13 Terrifying, Spooky, and Awesome Latin American Horror Monsters & Legends

scary ghost monster

As diverse and heterogenous as Latin American culture can be, there are a few touchstones that connect nearly all of us, regardless of our nationalities: quinceañeras with drunk uncles, abuelas who take Walter Mercados horoscopes like the word of God, the belief that Celia Cruz should probably be beatified, and – last, but not least – the terrifying mythological monsters and horror legends our families used to scare the shit out of us year round and get us to act right.

With Halloween right around the corner, we figured it was a good time to revisit some of these spooky stories and figures. You probably don’t have kids yet, but these stories should be enough to scare your pesky little primos into giving you the remote at the upcoming holidays.

Country of origin:  Spain Similar to:  Jasy Jatere (Guarani)

Like the Boogeyman, El Cuco – also known as El Viejo del Saco and El Sacomán, on some occasions – targets children. Unlike the Boogeyman, Latino parents use El Cuco to drive the fear of God into their children. El Cuco looks for misbehaving children or baby pataperros to kidnap via his bag.

Spanish legend has it that El Cuco is Francisco Ortega, aka El Moruno. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Ortega was so desperate to find a cure for his tuberculosis that he visited a Curandera. He was told to drink the blood of children, so he kidnapped a 7-year-old boy named Bernardo.

Jasy Jatere similarly preys on children, but Jasy takes them back to a cave and feeds them wild fruits and berries until they become feral. – Yara Simón

El Sombrerón

Country of origin: Guatemala

El Sombrerón may be Khaleesi-level good at braiding hair, since he likes to braid the manes and tails of horses (or dogs when there aren’t horses available), as well as young women with big eyes and long hair. And he may look hella cool – he wears a big hat, dresses in mostly black, and is well-accessorized with his ornamental boots and belts – but he is actually a creep and very short.

If El Sombrerón, who also goes by Tzipitio, Tzizimite, or the goblin, likes a woman, he will essentially mark his territory by tying a pack of mules outside her house. Then, he begins to serenade her, but it’s nothing like John Cusack in Say Anything . He will play his silver guitar to get her to come home with him. Once the woman has followed him, he will feed her dirt so that they can’t fall asleep.

According to legend, when a woman named Susana from La Recolección was being serenaded by El Sombrerón, her parents grew worried. They tried to keep him away, but he just kept up showing up to her place to play his guitar. It wasn’t until they cut her hair and had it blessed that he finally moved on. – Yara Simón

Country of Origin: Bolivia Similar to: Madremonte (Colombia)

As far as legends and monsters go, the Acalica don’t seem too bad. They are said to be fair-tempered creatures that control the weather and are sometimes called weather-fairies. They live in underground caves, and they make sure to stay out of people’s way. The rare times they do appear, they look like small, wizened men.

Colombia’s Madremonte legend can also control the weather. She protects nature, and those who dare mess with it will get punished. – Yara Simón

Country of Origin: Mexico Similar to: La Novia de Tola (Nicaragua), La Sayona (Venezuela)

Scorned women is a trope familiar all over the world, which is probably why there are so many of them in Latino horror culture. Though there are variations in La Llorona’s origins, there are a few things that remain the same: a beautiful woman named Maria drowns her two children once her husband loses interest in her.

In one version, the man leaves her for another woman. After killing her children and herself, she is unable to go to the afterlife until she finds her kids, which is when she starts going after wandering children. Her yells can be heard in the late evenings.

In another, Maria is the most beautiful woman in town. She meets a ranchero that she wants to be with, but only marries him after he spends a lot of time and money courting her. They eventually have two children, and he goes back to his ranchero ways, leaving their family for periods of time and only returning to see his children. One day, Maria finds him with a new woman and becomes so enraged that she kills her children to spite him. By the time she realizes what she’s done, it’s too late. The next day, she is found dead by the river, and after that, her ghost can be found crying, as she roams the river in search of her children.

In Nicaragua, the story centers on Hilaria Ruiz, a young woman who fell for Salvador Cruz, a playboy. Before his wedding, he stopped by his lover Juana Gazo’s house. Juana knew it would be over between the two of them, so she got him drunk enough to miss his wedding. Hilaria, inconsolable, and became La Novia de Tola, a scorned ghost who waits for her beloved forever.

La Sayona is a woman who haunts men in relationships who cheat. She is seen wearing a white dress, and is even called La Llorona sometimes because she is seen crying while holding a baby in her arms. – Yara Simón

Country of Origin:  Argentina and Uruguay Similar to: La Luz del Dinero (Peru, Mexico)

Luz Mala is a folkloric myth from the gaucho era. It’s not an actual character but, literally, a fluorescent beam that shines a few feet above the ground during the night. Supuestamente, the peasants who saw the light at the horizon of dry hills were scared of it because they thought those were “lost souls” who hadn’t received a christian baptism. They say that those who dare to look under the light can find metal objects or indigenous artifacts, but of course, looking at the light comes with lethal consequences. Supposedly a deadly gas emanates from the found objects, killing whomever discovers it.

In this way, it’s similar to myths that circulate in the Andes of Peru (and reportedly some regions of Mexico), which believe that a greenish light indicates the sites where conquistadores buried the treasure of Atahualpa.

Here’s a short “ documentary ” about Luz Mala to put you to sleep well tonight. – Julia Taveras

Country of Origin: Spain

Duendes are well-known all over Latin America, and each country has its own interpretation of the small, gnome or elf-like creatures. Even  our primos in the Philippines  have a version (“dwendes”), which makes sense considering that the myth originates with our mutual colonizer, Spain (where duendes became a fundamental component of classic literature and culture). In the 16th century, there was even a law in Spain that said that anyone who moved into a home and later realized it was infested with duendes was free to abandon it.

Beliefs about duendes vary from region to region – some believe they are the souls of infants who died before they could be baptized, others simply portray them as malevolent, naughty spirits that hide in a person’s home and wreak havoc. But most duende variants seem to have a special relationship to children, probably because parents began using them as a tactic to scare their kids into doing their bidding. Hence the stories your parents terrorized you with about how duendes were coming to kidnap and eat you if you didn’t clean your room, clip your toenails, stayed out too late, etc. –  Andrea Gompf

El Chupacabra

chupacabra

Country of Origin: Puerto Rico

Like a Latin American Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster, El Chupacabra(s) – literally “goat sucker” for the Spanish-ly challenged – is a beast whose alleged existence has plagued farmers and the collective Latin consciousness for some time now. Not quite as old as Sasquatch, the Yeti or even the Jersey Devil, the legend of El Chupacabra dates back to just 1995.

The first report of a Chupacabra attack was in March of that year – though some say reports go all the way back to the 60s – in Puerto Rico; eight sheep were killed and completely drained of blood, with three puncture wounds in each of their chests. Authorities attributed the killings to more conventional predators, but many locals suspected a Satanic cult. By August, 150 similar livestock killings had taken place, and by the end of the year the mysterious beast had been blamed for over 1000. Descriptions of the creature varied wildly; in the town of Canóvanas the creature was described as winged, swooping down on its prey. In Caguas, it was said to have hairy arms and red eyes. By the end of 1995, the most prevalent description was gray, alien-like creature about 3 to 4 feet tall that walks upright on its muscular hind legs.

By 1996, reports of Chupacabra attacks were being reported on the mainland as well, beginning in Miami and later in the Southwest and in Mexico. Either the creature had migrated, or the stories had become so popular that reports of sightings and copycat attacks were being carried out here, too. This time, the creature was described as doglike but reptilian. Whether Chupacabra exists or not, reports of bloodless murdered livestock persist. And to date, no satisfactory predator has ever been caught. – Matt Barbot

El Culebrón or Viborón

Country of Origin: Chile

El Culebrón is basically an Anaconda on super steroids; an enormous, hairy snake with a gigantic, calf-like head. The creature belongs to the rural countryside of Chile, where it is said to come out at night from dark caves or remote forests and eat basically anything in its path. El Culebrón also has a tesoro-radar, and is said to arrive at the sites of buried treasure 40 days after it’s been buried. Anyone wishing to recover the treasure has to douse the ground with aguardiente, in the hopes that the snake will get turnt off the liquor and let its guard down.

In the same way that El Culebrón is attracted to riches, legend also has it that the snake can draw wealth to anyone who is able to “domesticate” it. But trapping a Culebrón is no easy feat: you have to find one in the wild, pluck three of its longest hairs without getting eaten, then put the hairs in a bowl of milk. From that bowl, three baby culebrones will spring to life, and the strongest will eat the other two and become a full-fledged culebrón. From that point forward owners have to maintain the snakes with sacrifices of animals or close relatives (wtf), and leave the blood in a secret location that only the snake knows of. Otherwise, no money for you and you’ll probably get eaten.

Idk, sounds like a lot of work to me. Guessing this is probably how Trump made his money. – Andrea Gompf

The Peuchen comes from the indigenous lore of Southern Chile’s Mapuche people. It is a shape-shifting, vampire-esque creature, most frequently described as a flying snake (occasionally descriptions add that it is covered in either feathers or hair – making it similar to the Culebrón. Or really, just a big ass bat).

Much like vampires, peuchens can paralyze their victims by gazing into their eyes, in order to drain the bodies of blood.

The only people who can defeat the peuchen are Machi, Mapuche medicine women. – Andrea Gompf

Country of Origin: Peru, Bolivia

A pale-skinned vampire/bogeyman who roams the Andes and kills peasants in order to drain them of their body fat, the legend of the Pishtaco was basically plucked directly from the real-life horrors experienced by the indigenous communities of Peru and Bolivia during colonization in the 15th century.

The first written account of the creature comes from priest Cristóbal de Molina, a 16th century scholar of Incan culture, who chronicled a spreading native fear in Cuzco that Spaniards were going to kill them and drain them of their fat.

Since then, descriptions of the creature have varied slightly from generation to generation, but as a rule they tend to be versions of white men “invaders,” alternately depicted as priests, doctors, aid workers, tourists, anthropologists, etc. They stand in for five centuries of foreign exploitation, which tbqh is more terrifying than any myth on this list.

Fans of the show Supernatural may remember that pishtacos made an appearance as humans with a proboscis hidden in their mouths (used to suck the fat out of victims, naturally). Except on the show, the pishtacos are Latino characters, which kind of undercuts their whole white devil foreigner deal, smh.  – Andrea Gompf

Massacooramaan

Country of origin: Guyana

The massacooramaan (also spelled masacurraman) is a massive, hairy monster that lurks in Guayana’s rivers and seas, preying on passengers in small boats and eating them. The massacorramaan is a kind of jumbee, a mythological spirit or demon native to Caribbean folklore. Aside from being creepy AF (and one of many water-residing beasts in Latin American folklore), it’s also the namesake of Fade to Mind producer Massacooramaan , aka Dan Quam, whose fragmented and percussive club music pretty much resembles the monster himself. – Isabelia Herrera

Country of origin: Dominican Republic Similar to: La Cegua (Costa Rica/Nicaragua), La Patasola (Colombia), La Tunda (Colombia/Ecuador)

According to Dominican folklore, La Ciguapa is a hypnotic mythological creature that takes the form of a woman with backwards-facing feet. Ciguapas lurk in the highland mountains and deep forests of the island, waiting for the perfect moment to lure men into the woods and make them disappear. Their long, thick manes, tan skin, and feet make them pretty elusive and prone to outwitting followers. You probably remember Chichi Peralta’s “La Ciguapa” from a million of your primos’ weddings. But if you’re like me, your favorite memory of La Ciguapa was Julia Alvarez’s less misogynistic reimagining for kids, The Secret Footprints , which depicted the magical beings as more timid, curious, and less predatory creatures.

The first recorded mention of ciguapas appeared in Francisco Javier Angulo Guridi’s short story La Ciguapa in 1866, which didn’t mention the creatures’ backwards feet. While many think ciguapas are an Arawak legend, scholars have found little evidence to prove the connection, which suggests the legend’s origins are far more likely to have emerged from African religious beliefs brought over to the island during the colonial period.

The ciguapa has a similar one-legged version from Colombia called La Patasola, as well as La Cegua, who eventually shapeshifts into a skull horse head. La Tunda also bears similarities to the quisqueyano legend, although that version of the tale alleges that the creature has the ability to appear in the form a loved one or suck your blood and devour you à la Dementor’s Kiss. *shudders* –  Isabelia Herrera

Country of origin: Peru, Ecuador, Argentina (reportedly)

The mighty Amazon is home to the legendary yacumama, a horned, snake-like sea monster believed to be the mother of all sea creatures. The yacumama is part of multiple indigenous groups’ mythology, primarily tribes hailing from the Western Amazon in the lowlands of Peru and Ecuador. According to various European colonizers’ accounts from the 19th century, the yacumama is rumored to be as long as 160 feet. Before entering unfamiliar bodies of water, indigenous tribes would blow a horn to warn the gigantic reptile of human presence, and probably so they wouldn’t get attacked , either.

In Argentina, the yacumama is also a goddess of the water, but it takes the form of an elderly human woman that approaches kids who enter the river to collect water in their canteens.

In sum: the yacumama is basically an anaconda with horns. Now I’m just imagining Samuel L. Jackson fighting off yacumamas on a plane. Also, can we get an indigenous rework of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” called “Yacumama?” – Isabelia Herrera

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The Creepiest Ghost And Monster Stories From Around The World

Cecily Meza-Martinez

GD 2020

Credit: Phoebe Boswell for NPR

It's Halloween — a time for Frankenstein monsters and vampires and werewolves. But many of us have our own monsters from different cultures, and when we threw out a call to our readers asking what ghost stories and folktales they grew up with in their own traditions, we got back stories of creatures stalking the shadows of Latin American hallways and vengeful demons from South Asia with backwards feet. (And that's before we get to the were-hyenas and the infernal bathroom stalls.) Below are some of the best we've found or that were told to us from Code Switch readers.

Read on...if you dare.

The Night Demon

An evil creature stalks the Tanzanian island of Pemba in the Indian Ocean. It can change shape — a bat sometimes, a human-like form at others. It prefers to come out at night, but some say they have seen it during the day. The popobawa — "bat-wing" in Swahili — is indiscriminate in its targets. But in a common retelling, the spirit sexually assaults men.

Here & Now | Ghost Stories From Around The World

Ghost stories from around the world.

The popobawa story is rather new — only dating back a few decades from a time of civil unrest following the assassination of the country's president. The popular thinking goes that after a popbawa attack, victims must spread the word to others on Pemba. Otherwise, they will continue to be visited by the popobawa.

Reports of attack send some locals into a panic. A few years ago, a series of night-time sexual assaults were blamed on the popobawa.

"Some men are staying awake or sleeping in groups outside their homes," the BBC reported in 2007. "Others are smearing themselves with pig's oil, believing this repels attacks."

A peasant farmer named Mjaka Hamad claims he was attacked by the popobawa in 1997 .

I couldn't see it. I could only feel it. But some people in my house could see it. Those who've got the spirits in their heads could see it. Everybody was terrified. They were outside screaming Huyo! It means the Popobawa is there. I had this bad pain in my ribs where it crushed me. I don't believe in spirits so maybe that's why it attacked me. Maybe it will attack anybody who doesn't believe.

Beware the third stall.

The Girl In The Bathroom

In Japan, the schools contain an infernal secret. If you go into the girl's bathroom on the third floor of the building, and walk to the third stall, you might find her.

"You have to knock 3 times and call her name," a Code Switch reader named Jessica tweeted at us . "When you open the stall door, a little girl in a red skirt will be there."

The little girl with the bob haircut is Hanako-san. She wants friends to play with, maybe. Or perhaps she wants to drag you to Hell — through the toilet.

"Depending on which part of Japan you live in, she may have a bloody hand and grab you, or be a lizard that devours you," Jessica said. "Although I am getting scared just thinking about her right now."

Hanako-san has become a fixture of Japanese urban folklore over the last 70 years. The most popular origin story for the tale holds that during World War II, a schoolgirl was using the bathroom when a bomb fell on top of the building. The school collapsed on top of Hanako-san, who has been trapped there ever since.

But Hanako isn't the only schoolgirl who haunts Japan's school bathrooms. Kashima Reiko, another young girl, was said to have been cut in half by a train. Now her disfigured spirit inhabits bathrooms, asking children who enter the stalls where her legs are. The legend goes that if Kashima Reiko is not satisfied with their answer, she will rip their legs off.

The Woman Of Your (Worst) Dreams

In Brazil, a tall, skinny woman with long yellow fingernails and red eyes creeps along the rooftops, and watches families inside of their homes. She watches them as they sit at the table for dinner. She watches them while they eat. La pisadeira.

After the meal, when someone goes to sleep on a full stomach, la pisadeira sneaks into their bedroom. Then she sits on their chest so that they cannot move. The pisadeira that has attacked them watches them as they begin to panic — the victim's eyes partly open, but they're neither fully asleep or fully awake — helpless and trapped in a body that won't move.

Sleep paralysis is a well-studied disorder. "The worst thing is when you try to fight or call for help," a Redditor said in a conversation about what the experiences with it were like. "Your voice doesn't work and your body will not respond. You just feel helpless."

And among those who suffer from it across many cultures, there is one, unsettling common experience — a sense that a malevolent force is hovering over them in their immobile state.

"The earliest one I can remember is with my mother in the room and she's sitting on my bed, her face morphs into a demon like thing," a Redditor shared in a thread on sleep paralysis. Or: "A large dark figure, kind of a human silhouette, emerging from the foot of my bed and staring down at me."

(Could her "mom" or the silhouette have be a pisadeira?)

They went on. "Ugh, I need to stop trying to remember these things. I'm getting chills."

The Weeping Woman

Her name was Maria. She lived in Mexico. She had long, dark hair and a covetous heart. The man she loved would not have her, so she took her children in a fit of rage, took them down to the river, and drowned them, one by one. When the man she loved spurned her again, she realized what she'd done. She took herself to the water and threw herself in, to subject herself to the same fate as her children. But heaven would not have Maria, and she was condemned to wander the world in perpetual grief. She is La Llorona — the wailing woman.

The people who have seen her said they can her walking, soaking wet, wearing all white. And she can be heard crying out for the little ones she killed. "Ay, mis hijos!" she weeps. ("Oh, my children!") Some say that she snatches other young children as she walks, mistaking them for her own young children she knew.

"¡Ay, mis hijos!"

Children along the Mexican border grow up with her story, which traces itself to stories about several different female spirits of the Aztec empire.

"My earliest memory [of her] is being in elementary school and being in the girl's bathroom," says Terry Martinez, who grew up in Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. She and the other young children would try to summon La Llorona in a bathroom mirror.

"The lights had to be out," Martinez says. "The door had to be closed."

They'd splash water on the mirror and say her name three times.

La Llorona. La Llorona. La Llorona.

"It was just seeing who could stand being in the darkroom and seeing how long we could stand there waiting for her to come out of the sink," Martinez said. "It usually ended with a bunch of little girls screaming and running out of the bathroom."

Kat Chow contributed to this story.

Uncanny, Preternatural Monsters

monster chupacabra photo

"Some swear the creature is actually a vampire — resembling a large rat, but with horns and fangs ... In any case, the Chupacabra ... reportedly drains the blood of cows, sheep, and goats throughout the republic, leaving an unusually shaped wound." — Diana Reiss-Koncar, Vibe , April 1997

Definition:

a grotesque creature that drinks the blood of livestock and is reported to exist in North and South America

Word Origin:

From Spanish chupa , 3rd person singular present tense of chupar "to suck" (probably of imitative origin) + cabra "goat" ( cabras , plural)

monster snallygaster photo

Snallygaster

"'People who say there is no such animal are the ones who need to get right — we are not,' he stated emphatically today. 'I saw the snallygaster,' he repeated, 'and I saw him change from white to black.'" — The News (Frederick, MD), November 28, 1932

a mythical nocturnal creature that is reported chiefly from rural Maryland, is reputed to be part reptile and part bird, and is said to prey on poultry and children

monster werewolf photo

"The werewolf was by day a man, but by night a wolf given to ravage and to slaughter, and having a charmed life against which no human agency availed aught." — Eugene Field, The Werewolf , 1911

a person transformed temporarily or permanently into a wolf or capable of assuming a wolf's form : lycanthrope

Are there werewolves where there aren’t wolves?

Lycanthropy, the delusion that you have turned into a wolf or another beast, has some ancient roots, and belief in werewolves can be found around the world. Other dangerous animals — such as bears, tigers, or hyenas — have historically filled the wolf's role in lycanthropy in countries where wolves are not common.

monster hodag photo

"The rest of the party had commenced piling up birch bark around the brute and thrown a few sticks of dynamite and by this time the fight got pretty hot, as the Hodag had became [sic] so infurated [sic] that he began slashing down the timber which was falling in every direction, and made it dangerous for the now furious hunters, and the black tar coal smoke which the hodag's breath had turned into, mixed with the sickening odor of the mangled dogs, was beginning to suffocate the now very much excited party." — The New North (Rhinelander, WI), October 28, 1893

a mythical animal reported chiefly from Wisconsin and Minnesota, noted for its ugliness, lateral horns, and hooked tail, and reputed to be outstanding in both ferocity and melancholy

dybbuk illustration

"A dybbuk is the wandering soul of a dead person. You don't want to make the mistake of inviting one into your home. You don't have to be Jewish to figure that out." — Roger Ebert, review of the film A Serious Man , October 7, 2009

an evil spirit or the wandering soul of a dead person believed in Jewish folklore to enter and control a living body until exorcised by a religious rite

monster tommy photo

Tommy-knocker

"The 'graveyard' shift is the dead of night — usually between 11 p. m. and 3 a. m. — and it is then that the 'tommy-knockers' are most often heard." — Mexico Missouri Message (Mexico, MO), August 23, 1906

the ghost of a man killed in a mine

Probably from Tommy (nickname for Thomas ) + knocker ; from his being supposed to be responsible for the creaking of timbers in the mine

monster sasquatch photo

"In the Northwest, the hirsute hominid, who dates to American Indian lore as Sasquatch, is a minor industry." — Timothy Egan, New York Times , January 3, 2003

: a hairy creature like a human being that is reported to exist in the northwestern U.S. and western Canada and is said to be a primate between 6 and 15 feet (1.8 and 4.6 meters) tall — called also bigfoot

monster nix photo

AKA nicker, nixie

a supernatural creature originally in Germanic folklore and conceived of in many forms but usually as having the form of a woman or as half human and half fish, dwelling in fresh water usually in a beautiful palace, and usually unfriendly to man

The Nix by Richard Garnett

The crafty Nix, more false than fair, Whose haunt in arrowy Iser lies, She envied me my golden hair, She envied me my azure eyes.

The moon with silvery ciphers traced The leaves, and on the waters played; She rose, her arms my form embraced, She said: 'Come down with me, fair maid.'

She led me to her crystal grot, She set me in her coral chair, She waved her wand, and I had not Or azure eyes or golden hair.

Her locks of jet, her eyes of flame Were mine, and hers my semblance fair: 'O make me, Nix, again the same, O give me back my golden hair!'

She smiles in scorn, she disappears, And here I sit and see no sun; My eyes of fire are quenched in tears, And all my darksome locks undone.

monster photo gytrash

"The Horton 'Guytrash' was another boggard in our young days, and generally took the form of a 'great black dog' with horrid eyes." — Edward Peacock, The Folk-lore Journal , January-December, 1886

a specter or ghost especially in the form of an animal

monster photo wyvern

"The wyvern is essentially an English beast, and in olden times was much accredited and respected." Herbert Crest, writing in Collections Historical & Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire and its Borders , Vol. 24, 1890

a fabulous animal usually represented as a 2-legged winged creature resembling a dragon

monster photo cerber sign

a three-headed dog that in Greek mythology guards the entrance to Hades

About the Word:

Cerberus, the monstrous watchdog of the underworld devoured anyone who tried to escape the kingdom of Hades, the lord of the underworld, and he refused entrance to living humans.

