October is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t bother looking it up; it’s true. Most people take that to mean highlighting one horror movie a day, but here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or nine by celebrating each day with a top ten list. This article about the best monster movie crossovers is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.
We are nothing if not frugal, here in The Boo Crew. We’re always looking for a deal, and that means getting the best bang for our buck. Why settle for just one monster when you can get many for the price of one? You’d be foolish to do that. Thankfully, we’re here to make sure you do not make a fool of yourself. We’ve scoured through countless horror films and narrowed it down to the ten best monster mash-ups!
The rules were simple — movies just need to contain at least two notable monsters. There is some wiggle room as to what qualifies as a monster, but basically, we’re looking at creatures, evil villains, and supernatural baddies. Just two dudes that happen to kill people? Nah, not for this list. Sorry, Scream.
Before getting into the top ten that made our list, I have to give a special shoutout to Stephen Sommers’ desperately misunderstood modern classic, Van Helsing. Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale? Yes, please! Come on, this should have absolutely made the list for this scene of Van Helsing versus Mr. Hyde alone. But sometimes, democracy has other plans. I won’t name the person who derailed Van Helsing from its rightful spot in our top ten, but please direct all questions to Brad G.
10. Hotel Transylvania (2012)
When monsters aren’t out monstering, they’re just like the rest of us. They have families and enjoy mundane family activities. And when they’re looking to get away, they visit Hotel Transylvania, a human-free hotel owned by one of the world’s most famous monsters, Dracula (Adam Sandler). To celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), Drac invites all his closest monster friends to the hotel for a giant monster bash. Unfortunately, the party is crashed by a goofy human (Andy Samberg) who quickly falls for Mavis. Hotel Transylvania is a cute, charming, family-friendly horror film that has fun with the movie monsters we’ve all come to love. The monsters just happen to be played by Sandler and all his closest friends. It’s Universal Monsters, the Happy Madison edition. (Chris Coffel)
9. Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
No monster has gone on more adventures with fellow monsters than everyone’s favorite fire-breathing lizard, Godzilla. That would explain why 1992’s Godzilla vs. Mothra is one of two Godzilla entries to make this list. This Heisei-era effort blends the adventure of Indiana Jones with the monster mayhem of Godzilla. An ancient artifact thief working with a representative of the Marutomo company finds a giant Mothra egg. Mothra’s fairies appear and explain the egg was uncovered by a recent meteoroid that hit Earth. Unfortunately, this same meteoroid may have also awakened Godzilla and Battra, Mothra’s more sinister male equivalent. Naturally, the three kaiju fight to decide Earth’s fate. Godzilla vs. Mothra has the big, colorful battles you’d expect from a Godzilla film to go alongside a compelling subplot of a divorced couple working together. (Chris Coffel)
8. Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Alien vs. Predator is not the movie many of us had hoped for when we knew we were getting an alien vs predator movie. But it’s still alien, it’s still predator, and director Paul W.S. Anderson knows how to have big, cheap, dumb fun. There is some backstory about how the predators have been coming to Earth for centuries and built the pyramids, but none of that matters. This is all about seeing xenomorphs square up with predators, and on that front, Anderson delivers. At one point, a xenomorph sneaks up behind a predator and impales him with his tail, spraying neon green predator blood everywhere. A second predator grabs the xenomorph by the tail, spins him around, and sends him hurling through the air. Is that not what we signed up for? It’s slimy, it’s messy, it’s monster-on-monster action. (Chris Coffel)
7. Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters (1968)
If this list were about the best movies with the most monsters, Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters would be number one. Because, as its title suggests, this bad boy is stuffed to the gills with ghosts, goblins, and all manner of monstrous freaks. Our story begins with an enterprising landlord who must conduct a Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai ceremony before he can tear down a local shrine to build a brothel. It’s a very common problem to have. The ceremony (which is also a parlor game, so feel free to play this with your friends) involves lighting one hundred lanterns and blowing them out, one by one, after telling a ghost story. As the stories progress, the room steadily gets darker and darker, and (theoretically) the ghosts, spirits, and yokai come out of the woodwork as a result. Unfortunately for our would-be brothel owner, the ceremony gets botched, leaving the spooky door wide open. This is bad news for everyone involved but great news for us, as we’re treated to all kinds of weirdos from Japanese folklore (including one of my favorites, the kasa-obake, a.k.a. an evil umbrella with a long tongue). All told, if your goal is to see the most monsters on-screen in a single film, Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters is the way to go. (Meg Shields)
6. The Monster Squad (1987)
Growing up, you were either a Goonies kid or a Monster Squad kid. I was a Monster Squad kid. Director Fred Dekker and screenwriter Shane Black concoct their Universal Monsters celebration with a bite that only an eighties kiddie adventure film could contain. These brats could die if they weren’t careful. These monsters were as happy to blow up your car with a batch of dynamite as they were to suck your blood or tear you limb from limb. The Monster Squad carried danger, and with it came a respect that more neutered children’s entertainment couldn’t possibly compete with. The wolf man’s got nards. For sure. (Brad Gullickson)
5. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Freddy vs. Jason will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s one of the first R-rated movies I was able to buy my own ticket for and is still the only Freddy or Jason movie I’ve seen in theaters on its original run. It’s also a splatacular love letter to both iconic franchises. The plot presents some issues, mainly surrounding Jason and his fear of water, but the basic premise is sound. Freddy needs kids to fear him again, and he uses Jason to make them remember. The kills are some of the best we’ve ever seen. Trey getting folded up inside his bed is hard to top because it’s gnarly and also because no one deserved a death quite like Trey deserved a death. When the two killers go head-to-head, we get to see Jason’s brute force in action while Freddy darts around using his speed and wits. And it’s bloody as hell. It’s a great entry to both franchises, and a shame we didn’t get a follow-up. Bonus points for having the best nu-metal soundtrack of all time. (Chris Coffel)
4. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
The United Nations Science Committee has rounded up all of Earth’s kaiju and is keeping them held in an area conveniently named Monster Island where they can be studied by a team of scientists. Suddenly, the island goes radio silent, and the monsters escape and start to attack major cities across the world. Have the monsters gone mad? No, no they haven’t. Instead, an advanced but dwindling alien race has landed on Monster Island and is now controlling the monsters via remote. Destroy All Monsters is the second Godzilla movie to appear on this list and arguably one of the best in the history of the franchise. For pure monster action, it’s hard to top with a lineup totaling eleven monsters that include Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, and Anguirus, just to name a few. Even that goofy ass Minilla makes an appearance, tripping over his feet and being as useless as he always is. Monsters take out New York City, Moscow, and Paris. The final battle is absolute chaos as monsters sprint in like they’re entering the Royal Rumble to get in on the action. Practical kaiju fun at its purest. (Chris Coffel)
3. Waxwork (1988)
Director Anthony Hickox made nearly twenty films, and while the vast majority are utterly and completely forgettable, the man gets a pass in my book on the strength of his first two movies alone — Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989), and his feature debut, Waxwork. Both are horror/comedies that lean heavily toward the latter while still delivering a ton of fun with their horror elements. Waxwork takes a simple premise of “teens” visiting a wax museum run by David Warner (first mistake), unaware that crossing over the display ropes (second mistake) sends them through a portal into the very real horrors within. One visits a shack under attack by a werewolf, another is seduced by Dracula, and both the Mummy and the Marquis de Sade get a taste of the carnage, too. Other monsters are glimpsed or spoken of as well, and while the film is clearly working on a budget, the results are fantastic. We get some stellar gore and prosthetic work. Both Michelle Johnson and Deborah Foreman spice things up while falling under the spell of a vampire and a sadist, respectively, and the whole thing ends with a free-for-all fight. This is a supremely entertaining slice of 80s horror, bringing together numerous classic monsters for our enjoyment, and I can’t recommend its silly, bloody antics enough. (Rob Hunter)
2. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Despite the initial trailers doing their damndest to ruin the incredible reveal that takes place mid-way through this film, it doesn’t dampen the howls of joy from horror hounds when we see our hapless heroes encounter glass cubes inhabited by a rogue’s gallery of monsters. These aren’t the monsters that you or I know, however, but rather embellishments on characters we already know and love, like the hulking, brooding monster that’s clearly a proxy for Clive Barker’s Pinhead. And when our heroes “release the hounds,” as it were, allowing the monsters to destroy the underground bunker where government types decide the fate of the world, it takes everything in our power not to jump to our feet and applaud. Sure, it may mean the world as they know it will be destroyed by ancient gods, but who cares when the monster mash is this much fun? (Jacob Trussell)
1. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
You can’t have a list celebrating monster mash-ups without including at least one film featuring the Universal Monsters and the original cinematic universe. And if you want the best of the bunch, you have to go with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello star as Chick and Wilbur, a couple of railroad station baggage clerks who receive a shipment of crates for McDougal’s House of Horrors. The dimwitted duo opens the crates and unknowingly unleashes Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange). A desperate Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) tries to stop them, but a full moon turns him into the Wolf Man. The beauty of this film is that it can stand up as a great Abbot and Costello comedy and as a great example of classic horror, with the two blending perfectly. Nothing exemplifies this more than the opening scene, which features a gorgeous werewolf transformation that Costello hears over the phone and mistakes for a dog talking. It’s also an influential film, creating the now-famous trope of Dracula being the leader of the other monsters. And it’s the gold standard for horror comedies. Evil Dead II, Shaun of the Dead, and countless other horror-comedy hybrids have been trying to recapture the magic that Abbott and Costello first achieved nearly eighty years ago. If you want to spend an evening with multiple monsters, there is no better way to start than Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. (Chris Coffel)
Did you meet your monster quota but want to keep the horror fun going? Then check out more 31 Days of Horror Lists!