In Hollywood, a thin line separates gods from monsters. Humans pray to the deities, though the supreme beings rarely respond, unless they’re enraged. Take the gods worshipped in both the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans and its souped-up 3-D remake. They mean well. But vicious infighting and spiteful grudges usually cause irreparable damage in Heaven and on earth. Here’s a list of terrifying movie gods and the sick mythological beasts that do their biddings. Pray they don’t cross your path anytime soon.
10. Medusa, Clash of the Titans
Many girls have mastered the icy stare. Medusa’s gaze, however, turns men to stone. Literally! So when Perseus (Harry Hamlin) enters the gorgon’s lair in the original Clash, he invents a reflective method for tracking this serpent-haired beast — who, it must be pointed out, is far more beastly than her seductive counterpart in the 2010 remake — then takes her breath (and head) away.
9. Minotaur, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lighting Thief
This Greek enforcer is equal parts bull and man. Legend places him at the center of the Cretan labyrinth, an elaborate maze designed by Daedalus and his son, Icarus. But modern movie audiences caught a better glimpse of him in Percy Jackson, where he attacked — but failed to defeat — our titular hero.
8. Hades, Hercules
No one will argue that Hercules is one of the better Disney animated features released during the nineties. It pales in comparison to Aladdin, The Lion King, and the Best Picture-nominated Beauty and the Beast. But James Woods’s oily line readings as manipulative Greek god Hades lends the right amount of menace to such quotes as, “Oh, there’s just one thing. You’ll be dead before you can get to her. That’s not a problem, is it?”
7. God, Oh, God!
Okay, so this God may not seem particularly terrifying. He’s actually quite benevolent. But the image of the almighty in Carl Reiner’s 1977 comedy sent chills down many a youngster’s spine. Personified by a cigar-smoking George Burns, God was a plaid-shirt-wearing midwestern fountain of wisdom, with a genteel approach and slight demeanor. Most prefer to picture God as the king of kings. Burns presented Him as Duke of the Early-Bird Special.
6. Cyclops, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
This list might not be possible without the contributions of iconic visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen, who created Medusa, the Kraken, and our choice for beast number six. Hired in 1958 to conjure monsters for Sinbad the Sailor (Kerwin Matthews) to battle, Harryhausen envisioned dragons, shield-wielding skeletons, screaming demons, and the Cyclops, which menaces Sinbad and his men as they attempt to retrieve treasure from a remote island.
5. Golgothan Demon, Dogma
Leave it to Kevin Smith to invent a mythological monster made from human waste. Plopped in the middle of the director’s otherwise insightful religious comedy, the demon is an “excremental” born of the refuse of convicts crucified on Golgotha mountain, in ancient Jerusalem. Or, as Salma Hayek’s muse explains, it’s a “walking pile of crap.” Its lone weakness? A deodorizer that knocks strong odors out. Of course.
4. Nemesis, Hercules in New York
In his debut feature film, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Zeus’ son, banished from the heavens for requesting a vacation on earth. When Hercules starts making a name for himself as a professional wrestler, though, Zeus orders the beautiful Nemesis (Taina Elg) to poison the wayward god and confine him to the fiery regions lorded over by Pluto (Michael Lipton). Nemesis isn’t exactly terrifying, but this horrible movie will scare most people, so it earns a mention.
3. Skeleton Army, Jason and the Argonauts
Harryhausen gets a nod again, this time for his ingenious contributions to Don Chaffey’s 1963 adventure, Jason and the Argonauts. The story follows legendary Greek hero Jason (Todd Armstrong) as he staves off hordes of mythological creatures in search of the Golden Fleece. Harryhausen’s creations ranged from the multiheaded Hydra snake to Talos, a towering bronze statue. But the film’s highlight is the stop-motion skeleton army that Jason defeats in the thrilling climax.
2. The Kraken, Clash of the Titans
“Release the Kraken!” With that order, Zeus (Sir Laurence Olivier) unleashes Harryhausen’s greatest creation, an amphibious sea creature with multiple arms, a spiky back, scaly fingers, and a crushing bruiser of a tail. The Kraken’s pretty powerful. But it isn’t immune to Medusa’s stare, which Perseus (Harry Hamlin) uses to “stone” the beast and rescue Andromeda (Judi Bowker). Crafty!
1. Gozer, Ghost Busters
Punky cropped locks. Lightning bolts that shoot from her fingertips. A sequined flesh-colored jumpsuit. A penthouse apartment in New York City. Gozer the Gozerian (Slavitza Jovan) has it all. Sure, back home, she’s more commonly known as Gozer the Destructor. But when she’s with the Ghost Busters, she unleashes the power to make all the childish dreams of Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) come true.