The Best Creature Feature Protagonists, Ranked



Monster movies are the backbone of horror and science fiction. Both genera gave way to upright, crawling, and stalking vertebrates towards their unwitting prey. The heavy masses had victims cowering in fear, desperate to see an end to their misery. Viewers watched in terror, seeing the unthinkable and impossible tragedies unfold.

From classic universal monsters to underrated B movies, there was no shortage of schlock and shock to match our craving creature features. Maddening screams, sinister mayhem, and silly but serious scandals all make for spooky wonderment fun. While almost everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off (before the creature has a chance to do it itself), there are still a few left with a good head on their shoulders.


8/8 Matango (1963) – Kenji Murai


Also known as Attack of the Mushroom People For American viewers, this adaptation of seafaring author William Hope Hodgson’s short story “The Voice in the Night” is about a group of castaway youths who find themselves on an island of mutated mushrooms. Toho produced the non-mainstream Japanese film which faced banning threats. The makeup of some characters resembled the facial disfigurement of people affected by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On the island, mushrooms take on colorful shapes and sizes, much to Professor Kenji Murai’s chagrin. He survives the experiment comparing mushrooms to humans. Medicinal or psychedelic, this morality of man against nature comes across as high quality, albeit from a fun guy.

7/8 Outer Space Plan 9 (1957) – Jeff Trent

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) - Jeff Trent - Directed by Ed Wood
valiant pictures

Jeff Trent (Gregory Walcott) is a pilot in this too bad-it’s good cult classic. He witnesses a loud and bright flying saucer during one of his flights. Later, the occupants of the saucer are heard near a cemetery where Trent lives. The aliens launch Plan 9, the resurrection of the dead! In a bid to control and destroy humanity, Trent braves boarding the spaceship after a reanimated old man attacks his wife. His close encounter leaves the space invaders as they came: in a large ball of fire. After the military swore him to secrecy, it was impossible to keep quiet with Trent.

6/8 Forbidden Planet (1956) – John J. Adams

A scene from Forbidden Planet

by William Shakespeare Storm Into Space changed the way B-movies were treated and breathed new life into the sci-fi genre. Commander John J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) is the first Captain Kirk, taking charge of an intergalactic mission in this groundbreaking techno-horror. He and his crew discover a planet, Altair IV, the last known location of a missing expedition. The planet is deserted except for the survivors of the expedition: Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), his daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis), and their mechanical assistant, Robby the Robot (Frankie Darro and Marvin Miller). As Adams presses the scientist of the group’s demise, he finds Morbius’ personified ego materializing as unseen beasts. Kudos to Adams for demonstrating a high level of critical thinking in a hopeless and desolate place of psychosis.

Related: Monster and the Ethics of a Protagonist by Jeffery Dahmer

5/8 The Thing From Another World (1951) – Ned Scott

the thing from another world1951 ned scott
RKO Radio Pictures

The journalist becomes a gonzo journalist on the Alaska border where he discovers the story of a life. He is joined by a club of armed forces gentlemen who find a flying saucer embedded under the ice. With him, they dig a carnivorous humanoid plant which awakens and attacks them at the remote outpost. After baiting the bloodthirsty alien into an electric trap, they throw the kill switch and reduce the monster to ashes. Scott gets the go-ahead to tell the world about the existence of aliens, and his resounding words echo goosebumps everywhere: “Keep looking up at the sky.”

4/8 War of the Worlds (1953) – Clayton Forrester

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 1953 doctor clayton forrester (1)
Paramount Pictures

Alien invasions would never be the same after HG Wells’ Martians brought fire and brimstone to Dr. Clayton Forrester. For no reason, alien canisters landed across Earth. Inside are deadly alien war machines with advanced death rays. As they unleash their space blight on humanity, Forrester must find a weakness to stop the threat from another world. Forrester and others survived long enough to deduce that Martians could resist military weapons, but not bacteria to which humans have adapted. Colds: one, aliens: zero.

3/8 Godzilla (1954) – Daisuke Serizawa

Godzilla 1954 Doctor Daisuke Serizawa

Scientists and world-destroying experiments go hand in hand against a monster at war. Japan faces a nuclear threat in the form of a gigantic mutant reptile dinosaur that survived underwater testing of a hydrogen bomb. Dr. Daisuke Serizawa builds a device that, in the wrong hands, could be used as a weapon of mass destruction, killing thousands, if not millions, not to mention a kaiju, the oxygen destroyer. Serizawa shares his last breath with Godzilla, taking the beast and the weapon to his grave.

Related: The Lair Review: Military vs. Monsters in Neil Marshall’s Creature Feature

2/8 Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Ben

Night of the Living Dead - Ben (1968)
Continental distribution

By far the most poised character in an apocalypse, Ben (Duane Jones) is the poster boy for sanity in a mad world. He makes a farm a sanctuary, harboring strangers and defending against the appearance of ghouls or zombies. He is dealing with a catatonic woman, a bullish man, and what thanks has he received? A weapon loaded with racial and social commentary.

1/8 Jaws (1975) – Martin Brody

Universal images

Martin Brody started out as a quiet police chief, wanting to protect innocent beach goers shark attacks. When no human remains are found, victim after victim, and his eldest son is traumatized by the death of a boater, Brody decides to join shark fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) and oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) on the open sea. Quint’s trophy-killing hysteria takes over as Hooper’s attempt to tranquilize Hooper heads south, leaving Brody alone on the sinking ship. Using Quint’s rifle and one of Hooper’s oxygen tanks, Brody faces and feeds the belly of the beast a photo from the hero’s journey.

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