Resident Evil is one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world. In addition to seven main games, there have been innumerable side games and spin-offs, not to mention an incredibly popular movie franchise.
The original games were built on horror and dread, bringing true 'survival-horror' to people's living rooms. Items and equipment were scarce, weapons always seemed to be running low on ammo, and you could never tell what was going to be around that next corner with the camera's fixed perspective.
As the series evolved, the games started to lean more toward action with RE:6 being the most action-oriented of them all. Last year, developer Capcom went back to its horror roots with RE:7 Biohazard a whole new take on the Resident Evil franchise and one that connected with a lot of fans.
Like any franchise that has been around for a while, the RE series has had its ups and downs. That goes for the monsters that inhabit the games too. For this list, I tried my best to take from all the main games and even the movies when I thought it appropriate. Here are the 8 Coolest and 7 Lamest Monsters in the Resident Evil franchise.
15 Coolest: Zombie Dogs
While it may seem silly now, the first time those zombie dogs burst through the windows in the first RE game, it was a thoroughly terrifying experience. You are unsure of what to do, but if you stand around thinking too long, they will be on you and your game will be over quick.
It is a great moment in gaming history and one that used the fixed camera angle of the older games to great effect. Even the movie series tried to cash in on this iconic moment, but with much lesser success. It's also worth noting that the Gamecube remake played with fans expectations by staggering the dog's reveal.
14 Lamest: El Gigante
Boy, the developers were really stretching themselves creatively when they came up with this one. Somewhere between a troll from Lord of the Rings and Frankenstein's monster, El Gigante (which literally translates to 'The Giant' in Spanish) is supposed to be a terrifying monster, one that will stop Leon Kennedy in his tracks and put up a tough fight.
So much for that.
The fight just turns into you running around a small arena, shooting El Gigante enough until a Plaga pops out of his back which you must jump on his back and slice up. Resident Evil 4 is considered one of the best in the franchise, and it certainly deserves that recognition, but that doesn't keep El Gigante from being one of the lamest monsters in the series.
13 Coolest: The Molded
For many, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was the rebirth of the Resident Evil franchise. Ask any long time fan and they will most likely tell you that RE: 5 was a disappointment and RE: 6 was so bad they won't even talk about it.
Capcom obviously heard fan's complaints about 6, so they took a whole new approach to RE: 7. Gone are all the creatures you know and love from the earlier games. Gone are the overly complicated and ridiculous plots. Instead what you get is a more grounded tale (for an RE game) told from the first-person perspective, with some of the most terrifying enemies ever seen in an RE game. The molded are a slithering, disgusting entity that can manifest from just about anywhere.
12 Lamest: Plaga
When I first saw the Plaga, I couldn't help but laugh. I half expected to see a Xenomorph dart through the background or one of my friends suddenly morph into some horrible abomination.
I have no problem in games (or any other medium) borrowing from other great works, but Resident Evil wore its influences so much on its sleeve with the Plaga, it was hard to take it seriously. A half-hearted combination of Alien and John Carpenter's The Thing, the Plaga fell flat in just about every way, including its half-assed name. Luckily, Resident Evil is more than willing to come up with new exciting infections for us to deal with.
11 Coolest: Crimson Head
Capcom did a lot of things right when they released the High Definition remake version of Resident Evil in 2002 on Gamecube. In addition to having dramatically improved graphics, they added several new areas and new enemies.
One of those enemies was the Crimson Head Zombie.
Unlike other zombies, Crimson Heads are fast moving and ferocious creatures. They have more health and will even try to trick the player into walking by them by playing 'dead' on the ground. Then, when the player walks by, they spring up and attack. They are a small, but great change to what was already a masterpiece in the series. We would love to see Crimson Heads make a return for the remake of Resident Evil II.
10 Lamest: Crows
Crows are one of those quintessential horror tropes. They seem to be in just about every haunted house or scary movie, and Edgar Allen Poe made them forever associated with the dark and macabre. They have a spot as one of the lamest monsters in Resident Evil for a different reason than most of the others on this list. While others make it for their lack of originality or overall being a boring addition to the franchise, crows are here because they are just so damn annoying!
They seem to fly out of nowhere pecking away at your character only to fly away when you turn to shoot them. I can't tell you how many times I lost precious health to these things and then —in my frustration— wasted ammo firing into the air after them.
9 Coolest: The Executioner
A huge hulking, beast of a man, wearing a dark hood and carrying around a giant axe that looked more at home in the Silent Hill universe than it did in Resident Evil, The Executioner was a terrifying foe to fight. He could take you down with just a few swings of his axe and he moved surprisingly fast for his size.
While the fifth game in the franchise was a disappointment for many, The Executioner was one of the few bright spots that showed Capcom still had the ability to create some great monsters. Combined with his cinematic reveal early on in Resident Evil 5, The Executioner is still among the highlights of the fifth game in the beloved franchise.
