The other big note to add here is that Michael made it a point to mention that he isn’t including giant robots because that should be a separate list. He’s right and sometime next week I’m going to post up my top ten favorite giant robots.
10. Alligator (Alligator, 1980)
I was still living in Detroit when I first saw this movie. I know I was very young when I saw it, so it must have been on HBO or something. An alligator is flushed down the New York sewer where it ends up eating the carcasses of animals that were test subjects of a growth formula. Of course the alligator becomes a giant eating machine and eventually escapes the sewers. A fun movie, but the alligator makes the list because of one scene that is forever burned in my memory. There is this kid’s party and the party goers are going to force one of the kids into the pool. None of them know the gator is hiding in the pool. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying it doesn’t end well for the kid.
9. Giant Gila Monster (The Giant Gila Monster, 1959)
I might love this movie more than the actual monster. The special effects are mostly a real gila monster walking through scale models. It’s fun, but hardly enough to make it on the list. The movie stars Don Sullivan as a mechanic and hot rod racer with a heart of gold. There are French girls, younger sisters in need of surgery, and a bizarre subplot with a disc jockey. The whole experience borders on surreal, which is why I’m always happy when I see it.
First appearing in 1961 Mothra is the most famous of the good kaiju. Mothra is pretty amazing because the character is so different that most other kaiju. Mothra first appeared in her own movie before joining the other Toho kaiju in Godzilla’s movies. Usually once a monster joins Godzilla’s stable they are stuck with him. Mothra is the only monster to get her own movies after being in Godzilla’s. All of this is well and good, but I’d be lying if I said these were the reasons I liked Mothra. No, it’s all because of the Tiny Beauties. These little ladies (seriously they are tiny) speak for Mothra. They were originally played by Japanese twin singers The Peanuts.
7. Rancor (Star Wars)
You weren’t expecting Star Wars were you? First, let’s forget all the Expanded Universe here. I’m not worried about Dathomir or their witches, this is about the big monster under Jabba’s palace. The beast fed on anyone foolish enough to cross Jabba and stand on his trap door. The first time it stepped out of the shadows it was amazing. We all know how a meddling Jedi killed this poor beast, but the Rancor’s few scenes still made a big enough impact on me to put him on this list. A while back during the Tamagotchi craze there were Star Wars versions. The Rancor ate Gamorians for food and dancing girls as treats.
6. Thresher Maw (Mass Effect)
Picture the scene. You’re Commander Shepard responding to a distress beacon on a planet’s surface. You’re driving across a big stretch of desert when the whole ground starts rumbling. There is a scream, your vehicle is tossed into the air, and you’re facing a giant snake/insect thing that spits acid. One of Shepard’s histories can even be tied to humanity’s first run in with a thresher maw. In Mass Effect 3 you even run into Kalros, the legendary thresher maw known as “the mother from which all other thresher maws spawn.” I realize they are very similar to the sand worms in Dune, but I prefer this version.
King of the Monsters and Godzilla only ranks number five? I realize I’m strange. If we’re talking cultural impact or importance to a genre Godzilla would be hard to not place at number one. But this list is talking about my favorites and the big guy is at number five. If it wasn’t for his iconic roar I might have even place him lower, but every time I hear that noise I just smile. I also want to point out here if you’ve never actually watched the first Godzilla movie I really recommend you do. It is a far deeper movie than just a guy in a rubber suit knocking over buildings.
4. King Kong
A giant monkey falls in love with a beautiful woman. It’s the story of my life; minus the dinosaur fighting and building climbing. I love both the original and the latest remakes for different reasons. What’s not to love about his movies? You can watch Kong stomp on people, crush them between his teeth, and still for sorry for him as he falls to his death. Kong is a classic in the truest sense of the word.
3. SpaceGodzilla (Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla 1994)
My top three giant monsters are probably going to be vastly different from most peoples. I prefer SpaceGodzilla to the original. So some of Godzilla’s cells get sent into space; either from Biollante or from Mothra. Once these cells are in space they enter a black hole, become altered, and returns out of a white hole. SpaceGodzilla looks like a blue version of Godzilla with giant crystals growing out of his shoulders. SpaceGodzilla has all over Godzilla’s powers plus a new set granted by the crystals. There is also no doubt that SpaceGodzilla is evil to the core. I love his look, I love his powers, and I love SpaceGodzilla.
2. Mighty Joe Young (Mighty Joe Young 1949)
Is this one cheating? Joe should be about 12 feet tall, is that a big enough gorilla to be considered a giant? Anyway, Mighty Joe Young is on my list as more enjoyable than King Kong. I know it’s blasphemy. Traveling to Africa to find animals a smooth talking business man meets up with a beautiful woman and her giant trained gorilla. They take them all back to the states where the craziest nightclub ever is opened. There are lions and running around in glassed off areas. The club is amazing. Joe is turned into a spectacle. He ends up getting drunk, fighting the lions, and trashing the club. Then it’s a race to get Joe back to Africa before the police kill him. There are car chases, a burning orphanage, and actor Ben Johnson (one of the best cowboys ever). This is one of my favorite movies of all time and I had to include Mr. Joe Young on the list.
I’ve said it on this site before, Gamera is my favorite giant monster. He’s a fire breathing giant turtle that can fly by pulling his legs in and shooting jets of fire out his leg holes. It’s no surprise that Gamera was created by a rival film studio trying to cash in on the Godzilla craze. The series became more popular with children as it went, so the original run of movies (1965-1971) get sillier as they go. The second run of movies (1995-1999) are simply amazing. Seriously if you like giant monster movies you need to see them. How much do I love Gamera? I own the original Japanese run, the 90s reboot, and the MST3K Gamera box set. MST3K was the reason I was introduced to Gamera and I’m forever thankful to them and Sandy Frank for bring Gamera to America.