The 10 Most Creative Movie Monster Costumes Of The Last Decade

By  · Published on June 6th, 2013

by David Christopher Bell

CGI is okay, but there’s really nothing quite like sticking some poor actor in a costume and making them walk around. It’s the foundation of monster films, and something we get to see less and less of these days.

Ironically enough, as costumed monsters get sparser with modern techniques, they also became way cooler thanks to those very same advances. Check out some of the most unique ones since 2000 – costumes that remind us why we love monster movies.


10. The Merman in The Cabin In The Woods

The bloodier this movie gets the more blissful it becomes. In terms of horror monsters it’s a god damn festival that ranges from terrible CGI snakes to wonderful practical makeup creatures to god damned unicorns. What makes it work is the fact that, with all the cliques they are mocking, it totally makes sense that there would be varying effects even though that wasn’t their intent.

The merman monster is exactly what it sounds like – a wiggling punch line to a joke you had no idea existed that blows blood out of its top hole. What more do you want?


9. Mr. Hyde in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

No one is calling this movie good – but one thing it did have was awesome effects, at least for the time in which it was made. The reason why was that they went with a range of technique including CGI but also model and makeup. The best had to be the Mr. Hyde costume worn by Jason Flemyng.

Watching the film, you probably didn’t even notice it was a costume – but since we’re talking about the days where an actor was yet to climb in a polka dot gimp suit and emote in front of a camera helmet, they opted to get the real thing.


8. The Pteranodon in Jurassic Park III


Even in the third film, Stan Winston knew how to upstage computer effects. In this case it was a full-sized pteranodon that was used for a fraction of a second in Jurassic Park III. Even the screen tests looked cool – because it was a freaking dinosaur walking around.

And while that’s awesome on it’s own – the third film also included a little something called raptor pants. They are exactly what they sound like: animatronic raptor feet that a puppeteer could wear like the best pair of slacks in the world.


7. Werewolves in Dog Soldiers

As a very specific monster there’s still a lot of freedom in how you handle a werewolf. You can either furry up a dude or go all the way to using a dog to play the part – in between that there’s usually a CGI equivalent in the middle, that fast, American Werewolf In Paris look.

Dog Soldiers stood out for people because it didn’t give us any of those – it gave us a wonderful mix of guy in a costume and a giant, impossible beast. A combination of classic and new done by horribly uncomfortable outfits that utilized servo-controlled heads and feet-gripping stilts. Like every good monster costume, the person inside it was going through more agony than the characters subjected to it.


6. The Infected Monster in Slither


This movie was so big into the creature effects that it actually depleted the national supply of skin-making silicone. Watching how they did everything from the big monsters to the little slugs, you’ll see the intense passion they had for doing as much as they could on camera as possible. The result is a shit load of slimy-ass fun.

This film seemed to come at just the perfect lull where all three actors were willing to do a wonderful film about space slugs before gaining wider recognition for other roles (or in Nathan Fillion’s case, coming off of a big role). One can’t imagine that Michael Rooker would be willing to don so much makeup again, but then again, I never thought he’d be in a movie with a genetically engineered raccoon in it either.

5. The Meat Monster in John Dies At The End

As a piece of costume technology there’s really not much to this delicious ogre, a walking pile of assorted meat come to life. But if you just read that sentence you know exactly why it’s on this list. After all – when has there ever been a monster made entirely out of assorted meat? That’s the kind of wonderful nightmare only a dog would dream about.

If you’re looking for comedy, gore, and boobs – it’s really this film and The Cabin In The Woods – two recent horror comedies that stand out in their ability to take advantage of just how limitless the genre really is.

4. The Angel Of Death in Hellboy 2


Guillermo del Toro is not unlike a second Tim Burton in that his vision is very specific and uniquely gothic in a way that applies to multiple genres. He can apply the same monstrous forms to a vicious horror film that he can also apply to a family friendly PG flick if he so desires. And maybe it’s because – unlike Burton – his vision hasn’t outstayed its welcome quite yet, but he appears to have a very firm artistic grasp of the movie monster.

Angel Of Death, designed by del Toro, sculptor Norman Cabrera, and a team at Spectral Motion Inc. supervised by Mike Elizalde – played by costume actor Doug Jones – shows off the beauty side of his work. Not going for gore so much as demonic presence – we get a costume that’s both visually amazing as well as stunning as a practical effect.

3. All Of The Creatures in Silent Hill


As explained in the behind the scenes videos for this film – the aim wasn’t for gore or even realism. Director Christophe Gans wanted the creatures to have a ‘plastic’, ‘artificial’ look to them that added to their disturbing nature.

With the added choreography of Roberto Campanella – who also acted as Red Pyramid and the twisted up janitor – there is just a great level of uniqueness to the monsters of this film that you rarely get to see done with costumes. Hands down, the armless man – played by Michael Cota – has to be one of the coolest costume monsters ever. That said, a simple push is probably enough to defeat it.

2. The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth


There’s a real elegance in how fucking scary a dude with eyes on his hands is. Then you give it that ticking clock presence of a slumbering beast and it’s just total terror fuel – a villain worthy of a fairy tale. It only makes sense that it was partially inspired by biblical imagery – the eyes on the platter taken from a statue of St. Lucy.

It’s a combination of the beauty of the Hellboy Angel Of Death with the grotesque of the Silent Hill costumes – that and the body performance of Doug Jones – which makes this such an unforgettable costume, albeit one augmented in post-production.


1. Everything They Cut From 2011’s The Thing

No one really wanted a prequel to The Thing, but what did soften the blow was the promised presence of practical effect technology taking the helm when it came to the creature effects. It was as if Hollywood finally understood some of the stress over CGIs ability to take away the visceral appeal of horror movies.

And for a while there, everything looked great. Creature effects artists Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, along with their team at Amalgamated Dynamics, had created some of the coolest shit you’d ever see in a movie. And since it was so darn cool, the studio went ahead and replaced it all with CGI for the final cut, because dicks.

And it just so happens that those very same creature effects artists are currently running a Kickstarter to create their own monster movie done entirely with practical effects. It’s called Harbinger Down, and if funded by Friday will star motherfucking Lance Henriksen and probably be the best thing in the world. My suggestion is to give them your life savings today, lest you be eaten by monsters tomorrow.

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