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A man in black body armor stands in a crowd threatening him in this image from New Line Cinema.
As you can see, some movie monsters are significantly cooler than others. (Image: New Line Cinema)

The movie monster is a vital part of film history. Monsters allow us to put our fears into physical form. Over the years, monsters have symbolized our fears of isolation, the unknown, our helplessness against nature, and so much more. These monsters feature designs that can be horrifying, off-putting, or even sympathetic. And, at the end of the day, a movie monster that chases our protagonists around is just fun to watch.

I’ve given a lot of thought about which movie monsters it’d be cool to become, and which would not be a good time. Using my own proprietary and meticulously considered scientific method, I’ll run you through some of your options to discuss which movie monsters you want to be — and which you don’t.

DO NOT Be a Zombie

A crowd of bloodied zombies surges forward in this image from StudioCanal.
The listless “life” of a zombie is no reward for the aspiring monster. (Image: StudioCanal)

This is probably self-evident, but since being a zombie seems like the worst possible choice for being a monster, we’ll go over it. The best-case scenario here is that you’re a zombie who retains some sense of your old habits and routine, like in “Shaun of the Dead,” or you grow to have consciousness and intelligence again à la George A. Romero’s “Land of the Dead.” Even in that scenario, you’re a rotting body that just wants to bite people, which isn’t great. It’s far more likely that a zombie just ends up as cannon fodder for the heroes, dying anonymously in “World War Z” or embarrassingly in “Zombieland.” No matter how you slice it, being a zombie is not the move.

DO Be the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’

An amphibious-looking man-creature raises his arms in this image from Universal-International.
Just look at the beaming smile on this fine-finned fellow! (Image: Universal-International)

This one is specific, but it’s what the science says. First of all, you’re an absolute classic, a foundational horror monster from 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” And the life of being the Creature is pretty sweet. You’re living in a tropical environment, so get those sunglasses ready for sunny weather often. There’s an entire lagoon that belongs to you, so you can swim to your heart’s content or just laze around in your lagoon-side cave and relax. Sure, your love life will be complicated because humans don’t really vibe with the gills, but you can’t win them all. With all the other perks, who needs love?

DO NOT Be a Crawler From ‘The Descent’

A woman looks through a night-vision camera to see a creature behind her in this image from Celador Films.
POV: You’re about to turn around and have your whole day ruined. (Image: Celador Films)

I get that spelunking is something people enjoy. The tight spaces, pitch-black darkness, and general griminess of a cave are a no-go for me, but to each their own. Living down there? No one should do that, which is why you should by no means be one of the horrifying crawlers from “The Descent.” Years of killing things and dragging them into the caves to eat means it probably smells even worse in there than you can imagine. Who wants to have to crawl around all the time? Plus, you might be interrupting a group of women desperately trying to mend their friendships after intense interpersonal conflict. That would just be rude of you.

DO Be a Ghost

A friendly-looking ghost smiles in this image from Amblin Entertainment.
Many ghosts like Casper are actually quite comforting. (Image: Amblin Entertainment)

There’s variance in vibes when it comes to movie ghosts. Some are chill, like “Casper” or most ghosts in “Haunted Mansion.” Some are downright mean, along the lines of “Thirteen Ghosts.” I still think it’s worth being a ghost though. You get to float around all day, making transportation extremely easy. You can prank people, like moving their stuff a few inches or hiding their spoons. You can teach people a valuable lesson about accepting mortality and finding peace with the other side. Some ghosts love to bully the living, but you wouldn’t be one of those, would you?

DO NOT Be a Poltergeist

An apparition made of lights floats above a staircase in this image from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Poltergeists are in no way comforting; they’re usually the exact opposite. (Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Nice poltergeists don’t exist. If you’re a poltergeist, you’re a big ole jerk. Look at the quintessential poltergeist film, “Poltergeist.” You’re telling me that terrifying and then abducting a little girl through a portal in her closet is okay? You disgust me. You want to cause a giant tree to come to life or have a man watch his reflection rot away? What is wrong with you? Filling up a nice family’s pool with mud and corpses delights your senses? You go apologize right now and don’t be a poltergeist again.

