Some of Our Favorite Fantastic Beasts From Other Movies
This week marks the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the latest cinematic entry into J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. But instead of concentrating on only the Harry Potter movies, I wanted to take a look at some of the coolest “fantastic beasts” that exist outside the realm of that franchise, and basically use this as a means of pointing out some of my favorite crazy creatures in film history. The only criteria: none of the beasts chosen for the list can be animals that currently exist in our real world. So with that out of the way, let’s get on with the choices!
Cyclops, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
Having only one eye is a given, but aside from that, most depictions of Cyclopses (Cycli?) that I’ve seen in movies basically just look like giant versions of men. This one adds furry legs and hoofed feet, lending an extra bit of other-worldly creepiness to the character.
Tyrannosaurus Rex, Jurassic Park
The T-rex has the distinction of being the only beast on this list that actually did exist at one point, which makes it that much more awesome. Designed as a perfect killing machine, I feel like this thing is the one of the first distillations of raw, primal power that kids are taught about in school; thankfully, Steven Spielberg’s classic film brought it to life in a way that textbooks never could.
Brundlefly, The Fly (1986)
Jeff Goldblum gives a terrific performance in David Cronenberg’s brilliant remake of The Fly, but just as much credit has to go to the effects designers and makeup artists for being able to conjure up imagery that legendarily hideous. Seeing a gunk-covered Goldblum with eyes full of wild desperation will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Medusa, Clash of the Titans (1981)
Yes, it looks a little goofy now, but I still think Medusa from the ’81 Clash of the Titans is one of special effects master Ray Harryhausen’s coolest creations. Caveat: I did study ancient Greek and Roman mythology in college, so I admittedly have a soft spot for fictional creatures from that era. Still, this one’s messy snake hair and green eyes are pretty awesome.
Godzilla is iconic, plain and simple. This list wouldn’t be complete without him, and regardless of how many times he appears on screen in modern movies, there’s something special about a guy wearing that latex suit. You know he’s not real, but being able to see the seams (metaphorically and sometimes literally) somehow adds to the enjoyment of the movie.
Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London
The film’s transformation sequence is widely heralded as one of the high points of movie special effects makeup, and rightly so. Rick Baker’s work is utterly grotesque, and it hammers home just how painful it would be to actually undergo this horrific metamorphosis.
The Balrog, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring
From a design perspective, this may be one of the most purely terrifying beasts ever conceived. A huge, winged, fire-breathing demon with a flaming sword and a whip? I shudder just thinking about it, and having recently rewatched Fellowship, the effects are just as effective now as they were fifteen years ago when it premiered.
The Faun, Pan’s Labyrinth
A more lyrical, graceful design than many others on this list, Guillermo del Toro’s Faun is emblematic of the kinds of creatures he creates in his films — ones that fit their worlds so perfectly you can’t imagine what it’d be like if they weren’t there.
Falkor, The NeverEnding Story
Having just rewatched this for a recent episode of The Not Just New Movies podcast, I can say without hesitation that Falkor is weirder than I remembered from my childhood viewing of this movie. But setting that aside, a luck dragon is one of those things that every kid probably wishes they had as a friend/pet — it’s a cathartic experience when Bastian jumps on his back and soars through the skies.
The Xenomorph, Alien
I tried to avoid including aliens on this list because once you include one, it’s a slippery slope and it opens things up to basically the entire list just being a bunch of different alien species from movies over the years. But I just couldn’t ignore the Xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi film Alien. This franchise has gained a lot of baggage over the years, but the sleek, phallic, haunting design of this creature still holds up as one of the scariest creatures in film history.
I could keep going for hours with this list, but it’s time for you to take it from here. What are some of your favorite “fantastic beasts” from other movies that didn’t make this list?