Everybody loves B-movies, even the haters who say they don’t. And why not? Chances are good that any B-movie you watch will either be very earnest and scary, or so bad you have to laugh at it. Either way, it’s a fine way to spend 90 minutes. B-movie monsters are even better, since many of them become memorable just because they’re so low-budget and silly. The audience wants to be scared of B-movie monsters, so they’re often happy to play along.
We thought it would be fun to compile a list of absurd, ridiculous, we-can’t-believe-somebody-greenlit-that monsters that ever became the focus of a film. But there’s more, because these B-movie monsters aren’t just ridiculous. They’re also beloved, effective, and the opening installment of a long and celebrated franchise—though you might need to adjust your definition of “celebrated.” Every monster on this list has a cult-following or a big-budget remake, and it might even have a catchy theme song to boot.
Here are the 15 most outrageous B-movie monsters that continue to amaze and impress us.
15. Lavalantulas – Lavalantula
SyFy Saturday is well-known for its insane monsters. Whether it’s giant versions of predator animals, unholy hybrids, or maybe some kind of monstrous animal mixed with a natural phenomenon. We’ve already had Snow Sharks and Sharknados galore. But what happens when enormous tarantulas are able to shoot lava at the core cast of the Police Academy movies? Why, you get Lavalantula, of course.
There are plenty of reasons to check out Lavalantula. Everybody still loves Michael Winslow, and a few other Police Academy faves appear, along with some cool cameos from the likes of Ian Ziering and Leigh Whannell. But we know we’re there for the spiders. Lavalantulas invade Los Angeles after volcanic eruptions emerge all over the city. As you’d imagine, most of these leaping, lava-spraying tarantulas are made with CGI, but there’s a bit of puppetry here and there. The first film in the series is said to be reviving Steve Gutenberg’s career. Thanks to a huge and exuberant fan base, Lavalantula was followed by the sequel, 2 Lava 2 Lantula in 2016. It’ll be followed up this summer by 3 Lava 3 Lantula, because why not?
14. Crawling Eyes/The Trollenberg Terror
When this movie was released as The Trollenberg Terror, moviegoers didn’t know exactly what they were getting. As Snakes on a Plane has taught us, films that can fit the whole plot in the title practically market themselves. That’s why US audiences were treated to The Crawling Eye instead. Changing titles slightly for worldwide release was far more common in 1958, when this film was released.
If you’ve not had the pleasure, The Trollenberg Terror is well worth a view. It’s fun and kind of scary thanks to some earnest performances. What’s most impressive about this nuclear scare monster is the absolute audacity with which the crawling eyes are presented. We can just imagine the pitch meeting where it’s discussed that eyes can’t crawl, eye stalks are singular, and tentacle monsters were overdone even in the ’50s. MST3K also covered this movie in their own hilarious style. That’s worth a watch too!
13. Millard Findlemeyer – Gingerdead Man
Imagine that you’re a Hollywood movie executive type, and someone pitches you a horror movie about a murderous…cookie. Honestly, how quickly would you say no? Heck, you might not even say it. You might just frown and point to the door ,since rejecting a movie script about a sentient baked good is a foregone conclusion. And yet, people love these movies.
Crazed murderer Millard Findlemeyer (Gary Busey) is sentenced to death for murder, and his ashes are sent to his mom. She’s a witch, so she mixed his ashes with cookie dough—as one does. Next thing we know, Gary Busey is a murderous cookie and the bodies keep dropping. Maybe Millard isn’t the scariest movie killer ever, but this movie is as unnerving and disturbing as it is farcical and silly. There are three films in the Gingerdead Man series, not counting the crossover with the next B-movie monster on our list.
12. Eebee – Evil Bong
Would you buy a bong even though you knew it was possessed? Okay, but what if you really, really needed it? Like, what if there were no rolling papers about, no pipes, no apples, not even an empty soda can? Still no? Good. That means you’re smarter than the entire cast of 2006’s Evil Bong, which includes guys like Bill Mosely and Tommy Chong. This movie is a fun watch mainly because it’s frightening how dumb some of these characters are.
Despite the recent success of the miniseries Time-Traveling Bong, bong-based scripted content is few and far between. That’s probably for the best. The evil bong (Eebee) here is a lady with a plan. Eebee wants to turn the whole world into a bong—with smoke for air and oceans of bong water. She comes pretty close to succeeding, but not quite. Fear not though, because Evil Bong has even more sequels than Gingerdead Man. The 7th Evil Bong movie, titled Evil Bong 666 (since they don’t count the crossover in their numbering) will be released this year. What are they, high?
