A monster’s origin is often what sets it apart from its beastly brethren. Some monsters come from other worlds, others from the depths of hell, but others still are created by us- by people. Sometimes, these monsters embrace their monstrosity, but often times, their mere existence is torture. That’s the case for monsters in this list. Man-made monsters who certainly didn’t choose their monstrous existence, but must live with it just the same.
So put down your pitchforks and torches for the moment as we recount The Top 10 Man-Made Monsters!
10. Frankenstein (1994)
We couldn’t really have this list without including this one could we? In this retelling of Mary Shelly’s classic by director Kenneth Branagh, the infamous monster is played by Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver). But unlike the Universal Monster we are all familiar with, De Niro’s portrayal more closely resembles the Monster from Shelly’s original work. He is pained and strangely eloquent as he struggles to reconcile his rage and his sense of wanting to belong. It’s a story we can all relate with, only with a bit more murder!
9. Tusk (2014)
The first installment in Kevin Smith’s “True North Trilogy,” Tusk really takes a strange look at the derangement of one man, Howard Howe played by Michael Parks (Red State), and his obsession with reclaiming something he’s lost. This comes at the expense of podcaster Wallace Bryton, played by Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers), as the cynical podcast host becomes the subject of Howe’s sick experiments. The film is difficult to watch at times but incorporates comedic moments throughout to keep it light including a cameo from Johnny Depp as a quirky detective. It’s interesting to see what originated as a joke from Smith’s own podcast became a strangely silly dark story about how inhumane humanity really is.
8. Splice (2009)
Gene-splicing has been the subject of many a sci-fi monster movie, but Vincenzo Natali’s Splice takes it to another level. The film stars Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley as a husband and wife team of genetic scientists endeavoring to create animal hybrids for medical use. After the company they work for reassigns the couple to less exciting work, they continue their gene-splicing work in secret, this time using human DNA. Their creation, however, turns out to be more intelligent than they bargained for. Splice never fails to leave you feeling uncomfortable with not one, but two interspecies er.. love scenes. It’s definitely an interesting take on the genetic experiment gone awry.
7. Bride of Re-Animator (1989)
Brian Yuzna’s follow up to Re-Animator (1985) picks up a few months after the events of the first film with Doctors Herbert West and Dan Cain serving as medics during a civil conflict in Peru. Still experimenting with his reanimating serum West and Cain are eventually sent back to Arkham and Miskatonic University where their previous mishaps are waiting to come back to bite them. The film explores the consequences of West’s actions from the first film and exactly how unhappy his subjects are to have been brought back to life. This is a faithful adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s original story in which the theme is the consequences of playing with life and death.
6. RoboCop (1987)
In the cyber-punk world of RoboCop, the Old Detroit Police Department is losing officers daily to the merciless gangs that inhabit the city. Omni Consumer Products, the company contracted by the city to run the metropolitan police, has a solution; all they need is a test subject. Fortunately for them, but unfortunately for Officer Alex Murphy, played by Peter Weller (Buckaroo Banzai), his first day in the Old Detroit precinct results in his violent death at the hands of a ruthless gang. He awakes several months later with little to no recollection of his past life. Slowly though, he remembers his family and begins to unravel a plot tying the gangs to the very corporations that created him. Director Paul Verhoeven and writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner craft a masterpiece of storytelling with an equally masterful ending even if it is bittersweet.
5. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
What is there to say about Rocky Horror Picture Show that hasn’t already been said? With genre favorite Tim Curry playing the mysterious and mad Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Susan Sarandon as the innocent but easily corrupted Janet Weiss, this film offers a fun, if not a bit kinky, ride full of insanity and even more insane dance numbers. But the reason this film lands on this list, is the mad “Doctor’s” most recent creation, a god-like man by the name of Rocky played by Peter Hinwood whose sole purpose is, you guessed it, pleasure! It’s pretty clear, though, that Rocky is not entirely happy about his role, especially as he becomes involved with Janet. Rocky Horror Picture Show is a great watch year round, but throw this one on at a Halloween party and get ready to Time Warp!
4. Edward Scissor Hands (1990)
Tim Burton’s somber take on the man-made monster stars Johnny Depp (Sleepy Hollow) as the titular creature and Winona Ryder (Stranger Things) as Kim a young girl who is initially afraid of Edward. As explained in the opening sequence, Edward is created by a lonely tinkerer (played by Vincent Price!) who suddenly dies before completing Edward, leaving him alone in their hilltop mansion and without hands. Edward is eventually discovered by Kim’s mother who brings takes him in despite his horrifying scissor hands. Throughout the film Edward discovers his creativity while also being subject to ridicule and prejudice. Eventually, the townspeople’s presuppositions about the gentle Edward lead him to retreat to his former home. The film is an example of how the true monsters hide amongst society and those we see as different are often the most gentle souls.
3. Us (2019)
Jordan Peele’s second film and follow up to 2017’s Get Out, Us opens on a family at a carnival with their young daughter separating from her parents while unsupervised. After a traumatizing encounter within an abandoned funhouse, the film jumps forward to this girl as an adult played by Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther). She, now with her own family, returns to the town where she experienced her trauma for a vacation. Unfortunately, this trip coincides with mysterious strangers attacking people in the streets. The catch? All of these strangers are doppelgängers of the people they are attacking. Where they came from and what they want remains a mystery for much of the film, but Peele does an extraordinary job of teasing what’s to come by the use of strategically placed clues such as the C.H.U.D. VHS on a shelf or the Hands Across America ad. Coupled with incredible performances by Nyong’o, Winston Duke (Black Panther), Shahadi Wright Joseph (The Lion King), and Evan Alex (Kidding), as the Wilson family, Us challenges the audience to look at themselves and consider the throw-away nature of our society.
2. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)
If there’s one monster on this list that truly abhors it’s own existence and wants revenge on its creator, it’s this one. Tom Six’s twisted tale about a deranged doctor played by Dieter Laser (November) who endeavors to create a Siamese triplet by connecting three subjects via their digestive system. Of course these subjects are less than willing and are actually abductees of the mad doctor. Toted as “100% medically accurate,” the film definitely gives the impression of realism with its gore such as an IV torn violently from someones arm when not properly removed. This is one like Tusk that makes you uncomfortable purposefully. The dialogue at times is humorous and the Laser’s deadpan delivery even when exclaiming victory adds to the tension.
1. The Fly (1986)
David Cronenberg’s modern retelling of the classic 50s flick stars Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) as Seth Brundle, an eccentric scientist who has invented teleportation pods. When he becomes involved with a journalist played by Geena Davis (Beetlejuice), his ego causes him to perform a careless test with the pods. All seems right until Brundle begins to experience some changes. This film truly explores what it is to become a monster and the psychological toll of the transition. One line from the film that really stands out is, “I’m saying I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over and the insect is awake.” Goldblum perfectly plays the transformation and one can truly feel his pain. Paired with Cronenberg’s signature “dead flesh” body horror, this really is top tier monster material!
Honorable Mention: Man-Made Monster (1941)
It would be wrong to title this list as it is without at least mentioning this film. A classic B creature feature from Universal, Man-Made Monster follows a man who gains electric abilities following an accident. When a scientist becomes aware of these abilities, he experiments on the unfortunate man and transforms him into an electrically controlled monster. This film definitely follows the formula of man-made monster but it is a bit dated.
What’s your favorite man-made monster move? Are there any that you think we missed? Let us know on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter pages. And for all your horror movie news, reviews, and interviews, keep lurking at Nightmare on Film Street.