This gave rise to the English phrase "a sop to Cerberus" meaning "a concession or bribe to conciliate a person otherwise liable to be troublesome." The reference is to a passage in Vergil's Aeneid, when Aeneas slips by Cerberus, after giving him a sop as distraction.

monster photo windigo

"Although it is ten years since the Wendigo has been observed—when he trudged through the eight-feet deep rapids of the Echoing river, which only reached to his knees — there have been evidences that he still seeks human flesh after his winter's hibernation." — The Winnipeg Tribune , January 31, 1947

a cannibalistic creature of Algonquian mythology believed to have been a lost hunter forced by hunger to eat human flesh and thereafter to have become a crazed man-eating ogre roaming the forest

monster photo zombie

"A zombie is supposed to be the living dead: people who die and are resurrected, but without their souls. And they can take orders, and they're supposed to never be tired, and to do what the master says . . . ." — Zora Neale Hurston, interview, January 25, 1943

a will-less and speechless human capable only of automatic movement who is held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated

Zombie is derived from the Louisiana Creole or Haitian Creole word zonbi . Although the word first appeared in English in the 1870s, it wasn't the subject of much interest among English speakers until the 1940s when zombie movies like I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and Zombies on Broadway (1945) saw the start of a trend we're still living with.

monster photo kraken

"Below the thunders of the upper deep, Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth…" — Alfred Tennyson, "The Kraken", from Poems, Chiefly Lyrical , 1830

a fabulous Scandinavian sea monster perhaps imagined on the basis of chance sightings of giant squids

coquecigrue illustration

Coquecigrue

"Coquecigrue is one of the 'fearful wildfowl' of Rabelais' invention. These hippogriffs and other monsters are painted on the Chinese lanterns hung up in the pastry-cooks' shops." — The Journal of Education , October 1, 1893

an imaginary creature regarded as an embodiment of absolute absurdity

As the embodiment of absolute absurdity, no other creature could provide the final word of this list of monsters. Unfortunately, our website cannot support the coquecigrue in all its glory, so click here to view the full effect .

The word is of French origin—François Rabelais in Gargantua uses the phrase à la venue des cocquecigrues to mean "never." Charles Kingsley later translated that phrase in The Water Babies , when the fairy Bedonebyasyoudid reports that there are seven things he is forbidden to tell until "the coming of the Cocqcigrues."

Although we've reached the end of this list, the dictionary is dark and full of terrors, and you'll only find an end to the frightful creatures contained therein upon the coming of the Coquecigrue.

one owl cleaning up another owl

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16 very real ghost stories that'll chill you to the bone

Do you check under the bed for monsters before you go to sleep? Double check the closet to ensure the boogeyman isn't hiding inside? Are you afraid of...ghosts?

Then perhaps you should stop right now, because we're about to delve into the world of the paranormal — and these tales are not for the faint of heart.

Whether you believe ghosts are rea l or just made up for the movies , these ghost stories, as told by real people who experienced things they simply can't explain , are sure to give you pause — if not proof — that there's more than meets the eye when it comes to supernatural happenings.

To help curate our collection of spooky yarns, TODAY.com spoke to Derek Hayes, host of " Monsters Among Us ," a podcast in which callers share details of mysterious encounters.

According to Hayes, he receives hundreds of calls each week and submissions from across the globe. "But every once in a while, somebody will call in one of those personal stories. It's that personal connection for me that really brings it home," Hayes tells TODAY.com.

"And some of those are just terrifying ."

We've collected a sampling of those 'terrifying' stories right here, along with a handful of other scary ghost stories from a ghost hunter, as well as unexplained incidents told by a variety of ordinary people who claim they've experienced something extraordinary.

Whether you believe them or not is, of course, entirely up to you. But if you end up sleeping with the lights on tonight, don't say we didn't warn you.

The ‘grandmas’ in the cemetery

Headstones in a misty graveyard.

Jeff, a resident of Dayton, Ohio, was driving with his 3-year-old son, Miles, in the back seat, when they passed by a cemetery. It was a modest cemetery with only flowers and small plaques.

“It basically looks like a giant garden,” Jeff explains on “Monsters Among Us.”

According to Jeff, as they drove by, his toddler, who’d been happily singing, abruptly stopped, pointed to the cemetery and exclaimed, “Look at all those people!”

Jeff turned to look, but didn’t see a soul. Confused, he asked Miles what he was talking about. “All those people over there,” his son replied. “There sure are a lot of grandmas.”

As Jeff tells it, chills ran down his spine as he asked his son what the people were doing. “They’re all standing there, looking down at the grass,” Miles said.

Completely unsettled by the conversation, Jeff sped up and drove home. Later that same day, he says his young son was watching TV when he turned to Jeff and said, “You know … they weren’t alive.”

Thinking Miles was referring to the cartoon, Jeff asked what he meant. “Those people we saw ... they were all paused,” his son replied.

“I don’t know if my kid has the sixth sense,” Jeff says. “Or if he just has a wild imagination.”

The ghost of The Stanley Hotel

ghost stories the stanley hotel

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, has been around for more than 100 years and was built as a posh getaway for the wealthy seeking solitude in the mountains.

As the years passed, however, occupancy declined and by the 1970s, the grand hotel had fallen into disrepair. It was around that time that famed author Stephen King spent the night there and was inspired to write the book “The Shining.”

The book and blockbuster film helped return the Stanley to its former glory. Now, guests come in droves to see the hotel that inspired one of the scariest horror movies of all time.

Given its history, it should come as no surprise that many visitors report strange happenings. Aware of the ghostly rumors, Texas resident Henry Yau booked a last-minute getaway in April of 2016 to “check it out.”

After arriving, Yau had dinner, then wandered around the Stanley to take photos. Stopping at the staircase, he waited for people to clear the area, then took a picture, thinking nothing of it.

Later that night, however, Yau fell seriously ill. “I felt really sick, I had the shivers, I was like, something’s really wrong,” he tells TODAY.com. His companion suggested he go to the emergency room, but Yau refused.

On the trip home, Yau began swiping through the photos he’d taken when he discovered what he said was a “really, really strange image” of someone standing on the stairs.

Except no one had been there.

The next day, he posted the photo on Instagram, half-joking that he’d captured a ghost — and the world took notice. Almost overnight, Yau found himself in the limelight with his ghost picture warranting attention from global media outlets and paranormal experts who wanted to examine the photo.

“Some experts say that there’s two ghosts, and other people said that the reason I got sick is because the ghost was trying to materialize, taking energy out of me,” he said. “There’s so many theories about this.”

And what does Yau think? “I have no idea,” he says with a laugh.

The ghost truck stop

Empty Bar

On his way to get married, a military man and his best man set off on an 800-mile road trip from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to Lafayette, Indiana.

It's 1 a.m. on a cold January night in 2014 and the man tells "Monsters Among Us" that the weather is bad and temperatures are in "the negative double digits."

As the pair close in on Indianapolis, they discover they have no money to pay for gas to refuel the car and are about to run out.

"Growing up in the trucking industry with my dad, I decided to stop at a truck stop," the man explains. But because the main interstates were shut down due to the weather, they had get off the highway and search for a truckstop along the back roads instead.

"(We) found a smaller truck stop. It had one truck and it was just kind of strange. It was just a blacked out truck with a blacked out trailer. There was no real markings on it, nothing distinguishable," he says.

They went in, hoping a clerk or waitress would spot them a few dollars for gas enough to make it to Indianapolis, at which time they'd go to the bank, take out cash and pay back the loan.

Inside they found a tidy diner, occupied by a waitress, cook and a lone truck driver.

"I went inside, talked to this driver and he bought us a cup of coffee. We sat there and talked for about 30 minutes about what was going on and why we were headed, where we were and what we were doing. And he gave us 20 bucks for gas. I went outside, pumped our gas, came back in and I told him, 'Hey, I really appreciate it. I'll be back.'"

Making good on his word, the man got cash from the bank upon arriving in Indianapolis and returned to the diner.

"When we arrive at about 10 o’clock in the morning, it's boarded up," he says. "It looks like it’s been abandoned for years and the truck’s gone. But we had just been in there."

They pull in anyway and find a police officer parked in the lot. They explain what happened just hours before to which the cop chuckles and replies, "Oh, you met the ghost of three."

"So, two military members converse, had a cup of coffee with, interacted with, three people at a diner that had a fuel pump. I got $20 worth of gas," says the man. "When I came back, it been boarded up for, if I remember correctly, the cop said it had been boarded up for the last 25 years."

The hauntings at the Lizzie Borden House

The Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts.

On August 4, 1892, Andrew and his wife, Abby Borden, were found brutally murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home. Though murder wasn’t uncommon in the late 1800s, the fact that they were bludgeoned to death with an ax and the main suspect was their 32-year-old daughter, Lizzie Borden, certainly was.

The crime and trial that followed made headlines around the world. Lizzie was ultimately acquitted of murder, but she remains forever linked to the heinous killings, as does the home where the crime was committed.

Now a bed-and-breakfast and museum, the Borden home attracts history buffs and thrill-seekers who come to see for themselves if rumors that the house is haunted are, indeed, true.

“When I started working here, it was more of the history. I really didn’t care about the paranormal,” Suzanne St. John, a realtor and tour guide at the Lizzie Borden House, tells TODAY.com.

However, that all changed after St. John says she experienced a few unusual happenings of her own.

“Guests tell us they hear laughing and playing in the middle of the night, things get moved around,” she says. And St. John has experienced a few unusual things herself, saying that once she discovered toys scattered across a room that no one had been in.

St. John also talks of a picture that fell over and slid two feet across the floor without any plausible explanation, as well as a closet door that once opened on its own volition.

On the eve of the anniversary of Andrew and Abby’s murder, St. John says that she and two other tour guides at the house felt a sudden sharp, piercing pain in their left eyes — the same exact location of Andrew Borden’s fatal injuries.

Perhaps the most unsettling, however, is the story St. John tells of a tour guide at the Lizzie Borden house who asked her group to silence their cell phones before beginning the tour. Moments later, a guest’s cell phone rang. She looked up and said, “It’s my mom.”

The tour guide asked if she wanted to leave and take the call, to which the woman replied: “She died two years ago.”

The ghost of Captain Joseph White

A shadowy image is captured in front of the Gardner-Pingree House in Salem, Massachusetts.

Though Salem, Massachusetts is best known for its infamous witch trials, there have been plenty of other chilling stories throughout its 400-year history.

One of them is the tale of Captain Joseph White, a wealthy merchant who was found bludgeoned to death in his bed.

It was a crime motivated by money, according to Giovanni Alabiso, owner and tour guide at Salem Historical Tours, who says the 82-year-old merchant was allegedly targeted by greedy brothers hoping to get their hands on his will.

Brothers Joseph and Francis Knapp enlisted the help of Richard Crowninshield to help get the job done. “Late in the evening, when Captain White is asleep, Dick Crowninshield comes in, he goes upstairs to the second floor and takes a club and bashes the captain over the head and crushes his skull,” Alabiso tells TODAY.com.

The murder resulted in a scandalous trial and is said to be the inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” as well as the game “Clue.”

Whether it’s the brutal nature of the crime or revenge for the attempt to steal his money, the spirit of Captain Joseph White is said to still wander the halls of his former home. “People believe Captain White is roaming around that house, protecting whatever treasure he reportedly has,” Alabiso said.

Tourists take photos of the house, and despite being empty, many pictures reveal shadowy figures (both male and female) in the windows and on the landing of the Gardner-Pingree House.

Who are they? No one knows.

“It’s definitely, absolutely active,” Alabiso says.

The haunted ventriloquist doll

Ventriloquist doll playing piano

When Marty was a child back in the '90s, she tells "Monsters Among Us" that she was a fan of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy sidekick, Charlie McCarthy.

She says that when her father came across a ventriloquist doll as he wandered through a small magic shop located outside of Santa Rosa, California, he decided to buy it for her birthday.

While ringing up the sale, Marty says the cashier gave her father "weird vibes" and said to him: "You know when you put your hand inside the doll, he's going to come alive."

Laughing off the comment, he brought the dummy home to his daughter.

According to Marty, she was over the moon when he dad gave her the doll, saying: "I was so happy when I got that doll, I was obsessed."

But before long, strange things began happening. Though impossible because the doll's head was made of hard plastic, she says its expression would change, including his smile.

Worried something would happen to her precious dummy, Marty's family shut it away in a cupboard most nights. One night, she and her family were awakened by the "pitter patter" of steps in their living room. Thinking it was the dog or another family member, they went to look.

No one was there. Except for the doll, who was sitting on the couch.

"We remember specifically we always put it away because I loved that doll so much that I took care of it," Marty says on the podcast.

Other strange occurrences began happening. While Marty and her dad were away, her uncle was alone in the house. The uncle says he heard Marty's father calling his name from the living room, even though he wasn't home.

When he went to look? He found the doll, once again, sitting on the couch. And no one else.

"All of our family was pretty much scared of the doll," Marty says. "People would start hearing their names being called, and we would hear walking at night. So, we just decided we needed to get rid of it."

Being Mexican and religious, Marty says her parents wanted to burn the doll in case it was demonic. They put it on the grill and, according to Marty, it wouldn't burn. "This doll would not go up in flames, at all, whatsoever."

They tried cutting it up with a knife, but were unsuccessful. Finally, they threw it in the trash can. After the garbage was collected, Marty's dad went to retrieve the bin.

In it? The doll.

To rid themselves of the dummy, they dug a hole in the backyard, then filled it with cement.

Marty and family have long-since moved away, but she says they still think about the doll and the possibility that eventually "it finds one of us."

The imaginary 'friend'

Ghost Stories

Jacqueline from Oklahoma says that while her memories have faded over the years, she recalls having an imaginary friend when she was young.

Her grandparents, "Granny Junie" and "Pa Hank," lived in a small home with a quiet backyard. Jacqueline recalls visiting them as a child.

"I have very good memories of my Pa Hank," Jacqueline says on the podcast "Monsters Among Us."

"He would sit under the tree with me and tell me stories." The stories were often about his life and memories of prohibition, she says. "He was actually a very interesting character."

The only problem? Her grandfather died in 1981 — and Jacqueline was born in 1982.

"I don't think I ever realized that I was getting stories from a ghost," she says, adding that the rest of her family knew of his presence in the house. "My Granny Junie would never stay in the house on the anniversary of his death," she says. "He did die in the house."

Jacqueline also recalls hearing Pa Hank get up in the middle of the night when she was staying at the house. "It never occurred to me that these were memories of an entity," she said.

In hindsight, Jacqueline says that even though her childhood "imaginary friend" was actually her dead grandfather, it casts a different light because it was a relative and not a stranger.

"It never felt like ghosts, it felt like talking to my Pa Hank."

The kidnapping ghost

Ghost Stories

On "Monsters Among Us," a caller named Joe tells of moving to Georgia from California in the late 1990s. Soon after, he says his brother followed him to the Peach State and rented an old house built in the 1800s.

"It looked nice from the outside ... it did not feel good from the inside," Joe says during the podcast.

According to Joe, things seemed off from the moment he helped his brother move into the home. "I walked into the house and went, 'Oh, man.' The hair stood up on the back of my neck, and I just felt ill-at-ease, like this place isn't cool at all," he says.

Moments later, while carrying items into the bedroom, Joe says he heard whispering.

"A heated whispering, almost an argument, between two people that seemed to be hovering in the top of the ceiling area of the room," he adds.

Joe ran out of the room and asked his brother if he'd felt something off about the house, too. His brother had picked up on the vibe, but assured Joe that things would be alright.

"As long as you're good," Joe says he told his brother. "I'm not good, but I'm going to help you. I'm going home and I probably won't come back here."

And, sure enough, Joe's brother began experiencing unusual occurrences in the house.

The most alarming, however, was when Joe says his young niece was found wandering alone on a busy road with her hand up in the air.

Police and other agencies were called to investigate the incident and when asked, his brother's 4-year-old explained that she'd gone for a stroll with the "old lady that lives here."

"She just wanted to go for a walk, so we went for a walk."

Given that the front door was too heavy for a 4-year-old to open by herself, no one could understand how she was able to leave the house.

According to Joe, his niece said, "The old lady opened the door, then we petted the dog for a little bit, then went for a walk."

"She was so genuine and honest at 4 years old, that he couldn't call her liar," Joe says during the podcast.

Soon after, his brother moved and never returned.

The ghosts of Stone’s Public House

Ghost Stories

Considered one of the most haunted restaurants in America, Stone’s Public House in Ashland, Massachusetts, doesn’t have a ghost problem — it has a ghosts problem.

Janet Morazzini, a longtime resident of Ashland, is the bartender and manager of Stone's Public House, which was built by John Stone back in 1832.

According to Morazzini, even before she began working at the inn, she heard stories of the ghost of a young boy roaming the halls of the restaurant, which once served as an ad hoc hospital during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

It makes sense, Morazzini tells TODAY.com. “That’s where they would quarantine all the sick people,” she explains. “Apparently, quite a few souls have passed just due to that.”

The inn is also the site for other untimely deaths, including that of a young girl who was struck and killed by a train while she played near the railroad tracks bordering the property.

According to Morazzini, a father and son visiting the inn stepped outside the restaurant to watch the trains. After coming back inside, Morazzini overheard the father reassuring his young son that there wasn't anyone else outside — despite the son insisting he'd seen a little girl sitting beside them.

“He’s like, ‘She was sitting right next to me. She was crying. You didn’t see the little girl?’ And the dad said, ‘There was nobody there, it was just me and you, buddy,'" Morazzini recalls.

Other ghosts are said to haunt the old inn, including that of proprietor, John Stone, who Morazzini says didn’t actually die there, but is believed to be “watching over” the place.

One night when Morazzini was alone at the inn, she says she heard footsteps walking directly above her on the second floor. “I was just like, there is no explanation for that whatsoever. I’m leaving," she tells TODAY.com.

Still, she doesn’t believe that the spirits have bad intentions. “I’ve never had that scary, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-gotta-get-out-of-the-building feeling there."

The unexpected passenger

Ghost Stories

In the 1990s, Julie, a resident of Portland, Oregon, was driving out the city to meet with friends when she found herself in traffic. The 18-year-old soon discovered that the cause of the slowdown was due to a dreadful car crash and to her horror, as she passed the scene, she realized that someone had died.

A moment later, “there was a woman sitting in my passenger seat.” Julie says on “Monsters Among Us.”

Though she admits it sounds crazy, Julie reports seeing a woman dressed in work clothes seated next to her. And despite being in complete shock, the woman in the passenger seat was even more freaked out. “She looked like somebody who just suddenly ended up in somebody else’s car,” Julie says of the incident.

Panicked, the woman demanded to know how she got there and who Julie was. It was then that Julie noticed the woman had an unearthly quality about her and realized that whoever she’d passed on the side of the road was somehow in the car with her.

“'Ma’am, you need to calm down, my name is Julie and I’m here to help,’” she says she told the stranger. Julie later went on to explain to the woman that she’d been in a car accident and somehow ended up in her passenger seat. The woman was stricken.

At that exact minute, they passed a clearing in the trees. With some encouragement from Julie, the woman peacefully walked toward the sun, then disappeared.

In completely disbelief, Julie pulled over and convinced herself she’d imagined the whole thing. Several days later, however, a story came on the news about a trucker injured in a car accident.

“Before they finished, they threw a picture up of the woman that was in my car and explained that she had passed away in the accident,” Julie says during the podcast. “It was unbelievable, it was too much.”

The ghost in the choir loft

The First Church in Salem, Massachusetts.

Alicia Diozzi, teacher, tour guide and owner of Salem Kids Tours , typically sticks to talking about Salem, Massachusetts' long and diverse history.

However, there’s one story she likes to share about a ghost that haunts First Church in Salem. The plot twist? Only children can see it.

“The little ones, maybe age 4 or 5, will ask about a ghostly presence that they see up in the choir loft in the main sanctuary of our church,” she tells TODAY.com.

According to Diozzi, kids often point to the same spot in the church and claim they see a woman there.

“The kids will say she’s in a long dress, long-sleeves, and that she sometimes can be heard singing with the choir," Diozzi says.

Tales of the choir ghost have been circulating since the 1960s, says Diozzi. And she might have dismissed them had her own son not pointed to loft 15 years ago and asked about "the lady who sings with the choir."

Was she chilled?

“Yes, definitely,” Diozzi says. “I feel like the main sanctuary at First Church has that feeling, you do kind of feel the presence of the past.”

It’s not a bad feeling she says, but rather a history or energy that’s comforting in a way.

The ghosts of 'Shawshank' penitentiary

The Ohio State Reformatory.

The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio is widely known for being the location of the classic movie, "The Shawshank Redemption."

But the old penitentiary, which was shut down in 1990, also has a reputation for being haunted.

Home to some of the most hardened criminals, the maximum-security prison was once the site of murders, suicides and other violent encounters, according to Theresa Argie, author and paranormal investigator known as “ The Haunted Housewife ."

“(The reformatory) had this incredible vein of violence that ran through it almost from the beginning," Argie tells TODAY.com.

“You can imagine why a place like that would be haunted,” she says. “There’s something negative there, you can just feel it in your bones.”

And there are, in fact, plenty of ghost stories from the old prison.

“We ran into female spirits there, which I thought was incredibly interesting,” Argie said. One of them, she says, is likely the wife of a former warden who was accidentally shot and killed while pulling a box down from a closet shelf.

According to Argie, they've captured recordings of a woman crying and, on occasion, smelled rose perfume in the bedroom.

Another spirit that’s said to haunt the reformatory is a woman who sits in the prison chapel and cries. “When you approach this woman sitting in the pew, she disappears. Other people have seen her walking," Argie says.

Then there's the malevolent presence there, according to Argie. And with the help of a medium, she says she communicated with it.

“He would literally be cussing at me,” she recalled.

While their sessions with the angry ghost were unnerving, it wasn’t until he followed Argie’s partner home that they were truly terrified.

“One day, she saw him, through a reflection of her window, she saw this thing in the back, this shadow figure, and she knew it was him," Argie tells TODAY.com.

After seeking the help of a paranormal expert, Argie says that "we haven't seen him since."

The phantom ambulance lights

Ambulance on forest road

In the mid 1990s, Robert worked as paramedic in a small Texas town and tells the story of a "strange happening" that he and his partner experienced on a call one night.

After receiving a call for a female having chest pains, he and his partner climbed in the ambulance to make their way to the address.

"We took off Code 3, which means using our emergency lights and sirens," Robert recalls.

In the absence of GPS back then, Robert says that they relied on maps and mailbox numbers to guide them to the rural location.

"The address we were going to was a very rural one," says Robert. "So, there was no street lights and it was a very dark night, so it was very difficult to read the mailboxes."

As they searched for the correct driveway, Robert says he turned off the sirens. After determining they'd found it, they pulled in only to discover they were mistaken.

"So, we turned off the emergency lights as we backed up to the road and went up the correct driveway," he explains.

Upon arriving at the scene, the paramedics realized that they'd been at the exact same address the month prior for a male suffering from cardiac arrest.

"In typical medical black-humor fashion, we mentioned to each other that this was probably the wife who was now having a heart attack and was now going to go join her husband."

They jumped from the ambulance, bags in tow, and began treating the woman, who, fortunately, ended up being alright. Robert says he sent his partner to get the stretcher from the ambulance so they could take her to hospital for evaluation.

"When he returned, he had this strange questioning look on his face," according to Robert. The pair wheeled the patient out to the emergency vehicle and that's when Robert saw that the ambulance "had nearly every light it was equipped with turned on."

"Strobe lights, flood lights, some interior lights ... everything on."

After taking the patient to the hospital, Robert asked his partner why he'd turned on all the lights.

In fact, he reminded Robert that they'd shut them all off after going to the wrong address.

"Neither of us recall activating the emergency lights, strobes or flood lights when we arrived at the house. There was no real reason to do so, we'd already gotten there.

