21 Must Watch Films Featuring Mythical Creatures

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The creatures from mythology have inspired creators for centuries. These timeless tales feature some of the human imagination’s most wondrous and dark aspects. From werewolves to vampires, folklore continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Today, we would like to celebrate some of the best adaptations of these mythical creatures.

1. Antlers

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The wendigo is a malevolent spirit from Algonquian folklore. According to legend, if a person becomes so engulfed with hunger that they resort to cannibalism, they will spend eternity as the endlessly hungry wendigo.

Antlers is a 2021 horror film that attempts to tackle the nuanced legend in a new and terrifying way. While they didn’t quite hit the mark from a folklore perspective, Antlers is still an ominous and frightening film.

2. Pan’s Labyrinth

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

This film features the faun, a mysterious and enigmatic creature inspired by European folk tales. In Pan’s Labyrinth, the faun works as a guide to the young Princess Ofelia. He takes her on perilous journeys as she attempts to gain the keys to the magical kingdom she wants to inherit.

However, a faun is not a benevolent creature. It ruthlessly tests Ofelia’s moral fortitude to determine whether she is worthy of her new crown. With its animalistic features and ambiguous goals, the faun is a dark and mysterious piece of classic folklore.

3. Krampus

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

The anti-Santa has been rising in popularity for years now. Krampus is based on Germanic folklore and is a contrasting figure to the beloved Saint Nick. He is a horned man who seeks out naughty children on Christmas Eve.

Krampus is known to carry a sack for the naughty children and whips he uses to punish them. Although Krampus has appeared in many Christmas horror films, the 2015 Krampus film is widely considered the best.

4. Beowulf

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Hailing as the oldest piece of British literature, Beowulf is a haunting tale about the cost of power and responsibility. In this story, we encounter Grendel, a misshapen and discarded offspring of the biblical figure Cain.

Grendel has evolved into a piece of folklore in his own right. The character has come to represent chaos, violence, and the consequences of unchecked aggression. His battle with Beowulf can be attributed to the continued themes of good versus evil that we see in later British literature.

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5. Troll Hunter

Photo Credit: Filmkameratene.

These wondrous creatures are found in various cultures around the world. Sometimes depicted as giant, grotesque beings with limited intelligence, small, friendly versions of trolls can also be found in various tales.

Troll Hunter gives audiences a large and frightening version of these mythic creatures. The film follows a group of student filmmakers who encounter a mysterious man who claims to kill trolls. They soon discover why these creatures make such captivating horror stories.

6. Leprechaun

Photo Credit: Trimark Pictures.

This film features a leprechaun—but not just any leprechaun. The film pits its heroes against a psychotic evil creature who will stop at nothing in pursuit of his precious gold. Leprechaun is a film full of camp and enough blood to fill a tanker truck.

These mythological creatures originate from Irish mythology and are considered an offshoot of fairies. Known for being cunning and tricky, leprechauns can grant wishes to those who capture them. However, it is much more likely that the creature will play an ill-natured trick on its capturer.

7. The Mummy

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Mummies are not technically mythological creatures. They are the preserved bodies of people who have followed traditional ancient Egyptian burial practices. However, pop culture has turned these rituals into a horrific legend about people returning from the grave.

Mummies have shown up in countless pieces of American cinema. Still, none come close to the 1999 film The Mummy starring Brandon Fraiser. This action-adventure film showcases mummies in a new and terrifying light. Many mummy films have come after, but it is impossible to compete with this 90s classic.

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8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

J.R.R. Tolkien basically invented modern mythology. He is credited with bringing the Norse view of creatures like elves and dwarves to English readers, changing how they were seen and used in popular culture. His stories conjure new and exciting visions of mythological creatures that all ages can appreciate.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy features noble elves, stout dwarves, fearsome dragons, and evil orcs. To go over every mythological creature that Tolkien used or inspired could fill books. This legendary author is responsible for creating one of the most successful book series ever and has fundamentally changed how we view magical creatures.

9. How to Train Your Dragon

Photo Credit: Dreamworks Pictures.

Inspired by the various myths and legends about dragons worldwide, How to Train Your Dragon provides an excellent look into these mythical creatures. The film is set in the Viking town of Berk and features multitudes of different kinds of dragons.

How to Train Your Dragon is a heartwarming film about accepting our differences and the cost of hatred. Dragons are among the oldest mythological creatures on record. Accounts of these beings date back to the Mesopotamian era, yet they remain just as fascinating today as they have been for thousands of years.

10. An American Werewolf in London

Photo Credit: Polygram Pictures.

Originating from European folklore, werewolves are humans cursed with an irresistible urge to hunt and kill. In some versions of the tale, the affected people remain human most days, but they transform into an unstable killing machine under the rays of a full moon.

That is the type of werewolf we are dealing with in the cult classic film An American Werewolf in London. During a backpacking trip across Europe, our young protagonist is bitten by a werewolf and soon begins to transform. His struggle with the curse and his overwhelming sense of guilt has made An American Werewolf in London one of the best films about werewolves.

