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Serial killers and the undead might get the most screen time in the world of horror, but the roots of the genre will always be monsters. Sometimes taking the form of mythical creatures, occasionally being summoned from the depths of hell, monsters only have one thing in common: glorious special effects. Want to explore the world of monsters for yourself? Netflix is the perfect place to start. Whether you want to scream or laugh, here are the best monster movies on Netflix.
The best monster movies on Netflix
1) Gremlins (1984)
Joe Dante’s classic comedy horror is a fable about why you should always follow instructions that come with a new pet—in this case: Never expose it to sunlight, don’t let it get wet, and whatever you do, never feed it after midnight. Once the rules get broken Billy’s cuddly new friend spawns an army of razor-clawed monsters, hell-bent on destroying the town. Full of laughs and surprisingly graphic violence, Gremlins helped inspire the PG-13 rating and is a holiday treat for people who want to scream at Christmas.
2) Silent Hill (2006)
Based on the hit video game series, Silent Hill is one of the rare adaptations of a game that nails the tone and charm of its inspiration. Sharon is an orphan who was lucky enough to be adopted by loving parents but who’s plagued by nightmares of a strange town. Her mother Rose eventually takes her to Silent Hill, the town of her dreams. As she explores it, she encounters creatures beyond her wildest nightmares and truth about her daughter that may tear her soul apart. Silent Hill is a surreal psychedelic tale of undying evil full of monsters you won’t forget.
3) Piranha (2010)
Piranha is an aquatic bloodbath of epic proportions that pushes every limit of good taste it comes across. Originally shot in 3D, this remake of Joe Dante’s ’70s cult classic ramps up the gore, action, and nudity to absurd levels in the name of fun. This 2010 version was shot by Alexandre Aja of High Tension fame, so the gore shouldn’t be surprising. What might catch you off guard is how gloriously funny the film is, with Adam Scott and Christopher Lloyd turning in particularly memorable performances. Just be aware: This one aims below the belt.
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4) Late Phases (2014)
Spanish director Adrián García Bogliano’s first English language feature is a low-budget werewolf story that packs plenty of bite. After his dog and a neighbor are killed in a werewolf attack, blind Vietnam veteran Ambrose McKinley sets about uncovering who in his neighborhood is hiding a lycanthropic secret before the next full moon. Every dollar of Late Phases’ tiny budget went to its imaginative, if sometimes lacking, special effects, but solid direction and performances build a sense of earned dread. If you like this check out Bogliano’s other work, especially Here Comes the Devil.
5) The Void (2016)
In the ’80s, John Carpenter set the standard for explosive, otherworldly body horror in The Thing and Prince of Darkness. The Void is a modern tribute to those goopy classics, a bizarre occult siege tale that takes place in a hospital inhabited by cultists and creatures. Full of Lovecraftian monsters and dark pacts with powers beyond this world, The Void tells its own story while joyfully playing on foundations laid before its time.
6) Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
Not all monsters are jerks. Some of them even want to be your friend, like Harry in this cryptozoological family favorite. Bigfoot was just a legend—until the Henderson’s hit him with their car on the way home from a camping trip. Believing the creature dead, they strap his body to their car, only to discover the creature is still alive. Naming him Harry, the Sasquatch quickly becomes a member of the family. However, when a Bigfoot expert learns about the Hendersons’ new friend, the situation becomes complicated, with hysterical results. Rick Baker’s creature designs for Harry are terrific, and the cast lead by John Lithgow gives unexpected depth to this feel-good classic.
7) Blood Glacier (2013)
Fire up some popcorn and get ready for a B-movie treat. Blood Glacier has a familiar premise—something in nature is causing creatures to mutate into unimaginable monsters—but its commitment to practical effects and solid monster design elevates it above the pack. A group of scientists discovers a strange blood-like substance is starting to leak from a glacier melted by global warming. When wildlife comes in contact with the goo, it causes them to transform in monstrous ways, putting the scientist’s lives and the fate of the world at risk. This Austrian film festival hit won accolades for its makeup effects, and the gruesome results are a joy to watch.
