One thing I’ve always loved about the Resident Evil series is its monsters. I love monsters in general, so when I first played the original Resident Evil I was sad that it seemed like it only had zombies, something I’ve never particularly regarded as a monster, or at least not my kind of monster… Of course, as it turns out, the original had plenty of other monsters once you got later in, and the rest of the series has continued to include great creatures throughout (and this is actually one thing the modern Resident Evil games haven’t particularly let up on).
These are my top ten favorite monsters of the Resident Evil series. If I was judging purely on concept and creature design, the list might look a lot different (for example, Anubis from the first image over there would be on the list instead of being cut), but for this list I’m judging the monsters overall, including design, gameplay, and buildup. This won’t include anything from Resident Evil 6, but once I’ve played the game I may update the list if it’s needed. So here we go!
10. Popokarimu (Resident Evil 5)
To be entirely frank, when I first saw this guy, I gaped. Coming out of Resident Evil 4, which while having good monsters, had a very humanoid cast, I didn’t really expect much from Resident Evil 5 as far as my personal tastes (completely monstrous) go. Then I was at a store thumbing through the Resident Evil 5 strategy guide and was shocked to see a couple of cool designs, but none more than this.
It’s a bat. And it’s a maggot. It’s a batmaggot.
There’s not a lot to say about him overall, because he’s a fairly straightforward boss and not a particularly impressive one, though definitely fun and one of the sadly few good boss fights in Resident Evil 5. So the main reason he’s here is the design.
And I really can’t get over how neat-looking this guy is! This boss is fought twice and has absolutely no explanation; he’s dropped off to fight you in a containment truck and then… that’s it. There is absolutely no insight as to how it was developed. Las Plagas parasites? Gene splicing? We don’t know. We just know it’s a bat, and a maggot.
A FREAKING BATMAGGOT. How awesome is that?
9. Ivy (Resident Evil 2)
Plant 43 or “Ivy”, as its name implies, was created in an attempt to create a more advanced version of Plant 42, a boss from the original Resident Evil, because of course any mad scientist worth his salt sees a gigantic plant growth and thinks “that thing needs anatomy like mine!”. And look at it!
As far as plant monsters go, this is one of my all-time favorites. What really makes it come together is its humanoid shape (and since this creature also has no elaboration as to its development beyond that it’s based on Plant 42, a t-Virus infected plant, we have no insight as to why it looks humanoid, but who cares?). These freaks trudge at you slowly, whipping and spitting acid, or grabbing and dowsing you in acid instead. To boot, these things are not only immune to anti-B.O.W. gas, but are mutated by it, becoming poisonous humanoid flower freaks.
I died in my first encounter with Ivies, and then dropped the game entirely because The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword came out (not because I was scared!), so I don’t have a ton of familiarity with them, but again, these guys are here primarily for the excellent design. I don’t normally like plant monsters especially, but giving it something that resembles functional animal anatomy really makes it appealing to me.
8. Chimera (Resident Evil)
Considered failed experiments because of their irregular and unfinished bodies, the Chimera are one of those types of creatures that looks fearsome, but gets especially bad when you know how they’re made: A human ovum is inseminated with fly DNA and then a woman is impregnated with it. Someone gave birth to these things?!
The Chimera are also encountered in the Umbrella Chronicles, but are most notable for their appearance in the original Resident Evil, in which these creepy bug bastards crawl around on walls and in vents, potentially killing you instantly by grabbing you from the ceiling. They’re not as hard to kill as you’d think, but they tend to appear in massive numbers in the remake, particularly during the escape sequence, making them almost the primary enemy of the laboratory.
And you gotta love something that looks like a blackened, fleshy skeleton with insectoid limbs and exoskeleton forming over it. Again, great design, but also really creepy for other reasons, making them great monsters overall. That said, I’m convinced that not even a mother — especially their own mothers — could love these guys were they to ever exist in real life.
7. Nosferatu (Code Veronica)
This monster is actually Alexander Ashford (spoiler?) imprisoned and experimented on by his own children, resulting in his transformation into the creature known as Nosferatu. Wholesome family bonding right there.
Nosferatu actually has quite a lot of buildup. Initially glimpsed through a grate, below the player in a holding cell, he later breaks out and pursues the heroes, emerging from out of a blizzard on a helipad to do battle (all of which can be seen here).
I love the scene of him walking up the steps. Very eerie. Just imagine being in their shoes. Suddenly this thing is blocking your path, advancing on you slowly, and then he violently sprouts huge nonsensical appendages. Not a good day.
