Since the conception of film in the early 1900s, movies and stories about gigantic monsters and strange creatures were some of the first films to be shown and managed to fascinate audiences for decades. With each passing director or story, the monsters get bigger and weirder; from Godzilla to King Kong to giant ants, the giant monster genre strives to outdo itself with every release.
Some are more tame and grounded, like jurassic park. Others are just created to show impressive Kaiju fights, similar to Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Some are more story and character driven, with the beast in the background, like Colossal. The giant monster genre of cinema allows the imagination to run wild, allowing audiences to see or hear things they would never have thought of in their usual life. The movies also allow for CGI creations of truly epic proportions. Alas, some monster movies crash and burn, while others soar and succeed. Here are the best of these giant monster movies, ranked.
5 The Mist (2007)
One of many films across Hollywood based on a story by Stephen King, Mist is based on one of King’s longest, darkest, and arguably scariest stories. Mist surrounds a small town that is shrouded in a mysterious mist, and within that mist are all kinds of giant monsters and creatures terrorizing the town. Which makes Mist excel are not the monsters themselves (although they are truly terrifying to watch), but rather the suspense and tension created by the citizens not being able to see these creatures and trying to defend themselves against them. Like driving a car in thick fog on a narrow mountain road, going slow, looking everywhere and generally being careful, people do their best to avoid accidents of all kinds; but they can’t really avoid accidents if they are looking for giant and killer monsters. Mist is also known for having one of the most depressing movie endings of all time, but is best remembered for its suspense, tension, and giant, many-legged monsters.
4 Cloverfield (2008)
Similar to the movie mentioned above, Cloverfield is another horror masterclass, taking the found footage style of The Blair Witch Project and inject it with one of the best modern monster movies. Showing a normal group of people celebrating and living a normal life, Cloverfield turns their world upside down as a giant monster begins to attack New York. The group must then cross ravaged NYC, while the monster is still attacking. With great CGI, built-in horror and more; Cloverfield held on to the present, spawning two sequels with a potential third on the way.
3 Jurassic Park (1993)
Based on real monsters (Dinosaurs) and based on the novel by the always great Micheal Crichton, jurassic park debuted in 1993 and immediately blazed into popular culture. Featuring some of the best CGI of all time (involving the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex), compelling characters, a classic musical score, and more; jurassic park became an instant classic, beloved by fans and critics alike. And it’s just one of forty-seven films (of all time) to make over $1 billion at the box office. A family adventure with suspense, terror and fantastic (but scary) dinosaurs, jurassic park is a modern masterpiece, which has spawned two sequels, as well as a three-movie spin-off franchise (jurassic world).
2 King Kong (1933)
One of the two classics that made modern giant monster movies what they are today, and the oldest movie on this list, is from 1933. King Kong. The story follows a young videographer trying to film his next wildlife movie, and it leads him to the infamous Skull Island, home to all sorts of giant monsters and the like. The biggest and fiercest monster on Skull Island is King Kong, a giant gorilla. Created through stop-motion animation and whimsical camera angles, the creators brought the adorable monkey, as well as his live-action counterparts, to life. Trouble only arises when they bring Kong back to New York, leading to some of the most iconic scenes in any movie. It was also ranked among the top 100 movies of all time on several aggregator sites.
1 Godzilla (1954)
Aptly named “King of the Monsters”, Godzilla premiered in Japanese theaters in 1954, and the impact has been immense ever since. After destroying two navy ships, Godzilla arrives in mainland Japan and the citizens must do their best to stop him. The film is best known (apart from creating the horrific creature Godzilla) for pioneering a new type of special effects technique known as Suitmation, where an actor disguises himself as a monster in order to film the scenes of destruction. By mixing this with tiny city sets, the film’s creators were able to piece together some of the most believable scenes of destruction of the era. In fact, when they first saw the movie, viewers got scared when they saw Godzilla approaching the same theater in the movie to destroy it. The legend and the fear has only grown since then, with a vast amount of sequels, reboots and spin-offs in the seventy years since its debut. Godzilla really is one of the greats.
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