When you want big action you can’t get much larger than giant monster movies. We love these movies because threat is often intensified and people need to find unique ways of overcome colossal odds. Some are misunderstood creatures, others are just creatures out of their element; regardless, they are dangerous. With that being said, here are the creatures that bring the “badness” to the cinema in the biggest way.
10. The Kaiju –Pacific Rim
The Kaiju are aliens that managed to come to our world through cracks in the ocean. While there are different varieties of Kaiju, humans developed giant robots called Jaegers to defend against them. Pacific Rim showcases great scenes of cheesy dialogue and incredible effects as giant monsters and giant robots duke it out. The monster design is very impressive. It is the perfect cinematic eye-candy to enjoy without having to think too deeply.
9. The Kraken- Clash of the Titans (1981)
The Kraken is the mythical creature that is near unstoppable. Only with the head of Medusa can the hero Perseus stop the Kraken from killing the Princess Andromeda or destroying the city of Joppa. The Kraken was one of the many bits of stop-motion created by the genius Ray Harryhausen. His care and skill gave the illusion of life and personality to each of his inanimate figures. The Kraken is an impressive beast with multiple arms, which had to be a challenge to animate. It is a great display of story and animation.
8. The Aliens- Monsters
Giant tentacled aliens that inhabit sections of Mexico are leaving entire areas quarantined zoned. Two young people attempt to travel though the restricted zone and slowly come across the creatures that they have only heard stories about. They soon discover that these creatures are not nearly the dumb monsters that the stories report but are fascinated by electric light and actually show signs of tenderness with one another. The film is a lovely story and is worth watching for beautiful imagery and scenes that will leave you talking long after the film is over.
7. The Creature- The Host (2006)
A South Korean film about a large mutated fish-like creature that leaps out of the Han River and takes a man’s young daughter. The movie follows his family as they search the sewers for their missing kin. The story faces elements of redemption and courage. The whole family must overcome their weaknesses in order to fight this very literal monster. The effects are great, the story is well done, and the actors do a great job making this situation seem plausible.
6. Cloverfield- Cloverfield
As a monster, Cloverfield is like watching a wild elephant running amok. The movie shows that the creature is immense in size, incredibly strong, and apparently covered in tiny creatures (which sometimes seem worse than Cloverfield itself). It is capable of tearing the head off the statue of liberty and hurling it like a baseball across New York. The movie as a whole is interesting as far as P.O.V movies go. It is fairly clever and has wit and is very entertaining. Sure there are a few cheesy scenes, but it is a movie about a giant monster roaming around New York. What do you really expect?
5. The Ants- Them!
The 1950s were a time when the fear of radiation was at its peak. Them! was the first of the giant insect movies. Atomic test sites yield giant ants which cause a great deal of trouble for the military as they not only have to take out the nest but find the queens and her hatchlings which can fly. The movie is fun and goofy and is still a cautionary tale of the dangers of the atomic age. It is a corny movie by today’s standards but looking at it for what it was in 1954, you can see how this movie became nominated for an Oscar for its special effects.
4. The T-Rex- Jurassic Park
The T-Rex from Jurassic Park was what stole the show in that movie. Every scene, every roar, was like watching something real. The movie itself is a bit goofy today, however the effects still stand up. The story of nature not being controlled and not fitting in our world still works (especially as the science of DNA has advanced over the years). The T-Rex may not have the brains of the velociraptors but it wins by being a huge killing machine.
3. The Graboids- Tremors
In Tremors a Southern town is attacked by colossal worms that kill just about anything they can swallow. The town is filled with many colorful characters and a great deal of the fun and drama comes from seeing how they cope with these bizarre creatures. The Graboids sense the tremors on the surface but are otherwise blind. They have four large anaconda-like tongues that they use to grab ahold of things and drag things into their gaping maw. The movie has good effects, fun humor and Kevin Bacon hamming it up. What is not to like?
2. Godzilla- Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla, or Gojira in Japan, was a symbol for the nuclear holocaust. He was unstoppable by conventional weapons, he breathes nuclear flames, and he brings destruction wherever he goes. Over the years Godzilla would fight a great many monsters as a good guy and a bad guy. In the beginning though, he was used as a destroyer and as a warning that development of destructive weapons will lead to greater suffering and death. The movie is haunting and also very somber. This is a very well made and still holds up as a classic of the monster movie genre.
1. King Kong- King Kong (1933)
King Kong not only is one of the greatest monster movies, it might also be one of the best classic movies. King Kong is a giant ape that fell in love with a blonde woman, played by Fay Wray. Kong is kidnapped and taken to New York where he escapes and climbs the Empire State Building. The story of beauty and the beast is as classic and as old as the icons, which the film is famous for. This film changed the way movies were made buy showing that advanced techniques could be successful. The film was partially filmed using projected screens behind the live actors and other times scenes were made by building elaborate sets. Many different methods of filmmaking came together to bring this story to life in 1933 and it remains impressive today. It is evident when watching Kong observe humans and after his fight scenes the work the filmmakers put into making him seem very emotional expressions.
A couple of honorable mentions would be to both versions of The Blob films. Giant monsters have been around since the first days of film. They will continue to be there rather it be stop-motion or CGI. They are fun to see in the wake of their destructive force. They can be cathartic in nature making us look inward at ourselves. Take a chance and see if there are any that you like. Hopefully you will be in for a giant surprise.