With the return of Godzilla in “King of the Monsters”, I’m taken back to my childhood and remembering my favorite giant monster movies of all time.
I will admit to being a fan of Godzilla ever since my childhood. I used to sit and watch those classic monster films on television, blasting the volume until the house shook every time my favorite lizard screamed. Yes, it was worth the scold from my mother.
With the release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters in theaters, I felt an urge to list my favorite giant monster films of all time — in a surge of mega beast nostalgia.
1. King Kong (1933)
The oldie, the original King Kong is now entertaining as a historical horror film. It brings us the first giant monster, one of the first to make us feel sympathy for its plight. The giant ape is captured and taken to New York City, where he falls for the beauty (Fay Wray, the original scream queen). The film is notable for its groundbreaking FX by stop motion animation pioneer, Willis O’Brien. But what really sets it apart is the fact that Kong is not just a beast. He has intelligence in his eyes. He isn’t just a demon intent on destruction. He has a heart, a sense of awe, and warmth. The beast turns on us, but we asked for retribution. And all know how that ends for Kong.
2. Mothra (1961)
Yes, the singing elfin ladies appear in this one. The fact that this film is about a giant moth sounds ridiculous. But this is a Godzilla world, so anything goes. Now, the camp factor is high. But the story works. It was pro-Earth and pro-environment before Greenpeace. Of course, the larva and the caterpillar are corny, as is the King Kong-stolen plot. I even overlooked the cables carrying the moth across the soundstage. In spite of that, you can’t help but root for Mothra. And being that Mothra is on the side of Earth, you’re pretty much guaranteed a victory.
3. Tremors (1990)
This film is about the underground dwelling creatures called Graboids. They resemble earwigs on steroids and have a craving for meat. And they meander into the dusty town of Perfection, Nevada, where the film centers. Beyond a horse for lunch in this film, humans are the favorite on the menu. The movie is a fun, family monster film with great acting from Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon. However, the story was rich enough to spin off into four films — and a short-lived TV show. But the original movie was clearly the best of the bunch. That ending was a leap for life.
4. The Mist (2007)
This film, based on a Stephen King story, presents us one of the best modern versions of monsters in our existence. The film delivers terrifying creatures that attack the tiny community in countless, hideous methods. However, the king is the Behemoth, the enormous locust being that dwarfs everything and is the show stopper. This creature is slow moving. But its weight and power give it the ability to crush all in its path. And it doesn’t care about anything in its way, especially nothing as insignificant as a person. The scenes near the end are just jaw-dropping. You feel for Thomas Jane’s character. He becomes a feather in a dust storm and is forced to make the worst decision in movie history.
5. Trollhunter (2010)
This Norwegian film begins as a documentary. We see a group of college kids follow up on reports of something that sounds odd. What the end up discovering is a possible government secret: giant trolls. As the team investigates the possibility, they observe more evidence of said giant trolls. But things really get intense when they uncover a secret group of troll hunters who venture out into the frozen, isolated wasteland to protect humans from the beasts. When the group approaches a troll, you feel the giant beast’s power and ferocity. Although the story ends with another “lost footage” wrap up, it is still a fantastic film.
6. The Host (2006)
This is easily one of my all-time favorites. The first half hour of this movie is one of the best openings of a monster film I have ever viewed. It catches your attention and takes your breath away. This is when we witness the sewer monster come out and attack Korea with ultra-violence and speed. This film is stunning and sensitive. Waves of emotions watching this film are trials. Expect to take a ride with this movie. It’s insane and fantastic, but everything works. I can’t recommend this film enough. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an absolute must watch.
7. Ghidorah: Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Sure, it’s a Godzilla film. But only a tag team of monsters (Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra) can defeat Ghidorah. This film is one you can sit back and watch with a wheelbarrow full of popcorn. There are quite a few epic monster fights. We’re also treated to some great cinematography, as we view the best landscape shots from any of the gigantic lizard films. The King is a nasty beast to be sure. But defeat comes when the trio of benevolent monsters work together. We all leave feeling content, as the giant monsters are able to live in peace with each other after dispatching with the evil Ghidorah.
Reptilicus (1961 )