DO Be One of the Aliens From ‘Predator’

An alien in a bone-like mask roars in this image from 20th Century Studios.
If this isn’t the coolest alien you’ve ever seen, I want to see the aliens that you think are cool. (Image: 20th Century Studios)

No offense to E.T., but the “Predator” aliens are the coolest movie aliens by far. The aliens, called the Yautja, have incredible designs, with awesome masks hiding their mandible faces. If you’re a Yautja, no one will ever give you any grief. More importantly, these aliens have excellent manners and a code. From their first appearance in 1987’s “Predator” to the recent Hulu hit, “Prey,” the Yautja always hunt by the rules and are happy to acknowledge when they have been bested. That’s the type of movie monster you want to be — one that people will have good feelings about even as they run for their lives.

DO NOT Be a Xenomorph

An alien emerges from the water behind a young girl in this image from Brandywine Productions.
This scene always makes me jump when watching “Aliens.” (Image: Brandywine Productions)

On the other end of the alien monster spectrum are the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. While they’re iconic horror creatures, their lives seem like a nightmare. You’re a wiry, slimy bug-looking thing, and you basically have no mind of your own. The only thing you do is kill or harvest people for your Queen, and personally, I do not rock with royalty at all. To make matters worse, it’s shown in “Aliens” that, one on one, a Xenomorph isn’t a match for the weapons the humans have. Another huge downside.

DO Be a Kaiju

A gigantic lizard walks by a bridge in this image from Legendary Pictures.
They don’t call Godzilla “King of the Monsters” for no reason. (Image: Legendary Pictures)

From the first “Godzilla” film in 1954 up through the present day kaiju — or large towering monsters most often associated with Japanese cinema — have been a staple in the movie monster canon. Why wouldn’t you want to be one? Godzilla is one of the most enduring film characters ever, whether as a cautionary tale about the use of nuclear weapons or as an ally to humankind fighting off extraterrestrial threats. Besides all that power, the designs are also often incredible, like the highly specialized monsters in the Pacific Rim franchise. Everyone has a destructive streak, and being a kaiju duking it out with a giant alien would be the perfect outlet for that energy.

DO NOT Be King Kong

A huge ape stands in front of some mountains in this image from Legendary Pictures.
He looks tough, but life as King Kong has some downsides. (Image: Legendary Pictures)

Living as a giant ape and the undisputed king of your own island might initially seem great, but the life of King Kong is just the life of a kaiju — just slightly worse. Your own island is fantastic, but that would get lonely in a big hurry. Gorillas are fascinating, majestic creatures, but compared to all the forms of a kaiju, they’re a little bland. Depending on how you play your cards, your ultimate fate may be dying in a city you don’t even like, all to illustrate a lesson about humanity’s relationship with nature and the inability to control the natural world. I know that’s not how I want to go out.

DO Be a Troll

A troll stands and roars in the snow in this image from Filmkameratene A/S.
If I saw this, I would be running in the other direction with haste. (Image: Filmkameratene A/S)

No, not the internet kind. One of my favorite monster movies is “Trollhunter.” In the Norwegian found footage film, a college group comes in contact with massive trolls from ancient folklore. It’s a thrilling and often funny movie, and the trolls live up to the hype. Imagine Bigfoot, but way bigger. It’d be extremely fun to trek around the entire Norwegian forest in just a few steps, and even if a pesky human does manage to defeat you, don’t worry. You’ll be immortalized in stone for other adventurers to come and find.

DO NOT Be a Werewolf

A soldier points two guns at a werewolf in this image from Kismet Entertainment Group.
This soldier has the most sane reaction to a werewolf. (Image: Kismet Entertainment Group)

In any movie monster discussion, there’s always one conflict that comes up: werewolves versus vampires. The Underworld film series is all about this conflict. To me, the answer is obvious, and we’ll start with the losing side first. Even the benefits of werewolves aren’t great. You’re time-limited to your cool powers, so even if you want to shed your skin like in “Trick ‘r Treat” or “The Wolf Man,” you have to wait. And as gruesomely shown off in “An American Werewolf in London,” going through that physical transformation will be a huge pain, literally. The benefits are simply not worth the reward.

DO Be a Vampire

Three well-dressed vampires stand in a hallway in this image from Resnick Interactive.
Vampires don’t have to be mean; they can be nice too. (Image: Resnick Interactive)

On the other side of this coin, vampires are the ultimate movie monster you want to be. They’re extremely cool and fashionable, from “The Lost Boys” to “Blade.” Yes, the drinking blood part can be icky, but Blade figured out some workarounds. Plus, you get super strength, move super fast, and see well in the dark. I’m a night owl, so the “no sunlight” aspect is not a deal breaker to me either. If there’s one movie monster you choose to be, make it a vampire and embrace your new nocturnal routine. 

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