Kong may be king, but he’s far from the only oversized beastie to stomp across cinema screens over the years. As we watch the big ape clobber the box office in his new reboot, let’s also remember some of our other favorite giant monsters from movies, TV and other media.
Just because they’re far too obvious as choices, I’ve asked the staff to exclude both Kong and Godzilla from their responses. Feel free to mention them in the Comments if you want, though.
One of my earliest movie-going experiences was ‘Godzilla 1985’. My dad and his childhood friend took me and my two older brothers. Once the lights dimmed, my dad’s buddy opened his backpack and revealed a smorgasbord of snacks and drinks. It was full of convenient store candy, chips and a six-pack of Budweiser – which, of course, wasn’t for the kids. Since that experience, I’ve enjoyed big monster movies.
I was quite surprised by the J.J. Abrams-produced ‘Cloverfield‘. Although it’s probably the shakiest of them all, I have a great love for this particular Found Footage movie. It captured the spirit of the monster movies of old and added a fun modern flair. It introduced us to T.J. Miller who, despite being the most present of the ensemble, is the least-seen cast member. The first ten minutes build three-dimensional characters quicker than I’ve probably ever seen.
Then the fun begins. More often than not, the Found Footage style is needless, but ‘Cloverfield’ uses it as it should be used. It places us in the middle of the action, giving the impression of being in New York City during a massive monster attack. In addition, ‘Cloverfield’ led to one of my favorite movies of 2016: ’10 Cloverfield Lane’.
Endless sequels aside, ‘Tremors‘ is probably my favorite non-Godzilla, non-robot, giant monster feature. A decent cast and character combination helps, but the isolated feel of the town lets the narrative unfold at a great pace. The movie also nails a slight tone really well. It’s very comedic, but it’s played straight. ‘Tremors’ is also a great example of when to outright ignore a movie’s sequels.
M. Enois Duarte
Since we’re excluding the classics, one of my favorite monsters of recent memory are the giant trolls in ‘Troll Hunter‘. The movie is also one of the more ingenious uses of the handheld, shaky-cam style of the Found-Footage genre. Shot like a documentary with film students tracking a possible bear poacher, the amateur filmmakers soon discover that the woods are filled with creatures far more dangerous. When they find that their suspected poacher is actually a seemingly crazy man obsessed with monsters, the real fun begins. The movie is an awesome blend of fantasy, comedy and horror with better than expected CG visual effects. Best of all, for all the bass-heads out there, the Blu-ray’s lossless soundtrack will test the limits of your subwoofer!
Although an argument can be made about whether it really qualifies as a “monster” or not (since they actually existed at one point in history), has there been anything scarier than our introduction to the T-Rex in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park‘?
Using a combination of puppetry and CGI, the dinosaur’s assault on the SUV with young Tim and Lexi inside will go down as one of the most exhilarating sequences the acclaimed director has ever put on film. It’s also arguably the best scene in the movie. I know I can never see a water ripple anymore without looking around to make sure there isn’t a T-Rex bearing down on me.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Why Gamera wins this Roundtable:
- Gamera is really neat.
- Gamera is filled with turtle meat.
- Gamera is friend to all children.
- Gamera has the most infectiously catchy earworm of a theme song.
I genuinely love Gamera’s design: a gigantic, tusked, bipedal turtle with claw-like fingers. Visually, he ranks behind only Gigan as my all-time favorite kaiju. Gamera eats and breathes fire. After retracting into his all-but-impenetrable shell, jet blasts empower him to spin around and fly through space. As wildly uneven as the many films starring Gamera have been, I would rather watch ‘Gamera vs. Guiron’ than any Godzilla sequel/reboot/whatever. You’re treated to two little boys accidentally spirited away in a spaceship, a pair of cannibalistic space women, an otherworldly planet, a monster with a gigantic knife for a head who can shoot throwing stars, an oversized turtle doing gymnastic moves on a parallel bar, and a level of graphic violence completely out of step with what’s ostensibly a kids’ movie.
It goes without saying to anyone who has ever read this blog that the sandworms from ‘Dune‘ are among my first picks. That’s more a reflection on it being my favorite movie than the worms actually being my favorite monsters, though. To be honest, the animatronic creature effects in the film look good in individual shots but never quite integrate properly with the live-action footage.
For their narrative, thematic importance, I’m fond of the Angels from the anime ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion‘. However, for sheer coolness and hilarity, no giant monster beats the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from ‘Ghostbusters‘.
What are your favorite giant monsters? Tell us in the Comments.