Creature Features: ‘The Lair’ and 8 Underground Monster Movies With Bite

There’s something inherently terrifying about subterranean horror. Getting trapped underground creates a tense survival scenario thanks to various dangers. But what about what’s lurking in the dark? Survival horror with carnivorous creatures provides fertile ground for fear.

Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) is back with the brand new underground monster movie The Lair, which comes to theaters and on Digital and VOD on October 28, 2022.

In The Lair, “Royal Air Force pilot Lt. Kate Sinclair (Charlotte Kirk) is shot down over Afghanistan and finds refuge in an abandoned underground bunker where deadly man-made biological weapons – half human, half alien – are awakened.”

Jonathan Howard (Thor: The Dark World) and Jamie Bamber (“Battlestar Galactica”) also star.

Charlotte Kirk co-wrote the screenplay with Neil Marshall.

In anticipation of Marshall’s return to the subterranean creature feature, we look back at eight horror movies that feature underground monsters.

The Burrowers

Before video game writer J.T. Petty scared the pants off gamers with the Outlast series, he helmed this 2008 horror western set in 1879. With a cast full of names like Clancy Brown, Doug Hutchison, Jocelin Donahue, and more, The Burrowers follows a rescue party searching for a family that went missing under strange circumstances from a still unexplored territory. It’s not the suspected hostile Native Americans behind the disappearances, but a species of monstrous underground dwelling creatures. It’s the perfect merging of horror and western; the mounting tension between American soldiers and Native Americans makes for a great backdrop to the unique monster mythology that provides supernatural terror.


Photographer George (John Heard), his partner Lauren (Kim Greist), soup kitchen owner A.J. “The Reverend” Shepherd (Daniel Stern), and Captain Bosch (Christopher Curry) all find themselves drawn into a series of missing person cases in New York City. For most of the run time, C.H.U.D. is said to be an acronym for “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.” Eventually, it’s revealed to be a throwaway distraction for the truth: “Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal.” These mutated, man-eating monsters inhabiting the labyrinthine tunnels beneath the city were man-made. 

Graveyard Shift

In this over-the-top horror movie based on Stephen King’s short story, a textile mill with a rat infestation has something far more dangerous lurking in the basement. Brad Dourif turns in an insane performance as the exterminator, rivaling John Goodman for scene-stealing exterminators in 1990. But of course, it’s the giant creature dwelling below steals the spotlight, especially during the wild third act.


Guillermo del Toro’s sophomore feature was set in Manhattan, where cockroaches were the harbinger of a deadly disease that targeted children. Under the CDC’s orders, entomologist Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) created a new hybrid species derived from termite and mantis DNA to eradicate the roaches and die off shortly after. Only they don’t die. Unbeknownst to anyone, Tyler’s Judas breed evolves into human-sized creatures that can mimic their prey; humans. Mimic answers the question of just how lethal insects could be if they were large enough, and it’s rendered even more skin-crawling thanks to the grimy underground setting.

The Descent

One year after a tragic accident, Sarah sets off with her friends on a spelunking adventure. Too bad pal Juno leads the group into an uncharted cave system, which traps them due to a collapse. As if no hope of rescue isn’t bad enough, this cave system happens to be inhabited by man-eating creatures. The fight for survival has never been as primal and bloody as it is in Neil Marshall’s fantastic entry in the annals of claustrophobic horror. Deep within the bowels of a cave, the Crawlers long ago adapted to an unlit terrain where the sun can’t reach. These creatures hunt in darkness and never come out during the day.

The Midnight Meat Train

Based on Clive Barker’s 1984 short story of the same name, The Midnight Meat Train follows a photographer obsessed with dark subject matter getting in over his head when he discovers a serial killer that butchers unsuspecting night commuters in grisly fashion. Director Ryuhei Kitamura unleashes plenty of gore in what plays, for the most part, as a gruesome slasher on the subway. It isn’t until the third act that an even more subterranean, less human threat reveals itself.

The Tunnel


Framed as a documentary, this found-footage nightmare sees a journalist enlist a small camera crew to investigate a government coverup that leads them into a network of abandoned train tunnels deep beneath the heart of Sydney. The Tunnel sets up a government conspiracy after water recycling plans go silent, followed by missing homeless people who dwell within the tunnels. The documentary aspect of this narrative serves as a chilling misdirect for something much worse. What stalks the crew below ground makes for a spooky watch. 


Perfection, Nevada, is an isolated ex-mining town in the Sierra Nevada mountains. In other words, it’s a tiny desert town with a minuscule population. So, there’s no outside help to fall back on when strange underground creatures start picking them off. Perfection is a town filled with a personality of its own. Leads Valentine McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) to bring a buddy comedy sensibility to this fantastic creature feature. But it’s Tom Woodruff Jr.’s Graboid design and creation that delivered one of the most unique movie monsters and inspired an entire franchise. For the residents of Perfection, the underground monsters proved extra problematic thanks to the scorching desert sun.

Enter The Lair in theaters on Digital and VOD on October 28, 2022.

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