"In the end, we wrote it off as her dead husband letting her know that he was still there."

The ghost dog

Fog in the nature park

Sarah, from Lancaster, Ohio, tells "Monsters Among Us" the story of her childhood dog, Cricket, who according to Sarah was a "pretty unhappy dog."

"She was super cranky, she only liked my grandma," Sarah says. "She didn't seem like she felt well."

Still, the family loved their dog and was devastated when the pup ran out into the road and was struck and killed by a passing car as they were preparing to leave on a family vacation.

"It was very sad, very upsetting, especially with me being a child. My grandmother was there, she loved Cricket and Cricket loved her. They had this special relationship that none of us had."

Despite the loss, the family had prepaid for their vacation, and not having a lot of money, decided to still go, leaving Cricket with an aunt who offered to take of the necessary details.

Upon arriving at the hotel where they were staying, Sarah says the family was "melancholy and sad" over the tragedy.

"We go to bed, and in the middle of the night, I'm not sure why I woke up, but I startled, woke up, sat up in bed, and looked down, and on the floor was Cricket, a full-body apparition, of her," says Sarah.

"She looked so happy, she looked like a different dog. She was jumping around. All that crankiness, all that unhappiness she had, was gone. It was like she was coming to tell me that she was OK. It was the clearest apparition. I've never seen an apparition again. It was the first and only time."

Sarah says she told her mother in the morning what she'd seen and her mom dismissed it as her middle-school brain just trying to make sense of the loss.

"I guess that's possible," says Sarah, "but to this day, I can still envision Cricket in that moment. I've never forgotten that image and it helped me feel better about what had happened because she seemed so happy and I do think she was visiting me that night."

  The ghosts of Willoughby Coal

The Willoughby Coal building in Ohio.

Built in the late 1800s, the Willoughby Coal building in Willoughby, Ohio, housed a variety of businesses in it's time, including a train depot, cheese factory and flour mill.

In 1912, it became the very prosperous Willoughby Coal, supplying coal to local residents before it was sold to Henry Windus and William “Don” Norris in the 1930s.

Over time, the relationship between the two owners grew contentious, according to Theresa Argie. “Henry Windus wanted to buy the business from Don Norris, but Don was unwilling to sell," the paranormal investigator tells TODAY.com

One morning, Norris allegedly told his wife he was going out for bread and to check on repairs being done on the Willoughby building.

He never returned.

Several hours later, his body was discovered in front of the door. “He was laying in a bloody heap,” Argie says.

Even though his death was ultimately ruled accidental, Argie says that Norris' family believed he'd been murdered. Though no one knows what really happened that morning, Argie believes his spirit still haunts the building.

“We have come in contact with him on many, many occasions,” she says and claims that others have reported seeing faces in the window and heard unexplained footsteps and other unusual occurrences at the building.

But Norris isn't alone.“We’ve probably got five or six resident spirits in the building."

The ghost nanny

Ghost touching sleeping granddaughter

Kip, a caller from New York state, talks of an old home that he and his wife purchased. Upon moving in, his wife invited her sister and newborn baby to come for a visit.

“The stayed in the downstairs bedroom and my wife was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom,” Kip explains on "Monsters Among Us," and says the first night their guests stayed, his wife overheard her sister talking to someone in the middle of the night.

The next morning, Kip’s wife asked who she’d been talking to and her sister replied, “I woke up in the middle of the night and there was an old lady standing over my baby and I had to tell her to get away.”

According to Kip, there were more unexplained incidents in the house including mysteriously moving lamps and a creepy occurrence with a fire alarm that went off while his wife was outside working in their garden.

“She immediately runs back into the house, figures out that it’s the smoke alarm in that same downstairs bedroom going off,” Kip says on the podcast. “When she opened the door, she said for a split second all she could see in the room was this white fog.”

Within moments, however, the white fog disappeared and the alarm shut off.

Convinced the house was haunted, Kip’s wife reached out to a neighbor to learn more about the property and discovered that the previous owner was a 90-year-old woman who tragically died in a house fire.

“Needless to say, we fixed up the house and got out of there as fast as we could and moved someplace else," says Kip.

Read on for more scares!

  • Are witches real? What to know on fact or fiction
  • Are werewolves real? The truth might surprise you
  • Scary books to read, from classics to modern fiction

scary ghost monster

Sarah is a lifestyle and entertainment reporter for TODAY who covers holidays, celebrities and everything in between.

The 50 Scariest Horror Movie Monsters Ranked

Possum

What scares you? Is it something ephemeral, like the concept of death or failure? Do sharks and slithery things give you nightmares, or is it Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers who keep you up at night? In the realm of terrifying monsters, it's hard to pick the absolute scariest one. Fear is, after all, purely subjective. Many things go bump in the night, but not all of them are created equal. Sure, some monsters will stick with you from childhood until you're old a grey, but others ... well, they lack a certain Je ne sais quois. Not these ones, though. No way. 

The /Film horror team put their heads together to come up with an immense list of horror movie monsters that gave them the frights, and together they whittled that list down to 30 contenders. Here are your scariest horror movie monsters.

50. The Possum marionette – Possum (2018)

"Possum,"  the depressing, psychological horror film directed by Matthew Holness, who cult horror fans may know as the creator and star of,  "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace,"  tells a story as disturbing as the terrifying puppet monster that gives the film its title. 

The story follows a disgraced children's puppeteer named Philip Connell (Sean Harris) who is forced to revisit his childhood home where his feeble uncle now resides. The only bag he brings on his journey is a leather duffel bag that houses a spider-like marionette called Possum that continually haunts Phillip throughout his visit. He tries to discard the puppet, but no matter what he does, Possum seems to make its way back to him. For most of the film, only the puppet's massive spider legs are visible, making the reveal of the spider's human face all the more horrific. 

More than just a mere marionette, Possum is the manifestation of Phillip's disturbing past, and its grotesque appearance is a direct reflection of his anguish. (BJ Colangelo)

49. Raatma – (V/H/S/94)

Raatma only has a few seconds of screen time in "V/H/S/94," one of the best entries in the long-running found footage horror anthology series, but every single one of those seconds leaves an impact. A grotesque rat creature, who lives in the series beneath a nondescript city and has garnered a following of deranged individuals who worship it as a god, it's a triumph of low-key movie monster design — the fact that you barely see Raatma means it sits in your brain like a shard of glass you can't quite remove. What the absolute heck is this thing?

And unlike so many great movie monsters, Raatma is also darkly funny, with its followers creating some of the biggest laughs and most meme-able moments in recent horror history. Raatma is so nasty, so bleak, that the film's only course of action is transform its influence into the most shocking comedy imaginable. Hail, Raatma! (Jacob Hall)

48. The Man With Fire in His Face – Insidious (2010)

James Wan has created countless monsters throughout his career, but "Insidious" introduced one of his mightiest. The Man With Fire in His Face, aka Lipstick-Face Demon was an instant frightener when the first "Insidious" trailer played. As the minutes-long teaser plays out, we see glimpses of Lin Shaye as a medium, Rose Byrne as a family protector, and then Patrick Wilson's face — at first. Behind Wilson's father figure seated at the dinner table leers Wan's Darth Maul wannabe, peering into the camera, taunting Wilson from behind. You needn't even see "Insidious" to fear the demon, thanks to possibly the most iconic horror trailer moment of the last decade.

As a resident of The Further, Red-dy Krueger "seeks to bring pain and chaos to the world of the living by possessing a human body." He's distilled hatred with a snarling face, designed like he's the dictionary definition of "Satan's Little Helper." The demon lures Dalton Lambert (Tyler Simpkins) into his lair, chains the boy down, and tortures him to his heart's ill content. 

"Insidious" is crammed with tremendous scares, so many due to the demon's daunting stalks as even his blackened figure brings that added spike of anxiety. Once you see the red face, you'll never sleep again. (Matt Donato)

47. The Beach That Makes You Old -- Old (2021)

What if the main monster of a horror movie was ... a beach that makes you grow old? A quintessential example of a film that couldn't have been made by any other director or at any other moment in that director's filmography, "Old" — and the killer beach at the center of the story — represents the nexus of all of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan's famously divisive idiosyncrasies. Even more than terrifying ghosts or megalomaniac supervillains or an invasion of extraterrestrials, the time-defying beach strikes at a very particular, yet universal anxiety that Shyamalan exploits to the fullest.

Okay, like much of Shyamalan's work, the real antagonist of "Old" essentially boils down to the disturbing lengths individuals and institutions will go to protect their own self-interests, but the setting of this largely one-location thriller truly manages to crawl underneath the skin. The beach's time-dilation effect is ultimately responsible for a rushed pregnancy gone horrifically wrong, an impromptu and gruesome surgery, and all sorts of traumatic deaths. But, most frightening of all, it forces the characters to grapple with the sick, existential feeling of watching precious moments of life slip away. If that's not a monster, I don't know what is. (Jeremy Mathai)

46. Valak – The Conjuring 2 (2016)

In the intricate lore of James Wan's Conjuring-verse , Valak is the closest thing paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren have to an overarching Big Bad. The demon gets his time in the spotlight in "The Nun," but has also made appearances in three other movies in the franchise to date. First summoned by a Romanian Duke, the fallen angel soon gets cozy on earth and begins possessing nuns at a secluded monastery.

Valak's fear factor depends on what face he's wearing: in "The Nun," the demon masquerades as a nun, showing off his ability to infiltrate the most respected orders of the religion that rebukes him. Valak's nun form is decidedly freaky, but he can be even scarier when he's less obvious. 

Despite being able to take over human bodies, Valak seems compelled to taunt his prey. He spells his name in blocks behind Lorraine's head while she sleeps or appears in the back of one of Sister Charlotte's photographs without her noticing. His show of force is sometimes blatant, but other times he can be more sinister and creeping in his methods. No matter what form he takes, he's freaky as hell. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

45. Clover – Cloverfield (2008)

American Kaiju cinema isn't as popular as it should be, which is a shame because "Cloverfield" is such a phenomenal experiment in perspective and destruction. The title references Project Cloverfield, which the American government uses as a codename for the film's creature. An extraterrestrial beast crashes into the ocean and begins destroying New York City, which we witness through the found-footage perspective of partygoers now fleeing for their life. 

There's no defense, and nowhere you can escape given the Kaiju's gargantuan size. How is that not pit-of-your-stomach horrific?

Let's cover all the ways Clover — the eventual nickname of the mega beast — can cause harm. Maybe his gigantic stomper crushes you underfoot, or perhaps he chews you in half. Clover could topple a skyscraper or bridge and crush you under debris. The helpless feeling that "Cloverfield" stirs is the ultimate horror vibe, and that's without even acknowledging the violent minions Clover releases from its body that causes victims to explode when bit. 

Clover is one of the great American monsters since Y2K, causing a million ways to die that we will never forget. (Matt Donato)

44. Moder – The Ritual (2017)

David Bruckner's "The Ritual" is about a lot of things like toxic masculinity, the pain of growing apart from your friends, and the dangers of camping, but it also happens to feature one of the coolest original creature designs in recent memory. 

After a group of friends played by Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Sam Troughton, Robert James-Collier, and Paul Reid go on a trek into the woods, they discover an ancient evil, a kind of Norse giant called a Jotunn. One of the friends completes a pagan ritual and manages to summon Moder, a Jotunn whose spirit is tied to that particular forest and happens to be the ill-gotten son of Loki, God of Mischief. That's when things get really interesting.

Moder is a horrifying creation. He's part stag and part human corpse, with a man's torso for a face, and arms hanging down below his mouth like a warthog's tusks. He's also huge, towering high into the trees. 

"The Ritual" is a slow-burning nightmare, but once Moder shows up in his gory glory, it's well worth the wait. (Danielle Ryan)

43. The Gwoemul – The Host (2006)

Though South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho is no stranger to the socially conscious thriller, his 2006 film "The Host" plays with a distinct twist in the sub-genre. After American-sanctioned negligence results in 400 bottles of formaldehyde being poured into Seoul's Han River, all the fish die while something terrifying begins to mutate and take shape. When a string of sightings crop up, all detailing a strange, amphibian creature roaming the riverbanks, a monster finally emerges from the murky depths, wreaking havoc on the city and its populace. In a frenzied panic, snack stall owner Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) even loses his young daughter Hyun-seo (Go Ah-sung) to the monster's slimy clutches.

Dubbed the Gwoemul (Korean for "monster"), the creature resembles a cross of a fish and a salamander, with some horrifying new additions. It boasts a multi-pronged, gaping mouth and a prehensile tail. What makes the creature so eerie, though, is the fact that its backstory has real-world origins. In 2000, the U.S. really did dump all that formaldehyde into the Han River , causing actual mutations in the indigenous fish population. Theoretically, the Gwoemul could emerge from the river's waters at any moment, and America would be totally to blame. (Natalia Keogan)

42. Graboids – Tremors (1990)

Ron Underwood's classic 1990 creature feature, "Tremors," achieves an incredible feat: making 'roided-out earthworms threatening. 

Originally theorized as extraterrestrial — "I vote for outer space. No way these are local boys," says Earl Basset (Fred Ward) — the sightless underground monsters, also called the unimaginative "Dirt Monsters," are discovered to be prehistoric rabble-rousers who like to eat livestock, cars, and the occasional bit of human flesh as a treat. Their snake-like appendages are strong enough to hold a running truck back from escape, and they are patient enough to lay siege to their potential lunch for days on end. When they descend upon the high desert, mountain-bound town of Perfection, Nevada, it's an all-you-can-eat buffet: sensing the vibrations humans make (walking, bouncing on a pogo stick, dribbling a basketball, etc.), it's easy for the creatures — dubbed "graboids" by store owner Walter Chang (Victor Wong) — to spot their next meal. 

But there's one thing they don't count on: a pair of aimless handymen (Kevin Bacon and Ward), a seismologist, and a Republican prepper couple with way too many firearms. (Anya Stanley)

41. The Tall Man – Phantasm (1979)

Everything about the Tall Man feels...wrong. Angus Scrimm, with his looming heigh and unusual features, feels less like a human being and more like an alien entity stumbling about in a disguise that never fits quite right. He exudes a cosmic menace, a vibe that could be mistaken for eccentricity by those who aren't paying attention. In other words, he's the perfect fit for "Phantasm" and its sequels, a franchise all about the slow leaking of dream-like chaos into our world. Scrimm, with his bellowing voice and severe face, emerges from the darkness like a nightmare. He's the Terminator – you can't stop him, it's not clear if anything can stop him.

The "Phantasm" series has its ups and downs, but the Tall Man remains a fixed point, an anchor that maintains our horrified fascinations. In a given moment, he looks just like a man. But in action, he's the conductor of universal horrors so extreme that they defy the imagination. His existence is our greatest nightmare. (Jacob Hall)

40. The Empty Man - The Empty Man (2020)

By the end of the outstanding 22-minute prologue of David Prior's slow-burn psychological horror film "The Empty Man," you'll already find yourself questioning what the Empty Man actually is. Is it the bizarre, not-quite-human skeleton found in a shrine in a buried cave in the Bhutan Valley? Is it the strange figure wrapped in rags that stands silently in the snow before charging towards the door of a lonely cabin, only to disappear when the door is closed on it? Is it some kind of demon that possesses one of the unfortunate hikers, causing her to kill two of her friends and then herself?

That's the mystery of the film, and one that protagonist James Lasombra (James Badge Dale) must solve. You won't find much in the way of jump scares in "The Empty Man," and there's only minimal gore. Mostly, the Empty Man manifests as a steadily rising dread, and the payoff when his true nature is revealed cuts deeper than any knife. (Hannah Shaw-Williams)

39. The Wolf Aliens - Attack the Block (2011)

Darkness is always scary. So when a monster can blend seamlessly into the dark without alerting you to its presence until it's too late, there are few things more terrifying. That's what makes the wolf aliens in "Attack the Block" such great monsters. The pitch black hair that covers their entire body makes it supremely difficult to see them in the dead of night on the streets of South London. It's only when they open their mouths that they're revealed, and that only makes them more scary. Without any eyes (at least that we can see), you can only notice these creatures in the dark due to the electric blue glow of their deadly, sharp teeth, so there's not even a bloodthirsty glare to stare into before their attack.

Making the wolf aliens even more menacing is the fact that they're driven by their instinctual nature. Why are they attacking these teens on their home turf? Because the guys had a run-in with a female alien, and they've been carrying around its body all over the block with them. All the male aliens (maliens?) can smell their potential mate, and they keep chasing its pheromones. The wolf aliens would literally kill a bunch of kids rather than not get laid. (Ethan Anderton)

38. The Tentacle Monster – Possession (1981)

Andrzej Żuławski's psychological horror drama "Possession" is a film that feels as if it defies description. Better suited as an experience rather than something to watch, "Possession" tells the story of Sam Neill's Mark, a spy who upon realizing his wife, Anna (played by Isabelle Adjani) is seeking a divorce, is thrown into a world of nightmarish psychosis as he slowly uncovers the truth of his wife's infidelity. 

The film was banned in many places upon its release in 1981, due in large part to the way horror and sexuality are visually intertwined throughout. "Possession" is a film as horny as it is horrific, with Adjani's Anna seeking the pleasure not of a random lover, but of a gooey, gruesome, tentacled monster. The creature is given minimal screen time, but the image of it writhing on top of her is enough to sear itself into the subconscious of anyone watching. The monster's impact on both Anna and Mark inspired two of the most grueling performances in horror history. 

Life gets pretty weird after you do the dirty deed with a gigantic tentacle beast. (BJ Colangelo)

37. Brundlefly – The Fly (1986)

Remaking a classic horror movie is one of the biggest risks a director can take, but for David Cronenberg, "The Fly" helped solidify his reputation as one of horror's greatest masters. 

"The Fly," a remake of the beloved B-movie of the same name, showcases the revolting demise of Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Seth Brundle, a brilliant scientist who believes he has discovered the key to teleportation. In what would become quite possibly the biggest drunken mistake ever put to film, Dr. Brundle attempts to test his telepods on himself, unknowingly merging himself with a housefly in the process. The results are grotesque, as Dr. Brundle slowly transforms into the monstrous creature known by horror fans as Brundlefly. His body mutates and falls apart, growing increasingly more repulsive by the hour. 

Thanks to the Academy Award-winning practical makeup work of Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis, the unsightly vision of Jeff Goldblum's metamorphosis has been effectively terrifying (and grossing out) audiences for nearly four decades. (BJ Colangelo)

36. Regan MacNeil – The Exorcist (1973)

Often dubbed one of the scariest movies of all time, "The Exorcist" caused fainting spells, walk-outs, and shudders of disgust when it premiered theatrically in 1973. Archival footage of audience reactions at the time shows that people were far more scared of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) than her possessor, Pazuzu. "She turned her head around," one young woman stuttered in horror after leaving the screening, immediately hiding her face in her date's jacket. Even the mere mention of the scene was too horrifying to handle.

It makes perfect sense why a 12-year-old girl, covered in neon-green vomit and with blood oozing from every orifice, continues to inspire nightmares as opposed to the stony-faced Pazuzu. Something seemingly harmless and gentle is transformed into an inhuman threat, her demonic voice change and physical contortions an affront to human nature itself. She is at once innocent and corrupted, and there's no concrete explanation as to why she was marked for possession. This is what's truly so terrifying about Regan: If the Devil chose her to be his vessel, what's to say he can't claim you? 

Forget Catholic guilt — "The Exorcist" is the ultimate example of Catholic anxiety. (Natalia Keogan)

35. The Lasser Glass – Oculus (2013)

Most of the monsters on this list are alive in some quantifiable way, but the villain at the heart of "Oculus" wears the mask of an inanimate object. The Lasser Glass, a mirror that's killed 45 people and counting is one sick puppy, capable of manipulating reality for anyone who comes near it. In Mike Flanagan's pulse-pounding film, it faces off against Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites), two traumatized siblings whose family was ripped apart by the mirror years ago.

While most cursed objects are revealed to be associated with some outside participant or demonic presence, in "Oculus," the Lasser Glass is the presence. The antique has been taking lives since at least 1754, including killing the pair's parents. It can bend perceptions in a deeply creepy and tragic way, relentlessly messing with time, space, and its victims' heads. 

It can also, memorably, make a person take a bite out of a light bulb. 

The heroes of "Oculus" are extra-clever horror movie protagonists, making their continued inability to overcome the mirror's dark enchantments all the more terrifying. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

34. The Predator – Predator (1987)

The Predator has been through quite a few iterations over the years. Some of them are scarier than others, but none of them hold a candle to the original from 1987's "Predator." Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the film directed by John McTiernan about a group of special forces commandos who go into the Central American rainforest to rescue hostages from guerrilla forces. Unfortunately, they also encounter the Predator, an alien warrior who travels from planet to planet, hunting the universe's most dangerous prey.

The original Predator was played by Kevin Peter Hall in a monster suit. Initially, the Predator appears to have a smooth, metallic face, but this is revealed to be a helmet. He's actually got some mega mandibles and a whole lot of razor-sharp teeth under there. He's terrifying because he's the galaxy's greatest hunter, with cloaking capabilities and lots of practical battle skills. He can be pretty cool when he's on your side, like in the "Aliens vs. Predator" series, but it's never good to be his prey. 

Fans of the series will get a chance to see that in action in Dan Trachtenburg's prequel film, "Prey."  (Danielle Ryan)

33. The Entity - Skinamarink (2023)

The Entity from "Skinamarink," not pictured, never actually appears on screen. Or maybe it does, and it is pictured. Or maybe it doesn't exist. Maybe it's all of those! Like all the horrifying monsters on this list, it doesn't actually matter if it's real. If it terrifies the living hell out of us, it's "real" enough.

"Skinamarink" takes place inside a typical suburban home, where two young children wake up in the middle of the night and discover their father is gone, the television is on, the lights are off, and the windows have disappeared. So have the doors that lead outside. Their house is now a purgatorial void. All they know is they have toys and distractions, and occasionally a voice tells them to do things, like go upstairs and see something terrifying or harm themselves.

It has been argued that "Skinamarink," which takes place entirely in a liminal space our subconscious wants to fill, might only be a dream or a metaphor. But real or not, the entity that abducts these children, steals their mouths, and leads them to a shocking end is a nightmare that we can't get out of our own heads, where it is likely to live forever. (William Bibbiani)

32. The Mother - Barbarian (2022)

A truly ghastly abomination inspired by a classic literary monster , what makes The Mother from 2022's "Barbarian" deserving of her spot on this list is not that she's the deformed product of prolonged incestuous abuse — though that should be disturbing enough to earn her a nod. What makes The Mother so scary is that even after she's revealed in all her twisted glory, she remains just as terrifying as when we didn't know exactly what kind of wretched beast stalked the basement of that cursed AirBnB.

Using the audience's imagination against them is one of the most powerful tools in any horror director's arsenal. "Barbarian" uses that trick for its first act, where we know there's some nebulous evil afoot but we don't know exactly what form it's going to take. But even after the full reveal of The Mother and her appalling origins, she somehow remains just as terrifying, managing to live up to our worst fears of what malevolence awaited us. That surely makes her one of the great movie monsters. Director Zach Cregger even manages to make us feel sorry for the poor beast by the end, which only serves to make the things even more upsetting. (Joe Roberts)

31. Bruce – Jaws (1975)

Steven Spielberg delivered perhaps one of the most universal terrors in cinema history in 1975 with "Jaws." Not only did he essentially create the summer blockbuster as we know it, but "Jaws" introduced us to one of the most terrifying monsters to ever grace the silver screen. So what made the shark affectionately known as Bruce so terrifying? This was a little too close to reality to be comfortable.

It all starts with that famous tagline, "You'll never go in the water again." Virtually anyone who has ever seen "Jaws" has likely experienced a moment of hesitation before setting foot in a big body of water. What lies just below the surface? Is there some beast full of razor-sharp teeth looking for an easy meal? It's a combination of the very real, as sharks have been around for millions of years, and the unknown that lies just out of sight that makes Bruce so viscerally terrifying. It certainly doesn't hurt that the shark itself is monstrous, not to mention the impact of  John Williams' iconic theme , but the fact that so much of the horror and death is about what we aren't seeing is what makes it so horrifying. 