11. The Little Mermaid

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

This classic Disney film showcases the friendlier version of the mermaid legend. Mermaids are aquatic creatures with a woman’s upper body and a fish’s lower body. They are known for being mischievous creatures who live within the ocean.

In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, we follow Ariel after she sacrifices everything she knows for a chance at love with the alluring Prince Eric. Her tale of self-discovery and love continues to resonate and inspire audiences today.

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12. Dragon Heart

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

This 1996 cult classic features Sean Connery as a mighty dragon. Having the ability to speak and reason like a person, this mythical creature teams up with a delusional knight to trick the local townspeople out of goods.

Dragon Heart is a heartwarming tale about redemption, friendship, and what it means to be a hero. Dragons are often regarded as wise and calculating creatures, and Dragon Heart fully demonstrates this aspect.

13. The Ritual

Photo Credit: Entertainment One.

Although the film doesn’t give many clues about its origin, The Ritual features a jӧtunn named Moder. Jӧtunn is a supernatural entity in Norse mythology. These giant creatures are depicted as malevolent beings who represent chaos and destruction.

The Ritual follows a group of friends on a backpacking trip in the Scandinavian wilderness. They soon encounter the mighty Jӧtunn and must find a way to escape this primal force of nature. The Ritual is a paranoid ride that’s an excellent choice for fans of ancient mythology.

14. Underwater

Photo Credit: Chernin Entertainment.

H.P. Lovecraft is responsible for creating a host of elder gods responsible for causing madness and torment on the people of Earth. One of these legendary creatures is the slumbering Cthulhu. This god-like creature is depicted as a massive, tentacled creature with a squid-like head and wings.

Cthulhu is capable of driving people to madness with his mere presence. Underwater is set in a catastrophically failed underwater lab. As the team attempts to escape their watery tomb, they discover something much more terrifying than death waiting at the bottom of the ocean.

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15. The Hole in the Ground

Photo Credit: Savage Productions.

Possibly the most terrifying creature for parents, a changeling is a humanoid monster that steals human children and replaces them with their own. These sinister creatures come to us from Celtic tales and offer a possible perspective on how cultures may have interpreted manifestations of autism in young children.

The Hole in the Ground is a 2019 mystery film about a mother whose young son goes missing in the woods behind their home. After he returns, she notices odd behavior and delves into the changelings’ wicked nature.

16. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Photo Credit: Miramax.

What did you think tooth fairies did with all those teeth? Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a 2010 horror/fantasy film that explores the darker nature of fairies. Although we typically view fairies as magical creatures that teach children to fly, the Emerald Isles people view them differently.

In Irish mythology, fairies are considered tricksters who can choose to help or harm the people who come upon them. Since the Middle Ages, people have left out food and drink to court the favor of fairies. Although their descriptions have changed, it is clear to see that people still hold an intense fascination with these tiny creatures.

17. Ginger Snaps

Photo Credit: Copperheart Entertainment.

This film uses traditional werewolf folklore to depict the transformation of puberty and adulthood. Ginger Snaps is a 2001 horror/fantasy film that follows two sisters trying to navigate growing up. After one of them is viciously attacked by a werewolf, they must work together to find a cure.

Ginger Snaps is not only the best werewolf film around but also the best coming-of-age film ever produced. Using the transformation into a hideous beast as a metaphor for puberty is a brilliant cinematic play everyone should witness.

18. Hercules

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

This film features various legends from Roman mythology. Viewers are treated to glimpses of a cyclops, a hydra, a minitour, and the Roman hero Hercules. Inspired by the ancient tales of heroism and adventure, Hercules defeats these monsters in an attempt to prove his worth.

This Disney movie provides an excellent primer into Greek and Roman mythology. Although it isn’t the most accurate depiction of these tales, it still offers a fun and easily digestible story that can arouse an interest in the subject.

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19. Peter Pan

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Although Peter Pan is merely a pop culture figure, the world of Neverland is teeming with mythological creatures. This magical land features fairies, pixies, and wondrous mermaids. Whether Tinkerbell is a powerful pixie or a magical fairy isn’t clear. Still, her extraordinary powers are a crucial part of the magic that is Peter Pan.

20. Shrek

Photo Credit: Dreamworks Pictures.

An animated film about children’s stories will surely be chock full of mythical creatures. Shrek is the tale of an angry ogre who teams up with a talking donkey to rescue a princess from a dragon. Inspired by classic children’s stories, Shrek offers a variety of mythical creatures to explore. Just don’t expect many of them to be historically accurate.

21. Van Helsing

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Another film that jams as many mythical creatures into its runtime as possible is Van Helsing. Inspired by Abraham Van Helsing from the magnificent Bram Stoker story Dracula, Helsing is a doctor with keen insight into mythology’s darker creatures.

This adaptation has very little to do with the work that inspired it. However, it is a fun ride and viewers get to witness zombies, werewolves, and vampires. Just don’t try to overthink them, and you will be fine.

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