With this week's release of 'The Wolfman,' Benicio Del Toro and company take the most hirsute of all monsters and attempt to revive the moribund art of werewolf movies.

Maybe if vampires and zombies never existed on film, our lycanthropic friends would be scarier, but relative to those two more popular creatures, werewolves have always been the gawky tambourine player in the mythical creature orchestra. (A highly unscientific study via Wikipedia reveals 120 werewolf movies versus 221 for vampires and 576 for zombies.)

Still, it got us thinking: between vampires, zombies and werewolves, who are the best movie monsters? Find out after the jump.
With this week's release of 'The Wolfman,' Benicio Del Toro and company take the most hirsute of all monsters and attempt to revive the moribund art of werewolf movies.

Maybe if vampires and zombies never existed on film, our lycanthropic friends would be scarier, but relative to those two more popular creatures, werewolves have always been the gawky tambourine player in the mythical creature orchestra. (A highly unscientific study via Wikipedia reveals 120 werewolf movies versus 221 for vampires and 576 for zombies.)

Still, it got us thinking: between vampires, zombies and werewolves, who are the best movie monsters? (Yes, this is what we think about.) Herein, a guide:

Zombies


The Gold Standard: 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)
Scariest Film: '28 Days Later' (2002)
Least Scary Film: 'Shaun of the Dead' (2004)
Other Notable Films: 'White Zombie' (1932), 'The Evil Dead' (1981), 'Serpent and the Rainbow' (1988), 'Pet Sematary' (1989), 'House of the Dead' (2003), 'Zombieland' (2009)

Zombies are arguably the most psychologically unnerving of the three, forcing the viewer to confront death but comforting those who believe that when they die, their spirit lives on in the form of a flesh-eating, undead mutant. (Which, incidentally, would make a much more entertaining 'Crossing Over' than the standard "I'm picturing the name Keith" episode.)

Strangely enough, it wasn't until 2002, 70 years after the first zombie feature film was released, that director Danny Boyle came up with the less-than-revolutionary, but highly entertaining, idea to have zombies move faster than amputated inchworms. Though the slow-moving bodies admittedly increased tension levels, the blink-and-you-miss-it speed of Boyle's creatures made the uncertainty that much more terrifying.


Vampires


The Gold Standard: 'Dracula' (1931)
Scariest Film: 'Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht' (1979)
Least Scary Film: 'Dracula: Dead and Loving It' (1995)
Other Notable Films: 'Nosferatu' (1922), 'Blacula' (1972), 'The Lost Boys' (1987), 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' (1993), 'Interview With the Vampire' (1994), 'Blade' (1998), 'Let the Right One In' (2008), 'Twilight' (2008)

The depiction of vampires, the most well-known of the three movie monsters, goes back to the silent era, when Max Schreck donned makeup for his terrifying portrayal of Count Orlok in 'Nosferatu.' Since then, the nocturnal creatures have ranged from traditional and somber to cheesy '80s teenager to artsy Swedish bloodsuckers (or, if you're Klaus Kinski in 'Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht,' you're an ugly, overly-intellectual vampire, a triple threat for the ladies.) Points off for having some of the most innocuous things -- garlic? sunlight? -- harm them. Though hats off to whoever thought of holy water. Nice touch. The rise of vampire movies also helped inspire goth; for that fact alone, all points should be taken off.

You can pretty much figure out what year a vampire film was released by how much of the victim's neck is damaged after an attack. In 'Nosferatu,' it was two tiny puncture marks on the side. In 'Let the Right One In,' the victims were basically left with a head placed directly on the shoulder. Progress.


Werewolves


The Gold Standard: 'The Wolf Man' (1941)
Scariest Film: 'The Howling' (1981)
Other Notable Films: 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man' (1942), 'I Was A Teenage Werewolf' (1957), 'An American Werewolf in London' (1981), 'Teen Wolf' (1985), 'The Fisher King' circa Robin William's nude scene (1991), 'Wolf' (1994).

As for the werewolves, the forgotten middle child of the bunch, we personally think they've gotten a bad rap. Keep your garlic, vampire nerds. Werewolves have become badass enough that when "The Howling' was first released, the price of silver went up $22 in one week.* The fact that they're part wolf, an animal known for both its beauty and ferocity, makes a nice metaphor for the duality of the human character. On an aesthetic level, movie werewolves have the best makeup among the three and, when compared to a slow-moving imbecile and a guy with a cape, probably would make me run for the adult-sized Huggies more than anyone else. But that's just me.
*That statistic may or may not be completely made up.



And we'd be remiss to not note the abundance of hybrid movies pitting one (or more) creatures against the other; those orgiastic cornucopias of hypothetical teenage musings--"What if wolfman and the mummy teamed up...."--come to life on the big screen. And for that, we salute you 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon,' 'Van Helsing,' 'Underworld,' and of course, the grandaddy of them all:



So what do you think? What film or character keeps
you up at night and makes you hide under the covers?
CATEGORIES Hot Topic, Features