Monsters in movies are a staple of the art of cinema, and many movies have done a tremendous job in building the mythology surrounding our favorite monsters, such as dragons, zombies, aliens and much much more. However, certain films weren't just content to contribute to the stereotypes found in mythology, but rather opted to subvert it, going deeper and adding their own take. These five films may have been hit or miss as far as their success with critics, but they all approached their monsters with a greater sense of nuance and, in the process, added to the existing mythology.
5. Dragons From 'Reign Of Fire' (2002)
Dragons have been a staple of many solid movies such as How to Train Your Dragon, The Hobbit, and Pete's Dragon. As viewers, we know that these beasts fly, breathe fire, and strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose them. However, 2002's Reign Of Fire did a great job of diving deeper into the mythology of the dragon, grounding its beasts in science and giving us explanations for their existence. In the movie, it is explained that dragons have been around even before the dinosaurs. Instead of fire "magically" appearing when the creature opens its mouth, we learn that through the dragon's anatomy that it needs two glands in the mouth that secrete separate chemicals to make the fire possible.
4. Fairies From 'Pan's Labyrinth' (2006)
Fairies have been in a number of movies throughout the years — Willow, Hook, and FernGully. Normally when we think of fairies, we think of them as tiny people who are feminine in nature and have wings that resemble beautiful butterflies.
Instead of fairies that look like miniature humans with insect wings attached to their backs, the director Guillermo del Toro gives us human-like creatures that start out looking like an insect and then transform into their true form with wings that look like leaves from a tree. With this new design, it enables them to blend in so that they can easily hide from predators and humans. This illusion is a lot more logical than having the fairies either disappear in a puff of smoke or only be visible by young children and not adults.
3. Tooth Fairies From 'Hellboy II: The Golden Army' (2008)
Typically, a tooth fairy is either a female fairy in a tutu who takes children's baby teeth and gives them some form of currency in return. There have been some films that have portrayed the tooth fairy, but in a different light. In the 2003 horror Darkness Falls (pun intended), The Tooth Fairy is a cursed spirit who collects children's teeth and kills anyone who sees her burnt face. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark had a similar plot, but there was more than one tooth fairy and they all looked more like miniature monkeys with gray, fury coats.
Though these tooth fairy movies did a phenomenal job with creatively manifesting their own take on this fantasy creature, Guillermo del Toro’s movie is the one that leaves them in the dust.
In Hellboy II the tooth fairies are insect-like creatures with wings as fast as a bumble bee, appendages like a praying mantis and a mouth like an orangutan. The creators of both the comics and the movies must have a thing with monkeys in their character design:
Anyway, instead of leaving a quarter under your pillow, this little tooth fairy eats the flesh off your skin and saves your teeth for last.
2. Trolls From 'Trollhunter' (2010)
Now, when I am talking about trolls, it is not to be confused with the modern-day trolling that we get on social media. No, these trolls are normally mischievous cave-dwelling creatures. They can either be giant in size, reaching higher than a two-story building or as small as a mere dwarf. These trolls typically have very ugly appearances and are very sensitive to sunlight.
With Trollhunter, they didn’t veer too far from the original monster, but they did make all the trolls unique in their own way. The science behind the troll’s body having a Vitamin D deficiency is really interesting. It gives us a logical reason as to why their bodies turn to stone once they’re exposed to any type of sunlight. The other neat thing about the trolls in this mockumentary is that they can grow extra heads, kind of like when some of us humans grow warts. Later on in the film, we learn that multiple heads attracts other trolls, which is very useful for when it comes to looking for a mate. Having multiple body parts doesn’t work too well, especially with online dating apps like Tinder.
1. Aliens From 'AVP: Alien Vs. Predator' (2004)
In a normal alien movie, we would see the aliens come to Earth from a different planet that is far away to either colonization or wipe out the human race for world domination.
In AVP we learn that they are actually the gods we worship. Not only that, but all of our ancient cultures and rituals originated from these two species of aliens. However, this wasn’t the first time aliens were treated like gods on our planet. In Stargate we get a similar yet subtle history of how civilization was created and how the pyramids were made. Both movies should give their real credit to the author of The Chariots of the Gods.
Theses are just a handful of many monsters reimagined for movies. It just goes to show that there are no limitations to one’s imagination when it comes to creativity. It’s safe to say that we will be seeing more of these classical monsters with interesting twists in movies to come.
What’s your favorite monster with a neat twist? Let me know in the comments below!