Sometimes our imaginations can fill in those gaps better than anything tangible ever could. (Ryan Scott)

30. Crawlers – The Descent (2005)

"The Descent" is one of the 2000s greatest horror triumphs. Y'all wanna explore caves with claustrophobic passageways? Be my guest. Shimmy your way around stalagmites and venture into pitch-black unknowns at your own peril because you might find imp-like, feral beasts that toss bones picked clean of flesh into a bloody pool.

Neil Marshall's Crawlers are a species of humanoids who've evolved underground, physically adapting to the landscape of subterranean cave systems. Their ears are pointed, noses rigid and flat against faces like a bat, exhibiting nocturnal traits on top of their predatory instincts. Crawlers scale walls, hunt using echolocation, and don't need flares to see. The way Crawlers scamper, gliding across slippery rock faces that would cause veteran spelunkers to pause, is enough to make you stay away from any cave entrances.

Sarah (Shauna Macdonald), Juno (Natalie Mendoza), and their friends are no match for the creatures that view the humans as invaders, as Crawlers chew, chase, and massacre them with ease. (Matt Donato)

29. Art the Clown - Terrifier (2016)

In the sea of scary killer clowns, there's one that dons a monochrome onesie and a creepy grimace while on the hunt for victims. He doesn't speak a word — he mimes, swinging to unpredictable extremes while toying with his targets, the silence intensifying the brutality with which he tortures and mutilates. This demented killer, Art the Clown, first debuted in a short titled "The 9th Circle," and after appearances in several horror anthologies, he is now the beating heart of the "Terrifier" franchise. While Art's mere presence onscreen is enough to induce genuine fear, his murder rampage in "Terrifier" cements him as a new, yet formidable movie monster with an edge.

The most terrifying aspect of Art's personality is the lack of motivation behind his brutal killings: his targets are random, and his methods for torture are as whimsical as his mimes. We know next to nothing about his origins and the true nature of his abilities, which are undoubtedly supernatural, despite the grounded, albeit theatrical nature of the kills. There are no shades of grey when it comes to Art, as the killer clown is solely driven by the sadistic urge to indulge in vile acts and brutal extremes. (Debopriyaa Dutta)

28. The Invisible Man – The Invisible Man (1933)

There's an old adage in horror that the scariest things are those that remain unseen. No movie monster embodies that like Griffin, the Invisible Man, whose body bends light to keep others from seeing him. This futuristic movie monster debuted on the pages of H.G. Wells' eponymous 1897 novel.

"The Invisible Man" was one of science fiction's early love affairs with horror and that torrid romance carried on when director James Whale adapted the book in 1933. Whale's film created a look for the character, worn by actor Claude Rains. Griffin's face was bandaged like a burn victim with glasses standing in for eyes; he could only manage to appear with the outline of a human form. It leads to a visual trick when the wrap comes off, and there's nothing there, Griffin's spine-tingling laugh emerging from no visible mouth.

The 2020 remake directed by Leigh Whannell plays The Invisible Man (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) for pure horror, taking advantage of CGI to show the kinds of murders an unseen force could pull off (hint: one involves a floating knife). Rains' Griffin, though, has a melancholy to him. There are few things sadder than feeling invisible. (Devin Meenan)

27. Jean Jacket - Nope (2022)

Jordan Peele takes our love of spectacle into an absolute nightmare in "Nope," exploring the price of art and entertainment and the lengths we go to try and control nature for the sake of "the perfect shot" through the lens of a creature feature. Initially presented as a UFO, Peele frames the alien entity referred to as Jean Jacket like the shark from "Jaws," mostly hidden among the clouds. Though we don't get a good look at it for most of the film, we never stop feeling the presence of Jean Jacket, nor seeing the consequences of its actions.

The scariest scene in the movie shows a cowboy show that goes horribly wrong , with shots of people covered in viscera and being slowly digested inside the creature. Plus, the alien changes and transforms throughout the film, like an Angel from "Neon Genesis Evangelion," adding to its mystery and also to its horror, as we never even begin to comprehend what it is or how it works. Though new to the scene, Jean Jacket made one memorable impression that will stick with us for years to come. (Rafael Motamayor)

26. King Paimon – Hereditary (2018)

One of the scariest monsters in 21st-century horror never shows its true face. Still, the spirit of King Paimon lingers in the dark and quiet terror of every moment of "Hereditary." Ari Aster's feature debut coats the air with a choking sense of wrongness from early on in the movie and lets the dread of Paimon's unseen force escalate into a wild and horrific climax. Audiences will have forgotten to breathe by the time Alex Wolff's Peter flings himself through a window and shuffles, possessed, into his treehouse shrine.

"Hereditary" makes Paimon terrifying by refusing to explain him, instead offering clues and details leading up to the final, gruesome revelation that the family's tragedies have all been in honor of the dark deity. Viewers don't know exactly what he wants, or why, but it's clear that he gets it by causing deep hurt and tremendous fear. The fact that his manipulations feed on situations that can happen to anyone, like mental illness, accidents, aging, and death, makes Paimon's power all the more frightening. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

25. The Bedlam/Other Mother - Coraline (2009)

Coraline Jones' mom is a total buzzkill. She almost never lets Coraline do what she wants and is too busy doing boring adult things with her husband to give Coraline the attention she craves. So, when Coraline ventures to the Other World and meets her Other Mother, she's immediately enthralled. Other Mother makes her delicious foods and encourages her to check out the wonders of the Other World, which is just like Coraline's world but more colorful and way more fun. One day, her Other Mother tells Coraline she can stay there forever if she wants.

All she has to do is sew a pair of buttons over her eyes, like everyone else in Other World.

"Coraline" is a story about how growing up isn't as scary as it seems , but it's also a story about how being trapped as a child forever would actually be horrifying. The Other Mother, aka the Bedlam, and her request perfectly embodies that horror. As unnerving as the Bedlam is when she eventually reveals her true form (with her spidery build, cracked face, and clawed fingers), it's the smiling, relentlessly perky facade she adapts to deceive Coraline that's truly unsettling. (Sandy Schaefer)

24. The Overlook Hotel – The Shining (1980)

Stephen King is known for a prolific career full of terrifying monsters. One of his most iconic and terrifying creations was The Overlook Hotel. The Overlook first graced the pages of King's 1977 novel "The Shining" before its 1980 feature film debut. When troubled writer Jack Torrence moves his family into the Overlook as its winter caretaker, he soon discovers that the hotel is full of predatory spirits of deceased guests. What's worse, it wants to corrupt Jack in an effort to take his son Danny because of his nascent psychic abilities.

The Overlook isn't merely a haunted hotel, it's a sentient being with malicious desires and intent . It also happens to be able to corrupt its guests and ensnare them forever . What really drives the terror home is the fact that its horrors are completely personal, using Jack's alcoholism and isolationist tendencies to turn him against his own family. It's a sentient, corrupting hotel that knows its victims and weaponizes their deepest weaknesses against their loved ones in a cycle of blood and death. Few things are scarier. (Jeff Ewing)

23. Sam - Trick 'r Treat (2007)

With orange footie pajamas, a smiling, stitched burlap scarecrow face with button eyes, and a little sack in his hands, Sam might seem like a cute trick or treater. But the longer you stare at him, the scarier he becomes, especially when you notice that sharp pumpkin lollipop he's carrying around. For most of "Trick 'r Treat," Sam is merely an observer of the gnarly events unfolding on Halloween, but his presence becomes more and more ominous as the series of tragic stories continues. It's not until Sam gets his own segment that his horrifying nature becomes clear.

Underneath Sam's burlap head-covering is a nasty mix of a skull and a jack-o'-lantern, his flesh looking like the interior of a pumpkin, his teeth sharp and crooked. Not even the blast of a shotgun can take him down; Sam can reanimate and continues on his mission, which seems to be enforcing the rules of Halloween. In this case, Sam just wants to make sure that the old curmudgeonly Kreeg (Brian Cox) is handing out candy to the neighborhood kids, so he punishes him with a candy bar hiding a concealed razor blade before going on his way and letting Kreeg live. Trick or treat, indeed! (Ethan Anderton)

22. The Wolf Man - The Wolf Man (1941)

Lon Chaney Jr.'s furry fella wasn't the first anthropomorphic depiction of a werewolf in movies (Henry Hull got there six years earlier in Universal Pictures' "Werewolf of London"), but the son of Hollywood's "Man of a Thousand Faces" gave a far more feral and frightening performance in 1941 under the meticulously applied makeup of monster movie legend Jack Pierce .

It took 10 hours to film Chaney's lap-dissolve transformation, but the effort was more than worth it. Director George Waggner and screenwriter Curt Siodmak use most of the film's tight 70-minute runtime to establish Chaney's Larry Talbot as an affable romantic. We like him and want for his happiness (even if he is pursuing an engaged woman). This makes his lycanthropic curse all the more tragic and terrifying. Chaney snarls and pounces with an animalistic fervor; there isn't a trace of Talbot in his portrayal of the Wolf Man, which leaves us fearful of the monster that lurks inside all of us. Talbot cannot cure his condition, and he cannot be saved. He is damned. (Jeremy Smith)

21. Deadites - The Evil Dead (1981)

Many of the monsters on this list are terrifying in their own way, but the Deadites from the "Evil Dead" franchise are exceptionally scary because they were once the people our heroes knew and loved. Starting with "The Evil Dead" in 1981, Deadites have become possessed by the evil released from the Book of the Dead when someone reads aloud from the book. Ash (Bruce Campbell), Mia (Jane Levy), and Beth (Lily Sullivan) must each do battle with their loved ones after they've become monstrous, like having to put someone down after they've become a zombie but much, much worse.

Deadites are servants of evil, tormenting the un-possessed around them with cruel words and vicious attacks while also rending their own flesh in a variety of gruesome ways. There's almost no way to stop a Deadite either, as Ash learns when his girlfriend's head continues to mock him after being severed from her body. It's tough enough to fight undead monsters from hell, but when they used to be your girlfriend, brother, or mom? That's absolutely brutal. (Danielle Ryan) 

20. The Killer Klowns — Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

Some people find clowns utterly terrifying. Others do not, thinking them annoying at worst. Unfortunately, for both camps, there are the Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

The Klowns don't bother to hide their murderous intentions — even at rest, their faces are fixed with disturbingly malicious, almost hungry perma-grins. Created by their ringleaders, the Chiodo Brothers (Charles, Edward and Stephen), the Klowns are downright unholy looking, almost as if the Chiodo's adapted them from Coulrophobia itself, as they seem to operate out of a logic that's part nightmare and part comedy sketch.

To wit: these carnivorous aliens use devices like guns that shoot popcorn, cocoons made from cotton candy, cages made from balloons, and so on. Basically, anything that may look harmless isn't, and anything that may look harmful is. You're not safe, and if you're not screaming, you're laughing, as It's the Klowns' mischievousness that makes them even more unpredictable.

Despite their film's PG-13 rating, the Klowns are hardcore. They get up to some disturbing, Kindertrauma-esque kills, and just about nothing goes harder than that theme song by the Dickies. The great and terrible thing about the Killer Klowns is that, if you don't already have a clown phobia, they'll smash it into you like a pie in the face. (Bill Bria)

19. Sadako and Samara – Ju-On (2000) and The Grudge (2004)

Regardless of whether someone watches the Japanese "Ringu" or the American remake, "The Ring," chances are they're going to be terrified of a little girl with long black hair. Sadako, or Samara in her American iteration , is a ghostly figure whose voice tells people they will die in seven days after they watch a cursed videotape. She's on the VHS, crawling out of a well with her long hair over her eyes, and she eventually crawls right out of the television screen and into the reality of the movie in a sequence that is utterly surreal.

Sadako doesn't have to say much beyond the old "seven days" line, because she's perfectly horrifying all on her own. There's something innately creepy about children in long gowns, and Sadako's feral movements and Cousin Itt-style hair make her even creepier. Samara and Sadako both went on to star in several sequels in their respective franchises, and Sadako even got the chance to duke it out with Kayako from "Ju-On" for "Sadako vs. Kayako" — a true duel of terror. (Danielle Ryan)

18. Gabriel – Malignant (2021)

It's not easy to create a memorable new movie monster. The slasher genre helped birth classic killers like Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface, but when was the last time we got a new slasher that could stand the test of time? In my humble opinion, the answer is Gabriel from James Wan's gloriously bonkers "Malignant." Wan and company created a memorable look for the killer — leather trenchcoat, long hair, and a weapon carved out of an award trophy. 

And of course, there's Gabriel's true nature — he's a parasitic twin; a growth in the back of the head of protagonist Madison. As a result, Gabriel struts around town backwards, flailing his (or rather, Madison's) limbs in awkward, gangly motions. The fun thing is that Wan never hides this — Gabriel's backwards movements are there from the start. It just takes us, the audience, a long time to put our finger on what's going on because it's so damn crazy. After several scenes cloaked in shadows, Gabriel eventually makes his grand entrance near the end of the film where he literally springs forth out of the back of Madison's skull and lays waste to an entire jail holding cell full of comical stereotype female prisoners. To me, that's cinema. (Chris Evangelista)

17. Chucky – Child's Play (1988)

To many Spencer's Gifts patrons, Chucky is a friend 'till the end. To others, he's a devil doll whose cackle echoes through countless nightmares. Serial killer Charles Lee Ray becomes the horror icon we know and fear when transfers his soul into the rubbery vessel of a Good Guy doll. Brad Dourif plays the "Lakeshore Strangler" and lends his voice to Chucky in plaything form, defining his career as the most seasoned slasher villain since Chucky's debut in 1988's "Child's Play." Dourif's the only one who's played the demented doll in Mancini's ongoing canon and there's no end in sight with "Chucky" season 2 on the way.

"But Chucky's a jokester slasher and two-feet-tall!" Valid points, but Chucky's stitched Frankenstein style unveiled in "Bride Of Chucky" is unsettling and grotesque. He goes from a walking, talking evil doll to a terrifying monster. Laugh all you want, but the Chucky fear is real — innocence bastardized into maniacal malevolence in a red-headed package. 

Dolls are supposed to be cute and cuddly, not possessed by wanted criminals. Chucky makes us fear what we should love, and for that reason alone, he's a scary story legend. (Matt Donato)

16. Godzilla – Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla is one of the most iconic and enduring monsters in the history of cinema. He's also right at home on this list as one of the most terrifying. 

Ishirō Honda's 1954 masterpiece was born from the anti-nuclear movement following World War II and the H-bomb testing at Bikini Atoll, with the titular kaiju serving as a stand-in for Japan's well-founded fears of nuclear annihilation. After the war ended, the U.S. military occupied Japan and essentially banned all press coverage of the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hiding the catastrophic fallout from the rest of the world. Though the occupation ended in 1952, the U.S. military used the Marshall Island of Bikini Atoll well into 1954. This would become the site of the most powerful nuclear bomb ever detonated by the United States: Castle Bravo . 

And thus Godzilla was born . His skin was designed after the keloid scars covering the bodies of Hiroshima survivors, and his atomic breath wreaked the same havoc on the people of Japan that the U.S. military had subjected them to. The film opens with a haunting homage to the Lucky Dragon No. 5 , the first casualty of Castle Bravo, only Godzilla ensured they never made it home. 

Godzilla remains an indelibly horrifying creature not because of his size or appearance, but because of the history that created him. It's just that simple. (Ariel Fisher)

15. Count Dracula – Dracula (1931)

As Bela Lugosi famously said as the vampiric Count Dracula, "There are far worse things awaiting man than death." The legacy of the Universal Monsters films spans nearly a century, but it all began with the vampire classic, 1931's "Dracula."  

The true terror of Bela Lugosi's performance as the Count is not in jump scares or dramatic makeup effects, but rather in how undeniably electric he is on screen, able to successfully lull us into his trap with a well-placed smile and the delicate raise of an eyebrow. His vocal pattern has become the default for what Count Dracula should sound like, providing the perfect combination of creepiness and captivation. 

The character has been reinterpreted by a multitude of actors including Christopher Lee, Lon Chaney Jr., Gary Oldman, and even the puppeteers on "Sesame Street," but Bela Lugosi is the defining Dracula who paved the way for all future bloodsuckers and children of the night. (BJ Colangelo)

14. It - It Follows (2015)

What will your death look like? Perhaps you will die at a ripe old age of natural causes after a satisfying life. Perhaps you will die rather suddenly and possibly even violently before then. Or perhaps an illness of some kind will gradually wear you down. Death doesn't look the same to any two people, so why should the personified form of death look the same at any given moment to any single person?

That's the logic by which "It" operates in David Robert Mitchell's horror film "It Follows." The supernatural entity will slowly, but surely, pursue its intended victim until they pass the curse onto someone else by having sex with them ... but once it kills that person, the entity will resume hunting its previous target, and so on and so forth. Like death, the thing that makes "It" terrifying is that it could not only look like anyone, but you can only hope to hold it at bay for so long. It doesn't matter what you do, who you know, or how many tricks you've got up your sleeve. Once you've popped up on its radar, "It" will find you sooner or later. (Sandy Schaefer)

13. Bughuul – Sinister (2012)

In "Sinister," another child-eating horror monster is introduced to the silver screen. The film tells the story of a true-crime novelist who accidentally unleashes Bughuul, an angry pagan deity that devours the souls of children. Don't be fooled because Bughuul is not your average child-eating monster; he possesses children and influences them to murder their families in some seriously gruesome ways. Once they've committed the crime, the creature transports the children to the netherworld, where he slowly consumes their souls. 

With blotchy gray skin and shoulder-length black hair, Bughuul takes a human-like form. You  might  mistake him for a human before getting a glimpse of his dreadful face — he even wears a suit. It was thought that he possessed children through images, from frescoes to film reels. What makes Bughuul so dangerous beyond his ability to control the minds and souls of children is his longevity and adaptability. The Eater of Children's origins can be traced back to Babylonian times, when he was once accused of religious plagiarism after replicating his brother Moloch's child sacrifice rituals ... which caused the latter to shut his mouth with ash for eternity. (Fatemeh Mirjalili)

12. Tristana Medeiros - [REC] (2007)

The Spanish horror film "[REC]" revolutionized the found footage subgenre, and is responsible for the popularization of the "ankle grab," where a character is crawling toward the camera only to be pulled away by their ankles into the darkness by an unseen force. What many horror fans believed was a zombie invasion film turned out to be something far more sinister — the biological cause of demonic possession. 

Tristana Medeiros is patient zero for a demonic virus after she was assaulted by multiple priests. Religious figures tried and failed to exorcise her, so a Vatican priest eventually kidnapped her to conduct experimental research. The virus decimated her body and distorted her physical appearance, before spreading and infecting an entire apartment building. The reveal of Tristana Medeiros ( played by the incredible Javier Botet ) is nightmarish, as her figure is hidden in the shadows, occasionally passing by through the night vision POV of a news camera. The green glow only enhances her sickly appearance, giving her the look of a walking corpse. The audience sees her before she realizes she's being observed. But soon, she'll see us ... and when she does ... it's over for us all. (BJ Colangelo)

11. Candyman - Candyman (1992)

Some monsters are so terrifying that even saying their name is considered playing a dangerous game. For Daniel Robitaille, the titular "Candyman," saying his name is a death sentence. A tragedy turned revenge tale about the son of a slave who fell in love with a white woman and was killed by a racist mob in the 1800s. The vile villagers chopped off his right hand and smeared him with honeycomb, attracting bees which stung him to death. They burned his corpse on a pyre, which later became the site of the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago, IL.

Now, he haunts the area as an urban legend boogeyman, his exposed chest a hive for bees that pour out through his mouth. His severed arm has been affixed with a hook, and if you dare say his name in the mirror, the unlucky caller will feel his rightful vengeance. Played by the incomparable Tony Todd, the equal parts terrifying and hypnotic bass voice of the Candyman makes him an irresistible force. We should see the bees and hook and run in terror, but few can resist his allure. Don't worry, I only wrote his name four times. (BJ Colangelo)

10. The Bear – Annihilation (2018)

Cosmic horror is a tough thing to depict. It is, by its very nature, beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Man's grasp on reality and humanity is tethered to markers, things that make a person what and who they are. Movies like Alex Garland's 2018 adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's novel "Annihilation" successfully slice at those tethers, not with tentacles that supernatural horror authors like H.P. Lovecraft were known for, but by presenting surpassed boundaries of the imagination. 

One of the most jarring examples the story uses is of a creature that stalks the explorers tasked to probe into a bizarre quarantined zone. The four-legged beast looks enough like some kind of prehistoric bear , but with a few notable differences: a human skull is embedded on the left side of the creature's head, and it can emit a call that not only sounds human, but like the specific voice of one of the explorers it killed earlier in the film. This bear is not mimicking its victims; its victims assimilate into its body, meaning that they might not be truly dead once their physical form shuffles off its mortal coil. And that is cosmically horrifying . (Anya Stanley)

9. Cenobites – Hellraiser (1987)

The original "Hellraiser" is a genuinely scary, goopy, gory horror movie with a wonderfully demented premise. The original film doesn't officially introduce audiences to Pinhead, the most recognizable of the extra-dimensional sickos called Cenobites. He gets more time to shine later, but initially, viewers are subjected to a whole league of supernatural sadomasochists. The Cenobites appear when daring humans seek out pleasures beyond their capacity, as Frank (Sean Chapman) does in the 1987 film. His escapades don't quite work out, as he loses his human body in a deeply disgusting way after beckoning the Cenobites with a magic puzzle box.

Although the Cenobites' torturous impact can be deeply disturbing, the dudes themselves are as entertaining as they are scary. With lipless bared teeth, mutated heads, and, of course, pins stuck through their faces, the Cenobites are like eldritch body mod freaks with a knack for rending flesh from bones. Over the series' 10 movies and counting, they're a persistently dangerous — and admittedly cool-looking — presence. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

8. The Babadook – The Babadook (2014)

Contrary to popular assumption, recognizable horror icons did not disappear after "Scream." In fact, one of modern horror's contributions was directly influenced by a classic killer. 

In Jennifer Kent's 2014 psych-horror banger "The Babadook," the Australian writer-director crafts a monster representing, among other things, the contradictory struggles of parenthood — that same parenthood that some people insist is always a blessing. 

Single mother Amelia Vanek (Essie Davis) is raising her troubled son Sam (Noah Wiseman), her sanity hanging on by a thread. Sam brings a bedtime story to her titled "Mister Babadook," featuring a spindly white-faced human-ish creature in a top hat, with long, taloned fingers. Sporting an uncanny grin with what seems like way too many teeth, the Babadook torments his victims once they learn about him. Its ability to infiltrate, possess, and compel its victims to kill is its most terrifying power, but there lies plenty of nightmare material in the Babadook's expressionist aesthetic alone. 

Fun fact : the creature took some visual cues from the long-lost 1935 mystery film "London After Midnight," starring Lon Chaney in dual roles including the Man in the Beaver Hat, a vampiric, wild-eyed figure with tiny sharp teeth, often bared in a terrible grin. (Anya Stanley)

7. The Creature – Frankenstein (1931)

There have been many on-screen versions of the Frankenstein Creature, but they all live in the shadow of Boris Karloff's towering performance in 1931's "Frankenstein," directed with gothic gusto by James Whale. Karloff's look for the character, — the flat head, the scars, the bolts in the neck, all created by legendary makeup man Jack Pierce — is the very definition of "iconic." But it's Karloff's sad, soulful performance that makes the character sing and ensures his place in film history. Karloff understood that the Creature is a tragic character; yes, he's scary, but he's also inherently sad — a lonely, rejected figure brought into this world against his will (as all of us are). Cursed to terrify anyone he gets close to, the Creature stalks the foggy studio soundstage woods, alone and angry at a world he doesn't understand, a world that doesn't understand him in turn. And Karloff conveys all of this without uttering a single word (in the first movie, at least). (Chris Evangelista)

6. The Pale Man – Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Guillermo Del Toro knows a few things about movie monsters. The writer and director won an Oscar for "The Shape of Water," about a woman who falls in love with a fish-man, after all, and he has a clear love for the monstrous. Arguably his most horrifying creation, however, came earlier in his career, with the 2006 historical fantasy horror, "Pan's Labyrinth." Doug Jones plays both the enigmatic Faun and the nightmarish Pale Man, and the latter is truly the stuff of Del Toro's darkest dreams.

