The big screen may be home to some of the most legendary monsters to ever grace the horror genre, but recently, entries from filmmakers on streaming services programs have been staking their own claim among the iconic figures as being just as terrifying.
The bubbling world of small-screen terror has enabled new nightmares to reach audiences across the globe, while doing so it has introduced inventive original takes on skin-crawling monsters and creepy creatures that can make even die-hard horror fans jump in fear.
Gone are the days of TV monsters that look like B movie knock-offs as shows on HBO, Netflix, and Shudder, step it up to a level of on-screen wizardry that needs to been seen to be believed.
For anyone looking for some scares this spooky season and have already burned through a list of classic monster movies, there are new frightful faces awaiting you on your streaming services among these haunting tv series.
However, of all the scares there have been in the modern TV world, nothing stood out more than the smiling devilish creeps that made their appearances in season 4 of Channel Zero and the first season of Lovecraft Country.
SPOILER WARNING: If you have not seen the shows Lovecraft Country (2020) and Channel Zero: The Dream Door, there are monster reveal spoilers below.
Small Screen Scary Monsters
Topsy & Bopsy – Lovecraft Country (2020) – HBO Max
Lovecraft Country is nearly finished its first season which has strongly featured some of the best sci-fi and horror moments for any series for 2020, while additionally, having standout monster moments that no movie this year has been close to topping.
In episode 8 titled ‘Jig-a-Bobo’, a new set of demonic twin monsters named “Topsy & Bopsy” (played by dancers Biance Brewton & Kaelynn Harris) made a jaw dropping first appearance introducing some of the scariest monsters to ever appear in the genre as a whole.
Their presence within every scene was unnerving, twisted, and just overall goosebumps-inducing insanity, it was reminiscent of the monster from It Follows meets Freddy Krueger, but so much more than both in every way possible .
A bit of backstory for those unfamiliar with the show…
In the series, the frightening duo are dark magic manifestations bound to hunt a victim throughout the episode, and on top of their grotesque look mirroring Jim Crow-era racist caricatures, they are invisible to everyone except for the person they are hunting.
What makes them ultimately the scariest monsters I have personally ever seen is the frozen crooked smile on their lips and the fact that they dance with every movement while hunting unseen by anyone aside from the person they are bound to.
The delivery of the overall premise is expertly done by showrunner Misha Green (who also made her directorial debut on this episode) and the execution is elevated to the highest form when the creepy theme music plays hauntingly in the background each time the monsters appear on the screen.
Pretzel Jack – Channel Zero: The Dream Door (2018) – Amazon Prime/Shudder
A bendy imaginative figure comes to life with a taste for violence and a dramatic flair in this underrated (and criminally under-appreciated) anthology series that sadly only had four seasons.
Pretzel Jack (played by frequent monster actor and famed contoronist Troy James) was one of the major highlights of the creepypasta themed series two-year run, which had a number of other notable scary moments, creatures, killers, and nightmarish scenes.
His physical appearance is brilliantly captures its on screen inspiration of being a child’s drawing brought to life and he moves smoothly like a demonic marionette, it all comes together in a portrayal that sticks in your mind in a way that big screen CGI monsters have a much harder time attempting to pull off.
The notable horror figure has elements similar to Samara (The Ring) but the added imaginative elements of the series give credence to the feel of a character plucked fresh from your own personal nightmares, making the entire experience seem like watching a surreal show focused on a villain who is manifestation of your own.
On top of the similarities to the ghostly or demonic figures seen in various genre classics, the sheer determination and deadly focus of Pretzel Jack is scarily reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of The Terminator, but with an eerie approach added in when attributing the lanky stature of the monster.
It is truly a marvel to be able to create the terrors on a streaming service series that are able to compete (or outdo) the big screen counterparts which dominate the box office.
Rarely in the past was this feat ever possible except for the rarities that went on to have cult horror significance, such as:
The Gentlemen from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series:
Pretzel Jack and Topsy & Bopsy work on so many levels due to nearly everything about their appearances in their respective shows adding to the overall fear factors that genre fans crave.
They are controlled chaotic entities that instantly make you think of yourself in the role of the characters they are hunting, but also give further proof that any killer with a smile is 10x scarier.
It just doesn’t sit right…
With this year having fewer theatrical entertainment, the horror genre has been thriving with small screen releases of films and TV series, which overall has made this spooky season one filled with creative new ventures into dark escapism.