When you think about it; most horror movies at their core about slaying monsters, defeating evil. Of course, movies vanquishing these metaphorical menaces can lead to a thrilling psychological ride, but nothing is more empowering than watching a film with a protagonist going toe-to-toe with very real monsters. There’s something ridiculously satisfying about a third act showdown between our hero and their foe, where we (and usually the character) learn what they are truly made of as they defeat the monster. In honor of Monster Mash month here on NOFS, let me present to you examples of how to beat a monster in a fight. SPOILERS ahead, as most movie monsters aren’t truly defeated until the end of the film. Happy hunting!
10. Anaconda (Bait & Switch!)
Our first opponent comes from a film on the list resides in the “unnaturally large animal” corner of monster movies.If you haven’t seen Anaconda in awhile, I highly recommend revisiting the 90s thriller where a documentary film crew face off against a ridiculously large anaconda snake. And as if one monster wasn’t enough, the crew has a human monster to deal with in the form of an unhinged Jon Voigt, I mean snake hunter Paul Serone. In the finale, Terri (Jennifer Lopez) and Danny (Ice Cube) pull a switcheroo, using Serone as bait for the monster. While the snake constricts and eats Serone; it allows enough distraction for Terri and Danny to injure the snake before eventually lighting it on fire, killing two snakes with one stone.
9. Pumpkinhead (Overcome Your Grief)
A monster movie that doesn’t get enough love is 1988’s Pumpkinhead. This film sets itself apart for using the monster as a representation of someone’s grief growing out of control. A heartbroken father summons a gruesome creature to take revenge on those who were responsible for his son’s death. Ed is warned that revenge comes with a price, which he learns is his own death as he is now bound to the monster. He shoots himself and then pleads with Tracy to finish him off, destroying Pumpkinhead as well. In this case, the only way to defeat the Pumpkinhead with a better outcome is to not let him be created in the first place. Following the message of the movie that grief & revenge are all-consuming, and can prove to be dangerous.
8. The Evil Dead Movies (Destroy the book at all costs, including an arm)
Next monster in season are the deadites from The Evil Dead films. Deadites are the result of reanimation after being possessed by the dark forces of the Naturom Demonto/Necrinomicon Ex-Mortis. These deadites are tough ones to dispose of, having to decapitate them as well as destroy the demonic book itself. The films each end in varying results, from Ash succeeding in the first film to failing in the second film. One interesting similarity between Evil Dead 2 and Evil Dead ‘13 is our protagonists losing an arm: a literal a symbol of sacrifice that motivates Ash and Mia in their respective films to defeat the big bad at the end…except it doesn’t, because they don’t destroy the books. Ash is sent back in time to battle the deadites of old and Mia’s fate is left ambiguous. Metaphorical sacrifice is great and all, but make sure to finish the job and destroy the book the next time you come across a deadite.
7. Slither (Light it on fire…all of it!)
Monsters come from outer space too, as we see from the parasitic alien creature in James Gunn’s cult favorite Slither. Slithery larvae take over a small town with a few survivors left to defend themselves. When police chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) deduces that dispatching the hive-mind will destroy all the infected as well, they make the very logical decision to blow the infected host up. When in doubt, kill it with fire! After losing a grenade, the survivors succeed by shooting a propane tank and killing the alien monstrosity. However, we see in a post-credits scene that the survivors saved the day but failed the contamination as a cat eats some of Grant’s remains. We never got a sequel, but one can assume the film’s events are doomed to repeat. Gotta be thorough, people!
6. Men in Black (Teamwork!)
Men in Black features another monstrosity from space, though the film might be a little less horror. Though alien, this nasty thing is still thoroughly terrifying. Whether inhabiting a Vincent D’Onofrio skin suit or it’s giant alien cockroach, this is one pesky bug to exterminate. Wide-eyed rookie Agent J and grizzled veteran Agent K are at odds most the movie, but when it comes to defeating the alien monster in the end: nothing beats good ol’ fashion teamwork! J keeps the bug busy while K allows himself to get swallowed so he can shoot the creature from the inside with his gun, reducing it to slime. An unorthodox method, but it’s successful in defeating the alien monster and signaling the start of an unlikely friendship following a hilariously entertaining showdown.