The Pale Man is a pale, naked man who is very thin, but has way too much skin. It hangs off of him like a robe, and his facial features are mostly missing, making him pretty unpleasant to look at. Once he opens up his hands and reveals that his eyes are on his palms, however, he goes from unpleasant to downright appalling, and that's before he chomps on a cute little faerie like it was a Flamin' Hot Cheeto. Del Toro once described him as a representation of "all institutional evil feeding on the helpless," and if that's not terrifying, what is? (Danielle Ryan)

5. Pennywise – It (2017)

Regardless of whether you find clowns threatening, you have to agree that Bill Skaskarg's iteration of Pennywise the dancing clown from "It" (2017) is one of the most menacing, terrifying creatures to grace the horror genre. The otherworldly, trans-dimensional evil entity that preys upon the innocent young children of Derry, Maine, is the overarching antagonist of Stephen King's 1986 horror novel of the same name. The clown lives in the sewers in the town of Derry, using them as access points to lure his victims into his hideout. 

The shape-shifting monster embodies every child's worst nightmare — the creature feeds off of their fears and weaponizes them. Pennywise's many forms are frightening, as the film sees him shape-shift into a mummy, an abusive father, a creepy painting, and a decapitated boy, just to name a few examples. The ancient entity can transform into anything to elicit a sense of fear in its victims. It assumes these forms to inspire as much terror as possible ... because simply butchering them is not enough. (Fatemeh Mirjalili)

4. Freddy Krueger – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

There are few instances where someone can just utter a single name and a myriad of images will pop into their mind. Simply say "Freddy," and anyone who even has a surface-level knowledge of pop culture will conjure images of Freddy Krueger from "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Robert Englund's depiction of the slasher who comes for you in your dreams is so singular and sticky that the name Freddy almost entirely belongs to him. It's that strong. Wes Craven first introduced us to the sweater-wearing, claw-handed killer in 1984, and for nearly four decades now, he's been one of the premiere names in the world of terror.

From a visual standpoint, Freddy is unparalleled. This is a foreboding figure to look at, with his scarred and melted skin and those sharp claws. Beyond that, what Freddy has that other slashers don't is the ability to get you when you are most vulnerable; in your sleep. Run from it, hide from it ... it's fruitless. Everyone sleeps. Everyone dreams. And that's when Freddy is gonna come for you. (Ryan Scott)

3. Michael Myers – Halloween (1978)

This entry really only needs three words: he's the Boogeyman. Michael Myers holds an esteemed place in the horror baddie pantheon by virtue of being one of the earliest and simplest slasher icons — pre-Jason Voorhees, pre-Freddy Kreuger. 

Originally titled "The Babysitter Murders," John Carpenter's 1978 film "Halloween" established the coverall-wearing, blade-wielding killer as a silent, stalking force of evil. "The Shape," as he's known in Carpenter and Debra Hill's script, killed his older sister on Halloween night of 1963 when he was a child, and following a lengthy stay in a mental institution, Michael escapes and returns to Haddonfield for more slicing and dicing. 

Stare into his shock-white mask to see what Dr. Loomis (the Ahab to the elusive Myers' white whale) called "the blackest eyes, the Devil's eyes." Few have gotten that close and lived to tell the tale, though. 

Only appearing on one night of the year in one specific town, but so un-killable as to prompt a slew of sequels and re-quels, Myers is more myth than man at this point. (Anya Stanley)

2. Xenomorphs and Facehuggers – Alien (1979)

1979 saw the cinematic introduction of one of the most recognizable and frightening creatures to ever grace our screens: the Xenomorph. Making its big-screen debut in Ridley Scott's "Alien," it stalks the corridors of the Nostromo and kills off its crew one by one. It's a frightening beast by almost every metric you can apply. From its acid blood and its secondary retractable maw to its sharp tail and hive-mind connection to the Queen and other Xenos, it's a formidable and deadly foe. Even worse is its shocking and surprising life cycle.

Once a hapless victim arrives at a Xenomorph egg, it opens up to release a Facehugger: tough, bony crawlers that leap onto the victim's face and impregnate them with a Xenomorph fetus. The young alien feeds off its host's body until it bursts out of their chest, killing them almost instantly. It then rapidly grows into a full-fledged and horrifying adult. Every stage of the process is terrifying and violent, and the result is a mixture of Xenomorph and the species of its victim. In other words, every single aspect of its being is a deadly violation of the natural order as we know it, making for one terrifying beast that finds new ways to scare with each film. (Jeff Ewing)

1. The Thing – The Thing (1982)

As one of the most well-known and revered horror movies, John Carpenter's 1982 classic "The Thing" barely requires an introduction. But the Cliffs Notes version follows a team of American researchers in Antarctica led by R.J. MacReady (played by Kurt Russell), befouled by a parasitic alien organism that mimics the form of whatever life it consumes. 

It's hard to say what the creature's true form is since it incorporates its victims and imitates them. That's part of the film's tension; Childs (Keith David) asks, "If I was an imitation, a perfect imitation, how would you know it was really me?" But the Thing of "The Thing" is the scariest mid-transformation, when uncanny faces and clearly human organic matter mix and mingle with tentacles and foreign goo. One of the movie's greatest scenes puts Rob Bottin and his fx team's skills on display as the organism, hiding within a now-dead researcher, swiftly eliminates a threat and divides itself to ensure its own survival. The sight of the researcher's head, now sporting arachnid legs and antennae, only gets one vocal response from Palmer: "You gotta be f***ing kidding." (Anya Stanley)

The Origins of 25 Monsters, Ghosts, and Other Spooky Things

By sonya vatomsky | oct 20, 2017 | updated: oct 5, 2021, 12:00 pm edt.

Tales of headless horseman predate The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Though dressing up as an angel is acceptable, it’s ghouls and goblins that truly capture our imaginations during the Halloween season. As lit jack-o’-lanterns beckon and monsters lurk in the shadows, we explore the origins of 25 frightful things that go bump—or boo—in the night.

1. Jack-O'-Lanterns

Two carved pumpkins set against a background of glowing woods

The name jack-o’-lantern comes from an Irish myth , in which a man called Stingy Jack tricks the Devil and ends up condemned to walk the earth, unable to get into heaven or hell. According to the tale, the original lantern was a carved-out turnip Jack used to light his way as he wandered in the dark. When Irish immigrants brought this story to America, they discovered that pumpkins, native to their new home, made an even spookier candle-holder.

Three zombies reaching for the viewer against a stormy sky

The flesh-eating creatures of movies galore are Haitian in origin —animated corpses raised by Voodoo priests, called bokors . Once reanimated, the zombies would remain under the control of the bokor and do their bidding. The creatures first entered widespread popular culture in the 1929 book The Magic Island by William Seabrook and three years later in the film White Zombie , though our modern zombies have come to be associated more with plagues and viruses than sorcery.

3. Crystal Balls

A female fortune-teller with gold headdress and her arms raised near a glowing crystal ball

A fortune-teller’s staple, crystal balls may have been described by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century. In one chapter of his Natural History , he discusses magic performed with water, balls, and all sorts of other tools. Some scholars have associated these practices with the Druids, which Pliny also discusses. It's said that Druids would employ a procedure known as “scrying,” in which they stared into the reflective surfaces of mirrors, water, and, yes, crystals, to gain insight.

A man dressed up as a mummy and reaching upwards

In ancient Egypt, mummification was a type of body preservation thought to be developed by people looking to mimic the way the desert kept bodies from decaying. As the popularity of all things Egyptian skyrocketed in Europe during the 19th century, the mummy and its supposed curse became a standard horror trope, appearing in stories by authors such as Bram Stoker , Sir Arthur Conan Doyle , and even Louisa May Alcott .

5. Friday the 13th

The number thirteen on a street placard

So many of us fear the number 13 that there’s a word for it: triskaidekaphobia. The superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th, however, are less concrete. One theory traces it to the Last Supper, attended by 12 apostles and Jesus, and the fact that the crucifixion traditionally took place on a Friday. The combined fear of Fridays and the number 13, however, didn’t really take hold until the early 20th century, when Thomas Lawson published a book called (surprise) Friday, the Thirteenth .

A grinning troll-like woman painted in dark green

Trolls come from Norse mythology, and are prevalent in folklore throughout Scandinavia. They generally live in caves or around other rocky formations, and can be either giant or quite small. Paleoanthropologists like Björn Kurtén have argued that the troll mythos comes from passed-down tales of when our Cro-Magnon ancestors met Neanderthals thousands of years ago.

7. Headless Horseman

Th legend of Sleepy Hollow headless horseman stamp

In Irish legends, the dullahan is a frightening being indeed: Sitting upon a horse, the man rides with his head held high in his hand so that he may scan his surroundings. If that wasn’t creepy enough, don’t worry. The dullahan also carries a whip made out of a human spine. Be careful if he stops and says your name—you’ll die instantly.

Woodsy trails marked with a

Bigfoot is a large, furry, ape-like creature that predominantly lives in the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest—though he has also been spotted throughout the rest of North America. While many Bigfoot sightings are said to be hoaxes, it’s believed that Bigfoot shares an origin story with other similar creatures, like the Abominable Snowman. Humans, it turns out, have a tendency to make up giant, wild, ape-like creatures that live at the edges of civilization. Similar creatures are found in the First Nations myths of British Columbia, where some say the Sasquatch was a figure meant to keep children from misbehaving.

9. Vampires

A dramatic male vampire in a velvet cape baring his teeth

Vampires entered modern society through the publication of John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Though vampire-like creatures are present in the mythologies of many cultures, it was literature that began to shape their traits into the iconic ones we know today. The vampires of Eastern Europe , for example, were not pale and thin, but ruddy and bloated.

10. Trick-or-Treating

Two adorable blond little girls dressed up like witches for Halloween and grinning, one with a pumpkin

Mumming, or going around the neighborhood in costume and saying specific lines in exchange for food, has been a staple of certain holidays since the Middle Ages. This custom first applied to Halloween in 16th century Scotland, when it was called “guising.” The term trick-or-treat wasn’t used until the 1930s, and is decidedly American.

11. The Kraken

A many-armed kraken attacks an older ship

According to Nordic folklore, the Kraken was a giant sea monster that could devour a ship and its entire crew in one swallow. The legend likely has its origins in sailors’ encounters with giant squid—reaching up to 60 feet in length, they might not be monsters, but they’re pretty close.

12. Flying Broomsticks

A young woman riding a broom

OK, this one is weird. Broomsticks became associated with flying because of witches’ “flying ointment,” a potion made up of various hallucinogens, like the fungus ergot that grew on rye. Since ingesting the ointment orally led to a host of unpleasant side effects, witches chasing a high supposedly began to administer it through, well, other areas. Apparently, it felt like flying.

13. The Loch Ness Monster

A scaly Loch Ness monster with a Scottish castle in the background

Nessie —arguably the world’s most famous sea monster—is said to inhabit Loch Ness in Scotland. Though the earliest sighting was reported in the 6th century, and told of an Irish monk's encounter with a “water beast,” it was a 1934 photograph that brought international attention to Loch Ness. Known as the “surgeon’s photograph” after the London doctor who took it, the image has since been exposed as a hoax.

14. Dragons

A stone dragon

Because cultures across the world have myths featuring dragons, it’s likely the beasts have their origins in a much more mundane creature. One theory holds that dinosaur fossils, like those of the stegosaurus, were thought to be the remains of dragons . Anthropologist David E. Jones has another theory. In his book An Instinct for Dragons , Jones argues that a fear of large predators is inherent to the human mind.

15. Mermaids and Mermen

A mermaid looking contemplative on the shore

Half-human and half-fish, mermaids exist in multiple mythologies as both beautiful maidens and frightening monsters. One of the earliest examples of such a hybrid are the apkallu of Babylonian mythology, sages associated with the god Ea that were depicted as half-human, half-fish.

16. Chupacabra

An orange-furred, toothy, chupacabra-like creature

The well-named chupacabra , which literally means “goat-sucker,” goes back to the '90s in Puerto Rico, when eight sheep were found dead and entirely drained of blood. Since then, it has been a popular, ahem, scapegoat whenever livestock are suspiciously harmed. Theories hold that mange-infected dogs and coyotes, not chupacabras, committed the actual crimes.

17. Magic Wands

An enchanting-looking magic wand with a green glow around it as if casting magic

Ancient Egyptian practitioners of magic used metal or ivory wands decorated with images of deities. In Homer’s The Odyssey , written in the 8th century BCE, the sorceress Circe turns men into pigs through the use of a magic wand.

18. Bloody Mary

A scary-looking woman covered in blood with a glowing candle in front of her

Chanting “ Bloody Mary ” in front of the mirror of a dark bathroom is a sleepover tradition with debatable origins. The titular Mary could be English Queen Mary I , who accused many Protestants of heresy and sealed their fate, earning her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” Given the common name, however, it’s possible Mary doesn’t refer to anyone at all—she’s scary either way!

19. Werewolf

A scary-looking Bloody Mary type figure

The werewolf , whether a human who shifts into a wolf or a human/wolf hybrid, was first mentioned in The Epic of Gilgamesh , which tells of a woman who turned a previous lover into a wolf. Another popular origin story is the Greek myth of Lycaon, whom Zeus turned into a wolf in a fit of rage. A synonym for werewolf is, of course, lycanthrope.

20. Banshee

A screaming witchy-looking woman in the fog

Banshees—female spirits from Irish mythology— foretell death by screaming or wailing. They can appear as young maidens or old hags, and usually have unkempt hair and green or red clothing. Their name, ben side in Old Irish, literally means “female fairy” or “female elf.”

a kodama toy

Kodama are Japanese tree spirits . According to legend, they live in trees that are over 100 years old; in some stories, they reside in specific trees, but in others, they can move throughout the forest. Introduced to the West through the 1997 Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke , their legend goes further back—the Kojiki, or “Records of Ancient Matters,” the oldest surviving Japanese book, mentions something similar.

22. Poltergeist

A housewife being scared by a ghost in an old black-and-white photo

Poltergeist, which means “noisy ghost” in German, is usually a spirit that haunts a person rather than a location. They usually express their anger through the disruption of the household: slamming doors, moving chairs and other objects, and even pinching people. The first investigated cases of poltergeists happened in Scotland and England in the late 1600s, and involved enchanted drums, beggars seeking revenge, and devil worship. The famous movie, however, didn't come out until 1982.

A couple are terrified by a spectral apparition

A dybbuk is a malevolent spirit from Jewish mythology that possesses its human host—the name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to cling.” Said to be the soul of a dead person, the dybbuk first appeared in 16th century literature before frightening us in films like 2009’s The Unborn and 2012’s The Possession .

An illustration of a ghost saying boo

The oldest record in the OED for the modern spelling of boo is found in the writing of two 18th-century Scots—Gilbert Crokatt and John Monroe, who said it was “used in the north of Scotland to frighten crying children.” It has since spread far and wide.

25. Razors in Candy Bars

Razors embedded in two candy apples

Poisoned candy, chocolate bars with needles inside, and even treats containing razor blades have been used to scare children around Halloween since the mid-1900s—the myth gained traction through news segments, advice columns like Dear Abby, and word of mouth. The good news is that fear of candy-tampering is almost entirely unfounded: Sociologist Joel Best investigated and discovered only instances of adults messing with candy to try and get money, or children doing the same for attention. One Long Island housewife , did, however dole out bits of poison to children she thought were too old to be trick-or-treating.

This story was originally published in 2017; it has been updated for 2021.

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Top 46 Horror Monster/Creature Movies

No Zombies,Vampires,Wolfmans or Robots

  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • Release Year

1. Frankenstein (1931)

Passed | 70 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Dr Henry Frankenstein is obsessed with assembling a living being from parts of several exhumed corpses.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Colin Clive , Mae Clarke , Boris Karloff , John Boles

Votes: 78,697

2. King Kong (1933)

Passed | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

A film crew goes to a tropical island for a location shoot, where they capture a colossal ape who takes a shine to their blonde starlet, and bring him back to New York City.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper , Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Fay Wray , Robert Armstrong , Bruce Cabot , Frank Reicher

Votes: 89,962 | Gross: $10.00M

3. Alien (1979)

R | 117 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

The crew of a commercial spacecraft encounters a deadly lifeform after investigating a mysterious transmission of unknown origin.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Sigourney Weaver , Tom Skerritt , John Hurt , Veronica Cartwright

Votes: 935,741 | Gross: $78.90M

4. The Thing (1982)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell , Wilford Brimley , Keith David , Richard Masur

Votes: 458,586 | Gross: $13.78M

5. Godzilla (1954)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable dinosaur-like beast.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Takashi Shimura , Akihiko Hirata , Akira Takarada , Momoko Kôchi

Votes: 38,199 | Gross: $2.42M

6. Jaws (1975)

PG | 124 min | Adventure, Mystery, Thriller

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community off Cape Cod, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Roy Scheider , Robert Shaw , Richard Dreyfuss , Lorraine Gary

Votes: 650,453 | Gross: $260.00M

7. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

R | 118 min | Drama, Fantasy, War

In the Falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Ivana Baquero , Ariadna Gil , Sergi López , Maribel Verdú

Votes: 696,440 | Gross: $37.63M

8. The Fly (1986)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jeff Goldblum , Geena Davis , John Getz , Joy Boushel

Votes: 198,798 | Gross: $40.46M

9. The Birds (1963)

PG-13 | 119 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Rod Taylor , Tippi Hedren , Jessica Tandy , Suzanne Pleshette

Votes: 202,167 | Gross: $11.40M

10. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Boris Karloff , Elsa Lanchester , Colin Clive , Valerie Hobson

Votes: 52,517 | Gross: $4.36M

11. Jurassic Park (1993)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A pragmatic paleontologist touring an almost complete theme park on an island in Central America is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Sam Neill , Laura Dern , Jeff Goldblum , Richard Attenborough

Votes: 1,051,129 | Gross: $402.45M

12. Predator (1987)

R | 107 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger , Carl Weathers , Kevin Peter Hall , Elpidia Carrillo

Votes: 447,562 | Gross: $59.74M

13. Mimic (1997)

R | 105 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Three years ago, entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler genetically created an insect to kill cockroaches carrying a virulent disease. Now, the insects are out to destroy their only predator, mankind.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Mira Sorvino , Jeremy Northam , Alexander Goodwin , Giancarlo Giannini

Votes: 54,963 | Gross: $25.48M

14. The Mummy (1932)

Approved | 73 min | Fantasy, Horror

A resurrected Egyptian mummy searches Cairo for the girl he believes to be his long-lost princess.

Director: Karl Freund | Stars: Boris Karloff , Zita Johann , David Manners , Arthur Byron

Votes: 29,725

15. Aliens (1986)

R | 137 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Decades after surviving the Nostromo incident, Ellen Ripley is sent out to re-establish contact with a terraforming colony but finds herself battling the Alien Queen and her offspring.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Sigourney Weaver , Michael Biehn , Carrie Henn , Paul Reiser

Votes: 753,327 | Gross: $85.16M

16. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

G | 79 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.

Director: Jack Arnold | Stars: Richard Carlson , Julie Adams , Richard Denning , Antonio Moreno

Votes: 33,745 | Gross: $1.30M

17. Gremlins (1984)

PG | 106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

A young man inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Zach Galligan , Phoebe Cates , Hoyt Axton , John Louie

Votes: 245,013 | Gross: $148.17M

18. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Approved | 82 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

While awaiting execution for murder, Baron Victor Frankenstein tells the story of a creature he built and brought to life - only for it to behave not as he intended.

Director: Terence Fisher | Stars: Peter Cushing , Hazel Court , Robert Urquhart , Christopher Lee

Votes: 12,479 | Gross: $17.44M

19. Predators (2010)

R | 107 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

A group of elite warriors parachute into an unfamiliar jungle and are hunted by members of a merciless alien race.

Director: Nimród Antal | Stars: Adrien Brody , Laurence Fishburne , Topher Grace , Alice Braga

Votes: 241,721 | Gross: $52.00M

20. Alien³ (1992)

R | 114 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

Returning from LV-426, Ellen Ripley crash-lands on the maximum-security prison Fiorina 161, where she discovers that she has unwittingly brought along an unwelcome visitor.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Sigourney Weaver , Charles S. Dutton , Charles Dance , Paul McGann

Votes: 315,848 | Gross: $55.47M

21. The Blob (1958)

Approved | 86 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

An alien lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.

Directors: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. , Russell S. Doughten Jr. | Stars: Steve McQueen , Aneta Corsaut , Earl Rowe , Olin Howland

Votes: 29,013

22. Ghostbusters (1984)

PG | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Fantasy

Three parapsychologists forced out of their university funding set up shop as a unique ghost removal service in New York City, attracting frightened yet skeptical customers.

Director: Ivan Reitman | Stars: Bill Murray , Dan Aykroyd , Sigourney Weaver , Harold Ramis

Votes: 439,506 | Gross: $238.63M

23. Freaks (1932)

Not Rated | 64 min | Drama, Horror

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.

Director: Tod Browning | Stars: Wallace Ford , Leila Hyams , Olga Baclanova , Roscoe Ates

Votes: 49,934 | Gross: $0.63M

24. Super 8 (2011)

PG-13 | 112 min | Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi

During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town.

Director: J.J. Abrams | Stars: Elle Fanning , AJ Michalka , Kyle Chandler , Joel Courtney

Votes: 365,311 | Gross: $127.00M

25. Frankenstein (1994)

R | 123 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.

Director: Kenneth Branagh | Stars: Robert De Niro , Kenneth Branagh , Helena Bonham Carter , Tom Hulce

Votes: 58,784 | Gross: $22.01M

26. Starship Troopers (1997)

R | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Humans in a fascist, militaristic future wage war with giant alien bugs.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Casper Van Dien , Denise Richards , Dina Meyer , Jake Busey

Votes: 314,217 | Gross: $54.81M

27. 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)

Not Rated | 82 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

The first U.S. spaceship to Venus crash-lands off the coast of Sicily on its return trip. A dangerous, lizard-like creature comes with it and quickly grows gigantic.

Director: Nathan Juran | Stars: William Hopper , Joan Taylor , Thomas Browne Henry , Frank Puglia

Votes: 7,901

28. It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

Not Rated | 79 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A giant, radioactive octopus rises from the Philippine Trench to terrorize the North American Pacific Coast.

Director: Robert Gordon | Stars: Kenneth Tobey , Faith Domergue , Donald Curtis , Ian Keith

Votes: 6,201

29. The Fly (1958)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

A scientist has a horrific accident when he tries to use his newly invented teleportation device.

Director: Kurt Neumann | Stars: David Hedison , Patricia Owens , Vincent Price , Herbert Marshall

Votes: 25,295 | Gross: $3.00M

30. Godzilla (2014)

PG-13 | 123 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

The world is beset by the appearance of monstrous creatures, but one of them may be the only one who can save humanity.