8 Lamest: Licker (film)
I still have a hard time understanding why the Resident Evil films have been so popular. In addition to not really following the plot of any of the games, the monsters in the films have always been underwhelming. Granted, as the films made more money, their budgets increased, and the graphics did get better over time, but that still doesn't excuse the abomination that is the Licker from the first film.
What is supposed to be a terrifying and disturbing moment turns into a laughable one. The CGI is so bad, it pulls you out of an already questionable film even further. Lickers in the games are one of the more interesting and challenging enemies to face. They certainly didn't live up to that in the film.
7 Coolest: Chainsaw Man
I know I have been harping on originality for why some creatures are stuck in the lame pile and I'll be the first to admit that the Chainsaw Man (who first appears in RE: 4) isn't the most original of enemies.
However, what earns the Chainsaw Man a spot amongst the coolest is how it felt to face one of these guys for the first time. You hear the chainsaw roar to life, you see him approaching through a crowd of other enemies, and, if you let him get too close, it is an instant, and gruesome, death.
Later Resident Evils featured the Chainsaw Man, but none were as scary as facing one for the first time in RE 4.
6 Lamest: Plant 42
A plant. Really, Capcom? A plant? That was the best you could come up with? For all the great ideas featured in Resident Evil, Plant 42 certainly was not one of them.
Plants have never been scary. They pop up occasionally as monsters in books and movies, but they never seem to work. Resident Evil is no exception. What is supposed to be a dramatic boss fight just turns into an exercise in frustration as the plant attacks you with its multiple tentacles and rains acid down on you.
Perhaps the worst part about Plant 42 is that Capcom decided to double down and go for Plant 43 in Resident Evil 2.
5 Coolest: Cultists
I love the cultists from Resident Evil 4. They aren't the most challenging enemies to face. In fact, they're pretty easy. They walk slow and make themselves easy targets for the player.
What I love about them is their look and the haunting music that plays whenever they are near. Like a messed up church hymn, the music gets under your skin. You can hear it playing in the background, echoing off the walls, and soon, it's in your head and you are chanting along with them, wondering if it would just be easier to put down your weapons, abandon your quest, and join them.
In addition to the great music, they are some of the best-designed monsters in the games. They look close to humans, but there just seems to be something off. The guy with his hood down looks clearly possessed and the man in red looks too tall to be real, like somehow his proportions got stretched. They are as unsettling as they are terrifying to look at.
4 Lamest: Hunter
I realize I might catch some flack for this because the Hunter has been around since day 1. It is one of those classic monsters that seems to pop up again and again in the games.
But take a second. Take a real hard look at the Hunter. What does it look like to you? Some bad imitation of Killer Croc? The mutant spawn of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Maybe somewhere along the line, a dinosaur got mixed into its DNA.
I'm not sure what the developers were going for when they developed this one, but it certainly is among the laziest designs they've come up with.
3 Coolest: Baker Family
It's clear that, over the years, the Resident Evil development team has taken a lot of inspiration from classic horror movies. One movie they seem to continually take inspiration from is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
While we eventually learn that the Baker Family hasn't always been a deranged, psychopathic family, they are plenty scary throughout Resident Evil 7. The family force feeds the player disgusting foods, and pop up, seemingly, out of nowhere. They are also easily among the most intense boss fights Resident Evil has ever seen. The Baker family is a force to be reckoned with and another great addition to the RE games.
2 Lamest: Nemesis
The idea for Nemesis sounds cool at first blush. A near-invincible enemy chasing you relentlessly through the game. You don't know when he will show up, you just need to be ready to fight or run. And he also shoots rockets.
In reality, the Nemesis is the worst creature in the Resident Evil universe. Sure there are other creatures that aren't as original (I'm looking at you Plaga), and there are other creatures that probably want to make you throw your controller more, but the Nemesis just makes what is already a not very fun game even worse. Instead of being the interesting and stressful challenge I'm sure he was meant to be, he just becomes annoying. Every encounter another test of your patience to see if you will ever get through RE: 3 with your sanity.
1 Coolest: Zombie
A genre defining game deserves a genre-defining villain for its best creature, don't you think?
The zombie has become a bit of a joke in recent years with the flood of comic books, TV, movies, and video games all looking to cash in on the craze. But it is important to remember that when Resident Evil first did it way back in 1996, nobody was doing what they did. Survival-horror wasn't really a thing and games weren't looking to scare the crap of you like they are these days.
For those of us who remember that first Resident Evil game, walking into the mansion for the first time, and coming upon that initial zombie for the first time is not something we're likely to forget ever. Even today, coming upon that first zombie is enough to send shivers down my spine. It a great and iconic moment and one that kicked off a huge franchise.