Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard)
Alexander Skarsgard can have the vampire beat, but his brother, Bill, is on top of killer clowns. The Hemlock Grove actor surprised movie lovers when he transformed into Pennywise for It, from director Andy Muschietti. Skarsgard compared the character to Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the Joker in The Dark Knight. “He’s not even human,” he said, “he’s just pure evil.”
King Kong (Terry Notary)
Andy Serkis notably played King Kong in Peter Jackson’s cinematic take, but for this year’s Kong: Skull Island, set within the Godzilla world of monsters, actor Terry Notary was the man within the beast. A veteran stuntman and movie choreographer on films like the Planet of the Apes prequels and the Hobbit trilogy, Notary gave a motion-capture performance for the CG king of Skull Island, while Toby Kebbell “gave some facial reference.” You can see Notary on screen in the flesh as the guy going apes–t in The Square.
The Shape of Water's fish man (Doug Jones)
When it comes to transforming into some of cinema’s most unnatural creations, Doug Jones is the master. You might know him as Fauno (a.k.a. The Pale Man) in Pan’s Labyrinth or Abe in the Hellboy movies. This year, he’s got the awards circuit buzzing as the amphibian creature from some black lagoon in The Shape of Water, which also happens to be another film from Guillermo del Toro. “A note Guillermo gave me, as far as [the Asset’s] physicality goes, he kept pushing the sexy. This character has to be sexy,” Jones told The Hollywood Reporter. “When watching the film you have to believe that someone could actually fall in love with him and find him sexy and want to take their clothes off in his presence.”
Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella)
The Mummy seems like a distant dream at this point — a film meant to kickstart Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe of monster movies, but was hit hard by bad reviews before the potential franchise even had a chance to grow. Sofia Boutella was hardly its biggest problem. The transformative actress, who played the alien Jaylah in Star Trek: Beyond and the sharp-footed Gazelle in the first Kingsman, became Ahmanet, the titular mummy of the film who starred opposite Tom Cruise.
Xenomorph (Javier Botet)
It took more than one actor to bring the xenomorph in Alien: Covenant to life, but Javier Botet delivered the motion-capture performance for the CG creature. Like Jones, Botet made a name for himself as the movie monster man. He played the Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2, ghosts of Crimson Peak, and the eponymous Mama. His next challenge will be playing the Slender Man in Screen Gems’ upcoming movie.
Moonlight Man (Carel Struycken)
So the Moonlight Man is only a monster in the sense of, what kind of man would commit the crimes he did in Netflix’s Gerald’s Game? But staring into the glowing eyes of the character (portrayed by Carel Struycken) in the dead quiet of night is a spine-tingling sight. Between playing the giant portal demon on Charmed, the alien jeweler in Men in Black, and the Fireman on Twin Peaks, Struycken has a lot of experience playing the creep card.
The Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones)
Yup, it’s Jones again. The gent’s also got Edith’s monster mamma (Crimson Peak), The Ancient (The Strain), and Saru (Star Trek: Discovery) to his long list of creature features. What did we tell you? He’s the master!
The Creeper (Jonathan Breck)
Jonathan Breck has been playing the winged, flesh-eating beast of the Jeepers Creepers films since the start of the trilogy. He returned 14 years after the second installment to play him again in the third, released on Sept. 26. “I did a lot [of the stunts] myself and particularly in this last movie, the third movie, I did a great deal of it,” Brecl told IGN. “And mainly that was a function of wanting to be there and do all the stunts and also having a limited budget. I really had to lace up my bootstraps and do a lot of these myself.”
Samara, Bonnie Morgan
Bonnie Morgan is a contortionist first and actor second, which explains why she’s so good at freaking people out — including her cast mates — as Samara in the Ring movies. (You might have also seen some of her unqiue red carpet photos.) Director Hideo Nakata initially wanted to have a CG entity in The Rings Two, but the stunt coordinator on the film reached out to see if Morgan could create something new. “Real is always more scary,” she told Bloody Disgusting. “The spider walk originated on my living room floor, and we shot some footage of it, and the director could not have been more excited with the result.”
Ryuk (Jason Liles)
Two folks brought the death god of Death Note to life: Willem Dafoe, who voiced the character and used his own features for the facial-capture performance, and Jason Liles, who played him on set. Director Adam Wingard explained, “Everything you see in the film is a hundred percent real except for the face.” Initially, the crew tried putting together an 8-foot-tall animatronic representation, but there were a lot of issues that came with it. “I really wanted there to be something on set,” Wingard said. “I wanted there to be lights hitting this thing and I wanted the actors to be interacting with something.”
The demon in Annabelle: Creation (Joseph Bishara)
A lot of credit will naturally go to the possessed doll at the center of Annabelle: Creation, but Joseph Bishara did more than just compose music for the David F. Sandberg film. He also played the demon in the film that terrorizes the children. He also played Bathsheba in the first Conjuring, as well as demons in The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, and Insidious: Chapter 3. “For whatever reason, playing these demons seems to be a very natural fit,” he quipped to Dread Central.