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The 5 most iconic monsters on film, illustrated

Doug Jones, who plays the creature in Guillermo del Toro's the Shape of Water, picks his favourites.

Doug Jones, who plays the creature in Guillermo del Toro's the Shape of Water, picks his favourites.

(Heather Collett)

When Hollywood directors need a lifelike creature, when robots and CGI just won't do, they will often look to Doug Jones. The actor and former contortionist has became a regular collaborator with Guillermo del Toro, including roles such as Abe Sapien in Hellboy, the Faun and the famous Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth, and most recently as the Amphibious Man in The Shape of Water, to name a few. He's also played the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four and is a regular on Star Trek: Discovery as Lt. Commander Saru.

With Del Toro's latest, the Shape of Water, out now, we asked Jones for who he thinks are the most iconic creatures onscreen. His answers are below, with illustrations by Heather Collett. You can listen to his full chat on Thursday morning. 

The Mummy (1932)

My choice for number one for favourite all time movie monster would be Boris Karloff's Mummy because that was the first horror movie I ever saw as a kid. It was our late Friday night TV show hosted by Sammy Terry in Indianapolis, who welcomed children and then he'd play some some old monster movie. Watching Boris Karloff embody this mummy, both wrapped in bandages and also as a human, sort of, as he as he evolved, I thought his physical transformation was brilliant. And I bought every minute of it as a kid. I thought he really was a mummy who came back from the dead. The close ups of his eyes were so intense and so piercing it just left an indelible mark on me.

(Heather Collett)

Frankenstein (1931)

My next favourite movie monster would be another Boris Karloff portrayal, this time of Frankenstein's monster. Because again that was an exercise in less is more. He really did such a beautiful job using silence and using stillness as a creepy monster portrayal and it totally, totally became as iconic as any monster on film ever has. His physicality again was very different from his Mummy, it was still a reanimated dead person, but in a completely different sort of way. I thought it was just, sympathy. I felt very sympathetic toward him and that's the kind of movie monster that I like to play when I get the chance.

(Heather Collett)

The Phantom Of The Opera (1925)

My third movie monster favourite of all time would be Lon Chaney's Phantom Of The Opera. Boris Karloff's Frankenstein was a less is more exercise, while Phantom Of The Opera was more is more. He was very theatrical and very stagey, but he did it with such believability and such conviction, he poured his heart and soul into that very theatrical performance. And when that mask first comes off and that hideous face looks at the camera, those are moments that are emblazoned in my mind.

(Heather Collett)

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Next up would be the Creature from the Black Lagoon played by two people. Ben Chapman on land and by Ricou Browning in the water. That was another early one for me that was, I think, the second creature monster movie I ever saw. I remember being completely just mesmerized by the underwater scenes, especially when the creature is swimming underneath Julie Adams, unbeknownst to her. It was just just a horrifying image, and yet there was such beauty to it, too. Looking back on that movie, of course creature effects and acting styles have come a long way, but there is something just so classic about that monster.

(Heather Collett)

The Lord of Darkness, from Legend (1985)

My final one would be would be a time jump forward to the movie Legend, where Tim Curry played the Lord of Darkness. That was such a beautiful performance by him. I think that was, of all the above monsters, that was the only one that involves contact lenses. His eyes were so piercing with the use of contact lenses, which I had the chance to wear many times myself now. Tim Curry gave such a layered and beautiful performance pontificating as this demon, both with his physicality and his gesturing and his his balance on his feet, just everything, those big beautiful horns. He exercised subtlety and yet grander whenever it called for it. Tim Curry leaves me breathless in anything he does, but he really took the oxygen out of me on that one.

(Heather Collett)

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