Director: Gareth Edwards | Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson , Elizabeth Olsen , Bryan Cranston , Ken Watanabe

Votes: 433,955 | Gross: $200.68M

31. Piranha (1978)

R | 94 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

When flesh-eating piranhas are accidentally released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Bradford Dillman , Heather Menzies-Urich , Kevin McCarthy , Keenan Wynn

Votes: 24,214 | Gross: $6.00M

32. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

PG-13 | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A research team is sent to the Jurassic Park Site B island to study the dinosaurs there, while an InGen team approaches with another agenda.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Jeff Goldblum , Julianne Moore , Pete Postlethwaite , Vince Vaughn

Votes: 439,313 | Gross: $229.09M

33. King Kong (2005)

PG-13 | 187 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

A greedy film producer assembles a team of moviemakers and sets out for the infamous Skull Island, where they find more than just cannibalistic natives.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Naomi Watts , Jack Black , Adrien Brody , Thomas Kretschmann

Votes: 442,334 | Gross: $218.08M

34. Species (1995)

R | 108 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

A group of scientists try to track down and trap a killer alien seductress before she successfully mates with a human.

Director: Roger Donaldson | Stars: Natasha Henstridge , Michael Madsen , Ben Kingsley , Alfred Molina

Votes: 84,422 | Gross: $60.07M

35. The Lost World (1925)

Passed | 110 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

The first film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic novel about a land where prehistoric creatures still roam.

Director: Harry O. Hoyt | Stars: Wallace Beery , Bessie Love , Lloyd Hughes , Lewis Stone

Votes: 5,719 | Gross: $1.19M

36. Snakes on a Plane (2006)

R | 105 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

An FBI agent takes on a plane full of deadly venomous snakes, deliberately released to kill a witness being flown from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against a mob boss.

Director: David R. Ellis | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson , Julianna Margulies , Nathan Phillips , Rachel Blanchard

Votes: 143,916 | Gross: $34.02M

37. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

Approved | 80 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A ferocious dinosaur awakened by an Arctic atomic test terrorizes the North Atlantic and, ultimately, New York City.

Director: Eugène Lourié | Stars: Paul Hubschmid , Paula Raymond , Cecil Kellaway , Kenneth Tobey

Votes: 8,614 | Gross: $5.00M

38. Anaconda (1997)

PG-13 | 89 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

A "National Geographic" film crew is taken hostage by an insane hunter, who forces them along on his quest to capture the world's largest - and deadliest - snake.

Director: Luis Llosa | Stars: Jon Voight , Jennifer Lopez , Eric Stoltz , Ice Cube

Votes: 110,574 | Gross: $65.89M

39. Man-Thing (2005)

R | 97 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

Agents of an oil tycoon vanish while exploring a swamp marked for drilling. The local sheriff investigates and faces a Seminole legend come to life: Man-Thing, a shambling swamp-monster whose touch burns those who feel fear.

Director: Brett Leonard | Stars: Jack Thompson , Matthew Le Nevez , Steve Bastoni , Rachael Taylor

Votes: 6,950 | Gross: $0.14M

40. Alien: Resurrection (1997)

R | 109 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

Two centuries after her death, a powerful human/alien hybrid clone of Ellen Ripley aids a crew of space pirates in stopping the aliens from reaching Earth.

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Sigourney Weaver , Winona Ryder , Dominique Pinon , Ron Perlman

Votes: 260,480 | Gross: $47.75M

41. Tremors (1990)

PG-13 | 96 min | Comedy, Horror

Natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures which are killing them one by one.

Director: Ron Underwood | Stars: Kevin Bacon , Fred Ward , Finn Carter , Michael Gross

Votes: 147,619 | Gross: $16.67M

42. Them! (1954)

Not Rated | 94 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.

Director: Gordon Douglas | Stars: James Whitmore , Edmund Gwenn , Joan Weldon , James Arness

Votes: 23,796

43. Deep Blue Sea (1999)

R | 105 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Searching for a cure to Alzheimer's disease, a group of scientists on an isolated research facility become the prey, as a trio of intelligent sharks fight back.

Director: Renny Harlin | Stars: Thomas Jane , Saffron Burrows , Samuel L. Jackson , Jacqueline McKenzie

Votes: 141,413 | Gross: $73.65M

44. Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

PG-13 | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

Venomous spiders get exposed to a noxious chemical that causes them to grow to monumental proportions.

Director: Ellory Elkayem | Stars: David Arquette , Kari Wuhrer , Scott Terra , Scarlett Johansson

Votes: 59,751 | Gross: $17.32M

45. Jaws 2 (1978)

PG | 116 min | Adventure, Horror, Thriller

Police chief Brody must protect the citizens of Amity after a second monstrous shark begins terrorizing the waters.

Director: Jeannot Szwarc | Stars: Roy Scheider , Lorraine Gary , Murray Hamilton , Joseph Mascolo

Votes: 83,706 | Gross: $102.92M

46. Mosquito (1994)

R | 92 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A violent massacre caused by human-sized mosquitoes forces the lone survivors to band together in a fight for survival as the mosquitoes continue their onslaught.

Director: Gary Jones | Stars: Gunnar Hansen , Ron Asheton , Steve Dixon , Rachel Loiselle

Votes: 2,861 | Gross: $0.99M

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45 Scary and Disturbing Mythical Creatures from Around the World

Adze Togo, Ghana Vampire that transforms into a firefly, biting people in their sleep and - killing them. Grootslang South Africa Massive serpentine elephant that plagues a deep cave in Richtersveld. Inkanyamba South Africa Gigantic, winged eel with a voracious appetite that is associated with brutal storms. Ammit Egypt Goddess with a lion, hippo. and crocodile body. She eats the impure hearts of the souls of the dead, condemning them to be restless forever. Dybbuk Israel Malevolent possessing spirit that only departs after accomplishing its goal. Aswang Philippines Shape-shifting monster that devours unborn babies. To spot one in the daytime, look for your upside-down reflection in their eyes. Manananggal Penanggalan Philippines Malaysia Self-segmenting Detached female head bloodsucker that sprouts that flies through the night, bat-like wings and flies organs dangling, to search through the night hunting for blood but reattaches to for unborn children. the rest of her body during the day. Mongolian Death Worm Mongolia About the size of a human intestine, this worm spews corrosive yellow saliva and blasts of electricity that kill prey instantly. Diao Si Gui China Ghost of a hanging victim with a long, red tongue dangling from its gaping mouth. Tsuchinoko Kamaitachi Japan Japan Thick, snake-like creature Sickle-limbed weasel that that can jump a meter high, can cut off your limbs in the referenced in the Kojiki, the blink of an eye. oldest history book of Japan. Teke Teke Gashadokuro Japan Japan Ghost of a young girl who Gigantic skeletons formed by was cut in half by a train. the amassed bones people She drags her torso around, who died of starvation. They seeking to dismember bite off the heads of others with a scythe. travelers and drink the spraying blood. Jikininki Japan Spirits cursed to devour human corpses as punishment for leading a greedy and selfish life. Pontianak Indonesia Ghost of a woman who died while pregnant. She eats organs after clawing them out with sharp fingernails. Ittan-Momen Japan Sentient roll of cotton that smothers people until they suffocate. Ningen Japan Enormous white sea creatures with eerie humanoid features spotted by vessels in Antarctica. Ghoul Arabia Shape-shifting demon that takes on the form of the corpse it has most recently eaten. Preta India, China, Vietnam Due to poor karma in life, these spirits are afflicted with insatiable hunger for an unusual substance, such as cadavers or feces. Draugr Norway Undead with superhuman strength and stamina; immune to normal weapons. Banshee Ireland Female spirit that heralds the death of a loved one with chilling and relentless shrieks. Dullahan Ireland Headless rider that uses a human spine as a whip. If one stops riding next to you and calls out your name, you die instantly. Nuckelavee Orkney Horrific demon that appears as a skinned horse and male torso hybrid and breathes disease and decay. Redcap Scotland Wicked, murderous goblin that lingers in ruined castles. Kelpie Scotland Emits a cry that sounds like a drowning person to lure prey into the water, then plunges them into an aquatic grave. Gargoyle England Brooding creatures that are supposed to scare evil spirits away. Black Annis England Pale blue witch with iron talons and a taste for humans, especially children. Minotaur Typhon Arachne Black Dog England Omen of death, associated with electrical storms, crossroads, and sites of execution. Greece Beast with the head of a bull and body of a man that stalks through a labyrinth, surviving on human sacrifices. Greece Gargantuan beast with serpent limbs. Only Zeus was able to defeat him and banish him to the underworld. Greece Weaver who challenged Athena to a contest but was punished for her hubris by being turned into a spider. Lou Carcolh Nalusa Falaya Cerberus Greece Multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld and prevents the dead from leaving. France Serpentine mollusc that lives in underground caverns and swallows victims whole. Choctaw Long, black beings that slither and melt into shadows. Wendigo Algonquian Cannibalistic monsters, possibly once human until starvation and greed drove them into madness. Dover Demon Massachusetts, U.S. Gangly creature with glowing eyes, first spotted lurking on a stone wall in 1977. Yee Jersey Devil Dagwanoenyent Naaldlooshiit New Jersey, U.S. Iroquois Navajo Flying, hoofed biped with a Giant head with wings that Witches that manipulate blood-curdling scream, terrorized a tribe after medicinal magic to reputed to be the young men killed and transform into coyotes and unwanted 13th child of a decapitated the elders. amass wealth. witch who cursed it. - La Ciguapa Dominican Republic Enchanting woman with backward feet that lures men into the woods. Chupacabra Puerto Rico Heavy, spiked creature that moves fast and feeds gruesomely on livestock blood. Yara-Ma Drop Bear Yha-Who Australia Ferocious marsupials that Australia attack from trees but can be Short, red vampire that deterred by placing forks in the drinks blood through hair, having Vegemite spread octopus-like suckers on its behind the ears, or speaking in hands and feet. After a an Australian accent. nap, it will vomit out the meal. Bunyip Australia Grotesque water spirit that lurks in swamps and creeks, hungry for human flesh. Costume CRAZE 45 SCARY AND DISTURBING MYTHICAL CREATURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Adze Grootslang Inkanyamba Ammit Togo, Ghana South Africa South Africa Vampire that transforms into a firefly, biting people in their sleep and killing them. Gigantic, winged eel with a voracious appetite that is associated with brutal storms. Egypt Goddess with a lion, hippo, and crocodile body. She eats the impure hearts of the souls of the dead, condemning them to be restless forever. Massive serpentine elephant that plagues a deep cave in Richtersveld. Dybbuk Aswang Manananggal Penanggalan Israel Philippines Philippines Malaysia Malevolent possessing spirit that only departs after accomplishing its goal. Self-segmenting bloodsucker that sprouts bat-like wings and flies through the night hunting for unborn children. Shape-shifting monster that devours unborn babies. Detached female head To spot one in the daytime, look for your upside-down reflection in their eyes. that flies through the night, organs dangling. to search for blood but reattaches to the rest of her body during the day. es Mongolian Death Worm Diao Si Gui Tsuchinoko Kamaitachi Mongolia China Ghost of a hanging victim with a long, red tongue dangling from its gaping mouth. Japan Thick, snake-like creature that can jump a meter high, referenced in the Kojiki, the oldest history book of Japan. Japan Sickle-limbed weasel that can cut off your limbs in the blink of an eye. About the size of a human intestine, this worm spews corrosive yellow saliva and blasts of electricity that kill prey instantly. Teke Teke Gashadokuro Jikininki Pontianak Japan Japan Japan Indonesia Gigantic skeletons formed by the amassed bones people Ghost of a young girl who was cut in half by a train. She drags her torso around, who died of starvation. They seeking to dismember others with a scythe. Spirits cursed to devour human corpses as punishment for leading a greedy and selfish life. Ghost of a woman who died while pregnant. She eats organs after clawing them out with sharp fingernails. bite off the heads of travelers and drink the spraying blood. Ittan-Momen Ningen Ghoul Preta Japan Japan Arabia India, China, Vietnam Shape-shifting demon that takes on the form of the corpse it has most recently eaten. Due to poor karma in life, these spirits are afflicted with insatiable hunger for an unusual substance, such as Enormous white sea Sentient roll of cotton that smothers people until they suffocate. creatures with eerie humanoid features spotted by vessels in Antarctica. cadavers or feces. Draugr Banshee Dullahan Nuckelavee Ireland Ireland Orkney Norway Undead with superhuman strength and stamina; immune to normal Headless rider that uses a Horrific demon that Female spirit that heralds the death of a loved one with chilling and relentless shrieks. human spine as a whip. If one stops riding next to you and calls out your name, you die instantly. appears as a skinned horse and male torso hybrid and breathes disease and decay. weapons. Redcap Kelpie Gargoyle Black Annis Scotland Scotland England England Wicked, murderous goblin that lingers in ruined castles. Emits a cry that sounds like a drowning person to lure prey into the water, then plunges them into an aquatic grave. Brooding creatures that are supposed to scare evil spirits away. Pale blue witch with iron talons and a taste for humans, especially children. Black Dog Minotaur Тyphon Arachne England Greece Greece Greece Gargantuan beast with serpent limbs. Only Zeus was able to defeat him and banish him to the underworld. Weaver who challenged Athena to a contest but Beast with the head of a bull and body of a man that stalks through a labyrinth, surviving on human sacrifices. Omen of death, associated with electrical storms, crossroads, and sites of execution. was punished for her hubris by being turned into a spider. Cerberus Lou Carcolh Nalusa Falaya Wendigo Greece France Choctaw Algonquian Long, black beings that slither and melt into Multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld and prevents the dead from leaving. Serpentine mollusc that lives in underground caverns and swallows Cannibalistic monsters, possibly once human until starvation and greed drove them into madness. shadows. victims whole. Yee Dover Demon Jersey Devil Dagwanoenyent Naaldlooshiit Massachusetts, U.S. New Jersey, U.S. Iroquois Giant head with wings that Gangly creature with glowing eyes, first spotted lurking on a stone wall in 1977. Flying, hoofed biped with a blood-curdling scream, reputed to be the unwanted 13th child of a witch who cursed it. Navajo Witches that manipuláte medicinal magic to transform into coyotes and terrorized a tribe after young men killed and decapitated the elders. amass wealth. La Ciguapa Chupacabra Yara-Ma- Drop Bear Dominican Republic Puerto Rico Australia Yha-Who Enchanting woman with backward feet that lures Heavy, spiked creature that moves fast and feeds gruesomely on livestock blood. Ferocious marsupials that attack from trees but can be Australia men into the woods. Short, red vampire that drinks blood through octopus-like suckers on its behind the ears, or speaking in hands and feet. After a deterred by placing forks in the hair, having Vegemite spread an Australian accent. nap, it will vomit out the meal. Bunyip Costume CRAZE Australia Grotesque water spirit that lurks in swamps and creeks, hungry for human flesh.

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8 Creepy and Horrifying Mythical Monsters From Around The World

Ghost

Which came first the scary stories or the scary monsters? We can probably say that the scary stories people tell at midnight awaken the scary monsters that lurk in the dark corners of a big, haunted mansion . Boo! Now, look behind you. What is that? Is that…is that… oh, it’s just your shadow, nothing too spooky. No biggie. Wait. Wait. What’s that sound? Oh, just the cicadas making clicking noises. Ahh. Again, no biggie.

Scary stories about scary monsters have been around for centuries, influencing culture and communities. They’ve also been tormenting and terrifying naughty children, innocent people, and cute squirrels for many many full moons now. They can teach us valuable life lessons or they are just purely horrifying tales that will keep us up for many nights.

Have you heard of the legend of La Llorona ? She is also referred to as the Weeping Woman and may often be seen wandering around areas along the water while wailing over her dead children. Her story has been around for ages; the earliest record of its text dates all the way back to 1550 in Mexico City. There are different versions of the La Llorona folklore told throughout Latin America, but one constant is that she always appears to be dressed in a flowing, white, and wet dress.

There are other weeping ghosts besides La Llorona. There are also more dreadful and horrific monsters out there that prey on children and eat things like internal organs. They eat some pretty nasty stuff you can say, but then again they are monsters eating monster food. They are evil beasts with unlimited power. So what can you do about them? Well, simple: learn about their stories, their powers, and their existence. Oh yes, even if their hair raising stories make you wanna hide and hibernate.

Philippines: Manananggal

Monster

The Manananggal is often described as a female mythical creature in Filipino folklore that often feeds on sleeping, pregnant women. In the morning, the manananggal disguises herself as a charming and beautiful woman. However, at night, the vampire-like creature detaches from its torso and spreads her giant bat-like wings to fly into the darkness in pursuit of a pregnant victim. Once she has located her victim, she pushes her long, hollow tongue through the house roof, cuts the womb, and then sucks out the blood and the fetus.

Sometimes the manananggal seduces men with her good looks. She lures them and takes them into a secret hiding place. There, she eats the heart, intestines, and other internal organs throughout the night. In order to stop a manananggal from reattaching her body before sunrise, one should sprinkle salt, ash, or crushed garlic on the remaining half of the body.

Greece: Chimera

Monster

Greek mythology describes the Chimera as a monster-like, fire-breathing female hybrid made of many different animal parts. The Greek mythological monster is the child of Typhon and Echidna and her sisters are Cerberus and Lernaean Hydra. She has a lion-like appearance, a goat-like head, and a tail that ends in a snake's head.

According to the Iliad , one of Homer's epic poems, the chimera was raised by Araisodarus. And she was described as “she was of divine stock, not of men in the fore part a lion, in the hinder a serpent, and in the midst a goat, breathing forth in terrible wise the might of the blazing fire.” The king of Lycia sent Bellerophon, the greatest hero and monster-killer, the order to slay the fearsome Chimera in the hopes that the chimera would kill Bellerophon instead. However, Bellerophon was victorious in slaying the chimera with the help of his Pegasus.

Germany: Alp

Monster

In German folklore, an Alp is a male creature that resembles a vampire but behaves more like an incubus and he wears a magic hat called a “tarnkappe” that holds his powers. The mythological creature typically preys on women at night by manipulating their dreams. He prefers the flavor of breast milk and sucks the blood of men and young children.

The alp can shapeshift into a variety of creatures, including a cat, pig, dog, snake, and even a butterfly. Additionally, he also has an "evil eye" whose gaze may bring about any bad luck or sickness, but hurting the "evil eye" will remove its evil desires.

Some protections against the alp include hiding a broomstick under a pillow, placing shoes next to the bed with the toes towards the door, hanging iron horseshoes from the bedpost, or placing a mirror on the chest. The alp can also be successfully repelled by leaving the lights on all night, and if it is discovered taking a nap during the day, it can be weakened by stuffing a lemon in its mouth.

Ireland: Banshee

Monster

According to Irish legend, each family has a Banshee , a woman of the fairies who is supposed to weep piercingly or shout loudly when a family member passes away. Her scream, often referred to as “caoine” or keening, serves as a warning that a family member would soon pass away.

A banshee is a beautiful woman with long, flowing hair, terrifyingly crimson eyes from her never-ending crying, and a gray shawl covering her green clothing. She is sometimes rumored to change into a sweet singing virgin from a family that died young with the task of foretelling the eventual doom of the earthly family. She can also be pictured as a woman hunched over next to the woods, weeping bitterly at night.

Scotland: Nuckelavee or Nuckalavee

Monster

Scotland is the home of the most terrifying horse-like monster known as Nuckelavee or Nuckalavee . Nuckelavee , often referred to as the Devil of the Sea, is a mythical creature with a skinless body, a head ten times the size of a man, a poisonous breath that is claimed to kill animals and wither crops, and wicked powers that can cause bad things to happen all over the islands. However, only an old spirit known as the Sea Mither or the Mither of the Sea is able to manage this terrifying beast throughout the summer.

The beast is said to have come from Norse and Orcadian folklore. The mysterious Jo Ben documented some of the early nuckelavee sightings using Latin manuscripts while describing the Orkney island of Stronsay in the 16th century. Ernest Marwick, an Orcadian writer and folklorist, thought that evil sea creature is very alike to the Norwegian nøkk, the nuggle of the Shetland, and the shapeshifting kelpie or water kelpie.

Russia: Baba Yaga

Monster

The Baba Yaga is a supernatural witch who lives with two or three of her sisters in a magical house, built on four movable and strong chicken legs in the forest. She looks like an aging, nasty ogress with a long nose that reaches the ceiling. In the morning, she rides a mortar that is powered by a pestle on one hand, and she carries a silver birch broom (sometimes a mop) on the other to sweep away her tracks. She also summons a swarm of black geese to fly through the air in search of children to take, cook, and eat.

In some stories, the famous Slavic forest spirit is known to help people with their important tasks. But in other tales, she is said to kidnap and eat her prey—usually young children. Nevertheless, asking for Baba Yaga's guidance and assistance is frequently viewed as a dangerous and risky behavior.

The Russian fairy tale Vasilissa the Beautiful features a young Vasilissa who is sent to see Baba Yaga . Vasilissa was later held captive by Baba Yaga . But because she has been so kind to Baba Yaga's servants—a cat, a dog, a gate, and a tree—they ultimately assist her in escaping. And in the end, the mean, vicious, and old hag is transformed into a crow.

Malaysia: Pontianak

Monster

Global Voices

In Malay mythology, a Pontianak is a vampiric ghost who was a woman who died while giving birth. This spiteful and furious ghost, usually after having caught her prey, is commonly portrayed as a pale-skinned woman with long, black hair that falls over her shoulders, with sharp fingernails, and wearing a blood-smeared white dress. However, she can impersonate a very lovely woman in order to seduce her target—usually a man or a helpless person— into falling for her before ripping out their internal organs.

Under the full moon, a pontianak comes and makes her presence known with the cries of babies or with the sound of feminine laughter. It is said that by listening to the sound, one can predict how close the pontianak is: if the sound is loud, that indicates she is still far away, but if the sound is quiet, that indicates she is somewhere close.

Zulu: Tokoloshe, Tikoloshe, Tokolotshe, Hili

Monster

The South African Tokoloshe , which resembles a gremlin, creates chaos wherever it goes. A tokoloshe is considered to be summoned by witches, shamans, or anybody with magical powers. One method to keep in control of a tokoloshe is to cut the hair off of its eyes so it can see and to give its favorite curdled milk. But, if this wicked gremlin-like creature continues to torment the neighborhood, a witch doctor can use conventional magic to exorcize it away.

According to South African folklore, tokoloshes are mostly invisible and can stay like this by sucking on a stone. Since they only attack at night and are mostly invisible, it is best to take measures to keep them away by scattering special blessed salts, known as tokoloshe salts, along door frames and window sills. Another way to prevent them from attacking is to put bricks under the bed's legs, although this will only protect the person lying on the bed.

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The Origins Of 10 Scariest Halloween Monsters: Zombies, Ghosts And Vampires, Oh My!

Halloween

Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist’s RomoloTavani

Halloween is America’s favorite holiday by far and we couldn’t agree more!

Take a break from the all-too-real horror that is the Donald Trump’s election campaign and dive into the frightfully fantastic world of ghostly ghouls and goblins. Come walk the dark and mysterious path to the past and find the beginnings of the 10 spookiest Halloween monsters.

Almost everyone knows the ancient origins of this creepy pre-Christian Celtic festival. We have something even more interesting and creepier , the origins of the iconic Halloween monsters.

That’s right we are talking about the classic monsters such as witches, vampires, ghosts, and goblins. These monsters have haunted our dreams and imaginations for centuries!

On this special day you can use the Udemy coupon to grab the best discount on your online learning courses from this halloween super sale.

What power do they have over us?

Where did they come from?

Are they lurking out there on All Hallows Eve?

Let’s find out!

1. Unearthly Ghosts

Unearthly Ghosts

According to folklore and mythology, a ghost is the imprint or soul left behind in the physical world after a person dies. A ghost is imagined as having a pale mist-like appearance, often resembling the person’s physical appearance. Belief in ghosts is prevalent in cultures that believe in an afterlife. History is full of hair-raising stories of vengeful ghosts that haunt the living. The oldest evidence we have is probably the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Ghosts haunted our imagination for tens of thousands of years and will continue to do so. In fact, we are so fascinated with creeping ourselves out, that we actually created a robot that mimics that creepy feeling of being watched!

