there is one thing Spielberg is bad at, it’s trying to relive his past successes.

  3. Bill

    Has to be Mothra. That giant moth was totally unconvincing as a danger to anyone. One of the (unintentionally) funniest of the 1950’s Japanese monster genre.

  4. Csm101

    The supposedly “evolved” graboids from Tremors 2. They look like the mousers from th Ninja Turtles cartoons.

  5. Guy

    Batman v Superman with its shoehorned in version of Doomsday comes to mind immediately. Aside from my distaste for throwing an abbreviated version of The Death of Superman into the end of that movie, the design of Doomsday was rather poor. It looked like Abomination from The Incredible Hulk had a child with one of the Ninja Turtles from the 2014 movie.

    • Brian Hoss

      Too true. After watching Wonder Woman, it struck me that she apparently retired from fighting for nearly a 100 years only to wind up fighting the retread from The Incredible Hulk.

  6. EM

    Lamest in a good way: The alien in Dark Star, the John Carpenter student film which transformed into his first professional feature. This monster in this sci-fi comedy is merely a beach ball with strange feet—though surprisingly dangerous, as though warming up for co-writer/star Dan O’Bannon’s Alien.

    Lamest in a lame way: The Lake Marsh monster in Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster. This atomic-powered giant octopus magically changes from stock nature footage into a lifeless collection of totally limp tentacles which somehow prove deadly whenever a victim rolls in them and grabs them and cries out a lot and makes jerky motions instead of, you know, getting up and walking away. (But it did make for a funny scene in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood.)

  7. Thulsadoom

    Can I go for the Na’vi from Avatar? I mean, they were pretty monstrous… “We can do anything since they’re 100% CG! Hoorah! Let’s do… blue.. um… cat people! That could just as easily be humans in makeup!” 😉

    Also, awesome because of its intentional cheesiness, I may have to nominate MANT! from Matinee. A wisecracking, bottom-pinching horror…. Half Man, Half Ant, All Terror! (Based on scientific fact, published in national magazines)

  8. kurtutt


    from green lantern : I really think someone was out to end Ryan Reynolds career, not pretending that the rest of the movie was a masterpiece.

  9. Aaron

    The giant teenagers in “Village of the Giants”!?? They seemed rather slow and didn’t destroy anything despite their size.

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