Although we usually go to the cinema to see our favourite actors light up the big screen, special mention should definitely be given to the beasts, legends and monsters who make so many of our movies such spectacles and sights. We’ve gathered some of our favourites, so do any of your top mythical creatures make the list?
Ancient Egyptian aliens in Stargate
In 1994, the ground-breaking film Stargate asked one question that has hung on the lips of countless conspiracy theorists. ‘What if aliens really did build the ancient pyramids?’ The Stargate itself is a machine that opens a portal to a distant planet, where it turns out the myths of Egyptian lore, from Anubis to Ra to the pyramids themselves, were all put on Earth by powerful beings from beyond the stars.
James Bond turns massive reptile in Dragonheart
We’ve all heard the ancient tales of the heroic knight who slays the dragon, but it wasn’t until Dragonheart hit the cinemas with its ground-breaking CGI that we got treated to the idea of the beast and the hero working together. Sean Connery’s turn as the suave yet mighty Draco still stands today as a defining example of bringing a legend to life.
The giant spiders of Harry Potter
Being a student at Hogwarts is never easy, but J K Rowling’s novels, and their subsequent films, showed her flair for making the fantastic believable. Goblins, house elves, giants and merpeople were among the mystic beings brought to life on the big screen, but that chilling encounter with the Acromantula in the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was enough to awaken the arachnophobia in all of us.
Werewolves and vampires in Van Helsing
Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale joined forces to take down the sinister Dracula and his brides in Van Helsing. Throwing steampunk gadgets and daring action sequences against classic horror villain stereotypes made for a pretty thrilling ride, but it’s those battles of vampires versus werewolves that really bring the beasts to life.
Cute pets go into a frenzy in Gremlins
During the Second World War, it was common to joke that mechanical faults were down to little ‘Gremlins’ tinkering with machinery and making mischief. Spielberg took the idea one step further in Gremlins, a film about cute little fuzzy critters who turn into hilariously mean monsters if they get wet or eat after midnight.
Elves, dwarves and reluctant heroes in The Hobbit
Nobody could dispute J. R. R. Tolkien as the father of the fantasy genre, and in the film adaptations of The Hobbit as well the The Lord of the Rings, he defines how their civilisations function. For the first time, these fairytale creatures felt real and whole, changing fantasy forever.
The beastly Grendel rises in Beowulf
Old English literature was given a new lease of life in 2007’s Beowulf, and the hero’s greatest enemy, the hideous and cunning Grendel, saw a battle of wits play out that was captivating to watch. The brilliance of the CGI brought the hideous creature to life in ways that the original epic could only imagine.
Restless spirits seize New York in the Ghostbusters movies
From the 1980s classic to the 2016 reimagining, Ghostbusters remains an iconic franchise. Both interpretations of the story see plucky scientists strapping on proton packs to save the day, but it’s the ghosts that steal the show every time. Think everything from slimy gluttons and librarian wraiths to that unforgettable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Tom Hanks meets a mermaid in Splash
Sailors have long spoken of mermaids that frolic in the sea, but this movie took the idea and brought it into the modern age – or at least the 1980s. Daryl Hannah turned the mermaid myth into reality with her adorable and confused character, who stumbled out of the sea and into Tom Hanks’ arms in this fantastical rom-com.
Wicked witchcraft in Stardust
Few writers can turn myths on their head like Neil Gaiman, whose wry take on the classic love story in his book Stardust hit the big screen with gusto. Pirates, knights and legends converged for our entertainment, but Michelle Pfeiffer’s turn as a beautiful yet thoroughly duplicitous witch who sustains her looks by stealing the life of others made for a fantastic villain.
This is a collaborative post.