2. Grisly Zombies

Grisly Zombies

This origin story has a tragic aspect that is often forgotten, this horror trope has close associations with Haiti. The Haitians kept slaves and treated them with extreme brutality. Slaves would consider death a blissful end to being subjugated and often commit suicide. People believed any slave who took his or her own life would be condemned to walk the slave plantations forever, trapped in the physical body. The current pop-culture representation of a brain-eating mindless rotting corpse is quite a different version.

3. Spooky Witches

Spooky Witches

Witches are one of the oldest source of terror that keeps us up at night. In modern culture, they are often portrayed as old hags that fly on a broomstick, cast powerful spells, and sometimes worship the devil. Wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers also share similar origins to witches. Wicca and magic ties the origin stories of all these monsters. If you are looking for some spooky witch movies, here are some top 10 Netflix Series to watch in 2021 .

4. Killer Robots

Killer Robots

As traditional tales of terror took on a more futuristic approach in science fiction, a new monster was born, the sinister evil robot that wants to kill its creators. You might be thinking of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, or perhaps Skynet. Killer robots go back further than that; the most famous example is that of Talos, a metal automaton that protected the ancient Greek island of Crete. The modern version of killer robots hell-bent on destroying humans , first appeared in a play by Karel Capek called R.U.R. These robots were not strictly machines, but humanoids that end up exterminating the human race!

5. Abominable Aliens

Abominable Aliens

The idea of otherworldly beings visiting us has been a central plot point of ancient myths and modern tales. A lot of people believe aliens exist and visit this planet often. The iconic image of the short humanoid grey-green alien depicted in popular culture can be traced back to a fake alien autopsy video released after the Roswell incident. Science fiction authors such as H.G Wells and Asimov have long written about benevolent and sinister alien beings, a concept that remains mind-bogglingly fascinating to us.

6. Eerie Vampires

Eerie Vampires

Before they were tamed and turned into sparkly angst-ridden teenage versions by the Twilight series, vampires were gruesome terrifying beings that haunted the dark recesses of our minds. The most famous representation in pop culture is the character of Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel, Dracula. The origin of the myths of these undead immortal creatures is most likely the cases of premature burials. Medical science wasn’t accurate in olden times and people were declared dead by mistake. The modern version of this monster is a charming and powerful being with enormous physical powers. You can also change your voice using voice changer for discord and surprise your friends.

7. Terrifying Werewolves

Terrifying Werewolves

The idea of a human-wolf hybrid goes back to ancient Germanic times. The people adhered to pagan beliefs that considered gifted warriors as wolves of the gods. These wolf-men stories morphed over time into the modern versions of a man that turns into a rabid wolf during the full moon. Werewolves didn’t dominate popular culture as quickly as mummies or vampires, but hold a significant place in the collective psyche. These hybrid beasts have been part of several monster hunter games and movies including Van Helsing, Twilight, and Harry Potter series.

8. Killer Clowns

Killer Clowns

Clowns aren’t exactly the mythic beasts of ancient lore, but they are creepy no matter what. There is something unfathomable about a face hiding behind that mask of makeup. Originally, clowns were meant to be similar to court jesters, lovable fools that merely entertained. However, recent pop culture has turned them into something quite disturbing. The first creepy murderous clown appeared in the Italian soap opera, Pagliacci. Another scary clown makes an appearance in Stephen King’s novel, It.

These literary portrayals merged with reality in a disturbing way when police apprehended the serial killer John Wayne Gacy back in the 1980’s. He became known as the “Killer Clown” because his day job included dressing up as a clown and entertaining kids at parties. The recent clown sightings have maxed out the creepiness level of clowns. As if having John Wayne Gacy in the history books was not enough, better keep an eye out for creepy clowns while trick or treating this year.

9. The Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper is the so-called bringer of death, a being that haunts the physical plane looking for souls to collect and delivers them to the metaphysical realms. The modern image of the Grim Reaper you see in books and movies is a skeleton swathed in a black robe, holding a scythe. This tool is used to reap the souls that are destined to die. This imagery holds a close association with the state of Europe during the black plague. The black garb of the Grim Reaper represents the plague; the scythe is used to strike down multiple people in one blow, as the plague was wont to do.

10. Monstrous Mummies

Monstrous Mummies

Mummification was used by many ancient cultures as a way of preserving the human body and readying it for the journeys of the afterlife. Mummification can also occur as a natural process given the right combination of temperature and humidity, the monster trope however, is predominantly focused on Egyptian mummies.

The iconic image of the undead mummy stalking an unsuspecting puny little human in deep underground passages comes from the scary mind of Bram Stoker. That’s right the guy responsible for Dracula is also responsible for your mummy nightmares. Stoker’s novel, The Jewel of Seven Stars, featured an undead mummy that haunts an archeologist. Looks like Mr. Stoker loved Halloween as much as we do!

You should have a write for us page on your blog to encourage other writers to contribute.

These creatures have terrified, plagued and haunted our collective consciousness for centuries and will continue to do so. Do you agree with the list? Which ones did you find most fascinatingly frightening? Tell us in the comments!

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About The Author Kelvin Stiles

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.

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The scariest ghosts in the Ghostbusters movies

Blair Marnell

Ray Parker Jr.’s classic theme song for Ghostbusters proudly states, “I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost!” But perhaps he should be. Ghostbusters is a comedy franchise, but there are touches of horror in the films as well. Some of the ghosts are even genuinely terrifying, and they wouldn’t be out of place in a more serious take on the paranormal. Harmless spooks like Slimer seem like the exception rather than the rule. After all, there’s a reason why the Ghostbusters’ services are often needed. Now that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is finally in theaters, we’re taking a look back at the two previous films, as well as the 2016 reboot, to pick the scariest ghosts in the Ghostbusters movies.  You can keep the light on while reading this list, if you feel the need to.

10: The Driver

9: the impaled heads, 8: the electrocuted ghost, 7: gertrude aldridge, 6: the washington square ghost, 5: the scoleri brothers, 4: the terror dogs, 3: vigo the carpathian, 2: rowan the destructor, 1: gozer the gozerian.

We don’t actually know if the Driver is a sinister apparition. He only appears briefly in the original Ghostbusters as a taxi driver, which is perhaps the role he had during his mortal life. But the reason the Driver makes this list is that his zombie-like appearance is truly unsettling. He also drives like a madman. If we ever saw a ghost like this, we’d be running the other way even if he was our Uber driver.

During the team’s investigation in Ghostbusters II , they descend into the subway tunnels. After hearing a voice call out Winston’s name, the Ghostbusters are surrounded by an assortment of severed heads. It wasn’t an attack, but it was a frightening moment. We can only speculate about the identity of the heads, and who placed them on spikes. Our guess is that they may have been victims of Vigo. But we’ll get back to him later on the list.

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In the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, the Electrocuted Ghost was the first ghost that the all-female team tried to trap. It didn’t go well at first, and this particular ghost appeared to be quite angry that they were attacking him. He was very threatening while escaping the first trap attempt, and he also happened to be the first ghost captured on video by the team. And yet a skeptical public quickly dismissed this ghost as a fake special effect.

Why is Gertrude Aldridge such a scary ghost? Because she was pure evil even when she was alive. According to the lore of Ghostbusters (2016), Gertrude murdered all of her father’s servants in a single night before she was confined to the basement for the rest of her life. Whatever made her a monster in life made her even deadlier as a spook. The team survived two encounters with Gertrude, but they may think twice before seeking out a third confrontation.

Most of the ghosts in the Ghostbusters franchise were clearly human when they were alive. But we can’t say that with any certainty about the Washington Square Ghost from Ghostbusters II . This giant ghost kaiju appeared while the Ghostbusters were committed to an asylum and Vigo was unopposed. And as supernatural phenomena swept through the city, the Washington Square Ghost appeared to a large crowd of people and sent them running for their lives.

Ghostbusters II offered a glimpse of how ghosts can manifest in the mortal world. Two factors led to the Scoleris’ emergence: The presence of negatively charged psychomagnotheric slime and a hate-filled diatribe by Judge Stephen Wexler as he prepared to send the Ghostbusters to prison for a very long time. Wexler’s anger was so great that it empowered the slime to summon Nunzio and Tony Scoleri, a pair of murderers whom the judge had sentenced to the electric chair years before. The Scoleri brothers even brought some electric chairs from the great beyond as they terrorized the courtroom. Judge Wexler was so scared that he agreed to release the Ghostbusters so they could save him.

Ghostbusters ‘ Terror Dogs actually do have names. Zuul The Gatekeeper and Vinz Clortho The Keymaster. But they also required hosts to fully manifest as physical hellhounds. That’s why Zuul possessed Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), while Vinz Clortho took over the body of Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). Under the control of these spirits, Dana and Louis became vicious beasts whose union allowed Gozer to return to this world as a herald of the ghost apocalypse.

Vigo the Carpathian was a brutal tyrant who tortured and terrorized his subjects until they murdered him in 1610. The people hated him so much that he was “poisoned, shot, stabbed, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered.” And yet Vigo’s spirit lived on within his painted portrait, and he was the main antagonist in Ghostbusters II . In addition to overrunning NYC with spooks, Vigo attempted to possess Dana’s infant son, Oscar, so he could be reborn as a mortal.

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was simply too adorable to be truly frightening in the original Ghostbusters . That’s why the 2016 update went in a different direction with its final boss, Rowan the Destructor. Unlike many of the other ghosts on this list, Rowan first appeared in his human form, Rowan North, before his untimely death. Rowan may have been a genius, but he hated humanity and he teamed up with ghosts to plot the downfall of the mortal world. After Rowan killed himself, he was reborn as a ghost with uncommon power. He was able to grow in size and even change the shape of his body to resemble the ghost form seen in the picture above.

Technically, Gozer the Gozerian is also the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But as stated above, ol’ Stay Puft just isn’t very scary, largely because Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd ) picked the form of its body. Regardless, Gozer’s humanoid appearance near the end of the first Ghostbusters is very striking. It has no gender, perhaps because Gozer was never human at all. As discovered by the Ghostbusters, Gozer was worshiped as a god several centuries ago. Despite Gozer’s exile in another dimension, its followers paved the way for its return in 1984 to destroy the world. The only thing that could have given Gozer pause would be if the Ghostbusters were gods. Unfortunately, the guys told Gozer that they were not. Maybe if they had said, “yes,” Gozer would have left without a fight.

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Blair Marnell

William Peter Blatty's novel, The Exorcist, conjured up one of the most iconic but divisive horror franchises in media history. With the first movie released in 1973, director William Friedkin's shocking phenomenon set a high bar for its many sequels, prequels, and reboots.

And now, 2018's Halloween director David Gordon Green has released his latest horror sequel, The Exorcist: Believer, which is meant to up another Exorcist trilogy. So with another dark chapter in the books, here's a list of every film and TV show in the franchise ranked from worst to best. 7. Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

The 1980s were a big time for horror cinema. Many bloody slashers, genre-benders, and video nasties popped up in this decade, and the fact many of them are so beloved has been a significant factor in the wave of '80s nostalgia that has permeated pop culture in recent years.

And with Halloween just around the corner, horror fans will likely be breaking out these classics this season, as they are hands-down the best scary pictures to have risen from the '80s. 10. The Evil Dead (1981)

This week, Dolph Lundgren is back in theaters with The Expendables 4, and that makes this the perfect opportunity to look back at three Dolph Lundgren movies that you should watch in September. Lundgren has been acting in leading roles since 1985, but he had a long stretch of direct-to-video films that kept him off the big screen from 1995 to 2010 when he returned to prominence with the first installment of The Expendables.

Lundgren has the distinction of being the first actor to portray Marvel's Punisher in a solo film and He-Man in Masters of the Universe. But you won't find either of those movies on this list because they're awful. Instead, we decided to focus on the films that showed what Lundgren could really do as the ultimate villain, a broken father, and a heroic action star at the height of his powers. These are the three Dolph Lundgren movies that you should watch. Rocky IV (1985)

GameRant

Games Like Lethal Company

Posted: November 25, 2023 | Last updated: November 26, 2023

  • Lethal Company has opened up the co-op horror genre, offering a unique and comedic gameplay experience worth playing with friends.
  • Underrated horror games like SCP: Secret Laboratory and Escape The Backrooms provide engaging co-op experiences with voice proximity and scary monsters.
  • Secret Neighbor and Barotrauma stand out in the horror genre with their unique premises, requiring players to scavenge, rescue, and survive in challenging multiplayer settings.

With Lethal Company becoming one of the most popular games of 2023, it has opened up the co-op horror genre to many players. The unique gameplay and art style make Lethal Company an experience worth playing among friends for horror and comedic purposes. Although its success has been unrivaled for an indie horror game, many underrated horror gems play similarly to Lethal Company .

Best Horror Co-Op Games To Play With Friends

Horror games that have proven successful in recent years have used similar gameplay and esthetics, although Lethal Company puts its unique spin on the horror and extraction genre. Such games have incorporated features such as co-op, audio elements like voice proximity , and various monsters similar to that of Lethal Company , leading to an engaging experience within the horror genre.

SCP: Secret Laboratory

Mass multiplayer factions.

SCP: Secret Laboratory is one of the best free horror games available on Steam due to its unique premise and reliance on large co-op groups. SCP: Secret Laboratory requires a minimum of ten players in a lobby to proceed, with voice chat proximity playing a significant role as players are placed in different groups. The game features several classes for players to be assigned, with each type having different objectives, such as the SCP aliens who aim to kill everyone. At the same time, the Scientists and Class D seek to escape the facility unharmed.

In SCP: Secret Laboratory , long dark hallways make up much of the surroundings, as players are unaware of what danger lurks around the corner, making the game wholly unique, especially with its high player requirement.

Escape The Backrooms

An endless maze with scary monsters.

Escape The Backrooms is a multiplayer horror game that puts players in a never-ending maze that develops as players progress further. During the game, monsters lurk around every corner as players go through each stage, aiming to avoid getting caught. The game provides a frightening co-op experience with voice proximity enabled, making the gameplay experience even scarier if players inevitably get split up.

Escape The Backrooms may not have the replayability of many co-op horrors, but it certainly provides a unique horror experience worth trying out.

Secret Neighbor

Scavenge and rescue.

Secret Neighbor is one of the best multiplayer games on Steam with its unique premise and art style, particularly for a game in the horror genre. Secret Neighbor requires a group of players to rescue a friend stuck in the neighbor's basement, with one of the players being the neighbor in disguise, hoping to catch the intruders.

10 Best Horror Games On Steam

The game requires players to find key cards to open doors within the map, with scavenging items being the primary way to succeed. Secret Neighbor stands out due to its atmosphere and style, providing players with a fun but frightening time.

A Submarine Horror Experience

Within the 2D horror space, Barotrauma stands out through its chaotic multiplayer experience of being submerged in water alongside scary monsters. Barotrauma requires groups of players to ensure the submarine reaches the end of a level while dealing with issues such as scary monsters, power failure, and all the specific systems in the submarine. While these issues occur, players must complete a set of objectives to succeed.

The amount of duties makes for a fun and challenging experience when accompanied by friends. The multitude of tasks can create pure chaos for a party while fending off the extreme dangers from underwater.

Co-Op Survival Mayhem

Chaos, death, and betrayal are all constants throughout the co-op game Devour , which sees players seeking to destroy the ghost who aims to hunt them down. Players are tasked with collecting ritual items in order to destroy the spirit, which changes depending on the multitude of maps in the game.

As more items are used for the rituals, madness ensues as the ghost's activity increases, leading to chaotic moments involving doors, player blocking, and jump scares that will surely indulge horror fans seeking multiplayer experiences.

Labyrinthine

Never-ending haunted maze.

Among co-op horror games that offer exclusive gameplay features, Labyrinthine excels through its puzzle-based premise. Labyrinthine requires players to traverse a maze filled with lurking monsters while completing thought-provoking puzzles. Along the way, players can find helpful items to aid progression, such as an energy drink that increases speed or a flare gun that can send signals.

8 Horror Games That Explore Unique Phobias

While Labyrinthine provides players with challenging puzzles and tasks, it still offers scary moments to frighten players, creating a fun and engaging multiplayer experience.

Phasmophobia

Ghost hunting with friends.

Since its launch, Phasmophobia has become one of the most popular horror games due to its distinct gameplay, allowing for ghost hunting with friends through its exceptional detail and range of tools that can aid players. Phasmophobia leads players to try to identify an unknown ghost in a house using devices such as flashlights and motion sensors.

Phasmophobia's range of available equipment enables players to meticulously plan their course of action in identifying the ghost. In-game voice chat plays a significant role, with players being able to call out the ghost's name to bring them forth, a feature that is engaging and rare in the horror genre.

MORE: 7 Disturbing Horror Games That Feel Real

Games Like Lethal Company

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Top 15 D&D Best Horror Monsters for Your Campaign

D&D Best Horror Monsters

Are you having trouble picking scary monsters for your campaign? 

As a Dungeon Master (DM), one of the best parts of planning a combat encounter is picking out the monsters you're going to use. Monsters are the game pieces that a DM can use to interact with the players, and getting to choose the your abilities and, in some cases, roleplay a really scary or interesting monster can add even more fun to your D&D adventures. 

But there are so many monsters in the offiical rulebooks that it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options out there for you. I hope this list can help - here are the top 15 best horror monsters for your D&D campaign.

15. Intellect Devourer

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These terrible critters are bred by Mindflayers to hunt down victims. They're usually created by subjecting a brain to a terrible ritual, in which it sprouts legs and is filled with the same malicious intent as its masters. 

Why Intellect Devourers Are Fun

While these critters are fairly physically weak - their Strength score is only 6 and they are classified as Tiny creatures - they can inflict a lot of psychological terror on your players. Their main attack,  Devour Intellect,  allows them to potentially reduce a character's Intelligence score to 0, effectively turning them into a vegetable until they can regain those points. Fighting Intellect Devourers can do permanent stat damage, and unprepared players can leave encounters filled with dread and loathing for the creatures. 

Another perk of using Intellect Devourers, particularly in dungeons, is that their presence can indicate that larger, scarier enemies such as Mindflayers are in the area, instilling dread in your players. If you're trying to teach your players a lesson in preparedness, using Intellect Devourers as warnnig signs of larger enemies can be a great place to start. 

Intellect Devourer Details

  • Sourcebook:  Monster Manual (pg. 191)
  • Classification:  Tiny aberration, lawful evil
  • Challenge Rating:  2 (450 XP)
  • Environments:  Underdark 
  • Find its stats here.  

14. Carrion Crawler

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The worst part about these things is that when in an enclosed space, they crawl  along the ceiling  to get around. Picture this: your party is in a dungeon, looking for treasure and scanning along their route for predators, and this horrible thing jumps right down on their heads. I think I'd have to hang up my dice bag for the day after that. 

Why Carrion Crawlers Are Fun

Beyond the obvious psychological terror, these critters offer a range of features for a DM that wants to make dungeon crawling more interesting. Their penchant for crawling up walls and on ceilings means that your party could be forced to resort to creative measures to deal with them - let's hope you've got an archer or a long-range spellcaster handy. While their attacks aren't terribly unique, using them in conjunction with other corpse-loving monsters can make a dungeon a creepy, crawly, terrifying new challenge.

Carrion Crawler Details

  • Sourcebook:  Monster Manual (pg. 37)
  • Classification:  Large monstrosity, unaligned
  • Environment:  Underdark 
  • Find its stats here.

13. Gibbering Mouther

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From a DM's perspective, describing this thing will be key to striking fear into your players' hearts. According to the official description from Wizards of the Coast, it is nothing but ooze-like matter dotted with eyes and teeth that moves by latching one of its mouths to the floor and dragging itself along. It is constantly screaming - each mouth on its body is from a different victim, and they all scream and cry discordantly at all times. Even imagining this thing in your mind's eyes is a nightmare.

Why Gibbering Mouthers Are Fun

Mechanically, this is a really versatile monster. They only have a CR of 2, so they're better suited to lower-level players, but they have a range of attacks that can make combat interesting. Their gibbering can cause players that fail a Wisdom save to stop in their tracks, use all of their movement going in a random direction, or even attack another player. 

My favourite attack that this monster has is called  Blinding Spittle.  It's essentially a gooey flashbang - it explodes on impact with the ground, blinding anyone in the area who fails a Dexterity saving throw. Monsters with lower CRs often only have the basic Bite or Shove attacks, and it's cool to see different mechanics for monsters that are meant for lower-level parties.

Gibbering Mouther Details

  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 314)
  • Classification:  Medium aberration, neutral 

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Why Hags Are Fun

Hags come with a whole host of mechanics that make them immensely fun for DMs. My favourite part is that they are typically found in groups of three, called covens. This mechanic, described in the sidebar alongside their stat blocks, allows you to mix and match types of hags in a group for even more interesting encounters. 

Perhaps your Green Hag has a pair of Night Hags that she's in league with to further her nefarious plot to kidnap village children. Perhaps a Dusk Hag has teamed up with a Sea Hag and an Annis Hag to plot an attack on a kingdom that has wronged them. You can easily make up a group whose motives and abilities suit your adventure. 

In terms of mechanics, hags can be tough in groups or alone. They're proficient in spellcasting and casting illusions to disguise themselves and throw off attackers. Hags range from CR 2 (Sea Hags) to CR 7 (Bheur Hags) and can be optimized for any adventuring party. 

Hag Details

  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 320)
  • Classification:  Medium fey, chaotic evil
  • Environments:  Coastal, Underwater
  • Get their stats here.
  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 319)
  • Classification:  Medium fey, neutral evil
  • Challenge Rating:  3 (700 XP)
  • Environments:  Forest, Hill, Swamp
  • Classification:  Medium fiend, neutral evil
  • Challenge Rating:  5 (1800 XP)
  • Find their stats here.
  • Sourcebook:  Eberron: Rising from the Last War (pg. 292)
  • Challenge Rating:  6 (2300 XP)
  • Get their stats here.  
  • Sourcebook:  Volo's Guide to Monsters (pg. 159)
  • Classification:  Large fey, chaotic evil
  • Environments:  Hill, Mountain
  • Sourcebook:  Volo's Guide to Monsters (pg. 160)
  • Challenge Rating:  7 (2900 XP)
  • Environments:  Arctic

11. Helmed Horror

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Helmed Horrors are intelligent enough to fight with the skill and foresight of a powerful warrior, and understand the intention behind orders rather than the simple, literal meaning of them. If a wizard tasks them with guarding an artifact, then they can take almost any action in completing that task. They are unendingly strong - perfect killing machines.

Why Helmed Horrors Are Fun

If you're tired of giving your Big Bad Bosses stupid minions like goblins and homunculi, then Helmed Horrors are the perfect solution. Their intelligence and ability to act independently of their crator can make them excellent guards or cronies for a higher enemy. They're tough to kill and can inflict significant damage on an unprepared party. Additionally, they're terrifying - imagine fghting a tireless knight who has no face behind its visor?

Helmed Horror Details 

  • Sourcebook:  Monster Manual (pg. 183)
  • Classification:  Medium construct, neutral 
  • Challenge Rating:  4 (1100 XP)
  • Environments:  Dungeon

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Why Oblexes Are Fun

There are all sorts of terrifying little details about these critters that can make them super fun for DMs to inflict on their players. Ooze creatures are already difficult to deal with - their mobility and ability to soak up large amounts of damage can make them terrifying foes. An oblex adds a whole new dimension - the ability to lure players in with illusory forms. 

Perhaps they have wandered into a dungeon on a quest to find a missing person - the oblex could conjure that person's image and get the party into a tight spot. Perhaps the party knew someone that the oblex has eaten, and now it can use their form against them. There are tons of roleplay opportunities that come along with using this monster that you don't often find with other oozes. 

Oblex Details

  • Sourcebook:  Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (pg. 218)
  • Classification:  Medium ooze, lawful evil
  • Environments:  Swamp, Underdark, Urban

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Oni aren't just your average giant, either - they're intelligent in their activities, using their shapechanging abilities to survey towns and settlements for potential victims and ways to kidnap them before embarking on their feast. 

