In the movies, the only limitations to creature design are effects technology and the human imagination. And, it turns out, the human imagination returns, with reassuring regularity, to humanity’s bathing suit area. Intentionally and otherwise, the most memorable on-screen monsters frequently get a little Freudian. Below are some of my personal favorites.

1. Xenomorph, Alien (1979)

There’s never been better proof of how disturbing warped sexual imagery can be than H. R. Giger’s famous Alien designs. In their adult form, the xenomorphs have long, phallic heads and mouths dripping with fluid (an effect reportedly achieved with generous amounts of K-Y Jelly) from which an equally phallic set of inner jaws protrudes. What better look for a creature that, as the film’s screenwriter Dan O’Bannon put it in the Alien Evolution doc, is bent on “alien interspecies rape,” forcing other organisms to gestate its young until they are ready to burst, horribly, from their hosts’ abdomens?

2. Facehugger, Aliens (1986)

In Alien, we first saw the xenomorphs in their spider-like facehugger stage, latching on to their victims’ heads and implanting embryos in them via their mouths without even the courtesy of a little chit-chat first. In the sequel, Aliens, we got a glimpse of the underbelly of a facehugger, and of course, it’s pretty much a nightmare vagina.

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