11. 2- Headed Shark – 2-Headed Shark Attack
How can sharks be even more scary? Give them more heads, obviously. We realize that there’s also a 3 Headed Shark Attack movie, and that three heads are probably scarier than two. But remember, one of the ways B-movie monsters get on this list is by being inventive and original. A three-headed shark is not a very original follow-up to a two-headed shark as far as we’re concerned.
We know a lot about the process of making the two-headed shark model from 2012’s 2 Headed Shark Attack, since it was covered on the SyFy FX show, Monster Man. The original creature design had the heads stacked, rather than side-by-side. Designer Cleve Hall thought that was dumb, so he made it the right way, and shark cinema history was created! Despite starring Brooke Hogan and Carmen Electra, 2 Headed Shark Attack is worth a watch just for that amazing monster.
10. Piranhacondas – Piranhaconda
There are tons of hybrid B-movie monsters these days. We’ve had sharktopusses, whalewolfs, dinocroc, pterracuda, and these guys: piranhaconda. Why is it that piranhaconda earns a place on our list? Well, it’s not for the inclusion of Michael Madsen and Rachel Hunter in the cast—because this list is all about the monsters. It can’t be the paltry one million dollar budget, or the fact that it’s produced by Roger Corman, the man who gave us Carnosaur movies and another entry on our list.
Anacondas are big, and scary, even in real life. They’re wicked strong and crazy fast, and can easily kill an adult human if they want to. Piranhas are not as ravenous in numbers as movies or TV’s The Addams Family would have you believe. But they’re scary looking, so putting the giant teeth of a piranha on the body of a huge, strong, fast snake? That’s awesome! Oh, and the theme song from this movie is delightful!
9. Audrey Jr. – Little Shop of Horrors
If you love Little Shop of Horrors, it’s likely that your adoration did not stem from the original 1960 film directed by the great Roger Corman. Aside from horror buffs of a certain age, most people came to love Audrey Jr. from the musical film or stage versions of this killer plant and his relationship with some young lovers. Audrey Jr. is a Venus flytrap hybrid that eats human flesh. How does a plant acquire human flesh to eat? A dude named Seymour reluctantly feeds him…or her.
Audrey Jr. is named after Seymour’s coworker and crush, Audrey. We have to admire the guts it must have taken to seriously present Audrey Jr. as a B-movie monster. This was well after terrifying plant movies like Day of the Triffids and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, so we have to marvel at Corman’s audacity. But then, audacity has always been what Corman does best.
8. Blob – The Blob
One of the most interesting things about the title character of the 1956 horror classic The Blob is that it took forever for them to figure out what to call it. The film’s original title was The Molten Meteor, which gives us a very different feel for what it is. The creature itself was called “the mass” in shooting scripts. They decided to call it “The Glob” before realizing that the title had already been used in a kid’s book. So, The Blob is what they settled on.
The Blob itself kills whatever it touches, but never really gave the impression of being super-hot—like a molten meteor might be. Still, the fact that anyone managed to make a scary movie, let alone a beloved horror classic, where the monster is a pile of slime is genius. Brilliance. And the beginning of a career for some dude calling himself “Steven McQueen.” The Blob is an embarrassingly simple monster with a theme song that clearly wants you to sip drinks out of a pineapple while beatniks drum circle on the beach.
7. Ghost Shark – Ghost Shark
Sharks have had more than their fair share of horror movies. Four Jaws films, three in the Shark Attack series, then there’s Red Water, Deep Blue Sea, Raging Sharks, the Open Water movies, all the Sharknados, Dino, Mecha, and MegaShark movies, Sharktopus, and sharks with many extra heads. But this one takes it even further. A shark is killed by careless poachers and some kind of ancient tribal magic brings him back as a vengeful Ghost Shark.
What can Ghost Shark do? Well, he can irritate Bull from TV’s Night Court, since he’s the “star” of the movie. Ghost Shark can (and does) attack people in puddles, soapy car wash buckets, and in one brilliant scene, invades an office water cooler and splits a guy open from the inside. Um, spoiler alert. We’re not here to tell you that Ghost Shark is high cinema, required viewing, or even a “good” movie. But we can say that fans love it; even though there’s only one sequel.
6. Killer Tomatoes – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Okay, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes isn’t actually a horror movie. It’s a horror comedy musical spoof that takes the piss out of ’60s and ’70s horror in a way that’s cleaner and more reliable than say, the Scary Movie franchise. This 1978 film contains an uncredited appearance by Dana Ashbrook, aka Bobby Briggs from Twin Peaks. The movie had 3 sequels, 2 video games, and a cartoon series. But that’s not why folks love, and fear, killer tomatoes.
