10 Underrated Creature Features That Deserve More Attention

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Campy creature features are few and rare these days. They were once a supreme convention of cinema magic, lost to the likes of slashers and found-footage horror movies.

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Every now and then, filmmakers try to revive the genre, with some succeeding and others falling into a murky abyss. While Jurassic Park and Jaws may be at the top of your creature-feature classics, there are plenty that subverts expectations without the audience even realizing it.

‘Arachnophobia’ (1990)

The ’90s was a breeding ground for cult horror films, almost like Jeff Daniels’ farmhouse is for these deadly arachnids. After the Jennings family relocates to a rural California town, a dangerous batch of spiders is accidentally unleashed upon the locals.

Arachnophobia is aptly named after a person’s fear of spiders, so if you don’t suffer from that now, you certainly will once the movie’s over. It is highly effective in serving up a spine-tingling experience; though the premise is an unlikely scenario, it delivers an edge-of-your-seat fright-fest that will have you biting your nails to the bone and shouting at the TV. There’s no gore, no jump scares, just enough mind games to leave you in turmoil over whether that dark ball of fluff on the carpet moved an inch towards you.

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‘Nightbreed’ (1990)

Clive Barker is a fantastic storyteller. Perhaps best known for introducing Hellraiser’s Pinhead to the silver screen, the British filmmaker toys with a hybrid of slasher meets monster with 1990 fantasy-horror Nightbreed.

Starring Craig Sheffer, the story follows Boone (Sheffer) as he finds refuge amongst a tribe of monsters when a serial killer wreaks havoc in the town. Let it be known that Nightbreed is the stuff of nightmares. The special effects continue to work wonders in preserving a creepy tone; it’s a bizarre film that does its best to keep you on your toes, highlighting the flaws of humanity. Surprisingly enough, the creatures of Midian are the least of your worries as they work with Boone to bring down a more sinister monster — who’s a human, no less!


‘Dog Soldiers’ (2002)

Werewolf movies are hard to come by. An American Werewolf in London apparently set the bar so high in 1981 that every film of the type that follows is in over its head. Dog Soldiers, however, is the exception.

A platoon embarks on a training mission in the Scottish highlands only to realize that they’ve wandered onto the hunting ground of a pack of werewolves. Dog Soldiers is as funny as it is scary. The dynamic between the lead characters plays into a genuine sense of brotherhood and friendship that is felt off-screen; the men banter about football and mock one another relentlessly, but they have each other’s backs through it all. Nearing 20 years since its release, the film’s use of effects rivals John Landis’ classic film and deserves to be appreciated for going beyond expectations.


‘Deep Blue Sea’ (1999)

Steven Spielberg struck fear into swimmers and beach-goers everywhere with the 1975 shark thriller Jaws, but Deep Blue Sea highlights that one of humankind’s greatest threats can be humanity itself. Searching to cure Alzheimer’s, a team of scientists experiment on sharks, realizing too late that they’ve only heightened the Makos’ intelligence.

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Deep Blue Sea is maybe most memorable for Samuel L. Jackson’s inspiring monologue moments before being dragged to his death. There’s an interesting concept rooted deep within the plot; the scientists are not driven by malicious intent but to prevent a devastating illness. The film signifies the dangers of toying around with nature. It’s relevant even more so now than during its initial release in 1999. A battle of wits ensues between man and shark, testing human morals and questioning who the real villain is.


‘Tremors’ (1990)

It all began back in 1990 with a small Nevada town. Kevin Bacon and Burt Ward channel their inner cowboy in this beloved cult classic about giant worm-like, man-eating graboids who invade the desert and wipe out the population one person at a time.

While the franchise’s quality is up for debate, Tremors is delightfully reminiscent of creature features from the 1950s. It’s not quite a parody or a spoof, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, making it a joy to watch. Bacon and Ward are hilarious together, battling for the affection of Finn Carter’s Rhonda LeBeck and using Rock, Paper, Scissors to make every decision for them, even if it’s life or death. Tremors is always fun to go back to, keeping the tone light yet offering frights when it needs to.


‘Rogue’ (2007)

Australian cinema is a major foundation for contemporary horror. During a boat tour through the Australian outback, Kate (Radha Mitchell) unwittingly leads a band of tourists through a man-eating crocodile’s territory, and it’s not happy with the new company.

Rogue takes an authentic setting with natural scenery and footage and channels it into what is possibly the worst-case scenario. It plays with the notion of morbid curiosity about what could go wrong while roaming an unfamiliar, desolate location. Highly effective in building suspense, Rogue works because it follows the Jaws formula of less is more; we rarely ever see the crocodile, only in the aftermath of an attack. We never know where the creature lurks, and stakes are raised immensely when the survivors’ only refuge is a sinking island.


‘The Faculty’ (1998)

High school has never been more fun as Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Williamson dabble in sci-fi with Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, and Elijah Wood battling it out with their extra-terrestrial teachers.

The Faculty pays homage to iconic monster films. Between references to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing, you’d think this film would be a complete disaster, not to mention a rip-off of these classics. Instead, it establishes the perfect execution in a creatively entertaining setting. The Faculty is clearly marked by Williamson’s touch of magic, serving up nostalgia and originality, and a fitting soundtrack as its finishing touch.

‘Slither’ (2006)

Before juggling DC and Marvel’s finest, though unconventional superheroes, James Gunn makes his directorial debut with black comedy-horror Slither. You’ll need a stomach of steel to get through this adventure in one piece.

Similar to Arachnophobia, this is the definition of creepy-crawly horror. Michael Rooker is grotesquely wicked as the villainous parasite-host; his transformation from man to monster is disturbing; when he goes up against Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks’ town heroes, his methods of attack are sickening to the core. Mixed with elements of comedy, Slither falls into an enjoyable B-movie type that has been forgotten one too many times.

‘The Mist’ (2007)

Frank Darabont’s 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s novella of the same name traps its ensemble cast inside a supermarket while a mysterious mist engulfs the town and creatures emerge from the unknown.

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The Mist is another film that embodies the worst of humanity. Within days, the trapped locals descend into chaos and madness; some evolve into a savage cult led by scene-stealer Marcia Gay Harden; some desperately grasp onto their morals, and others meet a grisly fate worse than death. The Mist is one of those movies that plays on your mind long after it’s over. The final scene is haunting as screams of anguish fill the air; even readers of the novella will be left shaken at the darker direction of the film’s ending.


‘Lake Placid’ (1999)

There’s something exhilarating about sitting back to watch a 30-foot crocodile invoke mayhem against the ragtag group teaming up to end its killing frenzy.

Lake Placid might have received a negative response from critics, but it’s a solid addition to the creature-feature genre. Even if crocs aren’t your thing, it’s worth diving into for the legendary Betty White giving everyone a piece of her mind. Rather than being overly scary, Lake Placid makes for an easy viewing experience because of its lighthearted banter between characters.

KEEP READING: 9 Lesser Known Found Footage Horrors That Work, From ‘Creep’ to ‘Devil’s Pass’


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