The Best 5 Giant Monster Movies!
The Best 5 Giant Monster Movies!
By Tony Lee
Hey film freaks and movie geeks welcome to my page, They came…FROM BEYOND!! My name is Tony Lee, I co-owned a small specialty video store in East L.A. called From Beyond. With video stores going extinct these days, and other life’s obstacles dodging their way in front of us, we decided to close the book on the store last year. We had a nice collection of rare hard to find videos and dvd’s that dabbled in horror and cult classics. I was recently asked to write small articles on some of my favorite films that I have seen. I said why not, sounds like fun!!! So if your into watching movies about monsters, vampires, zombies, cannibals, aliens, ghosts, freaks, madmen, Mexican wrestlers, samurais, gangsters, bikers, hookers, druggies, etc… this page is for you!!
For this article, I will be listing my 5 favorite giant monster films of all time. The kind of monsters that are the size of sky scrapers and that can wreck havoc where ever they go. This isn’t easy for me though, because there are so many cool monster films that have been made. It’s hard to choose which ones are my favorite. I know I will be leaving out some good titles. But, at the same time there’s been a whole bunch of cheesy ones made too. Not to rule those out, they can be good in their own way also. I will write on those kind of movies later on down the road. So, let’s get on with the list, here are my top 5:
King Kong (1933) directed Merrian C. Cooper and Ernest B Shoedsack and (2005) direct by Peter Jackson – It was tough to put this at number one without sounding so cliche, but it is the ultimate giant monster movie. It’s the best beauty and the beast love story ever made in my book. The original version was one of the first giant monster films to hit the big screen. And till this day, it is still very entertaining with the great stop motion effects by Willis O’brien. I mean the story is just awesome!! A film crew travels to a mysterious uncharted island only to discover that it is infested with dinosaurs and the giant ape Kong. He kidnaps and falls in love with the leading lady, Fay Wray, then winds up getting captured and taken back to the big apple where he is presented as The Eighth Wonder of The World. Kong then busts out of captivity and goes on rampage through New York. He then climbs up the Empire State building and battles it out with a bunch of fighter planes. We know how it ends and it sucks, because we grow to like that fury monster. Even the 2005 remake by Peter Jackson is amazing. They don’t need to ever remake this film again, because Peter Jackson perfected it. King Kong managed too spawn plenty of other knock offs like Son of Kong, Mighty Joe Young, Konga, King Kong vs. Godzilla, King Kong Escapes, APE, The Mighty Peking Man, and that awful 70’s remake. Like I said, it is tough to choose this as my No.1 against my No.2, but it is the King!!
Godzilla (1954) directed by Ishiro Honda- I wanted to pick Godzilla as my all time favorite giant monster film, because he is the poster child of all monsters. The giant green fire breathing lizard is just so bad ass!! This is the stuff that I grew up too and I can never get tired of it!!! Godzilla was a role model for future monster movies about giant creatures crushing buildings to pieces with single blows. Movies like Gorgo and Varan the Unbelievable were later made to mimic Godzilla and countless other rip-offs. A string of monsters were created to become either his enemy or ally with the likes of Rodan, Mothra, Smog Monster, Monster Zero (AKA Ghidora or King Ghidorah) and many others. There were also plenty of remakes that rode on the coat tail of the almighty original Godzilla. The story is basically about Godzilla being awoken from nuclear testing in the ocean outside of Tokyo Bay. In the days that follow, small boats begin to disappear. Soon the giant reptile attacks a local village and makes his way to Tokyo Bay bringing hell with him. This is where Godzilla unleashes his fury on Tokyo and sets the city on fire. He surely is no joke when it comes to Monsters on film. They later edited the film and added Raymond Burr to release it as an American version, but it could not keep up with the original.
War of the Gargantuas (1968) directed by Ishiro Honda. Another great film by the legendary Japanese director Ishiro Honda who was best known for his monster movies. He is the ultimate monster movie director!! This movie, in particular, is the one that did it for me growing up. It freaked me out every time I saw it on TV. The two ginormous brothers beating each other all over Tokyo. Talk about tough love, these two went at it!! The film opens up with a giant octopus attacking a large freight ship out in the ocean on a stormy night. Then a giant green ugly looking beast comes out of nowhere and tears the octopus too shreds and sinks the ship. The only survivor of the ship makes it to land and reports the story of what happened out at sea. Soon the green monster makes it to land and begins a reign of tear destroying everything in site and eating people that get in his way. Yes, I said eating, this is what I really liked about this film, because you rarely seen extensive amounts of blood in monster films back in the day. Up to now, we know that the giant green monster is an evil beast!! The army eventually catches up to him and fries him up with with some killer laser machines mounted on these funny fake looking tanks. Yes, we know everything is fake, but that’s what makes it so cool!!! Nearly dying from the laser blasts, the green monster escapes with the help of another giant monster of the same species only this one is brown. By this time we find out that the brown one is a good monster and they are given names. The green evil one is called Gaira and the brown good one is called Sanda. Man these two are some of the ugliest looking monsters ever to hit the screen. Big as tall buildings and hairy as Bigfoot. Eventually Sanda tries to help his brother out, but instead winds up fighting with him in a death match, because Gaira is just pure evil. He doesn’t even care about his own brother. They duke it out to the death and just annihilate Tokyo at the same time. With more lasers being blasted at them, they eventually make it back out to sea and fight to the death. What a movie!! It’s actually a sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World that is another great film by Ishiro Honda.
