Is there a better way to spend an afternoon than watching larger than life movie monsters destroy our largest cities and greatest landmarks? We have put together a list of some of cinema’s greatest monsters, aliens, and forces of nature who climbed their way into our hearts by smashing everything in sight.
Attack of the 50ft Woman
What is scarier than an angry woman who happens to be 50 feet tall? The husband who cheated on her would answer absolutely nothing!
Made in the 1950s (and then again in the 1990s), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman follows the events after Nancy Archer has a run-in with a glowing ball of light. No one believes her story due to her drinking and mental problems. The fact that she is married to a loser who cheats on her doesn’t help matters.
The movie hits its campy fun stride as Nancy grows to 50 feet, and decides it is time to have a little payback for the years she has taken abuse from her cheating husband. Throw in flying saucers, aliens and giant jewels and this is one fun movie!
There is nothing that strikes fear into the heart of man or causes more mass destruction than rampaging Jell-O. 1958’s The Blob (and its 1988 bloody and guilty pleasure remake) shows not all aliens from space are giant monsters. Some are pink and gooey. The Blob’s plot follows the destruction as an alien life form takes on small town and its citizens.
The 1958 version of the story has the honor of being the first time screen legend Steve McQueen stepped into the leading man role in a film, and the 1988 version has the honor of being written by Oscar-nominated writer Frank Darabont.
It is the ultimate in drive-in monster fun as people flee in terror from what basically looks like pink Jell-O, but it is pink Jell-O that will eat the flesh from your bones.
Although the movie had some huge flaws, it did an excellent job capitalizing on the “found footage” genre way of filmmaking and had a viral marketing campaign that at times was better than the actual movie – who didn’t spend hours on the net looking for a peek of what the monster would look like.
The creature design also lived up to the hype with grotesque bone structure, gigantic bug eyes, and enough strength to send the Statue of Liberty’s head flying. The film gets bonus points for having smaller creatures dropping from its body like ticks to give the poor humans something else to handle.
Even after multiple viewings, the film still holds up and I really appreciate the way the filmmakers didn’t give the audience all the answers to where the creature came from and if more might be on their way.
I ain’t afraid of no ghost, but a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man lumbering down the street is another matter. Ghostbusters brought the laughs and the destruction with this marshmallow supernatural creation in the 1984 comedy about a team of scientists who go about trying to rid New York City of its ghosts and make a quick buck on the side.
The film (which spawned a sequel, video game, comics and cartoon series) featured other great creatures such as Slimer and Gozer the Gozerian.
Although Gozer is the true baddie of the film, nothing beat Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’s slow stroll or the look of pure evil on his face!
The greatest of all monsters in the monster genre, the giant reptile Godzilla has been destroying cities since the 50s and has saved the world a time or two against other classic monsters – such as the dreaded Mothra, Hedorah, and King Ghidorah.
Godzilla has had a life in film, television, animation, and comics. He has gone from a guy in a big rubber suit to a bloated CGI version (which is actually more fun than it originally got credit for being). His classic story has pretty much stayed the same.
Godzilla rises from the ocean and destroys a city – Tokyo or New York City. It is normally the pesky humans fault as Godzilla is not a monster simply an animal looking for a home. Not to mention we helped create him by testing atomic bombs. His powers have ranged from simply being a powerhouse beast on the run to being able to breathe fire and lightning.
It Came from Beneath the Sea
Long before Steven Spielberg made us scared to go in the water with Jaws, special effects god Ray Harryhausen gave us another reason to fear the deep with the 1955 classic It Came From Beneath the Sea – which featured a gigantic octopus causing havoc on the Golden Gate Bridge and U.S. Navy.
Like other great 50s movie monsters, our octopus is the result of a creature being forced from its home in the deep due to hydrogen bomb testing.
Luckily, there are plenty of scientist on board to figure out how the U.S. Navy and local law enforcement will be able to kill the creature – by using flamethrowers, firearms and a special jet-propelled atomic torpedo.
Most of the destruction is reserved for a grocery store and a small shopping center, but the film is filled with giant creepy creatures that are sure to make the audience think twice about watching the film in the dark. It also features an ending that will keep you talking long after the end credits roll.
From the mind of Stephen King and at times feeling like something borrowed from H. P. Lovecraft’s nightmares, The Mist makes the most of its spooky atmosphere by only giving the audience brief glimpses of its monsters and not letting them fully know what is happening on the screen.
While it is low on the destruction scale, the movie elevates the genre into a horror film that truly makes the viewer question just who the monsters on the screen truly are.
With the exception of Godzilla, there has been no greater monster to take a city apart than the mighty ape King Kong. The beast has roared and thrilled audiences in the incredible 1933 original film; the somewhat goofy but still loveable 1976’s version (which introduced the world to the lovely Jessica Lange); and Peter Jackson’s 2005 version that showed the beast had true heart and a weakness for blondes. Not to mention 1962’s King Kong Vs. Godzilla, 1967’s King Kong Escapes and 1986’s King Kong Lives.
King Kong is the perfect monster story as a group travel to Kong’s home on Skull Island (which is basically monster heaven with dinosaurs, giant insects and more), capture the beast, and then have the brilliant idea to bring him home to New York City. What could go wrong?
Kong, who has fallen for the blonde love of his life, decides he prefers the jungle and starts to take the city apart.
The original is still amazing to watch and Jackson’s version of the story shows you can have plenty of heart (you have to love Kong playing on the ice in New York City) while making sure there is plenty of time for destruction on top a giant building with planes buzzing around.
Why settle for one monster when you can have several and have them battling giant robots! Director Guillermo del Toro is like a kid in a very expensive toy store and uses every cent of his budget to ensure the monsters, called Kaijus, look distinct and completely awesome.
My personal favorite was the one that somewhat resembled a rampaging ape, but they are all incredible. The robots (called Jaeger) are also well-designed – even if they cause as much damage as the Kaijus they are supposed to be protecting us from.
The plot (like a film this cool needs one) is the classic invasion story and man’s last hope naturally falls to a handful of Jaeger pilots that will battle it out on the ocean floor.
This film is a visual treat for special effects fans and features some of the greatest monster fights brought on screen – including moves like Elbow Rocket and using a giant tanker ship as a club.
Director J. J. Abrams reminds audiences why the 70s were great with his coming-of-age tale of a group of friends who love to make home movies (they are at work on a zombie film at the start) and run across an escaped alien (check our Ancient Aliens TV page for more on alien mysteries) who only wants to get home – even if that means destroying their town and the U.S. Army to do it.
Like Cloverfield, the film had a great viral marketing campaign which once again made fans scour the net for early peeks of what the monster would look like, and if it had ties to the Cloverfield monster. It also reminds of some of the great alien movies of the 80s like Monster Squad, E.T., Stand By Me and The Gate.