Everyone loves a good monster. Unfortunately, the film universe doesn’t always have good monsters to spare. In fact, some of them are downright wretched, and in the event that they receive any love at all, it is because they are so extraordinarily awful. That being said, there are just as many ways for a monster to succeed as there are for it to fail. Good monsters are usually imaginatively conceived, expertly designed, adroitly manipulated or acted, and creatively lit. Shortcomings in any one of these categories could sabotage the effect of an otherwise great monster. For example, there’s a shot in the original Alien in which Crew Member Dallas (Tom Skerritt) is surprised, in the ducts, by the xenomorph; even though the suit is magnificent, the specific shot of its attack looks like an actor in a suit. That is merely an example of an instance in which a good monster failed; most monsters don’t come anywhere near that level of success.
On that note, we’re focusing today on bad monster costumes: no matter how talented the actor in the suit, there’s nothing that can salvage these painfully poor beasties.
Here are 10 Ridiculously Bad Movie Monster Costumes.
Vintage Godzilla films have always had cult appeal, and the campiness of the monsters and miniature sets contribute to this appeal. That being said, there have been various monsters in the Godzilla canon which have looked more like the products of a tool shed workshop than imposing creatures. One such monster is Minilla, the son of Godzilla. Frequently compared to the Pillsbury Doughboy, Minilla’s perpetual grin and dull, vacant eyes are technically not meant to illicit fear. In the film Godzilla’s Revenge (aka All Monster’s Attack), Minilla actually befriends a bullied child and helps him to stand up to his bully. Also worthy of note are Minilla’s teeth. In certain shots, when the plump little bugger is about to puff out one of his radioactive smoke rings, the audience can catch a good view of his chompers, which don’t so much look as threatening as Godzilla’s teeth as they look like the buck teeth of the gopher from Caddyshack.
9. Pizza The Hut
Pizza the Hut is one of a category of monster types that can be referred to as triangle monsters. This cheesy variety (no pun intended) of monster is reminiscent of a walking, sloughing candy corn and can be seen in films such as Kevin Smith’s Tusk and John Hughes’s Weird Science; however, the worst version of it has got to be this satire of Jabba the Hut. Granted, the purpose of Pizza the Hut, as seen in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, is meant to elicit laughter, not dread, but this does not mean that the costume couldn’t have been better manufactured. As it is, cheese and pepperoni slide off the top and sides of the blobular character to great effect, but the fact that the chin of the actor wearing the costume can be seen is means that Pizza the Hut belongs on this list.
8. Baby Selwyn
It is hard to believe that the same Peter Jackson who brought the world of Middle Earth to startlingly realistic life once made some of the goriest, campiest, and goofiest movies in the horror world. From Bad Taste to Meet the Feebles to Dead Alive (aka BrainDead) there are plenty of eyeball-rolling monster designs that could have made this list. But since variety is the spice of life, and there are no other zombie children on the list, it is apropos that Baby Selwyn be included. Baby Selwyn was the result of the unholy mating of a zombie priest with a zombie nurse. The character is brought to life through a variety of means including an actor in a costume, a puppet, and a stunt dummy that is catapulted through the air. And although Baby’s face embodies a pretty decent balance of evil, dementia, and cuteness, the overall effect is quite laughable in that lousy costume kind of way.
7. Lizard Man
Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon is a polarizing film. Some people will never be able to get over its campiness; however, many people who first saw it as children (and many people who love camp) hold the film in high regard. Then again, just because one may or may not hold the film in high regard does not exclude it from being scrutinized for showcasing a terrible monster costume, which brings us to señor Lizard Man. Though this race of characters does not have much screen time, it certainly did not escape detection. In one sequence, a lizard man attempts to escape the palace of Ming the Merciless. He is stopped by the hovering robot, which then demonstrates its power to vaporize escaping prisoners. In this full body shot, the costume of the lizard man looks like the kind of glamorous and shimmering body suit that Michael Jackson’s backup dancers might have worn if Jackson had sung a song about reptiles. Later in the film, a couple of lizard men are imprisoned on Arboria, and the audience gets a close-up of their faces, which resemble a red-faced Gumby, with a blank stare, staring out from the mouth of a cobra. Nuff said.