Let that sink in for a second: Killer Tomatoes. Unlike potatoes, tomatoes have no eyes. Unlike corn, tomatoes have no ears. Unlike most movie killers, tomatoes lack arms, legs, mouths, and the ability to use weapons. So how are they killing so many people?!? Without CGI, Claymation, or any other expensive effects, apparently. In fairness, tomatoes were once called wolf peaches (where we get the name for the nutrient lycopene—from the same root word as “werewolf”) because people thought they were poisonous enough to kill you instantly if you ate one. In addition to the terrifying villain, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes also has an amazing theme song.
5. Grant Grant – Slither
It’s a bummer that Slither did so poorly at the box office, because it really is an effective little film. Michael Rooker can make any situation seem worse than it is, and Nathan Fillion could read the phone book and people would still pay to see it. The biggest complaint most people have about this movie has to do with its many similarities to Night of the Creeps.
Rooker’s Grant Grant is a cheating husband and used car salesman (are there ever any moral used car salesmen in movies?) who gets infected and turned into a monster by a slug-like parasite that came out of a meteor. Someday, humanity may advance in space travel to the point where we can’t just point to the sky as an excuse for any B-movie monster we can think up. But thank goodness, that day is not here yet. We love Grant, no matter how gross or awful he becomes. Feeding a cat is never the wrong decision.
4. Killer Clowns – Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Speaking of creatures that are inexplicably from “outer space,” the Killer Klowns are pretty dang outrageous. These killers are not clowning around (see what we did there?). They’re covering humans in cotton candy cocoons and drinking them with giant straws—because that’s what killer space clowns do. Balloon animals come to life, lethal pies fly down from above, and giant enormous stars like Christopher Titus and John Vernon appear. Plus, there’s an awesome theme song.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space was planned by the Chiodo brothers (who wrote and directed the first outing) to be a four film series. As of now, the first sequel has yet to be shot, though we did get news earlier this year that it was in development. Whether or not that means “development hell” remains to be seen. Killer Klowns are scary, kinda funny, and really weird. Think you don’t know who the Chiodo brothers are? You do, because they do all the claymation segments on The Simpsons.
3. Ro-Man Extension XJ-2 – Monster from Mars
Nerds of a certain age will recall that in the 1950s and ’60s, B-movie aliens weren’t even called “aliens.” More often than not, they were called “Martians.” Like HG Wells, people seemed to think that if any aliens came for us, they’d be from the nearby planet Mars. Take THAT, Venus! Shockingly, the score for this movie was composed by Elmer Bernstein. Yes, that Elmer Bernstein.
The monster in this movie is called Ro-Man Extension XJ-2, or “Ro-Man” for short. Some summaries say he’s a “moon monster” while others place his origin on Mars. For a monster in a gorilla suit with a deep-sea-diver helmet, he’s quite a go-getter. Ro-Man uses a death ray to kill all but a dozen or so people on Earth. Ro-Man reports to the “Great Guidance,” who is an even bigger jerk than Orson from Ork. We think parading around a “monster” like Ro-Man is incredibly brave. Managing to make a truly scary movie with it is an incredible feat.
2. Monster – Horror of Party Beach
They don’t give out awards for preposterous B-movie monsters. If they did, this would have to qualify. This movie features multiple identical monsters that all look like they’re eating a bunch of hot dogs. This 1964 film starts with radioactive debris being dumped into the ocean and creating…monsters. The movie is terrible, easily one of the top 15 worst horror movies of all time. So what’s it doing on this list?
Horror fans ADORE Horror of Party Beach. They love its badness, the laughable monsters, the ridiculous plot (they kill the monsters with salt!), and acting that’s so stiff you won’t be surprised to see that not a single performer has an IMDB listing. This monster is easily the most laughed at, and most pitied B-movie monster ever…almost. Still, it took Mystery Science Theatre 3000 until season eight to cover this film. With a critical Rotten Tomatoes score of 0%, and an audience score of 26%, we think this monster is exactly as celebrated as he should be.
1. Melvin Ferd – The Toxic Avenger
Did anyone doubt that The Toxic Avenger would be number one on our list? There’s never been a more outrageous, ridiculous, and beloved B-movie monster than Toxie. Not Jason Voorhees, nor CHUDs, not even a Sharknado has the power to make people love him quite like Toxie. His origin story is a familiar one, bullied and harassed until an accident causes him to be deformed, but also strong as hell. Melvin begins by getting revenge on his tormentors, but ultimately decides that being a hero is more his speed.
Toxie remains a hero for the space of four films, a kid’s cartoon series (something Netflix really ought to reboot), a bunch of tie-ins and comics, and presumably, a lifetime as Lloyd Kaufmann’s best friend. Troma Studios pretty much exists thanks to Toxie, and this film series…which is currently in the process of being remade. Take from that what you will.
Did we remember your favorite outrageous or ridiculous B-movie monster? Sound off with your favorites in the comments.