Welcome, one and all, to another top 5 post! Long time readers will know that I have a love of horror movies, and in particular, those that feature practical effects. You see, even good CG often looks out of place on-screen to me. I’d far rather see a shoddy monster costume than CG, simply because I know there’s something right there with the cast that way. Of course, a great monster costume is even better. With that in mind, today, I’m going to look at my Top 5 Movie Monster Costumes! So, let’s get to it, in no particular order…
Xenomorph (Alien – 1979)
The sci-fi horror classic remains one of my favourite films of all time. It is a combination of that, and this being such an obvious choice, that made me want to start with this creature. Designed by the legendary HR Giger, the biggest part of the costume was the animatronic head. This was built by Carlo Rambaldi who previously worked on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. While later films in the franchise used a mix of puppetry and CG for the xenomorph, the original here was actually primarily played by a Nigerian visual artist named Bolaji Badejo. Picked for the role because he stood at a whopping 6 foot 10 inches tall and had long legs, it remains the man’s only film credit, and he sadly died back in 1992. One thing is for sure though: his performance, combined with a phenomenal costume, was a big part of what made the films special. So, here’s a clip of the beast in action (though in this scene played by stuntman Eddie Powell):
Yautja (Predator – 1987)
This is the other obvious choice in the list, hence it being the second I mention. While usually classed as a sci-fi action film, there are certainly horror elements in play here. What’s interesting is how different the creature could have ended up though. The original design was by Robert Edlund, and was a dog-headed, less agile beast. When this was rejected, the legendary Rick Baker put a bid in to work on it, but in the end, the also legendary Stan Winston got the job. Then, Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast as the monster, only to be removed due to a combination of him complaining on set, and not looking imposing next to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura. So, instead, we got the 7 foot 2 Kevin Peter Hall in the suit, and Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullen, voicing it. Honestly, this is still such an iconic monster. When it unmasked for the first time too, the effect was glorious. In fact, here is said scene:
Werewolf Eddie (The Howling – 1981)
When it comes to werewolves, I can’t get enough of them. While I always favour the transformation in An American Werewolf In London, this is actually my preferred overall costume. Now, Rick Baker was the original effects artist, before leaving the film to work on the aforementioned American Werewolf. So, Rob Bottin took over, accompanied by stop-motion artist David W. Allen. There was even some puppet work in there. What I loved with these werewolves, in particular, was that they were capable of expression. Little movements in the corners of the mouth and around the eyes gave them a much more ‘living’ feel. I also enjoyed how scruffy they look, as it tied in with the idea of them being the result of a human going through a terrible transformation. Here’s one on the attack:
Shuna Sassi (Nightbreed – 1990)
While not perfect, I have a real soft spot for Nightbreed. It’s a fun dark fantasy horror written and directed by Clive Barker, and it features a whole ton of practical effects. For me though, the big standout was Shuna Sassi, sometimes referred to as the porcupine lady. I’ve found it difficult to find out who exactly did the makeup work here, but I Mark Coulier (Harry Potter) and Robbie Drake (Attack the Block) worked on the film. Shuna Sassi was played by Christine McCorkindale, who was an uncredited stand-in for Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but otherwise hasn’t appeared in anything else. With such a big cast of monsters, you don’t see Shuna too much. In fact, her most famous scene is the cut love scene with Peloquin. That costume though is excellent, and I can only imagine how long it must have taken to get into it for filming each day. Let alone how long it took to build and apply each quill. Strangely, the only clip I can find online is the aforementioned cut one, so here it is:
The Fungus (Splinter – 2008)
This is certainly an odd inclusion in the list. In truth, it’s nowhere near as neat as the previous entries, and some of the choppy edits in the film are likely to mask the effects a little. But there’s a lot to love. The general idea here is that a fungus can take control of corpses – be they human or another animal – and slowly consume the blood as it seeks out other heat sources. Conceptually, this is a wonderful nightmare version of some of nature’s already creepy fungus (look up ophiocrdyceps unilateralis zombie ants if you dislike sleep). This means we get a good mix of infected characters though, with Quantum Creation FX doing a great job with the spiky little body snatcher. This one is a bit of a spoiler, but check out the fungus here:
So there you have it. Those were five of my favourite movie monster costumes. What did you think? Do you like these ones, or would you include different ones on your list? Let me know in the comments below!
2 thoughts on “Top 5 Movie Monster Costumes”
*GASP* Xenomorphs aren’t costumed humans! They’re real, beautifully gross creatures!! I’m affronted. 😉😂 I’m one of those who loves the “movie magic” so I never read stuff like this, but this was a fun post! My favourite costumes are most of the ones used in Star Wars. They’re just so creative. Although, Xenomorph is my number one of all-time. I’m so beyond the realm of obsessed with them. I think they are the cutest things and love them to death (ironically, haha).
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Star Wars has so many good ones. As a franchise, it always did head tendrils particularly well.
Xenomorphs are truly gorgeous. Such a sleek design, and wonderfully mobile tails.
The funny thing is, seeing how they do things adds to the magic for me sometimes. It’s all so clever at times.
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