20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) directed by Nathan Juran. I picked this film, because I had to get in one of Ray Harryhausen’s monster creations in my top five picks. Again this was hard, because he has so many cool monsters and creatures he had created over his career. This one has to be my favorite from him. What a cool story also!! A spaceship crash lands in the ocean just off of, where else, Sicily. Some local fishermen climb aboard the the spaceship, rescue two astronauts and take them to land. Well at land, fragments from the spaceship float their way to shore. A little boy finds a canister floating in the water, not thinking anything of it, he decides to hide it and then opens it up. Inside it is a large red looking rubbery cocoon with something living inside of it. He then takes it to a nearby circus owner and sells it to him. Not knowing what it is, he buys the cocoon and examines it. Within hours the small creature arises and starts to grow at an enormous rate. It looks like a green lizard standing on two legs. By nightfall, the creature is the size of a small child. The circus owner decides to cage it and take it to the local animal lab. But on the way, the creature escapes and heads off into the woods. Meanwhile the Army has been looking for the spaceship and tracks down the whereabouts of the missing canister. They then go on the hunt for the creature that was inside. They eventually meet up with it and try to capture it, but by this time, the creature grows into a monster and they need more help to catch it. They fly some helicopters and toss some large chained nets over it and shock it to knock it out. They take the monster back to the lab and strap it up to examine it. But during the examination, they screw things up and once again the monster is at large. The Army comes in full force to battle it. The monster takes out a poor elephant and then goes on a rampage across Rome ending up at the Coliseum. There the Army let’s him have it with everything they have and finally kill the beast. The stop motion footage in the film is just top notch making for an entertaining little film. Can never get tired of this kind of stuff, there needs to be more of them made in this day in age!!
Cloverfield (2008) directed by Matt Reeves. I really want to say my No. 5 is a three way tie with this movie, The Mist and The Host. These three films came out around the same time and the monsters were a whole new breed of mutated creatures. They all were good in their own way. Their stories and special effects were excellent too. I chose Cloverfield, because it just took the monster movie to a whole new level. Yes, the hand held camera work was really hard to view. I almost lost my dinner trying to keep up with it. But, once I was able to get passed it, I enjoyed the story and overall action going on in it. Come on, its present day and a humongous monster comes bursting out of the bay, then goes on a massacre across Manhattan. Meanwhile there’s a whole other story going on about the main character trying to get to his ex girlfriend and save her. His friends decide to help him and head out on a quest to find her. The whole time his buddy is carrying a hand held camera recording every moment of their adventure. Throughout the movie, they come face to face with the giant and it sure is one ugly monster at that. The Army goes up against the thing and fail in their attempt to kill it. Then we find out that these parasites come flying off of the monster and they are crazy looking themselves. Once bitten from them, humans wind up blowing up. The group finds out that the Army is gonna bomb the city to take out the monster, so now they are on a race against time. They rush underground and then above ground, climb a building and finally rescue the dudes ex. They finally get back to the army and are flown out of the city in some helicopters right in time to see the monster get blown to pieces. The monster gets in one last reach and hits the helicopter making it crash in Central Park. The group now become food for the monster. Or, is it another monster?? We don’t know, because the survivors make it to small bridge and hide under it just before the Army blows the city to smithereens. That’s the last we see of the monster, but there are so many clues left in the movie that makes you question how many monsters there really were. J.J. Abrams and crew have a knack of leaving enough clues making you question what’s really going on. You end up wanting to see and know more. Very good tactics in my book!!
There you have it, my top 5 favorite giant monster movies of all time. I know I’m leaving plenty of other names out. Here are a few honorable mentions: Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster, Gamera, “Q”, Reptilicus, Lost World, Destroy All Monsters, Yog: Monster From Space, The Giant Claw, Gorgo, Varan the Unbelievable.