Between the 1960s and 1980s, programs called “creature features” were popular on local television networks. These syndicated shows sometimes included a host, and they emphasized cult horror and sci-fi films. As for today, the term “creature feature” has become synonymous with movies about monsters, otherworldly beings, and killer animals. Two popular examples of a creature feature are Alien and Jaws.

This segment of genre films is vast and varied; there are a number of entries that get overlooked for a multitude of reasons. That’s not to say these obscurities are even objectively good. Yet they provide something that makes them appealing.

So, if you have a fondness for menacing aliens, mutated fauna, and atmospheric beasts, then you’re in for a treat. Below are ten underrated creature features worthy of your attention. Humans are considered the most dangerous animal to ever exist, but these merciless monsters give us a run for our money.

 

10. THE CAVE (2005)

 

Beneath a 13th-century Romanian abbey, spelunkers find a new ecosystem within an unexplored cave. They also discover a horde of voracious, flying creatures.

When PG-13 horror was trendy in the mid-2000s, we endured plenty of sterilized features that catered to the younger crowd. One of the more digestible ones was The Cave, which had the misfortune of being released after The Descent. Hackneyed dialogue aside, this is a breezy slice of subterranean horror. The sizable budget gives way to an impressive setting, some engaging action sequences, and nifty-looking monsters.

Where to watch: Crackle

 

9. THE BONE SNATCHER (2003)

 

A scientist researching the mysterious disappearance of miners in Namibia gets drawn into a battle with an ancient evil.

The Sci-fi Channel used to air this one regularly back before the Syfy rebranding. For anyone who dared to watch, they likely found it to be better than other straight-to-video horrors coming out at the same time. For one thing, the special effects — a blend of practical and CGI — for the movie’s folkloric namesake is impressive. There’s nothing profoundly scary in The Bone Snatcher, but it’s more entertaining than one would expect.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

8. THE NEST (1988)

 

A New England island town is home to a new breed of mutant cockroaches that are feeding on the locals.

Produced by Roger Corman’s production company Concorde Pictures, this insectoid offering is notable for the last act’s impressive visual effects. After all the intermittent bug action, we get some indelible money shots. The denouement is indeed routine for these kinds of pictures. However, there’s ample nasty body horror and fetching, neon purplish lighting to keep it fresh.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

7. ISOLATION (2005)

 

At a remote Irish farm, an experiment to increase fertilization in cows results in a frightening genetic anomaly like never before.

Bovine rarely if ever gets their time to shine in horror. So, Isolation is a unique film that somehow manages to make these otherwise gentle-seeming beasts threatening. To be fair, the movie smartly takes cues from Alien to make it even more unsettling.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

6. YELLOW FANGS (1990)

 

When a man-eating bear nicknamed Red Spot wreaks havoc in a Japanese mountain village in 1915, a man and woman set out to kill it before more lives are lost.

Apparently based on a true story, Yellow Fangs (originally titled Remains: Beautiful Heroes) is a character-driven killer bear flick. It’s similar to Jaws yet diverges when it comes to the characters. The film becomes a journey of visible self-discovery for Mika Muramatsu’s Yuki, who is trying to prove herself to her love interest (Hiroyuki Sanada) while seeking vengeance for her slain father. There are definitely pacing issues, but Yellow Fangs is a beautifully shot picture with a swelling, inspirational score.

Where to watch: Prime Video, Tubi

 

5. MAN VS. (2015)

 

As he films a pilot for a potential series in the remote Canadian wilderness, a television survivalist suspects that someone — or something — is following him.

Every so often we get these horrors that are clearly inspired by popular reality entertainment. And it’s no coincidence this movie’s basic premise sounds a lot like Bear Grylls’ survival show Man vs. Wild. Luckily for viewers, Man Vs. is a well-made and clever monster movie built upon a familiar formula. The type of creature stalking the main character is surprising, too. The biggest flaw here has to be the abrupt ending that leaves you wanting more.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

4. ALTITUDE (2010)

 

A newly licensed, young pilot flies her boyfriend and their friends to a concert. On the way, they encounter a supernatural presence in the sky.

Altitude premiered to lukewarm reactions, but its inclusion of a giant, Lovecraftian monster earns it some brownie points. While the characters are painfully obnoxious, the core story is fascinating. Basically, there’s a creativity to this one that gets buried underneath some unpleasant characterizations and middling writing.

Where to watch: Tubi

 

3. SHAKMA (1990)

Medical students playing a live-action RPG one night are attacked by a lab baboon that was meant to be euthanized. Now, it’s become incredibly agitated — and there appears to be no way to escape the building.

An average male baboon is already a force to be reckoned with. As for the very honked-off primate in Shakma, he’s been given an experimental drug that was meant to lower aggression. And no one at home is shocked when it has the opposite effect. These poor LARPers are in for a hell of a night. Seek this one if you’re looking for a less run-of-the-mill slasher.

Where to watch: Tubi

 

2. SECTOR 7 (2011)

Off the southern tip of Jeju Island, workers at an offshore oil rig uncover a deep sea creature without realizing it’s actually a vicious predator.

Once the monster appears in full form, this South Korean actioner becomes an exhilarating popcorn flick. Sector 7 borrows from other oceanic, sci-fi horrors like Deep Rising and Leviathan, but the end result is flattering as well as gratifying.

Where to watch: Prime Video, Tubi

 

1. BURNING BRIGHT (2010)

A young woman caring for her autistic brother becomes trapped in her house with a tiger during a hurricane.

The plot sounds inane, but Burning Bright works on all levels. It’s emotional, tense, and most importantly — it’s fun in a downcast sort of way. Was Alexandre Aja inspired by this movie when making Crawl? If so, he has good taste.

Where to watch: Tubi

 

What are your favorite creature features? Share your answers with the Nightmare on Film Street community on Twitter, in our Official Subreddit, or in the Fiend Club Facebook Group!