The design itself deserves some points for taking a very human shape and making it disturbing. It’s difficult to place exactly what might be going through this creature’s mind now, after whatever was done to it.
Bondage, blood-covered white skin, exposed heart, and spider-like appendages… what the hell was wrong with this guy’s kids???
6. William Birkin and “G” (Resident Evil 2)
I’m lumping William Birkin’s monstrous G-Virus induced form together with its offspring, the “G”. I also ultimately chose this entry over Nemesis, because I thought Birkin was a lot scarier and a much better monster overall.
Like Nosferatu, William Birkin was a major character that changed into the stuff of nightmares. He was an excellent evolution from the Tyrant of the original Resident Evil; while the Tyrant was a super-powerful monster that served merely as the final boss, Birkin was an active player throughout the entire game. While Resident Evil 2 initially seemed to be a straightforward fight for survival in an overrun city and not all that different from its predecessor, it was quickly complicated by the monstrous G mutations.
The fight against the lesser “G” creature, created when a G parasite is rejected by an incompatible host (one that doesn’t match the original G’s blood type), was a creepy sequence that at the time was a complete mystery to the characters and even, to some degree, the players. Then of course Birkin, the original G, is fought multiple times, mutating more and more as the game goes on, utilizing all the forms shown above and growing more and more bestial until he’s just a mass of limbs, teeth, and eyes (???). Which honestly just makes the whole incest undertone thing of Birkin trying to infect his own family with the G-Virus even creepier, sorta like with the Chimera birthing; that last one is basically the last thing you’d ever want trying to come after you for breeding.
Birkin is by far my favorite Tyrant-like monster; while not actually a Tyrant, he serves a pretty similar role to the Tyrants and I just generally like him a lot more than any of them. Cooler designs, better execution, and a really interesting part of the story. Not to mention, hella twisted. A nearly identical G creature even got to star as the villain of his own movie!
5. Ooze (Revelations)
Revelations has some great designs for its creatures in general, but this is the only one I can comment on as I’ve only played the demo so far. It’s a great design though. Tangentially humanoid but completely alien, the Ooze seem to serve as the common enemies found throughout Revelations, effectively making them zombie replacements. It’s hard for me to not detect kindred spirits in the development team of Revelations when they thought to replace zombies with abstract, fleshy aquatic horrors. This feels like the kind of decision I would make.
Calling to mind a bit of the Regenerador from Resident Evil 4, the Ooze are one of those things with a design that’s sufficiently twisted that they’re scary just because of what you think they might be like in real life: Writhing, twitching, fleshy, squishy, slimy, blood-drinking, and they melt into literal ooze upon death; you don’t even want these things to touch you. Seriously, look at those things. Would you want to touch one of them? Just the right amount of “oh god, oh god, what is that, get it away from me!!!”.
While some of the special varieties of Ooze pictured above are tougher, the basic type isn’t really that much stronger than a zombie, but they’re notably scarier because of what they are. It helps that they’re given a powerful presence in cutscenes, even brutally murdering Rachel in one, which did a lot to help make them scary, even though Rachel is half-naked and completely ridiculous.
4. Lisa Trevor (Resident Evil)
There’s long-standing rule in fiction that there is nothing scarier than a creepy child. There are a lot of things that can be creepy, but none of them have ever reached the heights of creepy children, and never will. This is science.
Lisa Trevor is a 14 year-old girl who was subjected to hideous experiments as part of a move to silence her father George and his entire family so they couldn’t expose the Umbrella Corporation’s secrets. Implying, of course, that anyone would ever betray a group that does the things Umbrella does…
Unlike her mother, however, she survived the initial experiments. She also survived all the other experiments. Freakishly immune to all the viruses and parasites that were tested on her, she wound up being pivotal in the development of the G-Virus, the stuff responsible for William Birkin up above, meaning the incestual, bestial, embryo spewing freak has a 14 year-old girl for his mother. Kind of explains a few things.
The experiments also left her almost completely invulnerable, which is how she survived extermination after she had served her purpose. But that’s not even the scary stuff: Lisa Trevor fills the role of the persistent enemy in the remake of the original Resident Evil. Her pained and animalistic cries can be heard early in the game, but she first shows up as a complete surprise to the player in a cabin in the woods, in an especially eerie sequence. She will be encountered multiple times throughout the game, completely invincible until you drop her down a chasm. Along the way you will learn all about what happened to her and her family, and read journals that were scribbled by her after she became the insane creature she is now.
