They’re cute, they’re tiny, and they’re filled with a bloodlust only quenched by killing as many people as possible. We’re talking about the tiny monsters that have found a home in horror movies–not just one per movie, but scores of them out for revenge. Much of the popularity of the subgenre is thanks to everyone’s favorite Christmas horror movie, Gremlins (1984).
With filmmaking heavyweights like Chris Columbus doing the writing and Stephen Spielberg as Executive Producer, it’s no wonder why Gremlins became a classic that still hits today. Although it only had an $11 million budget, it made over $200 million at the box office. Seeing such huge success for a movie about little monsters wreaking havoc, plenty of other filmmakers wanted to get a piece of that attention. Thus we got ’80s bangers like Critters (1986), Ghoulies (1985), and Munchies (1987)–while not as successful, they still had a place in the hearts of ’80s kids. Whether it’s a Gremlins rip-off or a modern tooth fairy retelling like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010), these are the best horror movies with cute/tiny monsters.
Best Horror Movies With Cute and Tiny Monsters
When a weird boy doesn’t quite fit in as the lone Canadian in a Wisconsin school, he vents to his only true friend: His cute stuffed bear named Teddy. The trouble is that Teddy talks back, and he convinces Jamie to seek revenge on everyone who’s wronged him. How? By pushing them into a pit in the woods filled with bloodthirsty monsters called Trogs. When he invites his hot new babysitter to visit the Trog pit, things don’t quite go as planned.
Billy’s dad wants to outdo everyone in the neighborhood this Christmas, so he gets his son a mysterious gift: A Mogwai named Gizmo. He’s cute, cuddly, and comes with a list of rules. Don’t get him wet, and don’t feed him after midnight. Accidents happen, and breaking both of those rules results in Gizmo’s “offspring”: gross Gremlins that now want to wreak havoc on Billy’s small town over Christmas.
A brave tomcat is the through-line connecting three stories in this Stephen King horror anthology. Three otherwise unconnected stories are told as the cat travels the country. While in the first two tales the cat merely has a cameo, it becomes the star of the show in third and final story, “General,” acting as protector of Amanda (Drew Barrymore). Amanda is being attacked by a tiny troll every night who’s been living in her bedroom wall, and the cat is hoping to stop it from killing her.
Jonathan inherits his parents’ house, though he doesn’t have much memory of it or them. When he and his girlfriend go to clean up the house, they find the basement full of occult ritual items. Jonathan handles it the only way he knows how: By performing some rituals of his own. What seems silly at first soon summons little monsters called Ghoulies and a few magical dwarves, all of whom are bent on destruction. This ’80s favorite spawned three sequels that get sillier as they go on.
It’s just a regular day on the farm for this small American family. Or at least it would have been if a spaceship holding escaped convict aliens hadn’t crash-landed nearby. The escapees, called Krites, just want to make it on their own (and munch a few cows), but a few alien bounty hunters are on their trail. While this might sound similar to Disney’s Lilo and Stitch, it’s actually a beloved campy ’80s horror movie that spawned four sequels.
What happens when you find a mysterious fossilized creature in Peru? In the case of archaeologist Simon, you reanimate it and bring it home as a pet. Things are going well until Simon’s evil twin steals the creature, nicknamed Arnold, and tries to keep it for himself. After a rampage he cuts Arnold into four pieces, but all that does is multiply him by four. These are beer-guzzling, snack-munching monsters that ’80s kids loved.
When Glen and his big sister Al’s parents go out of town, it’s time to party. Rather than a fun few days without supervision, they’re quickly overrun by little demons after accidentally summoning a hole to the underworld from a geode found in their backyard. Glen and his best friend Terry have to try to close the hole, but if they don’t, it could spell the end of the world.
A group of psychics are summoned to their friend. Unfortunately that friend is dead, having found a series of puppets that are now running wild. The psychics know that death and destruction are in their future, but will they be able to survive the spooky occult magic that can reanimate objects and the dead? Each small puppet has its own name and personality, from Blade to Tunneler to Leech Women. They were such favorites that the series ended up with five sequels.
Little Sally is sent to live with her father and his girlfriend as they restore an old mansion. As is usually the case with old mansions in horror movies, it’s haunted by malevolent forces. Little dark creatures that live in the basement want human teeth–especially from children. They try to get Sally’s, but Kim will do anything to prevent that from happening. This is a modern take on the tooth fairy fable that will have you scared of the dark.
Unwelcome combines Irish folk horror with tiny-monster horrors to create a campy and fun movie. In the film, the monsters in Unwelcome are referred to as Far Darrig and Redcaps. They are creatures of Irish and Celtic origins that are mischievous at best and murderous at worst. For Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth), the Redcaps add to a tough living situation when the couple moves to an old house in the Irish countryside.
More Tiny Monster Movies
- Troll (1986) has one master troll, possessing a boy named Harry Potter’s sister (seriously), turning anything he can into other little trolls to take over the town and–hopefully–the world.
- Hobgoblins (1988) is a so-bad-its-good creature feature where hobgoblins let you live out your biggest fantasies…and then kill you.
- Subspecies (1991) finds a group of students traveling to Romania to study, only to find two warring vampire brothers. Things go from bad to worse when little horned demons get in the mix.
- Army of Darkness (1992), Ash is transported back in time to fight the Deadites. Slapstick comedy ensues when a bunch a little Evil Ashes try to take him down.
- Weedjies: Halloweed Night (2019) is what you get when you take a movie like Ghoulies or Critters and throw in a bunch of weed.