By Jonathan Wojcik


Roughly a week since the last round, it's time for more monsters that I at least briefly considered for this review series, or could arguably still qualify if it were going to go on for longer:


Adapted from a Dean Koontz novel of the same name, I don't recall Phantoms being all that terribly great as a movie, and it doesn't seem to have left much of an impression on the sci-fi horror landscape, though its setup and reveal are both reasonably interesting; a group investigates the mysterious disappearance of an entire town, where they are attacked periodically by menacing creatures and phenomena. As it turns out, the town is only the latest in a long line of human populations to be completely consumed by a single organism, an amorphous tar-like mass that absorbs the minds of its prey and can even manifest living creatures from the subconscious of its victims.

Over the centuries of absorbing people, this ooze has come to actually believe that it's the devil, and enjoys toying with humans by manifesting forms based on - what else? - their subconscious fears. This isn't quite taken advantage of to the degree of It or even Galaxy of Terror, though at one point, the ooze does make a vicious mutant moth.


I really wasn't sure if I ought to go ahead and include this one or not; this Lovecraft invention is practially one of the "original" truly abstract alien lifeforms, a rare case of the guy writing a monster that was actually difficult to comprehend and impossible to imagine, since it's literally supposed to manifest as a color that no one on Earth has ever seen before; one that pollutes the land and mutates every living thing it comes into contact with.

The story would only get a feature film adaptation fairly recently, starring Nicholas Cage hamming it up in his usual beloved manner, but I ultimately skipped giving The Color its own entry in this feature because it felt a bit too easy and too obvious; everything anyone can say about anything Lovecraft, good or bad, has been said about ten million times by now, hasn't it?

Still a fun, cheesy movie, elaborating on the original story with the color's hideous new ability to fuse living organisms together. This is especially interesting to me, because when I first read the original story as a child, the vague descriptions of it doing something horrible to some of the livestock already had me imagining some sort of amalgamated flesh-mass.


This one's premise also fully qualifies for my list, but was pushed down by entities I just wanted to write about that much more. The found footage film appears at first to be about demonic exorcism, as three men investigate reports of paranormal activity surrounding a recently reopened church. There are ghostly voices, objects moving on their own, signs of a secret cult and even of child sacrifice.

But when the men discover claustrophobic tunnels beneath the church, they're eventually lead through a particularly narrow passageway that stinks horrendously. Suddenly this tunnel's exits close themselves off, and the walls begin to drip a fluid that painfully burns on contact, both men beginning to digest in agony in the stomach of a massive, unknown living being.


This one, another Stephen King adaptation, wasn't included in the main list because, for one, it was technically a television miniseries rather than a single movie, and for another, it is kind of extremely boring until the Langoliers finally show up. They're still one of my favorite of King's concepts, though, and the overall premise is intriguing overall: the story has a passenger plane pass through a mysterious light, and everyone on board disappears except for those who were asleep, which fortunately includes one of the pilots. Strangely unable to make contact with anyone, they eventually land at a bizarrely deserted airport, as though everyone else in the world has gone missing. Worse, the very laws of physics seem to be acting strangely.

What the group ultimately unravels is that they have been transported into the past, but every moment of the past is a sort of "dead" reality, empty of conscious beings, or at least beings other than plant life and The Langoliers! They're little more than flying mouths, fleshy walnut-like pods that split open into three-lobed maws lined with chainsaw-like whirling teeth, and they exist only to devour these past moments until only a black void remains.


Meatball Machine is a film by director Yudai Yamaguchi, Jun'ichi Yamamoto and makeup artist Yoshihiro Nishimura, the latter known for such films as Tokyo Gore Police, Helldriver and Mutant Girls Squad. This one has some tasteless moments that I can't really recommend, it isn't overall that great in quality and it fell short of the list for involving straightforward alien invaders, but they are alien invaders unlike any others in my recollection; piloting bio-mechanical buglike vehicles, they attach parasitically to human beings and mutate them into "NecroBorgs," somehow causing cybernetic parts to grow from their flesh in a manner highly reminiscent of our previously featured Tetsuo.

When one young woman is turned, the young man who pines for her (creeps from afar) ends up taking on a parasite of his own to try and stop her rampage in what is essentially a Tokusatsu Body Horror Action Romance. They destroy one another by the end, but the rotten little aliens are delighted that the test run of their newest game was such a success.


This is another "body-altering parasite" story, but it's also highly unique for the subgenre; the many-fanged, beady-eyed parasitic worm, Aylmer, is an eloquent and soft-spoken fellow with the personality of a kindly dad, offering the incredible high of his addictive venom in exchange for a home. Trouble is, whenever his host is too doped up to care, Aylmer takes the body for a little stroll and preys on the fresh brains of unsuspecting humans.

It's never clear what Aylmer is or where he comes from, as he's implied to have existed for potentially eons. When the protagonist finally kills the friendly parasite (or appears to have killed him), his now brainless body is found catatonic with an intensely glowing hole in his skull, like some portal to some other reality. Did Aylmer "go home," or is he something so extranormal that his death tears a little hole in reality itself?


This highly overlooked movie is sort of like an Anthology, except that every story takes place in the same setting and leads directly into the next, with the final story's ending looping right back to the beginning of the movie. Each story follows a different set of characters in a small, forgotten desert town where it doesn't seem anyone can leave by choice, at least until they make the right choices.

One reason Southbound doesn't qualify for the rest of the review series is that its creatures aren't the central focus, though they're really beautiful designs; essentially legless human skeletons covered in a thin layer of burlap-like skin, the baglike head able to split down the front to expose the underlying skull, with tangles of fuzzy plant roots dangling from their legless vertebrae and with a pair of long, skeletal bat wings they don't seem to really use for flight so much as another set of limbs. By the end of the film, it's also fairly explicit that the setting is just literally Purgatory, with the implication of a heaven or a hell that human visitors may pass on to according to their actions, and that these "angels" are a sort of security system or agents of death. So, it's not a movie with its own original cosmology, but it's one that interprets some common beliefs in a very original way! If you watch it, be warned that it has a graphic, messy surgical sequence, potentially more grotesque than any of the gory carnage in any other films we've looked at this month.