Giant monster movies have been a staple of the popcorn cinema since the days of the original King Kong in 1933. Over the course of the past eight decades cities from Los Angeles, New York to Tokyo have all fallen victim to the wrath of a rampaging beast or two. Whether it was giant prehistoric lizards, enormous pissed-off primates or even oversized marshmallow men, audiences never seem to get enough when it comes a little wanton destruction from malcontent monster.
Here I have assembled a list of my favorite giant movie monsters to attack the big screen. **For the sake of this list, I excluded alien invasions (Independence Day), dinosaurs (Jurassic Park: Lost World) or lesser known Kaiju (sorry Pacific Rim). These beasties don’t share the spotlight and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
7) Unknown (Cloverfield)
Classification: Extra-Terrestrial LSA (Large-Scale Aggressor)
Size: 180 ft.
Method of Madness: Rampage and a severe case of spider-crab parasites
Stomping Grounds: New York City
Weaknesses: (Seemingly) Nothing
Why It Makes the List: Unlike most of the other big boys on this list, ‘Clover’ the never named creature from 2008’s monster mash, Cloverfield, is one of the distinctly unique creations of the genre. While on vacation in Tokyo with his son, J.J. Abrams, was inspired by the deluge of Godzilla merchandise to create an American-based creature that would attack NYC instead of Tokyo. Not only is that a cool concept, after watching behind-the-scenes clips, it seems that the creature is not on a rampage but actually an infant stumbling around lost in Manhattan. Just wait till momma, shows up looking for him.
6) The Kraken (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)
Classification: Giant Cephalopod
Size: 1,400 ft.
Stomping Grounds: The Seven Seas
Method of Mayhem: Tentacles
Weaknesses: Not overly fond of cannonballs.
Why It Makes the List: Although his Mediterranean namesake largely steals the spotlight when it comes to overall destruction, this sea-faring Kraken makes the list for sheer spectacle when it comes to inflicting mayhem. As a sea creature of monstrous proportions, the Kraken is sent out by his master, the nefarious Davy Jones, to attack any ship that he feels threatens him or his ship, The Flying Dutchman. Destroying any vessel in his path, The Kraken is indeed a force to be reckoned with and every gets the rare treat afforded most movie monsters **SPOILERS** He actually gets to eat the hero.
5) The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (Ghostbusters)
Classification: Paranormal manifestation of Sumerian deity, Gozer.
Size: 110 ft.
Method of Madness: Very slow but adorable walking
Stomping Grounds: New York City
Weaknesses: Fire and Proton Packs.
Why It Makes the List: By far, the most lovable, not to mention ostensibly innocuous monster to make this list. Near the end of the film, the Ghostbusters are faced with the decision of choosing the form that the ancient Sumerian god, Gozer, will assume to destroy their world. Dan Aykroyd’s character (Ray Stantz) tries to think of “the most harmless thing” and “something that could never possibly destroy us” When an enormous 110 ft. walking marshmallow comes lumbering down Park Ave, he and the rest of the team quickly realize that he was wrong. While not much in the way of carnage, Stay-Puft, definitely knew how to make an entrance. Bill Murray’s character (Peter Venkman) put it best when he says quite matter-of-factly, “There’s something you don’t see everyday.”
4) Smaug (The Hobbit Trilogy)
Size: 426 ft. (130 meters)
Method of Madness: Flight and fire breath
Stomping Grounds: Middle Earth (particularly Lake Town)
Weaknesses: Missing scales on his underbelly
Why It Makes the List: As far as rampaging beast go, Smaug, isn’t motivated by the instinctive, animalistic urges of the others. Smaug can not only talk, he’s scheming, conniving and worst of all intelligent. Described as “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm”, Smaug the Magnificent is a self-made monster who is only in it for the money. After hoarding untold riches from centuries of looting and plundering, Smaug is content to simply sleep with his riches Scrooge McDuck-style until a certain diminutive thief by the name of Bilbo Baggins decides to disturb him.
3) The Kraken (Clash of the Titans)
Classification: Ancient mythological sea-creature
Size: 500 ft.
Method of Madness: Tremendous size, strength, claws and tentacles.
Stomping Grounds: Argos
Weaknesses: Severed Gorgon heads
Why It Makes the List: While the vast majority of the mythical creatures featured in 2010’s Clash of the Titans were based in actual Greek mythology, the subterranean sea-behemoth, the Kraken, was a complete work of fiction. As an updated version of the 1981 film’s stop-motion version, this beast clocks as one of the most massive movie monsters on this list at a reported near 500 ft stature. The 2010’s version possesses massive jaws full of razor-sharp teeth, uncharted strength and tentacles large enough to destroy entire fleets of ships and cities with relative ease. Not much in the way of higher reasoning, the beast seems only there to service as Hades’s attack dog. Be that as it may, this particular city destroyer will always have the best catchphrase of the bunch, “Release the Kraken!!”
2) King Kong (King Kong)
Classification: Giant Primate
Size: 25 ft.
Method of Madness: Tremendous strength and dexterity.
Stomping Grounds: New York City (yet again)
Weaknesses: Bi-planes and Blondes
Why It Makes the List: As the smallest beast (relatively) on this list, King Kong, The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ is by far the most misunderstood and tragic. As the last of a race of giant mountain gorillas, Kong, was fine to spend the rest of his days on Skull Island, fighting the occasional T-Rex and enjoying a virgin sacrifice from time to time. It was until a greedy Hollywood producer (are there any other kind?) lures him into a trap with a sultry blonde and tries to turn him into a Broadway act that he gets violent. King Kong is also the oldest cinematic monster on this list, making his debut way back in 1933. Incidentally, he also the one monster on the list, that you hate to see get killed at the end.
1) Godzilla (Godzilla)
Classification: Irradiated Prehistoric Amphibious Reptile
Size: Varies – 160ft (original) – 350 ft (2014 film)
Method of Madness: Tremendous strength, speed, armor-like skin, regenerative capabilities and atomic breath
Stomping Grounds: Tokyo (Historically) San Francisco (2014 film)
Weaknesses: Limited susceptibility to electrical or atomic based weapons
Why It Makes the List: Born out of the post-Hiroshima Japan, the Kaiju (Japanese for ‘Giant Monster’) that would become the worldwide phenomenon known as Godzilla, is far and away the most famous entry on the list. Including the 2014 entry, the rightfully named ‘King of the Monsters’ has appeared in over thirty films to date. The creature started out as a clear morality tale of the post-Atomic era, eventually evolving into somewhat of an anti-hero who came to the defense of mankind instead being the bane of it. Godzilla even came to have offspring and an extensive rogues gallery, including familiar names such as Mothra, Rodan , Mecha-Godzilla even King Kong. While much of the plot for the 2014 has been kept under wraps (good thing), it’s not certain if audiences should be prepared for Godzilla the Destroyer or Godzilla the Savior. However, one thing is certain, his status will remain supreme for generations to come.