Friday, August 23, 2013

Top 10 Giant Monsters of the Movies

There are so many Giant Movie Monsters that it is very difficult to pick my 'top 10' but when I saw Michael May declare his favorite 10, which included 3 other bloggers listing theirs (that is, his blog post includes links to theirs, not that he included the 3 bloggers as his favorite monsters), I decided I had to determine what mine would be too.

It wasn't easy.

It doesn't have to be Japanese Movie Monsters, though they certainly have made a lot of them, but May decided it shouldn't include robots & machines, and that makes sense to me to put them in a different category too. So only biological creatures: check.

And here we go.

10: Smaug

The greedy talking dragon from the animated version of Tolkien's The Hobbit.  The treasure room scene was creepy, the fire was fun, though his death scene was a bit anti-climactic. Once we see this monster in the upcoming live action films, I suspect (and hope) Smaug will rocket up the list. 

9: The Ants of Them! 

Insects give a lot of people the willies.. giant insects even more. The methodical, merciless nature of ants makes for a great monster. They outnumber us, they are better organized and when they're the size of a semi-truck we're doomed. 

8: Cyclops 
Maybe my favorite Harryhausen giant monster.  Even more than the Kraken.  Why?  He's not as big, but he's less constrained. You have a very real sense that you can't just run away from this guy. He feels more real to me as well. A great giant monster, even if not in the 'colossal' size group. 

7: Godzilla

How did Godzilla, icon of monsters get down to #7?  Yeah, it surprised me too. He is iconic, and I do love Godzilla, but he's suffering from his popularity. His character and nature has been so varied it's starting to hurt him I think.  Is he here to destroy the city or save it? He seems to suffer from multiple personality disorder.. which might make for a scarier monster, but this identity crisis I think is working against him. 
Now.. there is a new Godzilla movie coming out next year... this could be his time to redefine himself more clearly.

6:  Troll, The Hunted. 
I loved these.  Bring a bit of magic and wonder back to our jaded boring 21st Century.  Trolls are alive and well but the government thinks you'd be better off not knowing it... still someone has to man the parks & troll-life department!  The Trolls were great in Troll Hunter, bringing the legendary art style to life.  Lots of fun Troll-Lore in the film too, which just added to the fun. 

5: Gamera

He may not have as lucrative signing deals as Godzilla, but I think he's a better monster.  Why?  He's a turtle. Poor turtles are thought of as slow, gentle, rocks that move.  He's bucking those labels. He's from space, he flies, he spins, he shoots fire energy. Way to go Gamera!

4: Ents

Who says monsters have to be evil? OK, they did say they are not on anyone's side.. but they're pretty clearly co-aligned with the side of good's immediate needs when they leave Fangorn and wreck Isengard to rubble! What a great concept for a monster: a people that are trees, protecting nature because they are nature.  2,000 years of erosion in a 2 day siege. Awesome. 

3: Giant Squid at 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea

This is one scary monster! For starters it's almost like 10 monsters in one.. plus a nasty beak-mouth when those are done with you! Wet & slimy with a grip of death.  Add to this, it's environment is deadly to people, so it's twice as scary: you have no where to run, you are in it's world. 

2: Creatures in the Mist

The climax monster of a film filled with amazing monsters.  The Mist is a movie I reviewed last December. 
I thought it was brilliant.  The concept is interesting, intelligent and terrifying. This last creature is an amazing concept and shows the degree to which the other world is not one we want coming here to stay. The slow, casual gait of this thing as it strolls by in it's complete alien nature slammed me with a feeling of awe and "I want to know more.. tell me everything about it's world." That's a sign of a great monster!

1: King Kong
Maybe predictable, but the King is the king.  

It's not because he's been great in every incarnation.  It's not even that he's remained more consistently himself in every incarnation (sorry Gz!) It's not even that he's one tough primate taking on two of these T-Rex's! Sure, it's all of those things, but what makes him the best monster to my thinking is that he is us.  He is the monster that you can most empathize with because he is us.  Anyone of us could be King Kong, or if pushed to it, we hope we will be. 

King Kong is mistreated. He is misunderstood.  He is labeled a monster and so treated as one.  But he stays true to who he is.  He can dish it out with the best of the monsters, but he doesn't want to, it isn't his goal. It's only when he's pushed into a corner, when he has to defend those he loves.  He is vilified, used and abused by the society that is in fact stronger than him.  And in the end, it defeats him, but it does not break him. 

We might all face such challenges at some time, some of us more than others.  We recognize the injustice, we are impressed with his stoic determination. The pathos King Kong commands of the audience can not be matched by any other monster. 

King Kong shows us that we all could be labeled a monster, and how to handle it if we are. 
So there can be no greater monster than the monster that isn't. 

But the gods demand their due, so Enjoy on behalf of Godzilla:


Anne said...

The Brain Bug from Starship Troopers was pretty good. The Mantis Creatures in The Mist. The Kraken in The Pirates of The Carribean was good. The Dinosaur from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The giant Locusts from The Beginning of the End. The Colossal Man in The Colossal man. The 50 foot woman in The Fifty Foot Woman and The Beast of Yucca Flats.

I like cheap monster movies from the 50's the best.

Michael Awdry said...

What a great post and I have to concur with many of your choices, but wish to include the Allosaurus Gwangi, from the 'Valley of Gwangi', the Graboids from 'Tremors' and can we include 'Attack of the 50 ft. Woman'?

M R Lee said...

Heh great pieces all of them. But we are missing pretty much everything from the Hercules series from our childhood ( alongside Xena ). I mean they were fake beyond fake, but damn good references to the old myth and lore!

Nice list all the same!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

GDOZILLA!!!!!!!!!!! (Sorry, I just couldn't resist.)

Clint said...

King Kong, King Gamera, King Godzilla, Kin Brilliant!

Francis Lee said...

I agree with most, some I was unaware of......would Alien be a monster?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Had to end it with BOC!
Godzilla would be my first pick. Hoping the Garath Edwards fill next year reboots Godzilla properly.
The troll from Troll Hunter - nice choice.
'Gamera is really good to eat, he is full of turtle meat.' Sorry, watched MST3k one too many times.
I'd add the aliens from Edwards' Monsters and Cthulhu.

J Womack, Esq. said...


Some great monsters there. I am inspired... check out my blog later this weekend, and I should have my own version of this posted.

Michael May said...

Fantastic list! You mentioned a few that I didn't think of: Tolkien's monsters, for example. Harryhausen's Cyclops is another awesome one and Nemo's squid just barely missed my Top 10, but would probably be in my Top 15.

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks all :)

See why I said it was so hard to decide on just 10? Look at all the other cool monsters you're listing!

50ft woman was very close to making the list. My short list had 11 and I decided she'd go since she was human.

Fran: I didn't consider Alien, because they aren't 'giant' monsters. now the Queen could push into that category maybe, but I don't rate her as high as the alien brood so she didn't make the cut. I think it'd be fun to have a 'top 10 alien species' for non-giant monsters, just sci-fi races and I'm sure the Aliens would make my list there.

Same for me Alex! MTS3K is a favorite of mine and I can't hear the name Gamera without hearing that song in my head.

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