Welcome to a new breed of horror creatures. I, Frankenstein presents a different twist on an old story, one in which Victor Frankenstein's creation Adam (Aaron Eckhart) is immortal -- and caught in a battle between gargoyles and demons in the present day. It's a fresh approach to movie monsters, reflective of the 21st-century trend toward inventive creature-driven mayhem.
By Peter Martin
War of the Worlds (2005)
Steven Spielberg's version of H.G. Wells' story about a Martian invasion, arriving in theaters less than four years after the horrific events of 9/11, made chilling use of eerie imagery. These alien invaders planted giant tripods under the ground eons ago, and arrive through lightning strikes to control the machines and destroy mankind. These are intelligent beings who are evil beyond our comprehension.
The Descent (2005)
From outer space to underground, monsters lie in wait to strike back against humans. Neil Marshall's subterranean horror film follows a group of six women who go spelunking one day when disaster strikes and they are trapped without hope of rescue. Then things get really desperate when they cross paths with fast-crawling, humanoid creatures.
Writer-director James Gunn updated classic 'creepy crawler' flicks by investing his alien parasites with the ability to control and transform their human hosts, and with their strange plan for world domination. The slugs are, well, icky, especially when they're marching across the ground in an army of hundreds, but what they do to humans is even more unsightly.
Silent Hill (2006)
Adapted by writer Roger Avary and director Christophe Gans from the video game series, the movie is a cauldron of dread, filled with unspeakably menacing beasts, most notably the fearsome Pyramid Head. The creatures compete with a local cult, however, for the title of "most nefarious."
The Host (2006)
Emerging from the Han River in Seoul, Korea, this creature is equally at home in the water and on land. In fact, it is first seen by the general public hanging from a bridge -- before it comes ashore and starts killing people. The beast is a callback to the monster movies of the 1950s, but it's the Korean people who suffer the consequences this time.
The Mist (2007)
The mysterious mist that envelops a small town also wraps everyone in a blanket of panic. Trapped in a supermarket, the townspeople discover that the mist hides a swarm of giant insects. And large spidery creatures have invaded the pharmacy next door. And different types of beasts lurk nearby. It seems there is nowhere to hide, and nowhere to run.
The Ruins (2008)
A sun-baked vacation in Mexico and a fateful trip to Mayan ruins form the basis for this unusual horror movie, in which two American couples come to regret their decision to help a German tourist find his missing brother. They learn, to their sorrow, that the most insidious creatures are sometimes the ones that appear entirely harmless… like vines.
Basically a found-footage twist on Godzilla, this thriller upped the ante by keeping the giant creature that attacks Manhattan hidden behind skyscrapers, until it's too late to do anything about it. The imagination fills in the details, as notable landmarks -- the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge -- are destroyed, and small but vicious monster parasites create their own reign of terror.
They have the best of intentions, but genetic engineers Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody go a bit too far in their decision to blend human and animal DNA. Eventually named Dren, the creature displays disconcertingly human characteristics, which tend to overshadow the fact that she is still, at heart, a wild and dangerous animal.
Troll Hunter (2010)
Taking the exact opposite approach to Cloverfield, there is no hiding the trolls in this rollicking Norwegian found-footage picture. All kinds of trolls exist in this world: bridge trolls, three-headed trolls who crash through trees, trolls that run in packs, giant trolls that roam the countryside. It is possible to neutralize the troll threat, but very few survive to tell the tale.
Attack the Block (2011)
The gang who become the unexpected defenders of mankind are a tough, unsentimental lot of surly young kids, and initially they react purely out of a sense of self-preservation. But they must employ both their wits and their youthful energy to repel the alien invaders, who are bizarre, furry things with fangs and claws and rapaciously murderous instincts.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)
Sometimes the most frightening creatures are the smallest. When a young girl moves into a huge old house with her father and his girlfriend, her natural curiosity leads her into danger. The tiny creatures who live in an ash pit inside a fireplace may look like really cute little dolls, but they quickly show their true nature. These 'tooth fairies' want more than teeth.
Super 8 (2011)
The alien that is at the center of J.J. Abrams' film remains in hiding for a good deal of the running time, but its presence is made known by its effect on others, rippling outward in growing intensity. The appearance of the alien is also unusual and not what we might have expected, in that middle ground between a nightmare and a waking dream.
The Thing (2011)
Boldly taking on the memory of John Carpenter's classic 1982 version, the new thing is positioned as a prequel, with a tough-minded paleontologist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in the lead role. The titular monster may not have the gooey authenticity of Carpenter's nightmare, but, on its own merits, it delivers its share of thrills.
Set on the coast of Ireland, the boisterous horror-comedy quickly establishes that high-alcohol content is the only thing that will repel bloodsucking monsters from the sea, pitting the inhabitants of a tiny fishing village against multi-tentacled creatures. While it's true that alcoholism is no laughing matter, the movie earns far more laughs from the characters themselves rather than their drunken behavior.