Resident Evil may be best known for re-popularizing zombies in media, but hardcore fans know that the franchise is chock-full of other monsters that have been terrifying gamers and moviegoers alike during the franchise’s quarter-century existence. From undead animals to cybernetic monstrosities, there seems to be no limit to RE’s penchant for creative enemy designs.
That’s why we’ve come up with this list celebrating six of the scariest Resident Evil monsters in honor of Netflix’s new adaptation. After all, horror franchises are only as good as their monstrous antagonists, and this is one series that has plenty of bloody and disgusting creatures to choose from.
While this list is obviously based on personal opinion, there are a few rules. First of all, we’ll only be including one monster per game in order to keep things fair. We’ll also be avoiding boss characters since that would make the list too predictable (I mean, how many times are you willing to see Mr. X and Lisa Trevor show up in these articles?)
As usual, don’t forget to comment below if you think we missed a particularly scary biohazard. And if you’re a fan of survival horror, I’d also recommend checking out our list of the scariest Silent Hill monsters.
Now, onto the list of the scariest Resident Evil monsters…
6. Crimson Heads (Resident Evil Remake – 2002)
On the surface, the RE remake’s Crimson Heads may look like a simple palette swap of your regular zombies, but it’s the added gameplay complexity that make these blood-tinted enemies truly scary. A mutation brought on by improperly disposing of the undead, these creatures are thought to be an early stage of a Licker and are faster and stronger than normal zombies.
The possibility of running into Crimson Heads in the late game also creates a kind of resource-management paranoia as players are forced to decide which zombie corpses to burn and which to face again later. If that horrific dilemma doesn’t scream “survival horror”, I don’t know what does.
5. Leech Men (Resident Evil: Outbreak – 2003)
A creepier evolution of the Leech-based enemies of Resident Evil 0, this disgusting mass of squelching worms is made even scarier by its backstory, which explains that the leeches share a collective consciousness and puppeteer their victims around like agonizing zombies.
Hard to kill and even harder to look at (though they’re easily distracted by blood packs), these recurring enemies are more than a little irritating, but you’re still likely to feel sorry for the human victims trapped underneath their horrific exterior.
4. Lickers (Resident Evil 2 – 1998/2019)
Possibly the most obvious entry on this list, Lickers are one of the franchise’s most iconic creatures with their skinless exterior and prehensile tongue. In fact, the only reason that they don’t rank higher is that they’re a little too popular for their own good, with the monster suffering from overexposure in several games and adaptations.
Regardless, there’s no discussing Resident Evil without bringing up the blind horrors that stalk the streets of Raccoon City, just waiting for players to make too much noise. Scary in both visuals and mechanics, these creatures are a perfect example of why the series has been giving gamers nightmares for so many years.
3. Executioner (Resident Evil 5 – 2009)
RE5 may get a bad rap due its exaggerated emphasis on action, but I’d argue that it boasts several instances of legitimately thrilling daylight horror – especially if played with a friend. However, some of the game’s best moments feature a recurring enemy known simply as “The Executioner”.
The most humanoid monster on this list, The Executioner stands out with his Cenobite-like getup and slasher villain behavior, with his oversized axe making him a formidable foe. He also has the distinction of showing up for an admittedly cool “boss fight” in RE: Afterlife, where Milla Jovovich slayed the creature by shooting it with coins, emulating how the enemy would drop golden loot when defeated in-game. A pair of the monsters would also show up in RE: Retribution, with slightly less-thrilling results.
2. Vârcolac (Resident Evil: Village 2021)
Werewolves, vampires and haunted dolls, oh my! RE: Village may have caught some flack for distancing itself from the series’ traditional sci-fi aesthetics, but there’s no denying that these advanced form of Lycans made for a particularly intimidating enemy despite there being only five of them in the game.
They may look like a From Software creation, but the Vârcolaci actually fit right in with the franchise’s established lore, being the result of maniacal gene-splicing rather than any supernatural curse. Personally, I think the scariest part of their design is the recognizably human face that remains underneath the monster’s beastly features.
1. Regenerador/Iron Maiden (Resident Evil 4 – 2005)
Resident Evil 4 is often remembered as the point where the franchise began to favor action elements over traditional survival horror, but that doesn’t mean that the experience isn’t full of schlocky terror. From the menacing Dr. Salvador and his roaring chainsaw to the eerie Garradores, the game still boasts plenty of scary enemies. That being said, the Regeneradores take the cake as the game’s (and possibly the franchise’s) most disturbing monster.
A pale humanoid with unnatural body movements and the uncanny ability to regenerate damaged body parts if their internal parasites aren’t eliminated, the Regenerador is horrific enough on its own. However, we’re also including the Iron Maiden variant since it’s technically the same monster with an added (lethal) twist.
Every RE4 buff knows that shit is about to hit the proverbial fan when you run into one of these things during the game’s island laboratory segment, so we can’t wait to see what Capcom does with the iconic creatures in the upcoming remake.