5. Ernest Scared Stupid (Unconditional love?)
Not all monster showdowns are violent; they don’t always have to end with foe lit in flames or being exploded. We could all learn a lesson from Ernest P. Worrell, who is tasked with protecting his town in Ernest Scared Stupid after accidentally unleashing trolls upon the neighborhood. He defeats the minion army with milk and attempting to bully the main troll, but Ernest has to defeat the Trantor by peaceful means: with unconditional love! The pair dance and hug and kiss, a powerful moment of cuteness and love resulting in…the troll exploding. Guess I’m a liar!
4. Jaws 2 (Water + Electricity)
Diving back into the water, let’s talk about Jaws. But not the first one, we’ve heard plenty about it. Shift your focus to Jaws 2, which is somewhat underrated in that it’s not great, but gets a bad wrap just because it’s a follow-up to a classic. Chief Martin Brody is back and he has had it with sharks by the end of this movie. Ready to rid his life of killer sharks once and for all, Brody decides to take the shark head on while clutching a power cable (because duh, water). The shark swims full speed towards our hero and without even blinking, Chief Brody thrusts the cable into the shark’s mouth. The shark is electrocuted, burning it’s face all up, and Brody walks off into the distance like a boss. A truly…electric finale (I’ll see myself out).
3. The Meg (Go for the eye!)
What’s worse than a large, great white shark? A gigantic, pre-historic megalodon shark lurking deep within the Marianas Trench of course. In 2018, The Meg gave us what we’ve always secretly wanted: a movie where Jason Statham faces off against a giant shark. Encountering the shark on a rescue mission, Jonas Taylor and his crew must defeat the beast when no one else believes them. Did we get what we really wanted in Jason Statham simply punching and insulting the shark to death? No. But Jonas was smart enough to cut the side of the shark and then fatally injure it by stabbing it through the eye with a harpoon. And the cut let out blood to attract other sharks to eat the megalodon, so kudos to Jonas for the double-tap.
2. Sweetheart (Study your opponent)
Sweetheart is a more recent monster movie offering, touting an absolute badass final girl. Jenn is washed ashore an island after her boar crashes during a storm. Not only suffering to survive the dire situation she’s in, Jenn is stalked by an amphibious monster at night. Jenn battles encounter after encounter during her long isolation, where she learns more about the creature each time. At the end of the film, we are treated to a showdown where Jenn lures the creature into an arena she has rigged with the creature’s weakness’. Jenn not only defeats the creature, but also had a journal prepared in case she died for someone else to use against the creature. The lesson hear, monster hunters: study up!
1. Predator (Even the playing field)
Finishing off the list of ways to best a monster in combat is the gold standard set by Arnold Schwarzaneggar in Predator. We all know the movie, a bunch of beefy guys are outmatched by an alien hunter in the Central American rainforest. With all the guns and testosterone in the world, Dutch & his crew are outmatched by the creature’s hunting & camouflage technology. After realizing the creature is picking the team off one by one for sport; Dutch shows his hunting prowess by setting a trap for the creature, earning his respect for Dutch as a equal opponent. With this, the Predator disposes of his technology to take Dutch on in hand-to-hand combat. The two battle it our head-to-head, with Dutch trapping the predator in a trap. The Predator was a bit of a sore loser, blowing itself up rather letting Dutch kill him, but least he was proud enough to say “game recognize game” in taking Dutch on straight up. Arnie imposing his will on The Predator is the epitome of defeating monsters!
When it comes to beating monsters, you have to be smart and resourceful; really know your opponent if you want to take them on in a fight. But it’s also important to note in a lot of these films, the characters tend to win the fight within themselves in order to defeat the monsters in front of them. But, however sweet a moral victory may be, you can’t help but enjoy a good ol’ monster brawl on screen. Hope you enjoyed this list, get out there and defeat any monster that stand in your way, physically or metaphorically: just make sure to burn everything in most cases!