Creature horror, also sometimes referred to as monster horror, are stories of the struggles of human protagonists against some sort of monster, of the inhuman variety. These can range from classic monster tales such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or Dracula by Bram Stoker. Monsters can also be pulled from genres such as fantasy and sci-fi. Aliens, leprechauns, trolls, and the like are also popular antagonists in monster fiction. Even animals and plants can be monsters in this subgenre, which is one of the reasons that the subgenre is called creature horror as opposed to simply monster horror.
The monsters may be small, though the cuteness factor tends to lend itself to horror comedy as opposed to full-tilt chills, though that doesn't mean that small creatures aren't horrific in their own right. Alternatively, the monsters can be giants, such as King Kong or Godzilla. Some creature horror has become so popular that it has developed its own subgenre. This is true for monsters such as vampires, werewolves, and zombies. But horror writers are always dreaming up new ways to scare, and so, new monsters and creatures will always find their way into this vast subgenre.
Level of Characterization: The level of characterization in creature horror is generally low to moderate, with primary consideration given to the characterization of the creature or monster in the piece.
Level of Plot: Creature horror tends to feature low levels of plotting. The typical creature horror plot consists of a some form of monster terrorizing a protagonist or group of protagonists, and the struggles that the protagonist must go through to stop the monster. Another popular element in creature horror is that of a science experiment gone wrong. This is often the explanation for the creature's sudden appearance.
Level of Supernatural: The level of supernatural in creature horror is moderate to high as some monsters in this subgenre could be considered to be supernatural.
Level of Scary: Because this subgenre is so vast, the level of scary within creature horror varies. Some tales run more toward the horror comedy spectrum or action adventure spectrum with low level scares, while others are truly terrifying.
Level of Violence: As a result of the monster terrorizing the human protagonists, the level of violence in creature horror is moderate to high.
Typical Setting: Creature horror is a large genre, and as such, typical settings are varied. Often, the settings are modern, and offer some level of isolation so the monsters can more easily terrorize the protagonist.
Science experiments gone awry, demons, or other monsters. Like supernatural horror, creature horror requires a healthy suspension of disbelief. If you prefer your monsters of the human variety, this subgenre is probably not for you.
Relic by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston- When a visitors to the New York Museum of Natural History are savagely murdered mere days before the opening of a new exhibition, it is up to graduate student Margo Green and a small group of researchers, with the aid of an FBI investigator, to stop the killings before the gala opening takes place, but is there a monster on the loose in the museum?
Dark Harvest by Norman Patridge- Each Halloween, October Boy rises from the cornfields of a small Midwestern town. This scarecrow wields a butcher knife and tradition has it that any boy who kills October Boy before midnight will win a ticket out of their small town existence. In 1963, Peter McCormick is determined to be that boy, but October Boy has a terrifying secret.
Watchers by Dean Koontz- When exploring near his home, Travis Cornell discovers two genetically altered creatures that have escaped from a top-secret government lab. One is an exceptionally intelligent dog, whom he befriends, the other is brutal and violent killer. Soon, Travis, the dog, and a woman named Nora are on the run from a ruthless assassin, government agents, and most terrifying of all, the monster that Travis discovered.
The Mist by Stephen King- After a violent thunderstorm, a thick, unnatural mist permeates the town of Bridgton, Maine, and terrifying creatures lurk there, waiting to prey upon the unsuspecting townspeople.
Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten- A top secret exploration of the Mariana trench unleashes a prehistoric predator.
Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson- When an ethnological expedition finds evidence of humans who can transform into animals, the mission's spokesman mysteriously dies in the midst of a press conference announcing their findings. Journalist, Will Barbee suspects the beautiful April Bell and is determined to seek out answers. But as people around him keep dying, Barbee must face his own dark nature.
The Rising by Brian Keene- An experiment goes awry causing an interdimensional rift to open up and allow demons to possess the bodies of the dead, and not just dead humans. It is across this dark and unforgiving land, that Jim must search for his son.
The Terror by Dan Simmons- Part historical fiction, part creature horror, The Terror tells of the ill-fated journey of the titular ship and the fearsome beast that stalks its crew when it becomes trapped in ice.
The Passage by Justin Cronin- An experiment to create a super-soldier goes horribly awry, creating instead a plague of insectile vampires known as virals, and a six-year-old girl is humanity's only hope of stopping them.
The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson- The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson- In a novel that Lovecraft called creative and macabre, Hodgson tells the story of a couple who struggle to reconnect after being reincarnated in a distant future when the sun has gone dark, and the once human creatures that threaten their existence.