6. Jack Frost
The next entry comes from a film in that sub-genre of horror in which a serial killer comes back from the grave in the form of something adorable. In the case of Jack Frost, it is a snowman. While it is a zany idea and good for the laughs it was meant to inspire, it is still impossible to distinguish a bad monster costume in a comedic setting from a bad monster costume in general. With the exception of a couple of twigs that provide Jack Frost with his sinister eyebrows, this big, round, suit looks like it is was re-purposed from the Santa Claus station at the local mall, and though many children fear the sinister mall Santa, not too many of them would fear this corpulent creation.
5. Horror of Party Beach Monster
This alleged product of radioactive sludge is more likely the product of producers who envisioned a classic film by fusing together a beach party movie with a monster movie. It’s classic, all right. In fact, the film title was immortalized by the punk rock group Sloppy Seconds in a song entitled, “The Horror of Party Beach.” As for the monster, itself, the body is a dull and ragged version of the scaly bodysuit mentioned in the Lizard Man description. The head is something of a cross between that of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show. Additionally, the creature has several anemone-like tentacles, which rest within its gaping maw – tentacles that don’t so much resemble actual tentacles as they do a mouthful of hot dogs.
4. Mad Doctor of Blood Island Monster
Admittedly, a monster from any three of the Blood Island trilogy (Brides of Blood, Mad Doctor of Blood Island, and Beast of Blood) could have made it onto this list. The reason for the ultimate selection of this one was because it’s got that good old “I can see the actor through the mask!” thing going on. On Blood Island, Dr. Lorca’s research may be close to eradicating cancer, but the side effect is that it infuses the subject’s blood with chlorophyll and eventually renders them as a cheesy monster. It appears as though the monster suit (which basically consists of two arms and a mask because the monster still wears human clothes) was made up of lumpy papier-mâché painted green. As for the design of the head, it looks like an ill-shaped boar face with a white wig, and, as previously mentioned, the actor’s eyes can be seen behind the mask’s eyeholes.
3. The Sewer Monster
There are actually a couple of monsters in the sewers of John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China that are lacking in quality, but the one in the credits – the one which is not a large puppet – is allegedly based on Chinese mythology. This gives it the most literary basis of all the entries. It is said to be based on the legend of the Chinese Wildman, but for the purpose of this list, it is less of an Asian sasquatch and more of a guy in a suit. While the actor does well with his movements, and the monster’s face is sculpted with a gleefully cartoonish evil grin, its main deficit is motion. Cable controlled mechanisms enhance the monster’s facial muscles by allowing it to grin and snarl, but its mouth does not appear to have much mobility; it really just looks like the actor is wearing a stiff mask.
2. The Neanderthal Man
Given the opportunity, who could resist taking a serum that would cause a person to regress to a neanderthal? Apparently not Prof. Clifford Groves (Robert Shayne), as he does just that in this early 50’s horror sci-fi flick. The only problem is that Prof. Groves’s plan does not go according to his desires; instead of attaining the superior traits that he supposes were possessed by neanderthals, he becomes a man in a third rate Mr. Hyde-looking mask. This place in the list’s primate subcategory was almost won by Trog (the pre-historic troglodyte from the 1970 Joan Crawford film), but the vacant eyes, the stiffness of the mask, and the fact that the Neanderthal Man still has moderately coiffed hair cinched its position at number two.
This alien, who is hellbent on destroying all human life on Earth, looks better in the poster for the 1953 film Robot Monster, but not by much. The story is an old one: alien comes to Earth; alien tries to destroy humanity; alien winds up falling in love with a teenage girl. In this case, however, said alien is essentially a man in a big, adorable gorilla suit. Oh, he’s wearing a space helmet too. The design of the helmet is essentially a gumball machine with antennae. In the poster design, there is a sinister skull peering through the glass of the gumball machine, but in the film this invader is principally a man whose facial features appear to be obscured by a pair of panty hose. At the very least, the audiences who paid money to see this two-bit contrivance got to experience the glory of Ro-Man in 3D.