By: Maniac E
Date: April 10, 2012

Monsters of Cinema

Throughout the years many monster movies have risen in our cinema culture. My favorite movies when I was a kid were always the monster movies, especially the ones that had a penchant for destroying whole cities or otherwise terrifying a clueless population with their wanton destruction. They always seemed to be indestructible and could take on anything. But let’s not forget that we have our sci-fi monsters as well, what I tried to do was make a list of unforgettable monsters who really made a big splash in our cinema history.

Number 10: The Giant Ants (Them)

One of the best 1950’s-era monsters movies was "Them". The giant ants where after human population after... yes you guessed it right, a nuclear bomb was detonated. (It was an early vehicle for such future Hollywood notables as James Arness, Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke fame; Fess Parker the future Daniel Boone; and James Whitmore.) Even the ants about the size of your average horse are pretty well done, considering the state of special effects at the time. What makes the movie a standout is that even today the chirping sound the ants make (you usually can only hear them, not see them until it’s too late) is spooky. Definitely a movie for people who demand real science in their science fiction, the characters go on to explain in great detail exactly what the ants are doing and what they're going to do to stop them.

Number 9: Graboids (Tremors)

Tremors was a major boost for Kevin Bacon back in 1990 and really got him right into the spotlight. But not only he was getting the attention of movie critics. Graboids as they are called where enormous sandworms also known as Mongolian Death Worms. The Graboids as known as carnivors that are always on the hunt and they make sure you don’t want to be walking on sand when they are around. They are highly intelligent and learn from their surroundings.

Number 8: Gamera

Gamera is a giant, flying turtle monster from a popular series of Kaiju (Japanese giant monster) films produced by Daiei Motion Picture Company in Japan. Created in 1965 to rival the success of Toho Studios' Godzilla during the daikaiju boom of the mid-to-late 1960s, Gamera has gained fame and notoriety as a Japanese icon in his own right. As this monster didn’t get 28 movies for his name he did have his fair share of Japanese fame.

Number 7: The Monster (Feast)

I think like most of us we didn’t expect Feast to be doing anything good but the Feast got a trilogy together. While the first one was a very decent flick the last two ended up being mediocre to say the least. Nonetheless Feast got in the list of monsters since it was one of the first real new monsters that really did something. It looked ugly as hell and was a vicious beast. It’s slime will decompose his victims slowly.

Number 6: King Kong

While the story of a giant biped on a lost island inhabited by goofy natives and a colony of dinosaurs was not particularly original it was based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel The Lost World it was always fun to watch the heroine (Fay Wray in 1933, Jessica Lange in 1976, and Naomi Watts in 2005) try their best to charm the beast without getting eaten or crushed by it. In the end, it always topples to its death (is it suicide or murder?) from the top of the Empire State Building (the World Trade Center in the 1976 version), making the audience feel sorry for the beast. The big guy transcends these three films, however, making it into cartoons, video games, comic books and even being absconded by the Japanese, who had a much larger version of the beast fight Godzilla and another in which he battles a giant mechanical double of himself named Mechani-Kong.

Number 5: Predator (Predator)

In some ways just as scary as the creatures from Alien (see #1), these human-like but still very extraterrestrial critters have the benefit of being intelligent and technologically savvy, making them in many ways even more dangerous than the drone-like Aliens they occasionally do battle with. The real twist with these creatures, however, is that they’re not here to invade Earth, but to do some big game hunting. It seems the creatures like to come hundreds of light years for the opportunity to hunt humans, which they promptly dismantle and dispose of, keeping only their skulls and attached spinal column as trophies. Nice, huh?

Number 4: Shark (Jaws)

While the great white shark from the 1975 blockbuster hit Jaws was not a monster in the typical sense (oversized, radioactive, fire-breathing, etc.) Sharks have always dominated theater peoplewith fear, when Jaws came out people where really afraid to go into the water. While the special effects are pretty hokey by modern CGI standards, at the time it was considered very scary, although what really made the critter spooky was the fact that you only caught glimpses of it rather than saw it straight on until the very end of the movie. And until this day (good or bad) there still new shark movies coming out.

Number 3: The Thing (the Thing)

Okay, somebody’s had their DNA perfectly replicated by a smart and vicious extraterrestrial creature which makes them appear to be completely human at least until you discover who they are, at which point unfortunate things begin to happen in quick order. This 1982 John Carpenter remake of a schlocky but semi-successful 1951 thriller by the same name is perfect for people who suffer from paranoia, or people trapped in isolated Antarctic weather stations, or (preferably) both. The problem is you never really get a good look at the creature in its pure alien form as it’s always in the process of changing from one disgusting manifestation into another.

Number 2: Xenomorph (Alien)

What could be better than a creature that crams embryos down your throat which burst out of your chest when they come to term and then have the baby get big enough in a few days that it can carry you off to its lair? Welcome to the world of Alien and the nightmarish creation of noted Swiss artist H.R. Geiger, who designed the bizarre and still-scary-after-all-this-time creature for this highly successful franchise. (The alien creature has appeared in no less than six films.) Perhaps its coolest feature is its double articulating jaw (sort of a mouth within a mouth) that oozes slime and snaps open and shut with the speed of light. Oh, and you especially don’t want to get the queen alien angry; she has some major and deep-seated anger issues that manifest themselves in particularly gruesome ways (especially if you’re an android). Easily one of the coolest space monsters ever devised.

Number 1: Gojira (Godzilla)

I always like to use the original name of Godzilla: Gojira. This is the monster got his fame and glory and I would like to remind people that he didn’t start off with the name Godzilla. With the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Daigo Fukuryu Maru incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear detonations and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla as a hero while other plots still portrayed him as a destructive monster. irst appearing in Hollywood in 1956’s Godzilla : King of the Monsters (alongside the equally scary Raymond Burr of Perry Mason fame), he has since gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon who has starred in no less than 28 films as well as appeared in numerous video games, novels, comic books, and television series. And this is why we think he deserves to be on our number one spot!

Of course there are a lot more we can name, what I didn’t do is put in Frankenstein. This is for the reason that Frankenstein is mostly falling in the lines of Dracula, the Mummy, and the werewolves. Those are more old school horror icons who everyone knows about. This isn’t a perfect list but let us know which monsters you would like to have seen in this list and we will make an extra part consisting of honorable mentions!


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