8) Trollhunter (2010)
This Norwegian fantasy found-footage hit, directed by André Øvredal, is a love letter to the folklore of the country that birthed it. Viewers follow a group of college students who set out to make a documentary about poaching, only to uncover proof that trolls do exist. Drawing from Norse mythology, including a lovely bit about what religions trolls can smell, Trollhunter is an example of the nuance available to monster movies when someone cares enough to try.
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9) Little Monsters (1989)
Monsters Inc. may be the first name on the lips of modern children looking for movies about befriending monsters, but there’s a far darker take on the idea available on Netflix. 1989’s Little Monsters stars Fred Savage as Brian, a pre-teen who discovers a world of monsters hidden under his bed. After befriending a monster named Maurice, Brian soon learns his new friend’s peers aren’t so fond of children when his little brother gets kidnapped. Little Monsters is a truly scary movie at times, with monster effects that betray its PG rating. If you plan on showing this to your own little monsters, make sure they have a blanket to hide behind.
10) Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Bred as part of an experiment to cure Alzheimer’s, a group of scientists learn the hard way sharks are already smart enough when the creatures escape and flood their facility. Now racing against time, the scientists, and their chef, must escape a sinking research station before they become their experiment’s next meal. Samuel L. Jackson steals the movie, but this Renny Harlin hit is a blast from start to finish no matter who is on screen.
11) Sharknado (2013)
The world has seen five Sharknado movies since the series was introduced, but for all the chaotic cacophony in the other entries, the original still stands as the best entry. Don’t go in expecting high art, or even science that makes sense, and just embrace the lunacy of this glorious premise. This sci-fi movie of the week throws thousands of sharks through the air, terrorizing Los Angeles and leaving a bloody path of bodies in its wake. The acting is awful, the CGI is worse, and the plot is nonsense, meaning this is the perfect B-movie to watch with some friends on a Friday night.
12) The Host (2006)
Director Joon-ho Bong has won international accolades in recent years with Snowpiercer and the Netflix original movie Okja, but his 2006 monster movie The Host stands among his best work. A peaceful day a park in South Korea is disrupted by a previously undiscovered monster that emerges from the Han River. The creature takes a young girl with it, leading her family on a harrowing journey to rescue her from an unimaginable death. It’s essentially an R-rated riff on Godzilla movies, but giant monster films are seldom this smart and thoughtful.
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13) Monsters (2010)
Aliens might not normally count as monsters, but in Gareth Edwards somber sci-fi sleeper, the invaders are so otherworldly there’s no other way to see them. Six years after biological life from space crash-landed on Earth, infecting half of Mexico with giant tentacled creatures from beyond, the country is on quarantine. When an American journalist agrees to help a tourist escape from the quarantine zone, they develop a better understanding of the creatures as they go. Monsters mostly keeps its horrors off screen, making their spars appearances all the more powerful. This isn’t a terrifying movie, but it’s an incredible use of giant monsters to tell a broader story.
14) Clown (2014)
Fiction has taught us that, usually, to become a monster something needs to attack you or harm you. A vampire bites you, or a chemical mutates you and bam, you’ve got claws. In Clown Kent, a father trying to impress his kid simply puts on the wrong costume only to discover the outfit has bonded to his flesh. As the clown suit begins to take over, Kent begins to transform, putting the lives of everyone around him in flesh-ripping danger. Early on, there are moments you think Clown might end up a horror comedy, but as the film progresses, it becomes clear the filmmakers are taking their premise deadly seriously. If you’re bothered by violence against children stay away. Everyone else, enjoy this ghoulish circus act.
15) Scooby-Doo (2002)
Before he gave us Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn was a low-budget filmmaker known for writing extreme gross-out movies like Tromeo and Juliet. Then, in 2002, he got the opportunity, somehow, to write a big budget adaptation of the hit cartoon Scooby-Doo starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, and Linda Cardellini. The original cut of the film reportedly got an R rating before being cut down to PG. What you’ll find on Netflix is the end result of that cutting, a delightfully odd romp of goofy monster effects and jokes that always feel like they’re on the verge of being dirty without ever crossing the line.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.