So I think we can all agree that creepy children are trumped by creepy tortured immortal hunchback children. She’s sad, she’s pitiful, she’s kinda badass, and she’s scary as hell.
3. Hunter (series wide)
Hunters are classics. I felt a bit guilty about not including the Licker on the list, but as far as the frequently recurring monsters of the series go, I much prefer the Hunters. They are less twisted and unusual, that is true. But they have one of the neatest and purest designs of the series. They’re bipedal reptiles with agility and power to spare; ideal foes to introduce as the heavy hitters late in the game.
Their introduction is, for me, one of the most iconic moments of the series; upon returning to the Mansion, after exploring the other areas on the grounds, your first Hunter comes charging after you from the Courtyard, and from then on the Mansion is infested with them, leaving many of its rooms filled with the persistent, somehow adorable yet terrifying, purr of the Hunters.
There’s also an absurd variety of Hunters. They appear constantly throughout the series, but unlike the Lickers, they do so in tons of different forms. Certain especially well-trained ones in Code Veronica attack at the command of small security drones. The Beta Hunters are faster and covered in tumors (this improves their speed… how?), the Gamma Hunters are froglike and swallow you whole, and Farfarello the mouthful can become invisible.
It’s a wild variety of brutal creatures, and they’re all wicked killer reptiles and amphibians. Just try and beat that!
2. Regenerador (Resident Evil 4)
“Okay!” says Capcom.
Earlier I mentioned that the Ooze were reminiscent of the Regenerador, but honestly even they don’t really hold a candle to them. Pictured above is actually the Iron Maiden, a variety of Regenerador that, while cool, isn’t my preferred look for them. I like the normal Regeneradors better.
But whichever design you prefer, the Regeneradors are terrifying foes with telltale raspy, irregular breathing, and are easily the single scariest thing in Resident Evil 4; indeed, they are arguably the only truly terrifying thing in the game, and they tend to freak me out when playing. Especially that one time I lured on down a corridor only to discover he brought a friend.
These stretchy dudes, true to their name, regenerate their destroyed limbs through the use of the parasites located in their body. The only way to actually kill a Regenerador is to destroy all the parasites, which is easiest with thermal imaging. Otherwise they can regrow anything, and they never stop attacking no matter what they lose, even flopping up at you like a fish when they’re just a legless torso. Other times, they stretch their arms out and attack with their sharklike mouth, or the Iron Maidens will impale you on their spikes.
You can tell the development team knew these guys were scary and really milked them, as they have their own very distinct theme song. They’re not the only beastie in the game with their own song, but theirs’ is one of the most distinct and easily the creepiest. We need more monsters like this in the series. It’s too bad they become easily dispatched as soon as you find the Infrared Scope. They really didn’t have enough stage time.
1. Crimson Head (Resident Evil)
“Axle, you weird little dipshit, that’s a zombie! You said you didn’t consider those monsters!”
Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong, my friend. This is a Crimson Head.
In the remake of the original Resident Evil, when incapacitated for some time, zombies infected with a particular strain of the T-Virus undergo a process in which their blood starts pumping at an alarming rate, causing it to seep through their skin (and giving them their name). And of course they get much stronger, faster, and apparently grow claws.
I love the look of the Crimson Heads. The differences are slight, but it goes a long way towards making them look more “demonic boogeyman” than traditional undead. While I think zombies can be lame, anthropomorphic or otherwise highly humanoid monsters with good designs happen to be one of my favorites (as I’m sure this list has indicated), and while the monster qualities are subtle, I think it works excellently. Add in the fact that they’re so dangerous and run around in a hunch, and it’s a great effect.
The best part about the Crimson Heads is their effect not on combat itself, but on navigation and planning. One Crimson Head is fought as a mandatory boss (initiated after he literally emerges from a bloody coffin strung up to the ceiling by chains, which is so metal), but the rest are created when you leave zombie corpses unattended. Some bodies stay behind when the zombies are killed, and if you don’t burn them soon enough and happen to run past them later, they will revive as Crimson Heads, serving as one of the game’s most harrowing foes and putting a bigger drain on your resources and nerves alike. This is especially brutal on the game’s hardest modes.
And that concludes my list. Tell me what your favorites are! And hopefully once I’ve played Revelations and Resident Evil 6, I can add a few more to the list.
(Credit to Resident Evil Wiki for the images.)