AI makes retro monsters scary again

The best AI image generators remain hugely controversial, but we can expect them to get a lot of use to create spooky imagery as we approach Halloween. One brand has already turned to generative AI to reimagine popular monsters from cinema history for its seasonal campaign. 

It used Midjourney to give the AI treatment to the likes of Gremlins, Nosferatu, Pumpkinhead and more. Why? To try to make them scary again.

AI image generators are becoming more powerful, more versatile and more reliable. Since the current diffusion models began to appear last year, people have been using them to create experimental mashups or radically different iterations of familiar concepts. 

As we approach Halloween, used Midjourney to recreate likenesses of popular monsters from film. In this case, it didn't put them in a different setting but sought to make them scary again. The brand says that "as technology has advanced, we now tend to reminisce about these characters with a sense of nostalgia rather than fear." With that in mind it "aimed to resurrect the timeless horrors that once haunted our childhood and breathe new, terrifying life into them!"

The project certainly features some oldies, only including films from before 1990 – and in some cases from long before. We have Gill Man, AKA, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who admittedly does look a little scarier as an AI-generated monster than the now quite comical footage of Ben Chapman in a suit in the 1954 film. Darkness from Ridley Scott's Legend from the 1980s also makes an appearance along with An American Werewolf in London.

But not all of the creatures look scarier than their original cinematic counterparts. The AI recreation of Nosferatu from Murnau's 1922 silent German expressionist classic looks slightly comedic in contrast with the sinister original. The same could be said for the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, who felt more creepy when he looked so like a real promotional mascot. 

The Queen from Aliens looks much like you would expect, and Darkness from Legend loses something since Tim Curry played the character for camp as much as for scares. Strangely, they also included Jabba the Hutt and a Rancor from Star Wars, who aren't exactly horror characters. Perhaps, the reality is that attempts to create scary AI art will never be quite as frightening as the accidental results that AI image generators sometimes turn out. Remember Will Smith eating spaghetti (see our pick of the freakiest AI art of the year).

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.