It’s time to go back to the Wizarding World. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore is almost upon us!
In this new sequel, Eddie Redmayne’s Magizoologist - Newt Scamander, of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, has been given a dangerous mission that’ll take him around the world and encounter old and new beasts… and that got us thinking about all the other films about fantastic beasts and, well, where to find them.
Grab a map, we’re going monster hunting – via some of our favourite creature features:
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) - In a mysterious labyrinth in rural Spain, a desperate little girl meets a gnarled, seven-foot-tall faun who tells her she’s a fairy princess, and if she can only complete three tasks, she’ll become immortal and return to her kingdom… Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is set In Franco’s Spain, where brutality is the order of the day. A kingdom of potentially deadly magical creatures is a welcome escape for poor 10-year-old Ofelia, with the faun – perhaps Pan himself – proving to be a more reliable father figure than her violent stepfather. In true del Toro style, these monsters are beautiful in their monstrousness. The exact location of the labyrinth isn’t clear, but maybe it makes itself available to anyone in need?
The Host (2006) - Following some truly terrible environmental practices on the part of an American scientist, an indescribable amphibious monster stalks the banks of the Han River. Bong Joon-ho’s film explores the fate of a child snatched by the creature and the efforts of her family to rescue her – and, as it’s a Bong Joon-ho film, The Host is a lot more complex and political than your average monster movie. The monster is pretty incredible, though: inspired by a story the director had read about mutated fish in the Han River, it’s two parts fish to one part nightmare.
The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) - Somewhere in South America, a research team stumbles upon a creature that might explain a vital moment in evolutionary history. Yes, it’s another amphibian monster, though this time the creature pre-dates any kind of human intervention. The Gillman is humanoid – hence the name – but has a fish-like head, scaly skin, and webbed hands and feet. Designed by Millicent Patrick, the Gillman was intended to be both sad and beautiful. (It’s no surprise, then, that this is a monster beloved of Guillermo del Toro, who paid tribute to it in his film The Shape Of Water.) Unlike many of the other creatures on this list, the Gillman probably wouldn’t have ever bothered humans if they hadn’t attacked first… He’s a look-but-don’t-touch kind of monster.
The Lure (2015) - The Disney film might have smoothed the rough edges off Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, but all the violence of the original fairy tale (and more!) is restored in Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s take on it. In this monster musical, a pair of singing sisters wash up in Warsaw and start plying their trade in a sleazy nightclub. As per the original story, one of them falls in love and attempts to swap her voice for a pair of legs, with unfortunate consequences. The fish tail effects here are stunning, but appearances can be deceptive, and caution should definitely be employed when approaching these mermaids – these ones have teeth.
Troll Hunter (2010) - A documentary crew investigating bear hunters stumble across something far more fantastic when they head out into the Norwegian wilds: trolls. These enormous creatures come in various forms, including the three-headed Tusseladd, the bridge-dwelling Raglefan, and the hairy Dovregubben. All of them are elusive, all of them are dangerous, and all of them… can sniff out the blood of a Christian man. André Øvredal’s mockumentary is as much of a comedy as it is a fantasy, with several Norwegian comedians making appearances in the film. But the trolls themselves are pretty terrifying, even – or especially – when just glimpsed through shaky found footage. Anyone wanting to track down these creatures should definitely make sure they don’t harbour any kind of religious beliefs…
The Thing (1982) - Another one that defies description, the Thing is an extra-terrestrial shapeshifter, capable of convincingly replicating people and animals as well as transforming itself rapidly into forms far more nightmarish. Part of the horror of John Carpenter’s classic sci-fi monster movie comes from claustrophobia and paranoia: it’s set on a remote research base in Antarctica, which is a frightening prospect all by itself, even before a monstrous mimic shows up. But then the rest of the horror comes from the forms the Thing takes when it reveals itself, all spidery limbs and screaming faces. From a scientific perspective, it’s fascinating – though it’d probably be best to keep it contained somewhere far, far away from major population centres…
An American Werewolf in London (1981) - Werewolves are one of the most classic of all the onscreen monsters, but what’s interesting about the one in John Landis’s iconic horror comedy is that it’s a crossbreed, created when a naïve young New Yorker encounters a slavering beast on the North York Moors. Transferred to London by unsuspecting emergency services, the werewolf explores the streets of central London. Potential locations for encountering this kind of monster, as per the film, include London zoo (in the wolf enclosure, naturally); Tottenham Court Road underground station; and any of the cinemas near Piccadilly Circus. We’re not saying you’ll definitely encounter a werewolf if you visit us, by the way. But we’re not ruling it out as a possibility either.