Why Oni Are Fun

Using big, ogre-like enemies can already be really fun for a DM, but adding oni into the mix takes it to a whole new level. Their relative intelligence and innate spellcasting abilities can allow them to strategize in battle - your party might be used to things that are as big as an oni just charging into battle without thinking, so a foe that thinks their attacks through and is capable of setting traps might throw them off. 

I also really like the oni's shapechanging abilities - they can turn into a Small or Medium humanoid at will. Considering they are known for stalking and observing potential victims, an oni could be hiding right under your players' noses or attempting to gain their trust. There are a lot of roleplay opportunities with this creature, so let your imagination run wild!

Oni Details

  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 336)
  • Classification:  Large giant, lawful evil
  • Environments:  Forest, Urban

8. Chain Devil

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On top of this incredibly frightening visage, this creature can cast illusions around itself briefly that make it look like people you know have died - whether they be your dearly departed grandmother or the first city guard you ever killed.

Why Chain Devils Are Fun

Anything that can take the form of loved ones, deceased or not, immediately adds roleplay opportunities to combat. Especially considering that the chain devil's abilities do psychic damage, you can do a lot of backstory blackmailing with it.

According to the chain devil's flavour text, they can often be found driving other creatures in front of them with the help of their chains. Considering they are the jailers of the Nine Hells, there are tons of different monsters that you can use in conjunction with a chain devil to make interesting, challenging combat encounters. Minor devils, tormented souls, or ethereal figures such as wraiths would all be good companions for a chain devil. 

Chain Devil Details 

  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 275)
  • Classification:  Medium fiend (devil), lawful evil
  • Challenge Rating:  8 (3900 XP)
  • Environments:  Abyss, Nine Hells, Dungeon

7. Mindflayers

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Mindflayers constantly conduct horrific experiments on all manner of creatures, resulting in most of the sick, twisted abominations that populate the Underdark where they reside. They are all connected via a hive mind ruled by a creature called an Elder Brain, and they should not be taken lightly. Unprepared adventurers can easily find themselves enthralled and enslaved by these terrible beings.

Why Mindflayers Are Fun

I think the question really is, why  aren't  mindflayers fun? These creatures are the ultimate villains - they come from a long dynasty of tyrants and slavers, and they are constantly killing or corrupting other creatures for their twisted ends.

They're more likely to command thralls and experimental creatures to fight the party than engage in combat themselves, but this mechanic makes combat against mindflayer colonies incredibly challenging and interesting. If your party is tired of just obliterating everything that they come across, put them up against a colony of mindflayers to give them a new (terrifying) challenge.

Mindflayer Details

  • Sourcebook:  Monster Manual (pg. 222)
  • Classification:  Medium aberration, lawful evil
  • Environments:  Underdark

6. Corpse Flower

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If that wasn't terrifying enough for you, the corpse flower will always have corpses at its disposal when players encounter it. They use these remains to heal themselves during combat - as a bonus action, they can consume a corpse that they've been carrying to heal 2d10 worth of hit points. If they're not using the bodies to restore their health, then they can animate them into zombies that act as allies during battle. Just in case you weren't already horrified.

Why Corpse Flowers Are Fun

This thing is the exact definition of, "Thanks, I hate it." Can you imagine wandering a jungle and coming across a huge plant that smells like death and is stuffed with corpses? The healing mechanic makes them very tough to kill, and if the party wants to recover any part of the corpses that the plant carries, then combat will be instantly time-sensitive.

On top of all that, a corpse flower that has been nesting in a place of death, such as a graveyard or battlefield, has the potential to raise a small army of zombies to protect it - there isn't any limit on how many zombies the plant can create because it doesn't control them. I'm picturing a huge swath of jungle inhabited by hostile corpse-eating plants and their zombie bodyguards - expect to have some nightmares after that one.

Corpse Flower Details

  • Sourcebook:  Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (pg. 127)
  • Classification:  Large plant, chaotic evil
  • Environments:  Forest, Swamp, Urban
  • Find their stats here.  

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Why Aboleths Are Fun

Aboleths present a lot of unique challenges for players - both their passive and active abilities are pretty unique and hard to prepare for. If the creature is underwater, it exudes a cloud of mucus that can cause disease in any creature that touches it or hits it with any melee attacks.

The disease? You can only breathe water for 1d4 hours, which can cause significant issues in the long run. They can also enslave three creatures per day, charming them and putting them under its control. This can be really fun for DMs, especially if you can manage to turn one party member against the others. 

Aboleths are the first critters on our list that have legendary actions, which always makes combat more interesting and challenging. One of their legendary actions is an ability called  Psychic Drain,  which essentially allows them to drain a creature that they've charmed to heal themselves.

Aboleth Details

  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 261)
  • Classification:  Large aberration, lawful evil
  • Challenge Rating:  10 (5900 XP)
  • Environments:  Underdark, Underwater

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Vampire lairs are often filled with treasure, but they are also filled with danger. Any party contracted to enter must be prepared and vigilant if they are to survive.

Why Vampires Are Fun

If you're seeking a more Gothic atmosphere for your campaign, then a vampire's lair is a great place to start. The regional effects around a lair are things out of old horror movies - hundreds of bats and other vermin, twisted, leafless foliage, and creepy fog that plays tricks on the mind.

D&D vampires adhere very closely to classic vampire lore, and as such, there are certain preparations that parties can take to make their battle easier. Entering a vampire's lair is an exercise in planning and strategy - unprepared parties are very likely to succumb to a vampire's power. Additionally, there's an ample number of opportunities for dramatic, Gothic roleplaying when you add a vampire into your campaign.

Vampire Details

  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 352)
  • Classification:  Medium undead (shapechanger), lawful evil
  • Challenge Rating:  13 (10 000 XP)
  • Environments:  Underdark, Urban

3. Devourer

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These huge, horrifying creatures are demons who act in service of the demon lord Orcus. Their job is to create new undead soldiers in the most horrifying way possible - they entrap a living creature within their ribcage and torture its soul with psychic attacks until it transforms into a servitor. These are high-level monsters; with a CR of 13 and a range of attacks that do a lot of damage at once, they should not be faced by parties that are any lower than level 12. 

Why Devourers Are Fun

These monsters are intelligent enough to strategize, and they can telepathically speak to players - pair that with a high Charisma score, and you've got the potential for some really interesting roleplay moments before combat even begins. Maybe they're clever enough to try and lure the party close so that they can entrap them, or strategic enough to separate members from each other to make them easier to pick off one by one. This monster would be terrifying in a dungeon setting, especially in dungeons that have a lot of illusions at play. 

The Devourer has several attacks that can make combat tough for even well-prepared, heavily armored players. Its claw attacks do an average of 32 damage per hit (and that's if you choose not to roll for damage instead), and its  Soul Rend  ability creates a huge, necrotic vortex that could kill an injured player outright if they aren't careful. 

Devourer Details

  • Sourcebook:  Volo's Guide to Monsters (pg. 138)
  • Classification:  Large fiend, chaotic evil

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These horrible masses of blood and pus can be found in remote corners of the Abyss, polluting the area with their constantly dripping ooze. They are said to be as old as the Abyss itself, and they spend eons amassing knowledge that makes them useful to other evil entities, such as liches and demon lords. 

They have been given the vile ability to manipulate the Abyss and create new demons by transforming other creatures. If they are paid well enough, then they can graft new parts onto an existing demon to increase a particular ability.

Why Sibriexes Are Fun

Firstly, these things are just  so gross.  It's literally a mass of blood, flesh, and pus that floats around. They contaminate everything around them - the ground is difficult terrain because they're constantly dripping disgusting fluid. One of its attacks is squirting bile at an enemy, inflicting a huge amount of acid damage and more than a little nausea. 

Secondly, these creatures are highly intelligent and could potentially bargain and reason with players. Perhaps it has information about a particular demon lord or ritual that the players have been seeking. But they should be wary - this creature cannot be trusted.

Sibriex Details

  • Sourcebook:  Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (pg. 137)
  • Classification:  Huge fiend (demon), chaotic evil
  • Challenge Rating:  18 (20 000 XP)
  • Environments:  Abyss, Underdark

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Liches must sustain themselves with the souls of living creatures, and this need causes them to commit horrible atrocities. Often, the presence of a lich in an area will cause every monarch or warlord around to want them dead. But it will not be an easy task.

Why Liches Are Fun

The best thing about a lich is that they can be the villain for an entire campaign - your party doesn't have a chance if they just fight them outright, so they must develop their strength, gain allies, and hunt down the lich's phylacteries if they have any hope of destroying it. That's enough material for a campaign that could take years!

Lich Details

  • Sourcebook:  Basic Rules (pg. 325)
  • Classification:  Medium undead, any evil alignment
  • Challenge Rating:  21 (33 000 XP)
  • Environments:  Urban, Underdark

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Keep in mind that some of your players might have abilities that can make them more effective against undead creatures (eg. clerics).

Fighting Undead

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Harry potter: the 10 scariest monsters & magical creatures, ranked.

While wizards and witches tend to steal the spotlight, the Harry Potter series is not lacking for terrifying monsters and magical creatures.

Though witches and wizards seem to be the stars of the wizarding world, there are also endless monsters and magical creatures that inhabit the land around Hogwarts. The Harry Potter books mention many more creatures than are included in the movies, ranging from vampires to a giant squid living in the Great Lake.

The movies still have their fair share of monsters and magical beasts, some more fearsome than others. While some are neutral, others lean toward the dark side.

RELATED:  Harry Potter: Dumbledore's Best Outfits In The Franchise

Keep reading to see our ranking of the scariest monsters and magical creatures to appear in Harry Potter .

There is nothing inherently scary about pixies, though in the Harry Potter universe they’re portrayed as being quite mischievous. In the context of all the monsters and magical creatures to appear in J.K. Rowling ’s world, they’re probably the least scary, although they would be a pain to deal with in real life.

This is seen firsthand in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets   when Professor Lockhart brings in a cage full of Cornish pixies to his second-year Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Once the pixies escape their cage, they are completely out of control.

Unlike other magical creatures, goblins actually communicate with witches and wizards. They’re known for running Gringotts the wizard bank, and Professor Flitwick is even half-goblin. Still, it’s Hagrid’s early warning to Harry that goblins aren’t the friendliest of creatures that always left us feeling a little wary of them.

Aside from not being overly friendly, goblins are known for being highly intelligent and they don’t need to rely on wands to perform their magic. It is difficult to not feel sorry for the goblin community, though, as many wizards believe them to be inferior.

Although nobody actually knows what a boggart’s true form is, these creatures have the capacity to be quite scary. They take the form of a person’s greatest fear, so that makes them more fearsome than most other creatures.

While they are scary, witches and wizards are taught how to deal with them in the third year of magical study, so they’re not particularly complicated to battle.

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One of the most memorable boggart scenes is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  when the creature takes the form of a Dementor and swoops at Harry.

Dragons don’t cause too much of a nuance for Harry and his friends over the years. Of course, there’s the Hungarian Horntail that Harry has to steal an egg from during the Triwizard Tournament. Then there’s the dragon that’s held captive in the deep caverns of Gringotts that the trio eventually save.

With their immense size, sharp teeth, and fire-breathing abilities, dragons are reasonably scary. However, they are never depicted as being truly malicious throughout the series. The first dragon introduced in the movies, Norberta, is actually kind of cute.

Mountain Trolls

A magical creature doesn’t necessarily have to be intelligent to evoke fear. Even though trolls are among the least intelligent creatures in the wizarding world, the one that is let into the castle on Halloween in the first Harry Potter film is pretty frightening.

It is the combination of their huge size, lack of conscience, and the weapons they wield that make them so scary. Harry, Ron, and Hermione surviving the troll attack during their first year at Hogwarts was super impressive.

In many fairytales, merfolk are portrayed as beautiful creatures. In the Disney film The Little Mermaid , they are friendly (although they mostly want nothing to do with humans). However, the merfolk in Harry Potter aren’t particularly friendly or beautiful. They’re more frightening than alluring.

They are first shown in Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts when he competes in the Triwizard Tournament. As part of the competition, he has to swim to the bottom of the Great Lake and retrieve Ron who is being held captive by some vicious merpeople.

Werewolves in Harry Potter can be even more frightening than other portrayals of werewolves in folklore and pop culture. They are shown as having no control over themselves in the face of the full moon and will even turn on their closest friends.

RELATED:  Harry Potter: 10 Reasons Why Ron And Hermione Were Never Real Friends

Of course, one of the most beloved Harry Potter characters, Remus Lupin, is a werewolf. While there are some likable werewolves, such as Lupin, the series also features much scarier examples, such as Fenrir Greyback. The most frightening thing about a werewolf is that their bite turns their victim into a werewolf themselves.

A jail interring prisoners as evil as those kept at Azkaban needs to be guarded by terrifying creatures like Dementors. With their hooded appearances and ghostly movements, these beings almost resemble the Grim Reaper and are frightening to look at even before they work their magic.

Dementors force their victims to relive their worst memories and feed on human happiness, leaving those in their wake with feelings of hopelessness and depression. Harry has a particularly hard time with them because his past contains such traumatic experiences, so it’s a good thing he masters his Patronus charm early on.

The Basilisk

If a monster is powerful enough to end someone's life with a simple look, then it’s certainly a force to be reckoned with. The basilisk that lives in the Hogwarts castle lies in the Chamber of Secrets and is called upon by the heir of Slytherin to kill muggle-born students.

Even after Fawkes blinds the basilisk and defeats the powers of its fatal gaze, it’s still a terrifying monster. Harry eventually defeats the beast using the sword of Gryffindor . The upside to having a basilisk around, though, is that their venom is powerful enough to destroy Horcruxes.

The Scariest: Acromantula

Of all the magical creatures and monsters roaming around the wizarding world, none is as frightening as the acromantula. In the Chamber of Secrets,  we meet Aragog who, despite being a friend of Hagrid , is a carnivorous spider at heart. Although Aragog doesn’t do the bidding of evil like the basilisk, he’s still not a creature anyone would like to run across in the Forbidden Forest.

For an arachnophobe, the scariest moment in the entire  Harry Potter series has to be when Harry and Ron find themselves in the midst of Aragog’s lair and have to flee from thousands of man-eating giant spiders.

NEXT: Hogwarts Houses of Birds Of Prey Characters

Aliens at a Miami mall? Police say ‘lol’

Police respond at the Bayside Marketplace in Miami on Jan. 1, 2024.

Teens running, police converging and a grey splotch that appears to be moving: Videos from an outdoor mall in Miami stoked wild claims this week on social media that aliens had landed on Earth. But the truth is far more terrestrial.

On Monday, a group of roughly 50 teenagers caused a riot at Bayside Marketplace, an outdoor mall roughly 5 miles from South Beach, according to the Miami Police Department.

The teens were setting off fireworks, which led to a panic as some assumed there was a shooting, said Miami Police Department public information officer Michael Vega. Four teens were arrested.

Police were dispatched “for crowd control due to the juveniles refusing to leave,” Vega said in an email to NBC News. “Some businesses were temporarily closed to allow us to clear the area.”

In the days after the incident, users on social media launched a speculation frenzy, homing in on what they described as “Miami Mall Aliens.” Some suggested police were responding to aliens, not teenagers. Several people reviewed video of the incident circulating online and claimed they could see an alien figure in the grainy footage. Others quickly posted memes.

While many of the responses online appeared lighthearted, the posts show just how quickly and easily misinformation can spread on social media. The response also underscores an uptick in interest in extraterrestrial activity, from hearings in Congress last summer about “unidentified aerial phenomena” or “UAPs” to Mexico’s Congress showing off what it claimed were “nonhuman” aliens. Both of those events also became prime meme fodder.

However, Vega said aliens had nothing to do with Monday’s incident.

“There were no aliens,” he wrote in the email. “No airports were closed. Nothing is being withheld from the public. LOL.”

Still, by Friday afternoon, “Miami Mall Alien” was trending on the social media site X.

“10ft Aliens/Creatures (caught on camera?) fired at inside and outside Miami Mall, media silent, cops are covering it up saying kids were fighting with fireworks, yet all these cop cars, & air traffic stopped that night except for black military choppers…and no media coverage,” claimed one post on X, which on Friday appeared to trigger a slew of conspiracy theories and memes.

One person posted what appeared to be an AI image of a generic alien holding shopping bags, and joked it was “The Miami Mall Alien.”

Another person shared an image of golfer Tiger Woods holding out his hand, as if to shake another person’s hand, with the caption: “Me to the aliens if I’d been at the Miami mall.”

Others remarked that the new year was bound to be wild if aliens had been spotted mere days into January.

“5th day into the New Year now people spotting Aliens in the Miami Mall 2024 is in for one hell of a ride,” the person wrote.

There were, of course, some who wondered: If there was an alien sighting, where’s the proof?

“Everybody have cell phones, but nobody have an up close video of the 8-10 foot alien by the Miami mall?” wrote one X user .

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Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York.

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  1. 13 Terrifying and Spooky Latino Monsters and Legends

    Hilaria, inconsolable, and became La Novia de Tola, a scorned ghost who waits for her beloved forever. La Sayona is a woman who haunts men in relationships who cheat. She is seen wearing a white ...

  2. The Creepiest Ghost And Monster Stories From Around The World

    An evil creature stalks the Tanzanian island of Pemba in the Indian Ocean. It can change shape — a bat sometimes, a human-like form at others. It prefers to come out at night, but some say they...

  3. 15 of the Creepiest Ghosts, Creatures, and Monsters

    a person transformed temporarily or permanently into a wolf or capable of assuming a wolf's form : lycanthrope Are there werewolves where there aren't wolves? Lycanthropy, the delusion that you have turned into a wolf or another beast, has some ancient roots, and belief in werewolves can be found around the world.

  4. 15 Classic Halloween Monsters and Their Scary Origins

    1. Vampire Unsplash How long have vampires been around? There are stories of vampire -like creatures from as early as ancient Greece! This centuries-old monster is said to be undead, meaning they...

  5. 16 Real Ghost Stories That'll Chill You to the Bone

    16 very real ghost stories that'll chill you to the bone You'll sleep with the lights on after reading these scary tales of unexplained incidents and paranormal encounters. Aug. 18, 2022, 8:01...

  6. 15 Halloween Monsters and Their Spooky Origins

    If you love to hear ghost stories and scary Halloween stories, we dare you to learn the true-life tales that inspired these beasties. Read on to discover the hidden origins of Halloween monsters ...

  7. The 50 Scariest Horror Movie Monsters Ranked

    37. Brundlefly - The Fly (1986) Twentieth Century Fox. Remaking a classic horror movie is one of the biggest risks a director can take, but for David Cronenberg, "The Fly" helped solidify his ...

  8. The Origins of 25 Monsters, Ghosts, and Other Spooky Things

    1. Jack-O'-Lanterns Two carved pumpkins set against a background of glowing woods / sandsun/iStock The name jack-o'-lantern comes from an Irish myth, in which a man called Stingy Jack tricks the...

  9. Coco (folklore)

    Que Viene el Coco (1799) by Goya. The Coco or Coca (also known as the Cucuy, Cuco, Cuca, Cucu, Cucuí or El-Cucuí) is a mythical ghost-like monster, equivalent to the bogeyman, found in Spain and Portugal.Those beliefs have also spread in many Hispanophone and Lusophone countries. It can also be considered an Iberian version of a bugbear as it is a commonly used figure of speech representing ...

  10. Top 46 Horror Monster/Creature Movies

    91 Metascore Dr Henry Frankenstein is obsessed with assembling a living being from parts of several exhumed corpses. Director: James Whale | Stars: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles Votes: 78,672 2. King Kong (1933) Passed | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi 7.9 Rate 92 Metascore

  11. 15 of the Scariest Monsters from Folklore All Over the World

    They speak of legendary creatures. Of course, there are the boring monsters like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti but these are a hell of lot scarier! Let's read all about them - and you make up your own mind! 1. Myling (Scandinavia) Via maxmagnusherman.com. The Myling is said to be the soul of an unbaptised child.

  12. 45 Scary and Disturbing Mythical Creatures from Around the World

    45 Scary and Disturbing Mythical Creatures from Around the World Adze Togo, Ghana Vampire that transforms into a firefly, biting people in their sleep and - killing them. Grootslang South Africa Massive serpentine elephant that plagues a deep cave in Richtersveld.

  13. 8 Creepy and Horrifying Mythical Monsters From Around The World

    Which came first the scary stories or the scary monsters? We can probably say that the scary stories people tell at midnight awaken the scary monsters that lurk in the dark corners of a big, ... a Pontianak is a vampiric ghost who was a woman who died while giving birth. This spiteful and furious ghost, usually after having caught her prey, is ...

  14. 5 Scary Ghost Videos That Will Give You GOOSEBUMPS

    Nuke's Top 5 4.15M subscribers Subscribe Subscribed 108K 8.4M views 4 years ago Top 5 scary videos of ghosts caught on camera! The scariest videos of ghosts that are sure to give you GOOSEBUMPS....

  15. Top 12 Scary Videos Only A REAL ONE Can Handle

    Top 12 Scary Videos Only A REAL ONE Can Handle - Unbelievable Mysterious Ghost Videos There are events in this world that defy logical explanation events. So strange and mysterious that if it...

  16. The Origins Of 10 Scariest Halloween Monsters: Zombies ...

    1. Unearthly Ghosts Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist's Renphoto According to folklore and mythology, a ghost is the imprint or soul left behind in the physical world after a person dies. A ghost is imagined as having a pale mist-like appearance, often resembling the person's physical appearance.

  17. The Scariest Ghosts In the Ghostbusters Movies

    Now that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is finally in theaters, we're taking a look back at the two previous films, as well as the 2016 reboot, to pick the scariest ghosts in the Ghostbusters movies ...

  18. 5 Scary Ghost Videos To Give You MORE Nightmares! *WARNING

    Nuke's Top 5 4.08M subscribers Subscribe 4.5M views 4 years ago MORE Scary ghost videos of strange encounters and ghosts caught on camera! Top 5 scary videos that will probably give you...

  19. 7,000+ Free Horror & Halloween Images

    dark moody scary. skeletons funny. witch gothic goth dark. death horror monster. horror gruesome. dracula fangs vampire. mask horror women. Adult Content SafeSearch. gothic goth horror. skulls horror death. ... ghost. skull. dark. fear. death. gothic. evil. Over 4.6 million+ high quality stock images, videos and music shared by our talented ...

  20. Games Like Lethal Company

    Lethal Company has opened up the co-op horror genre, offering a unique and comedic gameplay experience worth playing with friends. Underrated horror games like SCP: Secret Laboratory and Escape ...

  21. Haunted House Monster Truck

    Welcome to Haunted House Monster Truck! We have the best cartoons for kids and babies that they will enjoy! Watch and laugh along with these funny & popular ...

  22. Top 15 D&D Best Horror Monsters for Your Campaign

    Carrion Crawler Is there anything worse than a huge worm? How about a huge worm that feasts on corpses? These big, ugly creatures are known to frequent places that are rich in their preferred food source - dead humanoids. That means graveyards, battlefields, and some dungeons are good homes for them.

  23. Monsters In The Dark

    Nighttime can be a very scary time. Monsters lurk in the shadows, and ghosts hide in the closet. No need to be afraid Baby John, you aren't afraid of the d...

  24. Harry Potter: The 10 Scariest Monsters & Magical Creatures, Ranked

    Dragons Dragons don't cause too much of a nuance for Harry and his friends over the years. Of course, there's the Hungarian Horntail that Harry has to steal an egg from during the Triwizard Tournament. Then there's the dragon that's held captive in the deep caverns of Gringotts that the trio eventually save.

  25. Aliens at a Miami mall? Police say 'lol'

    Teens running, police converging and a grey splotch that appears to be moving: Videos from an outdoor mall in Miami stoked wild claims this week on social media that aliens had landed on Earth.