Ferocious, unpredictable, and all-powerful, the silver screen’s history is laden with spectacular monsters. From intergalactic invaders and prehistoric prowlers, to those fearful foes who take residence a little closer to home, the cinema has produced many monster movies whose creatures fill us with dread every time we settle in and watch their adventures.
To celebrate the launch of the Sony Movie Channel on Freeview and Virgin on the 10th of January, we’ve taken the time to rank the leanest, meanest, and downright biggest monster movies of them all. Spanning decades of directorial talent and a multitude of genres, here is our definitive list…
10. Godzilla (1998)
There have been many big-screen variations of the classic Japanese monster, dating back as far as the 1950s, but few outings for the legendary God of Destruction are quite as overlooked as Roland Emmerich’s 1998 rendition. Let loose in America’s beloved New York City, the gigantic beast runs riot – destroying plentiful landmarks in its wake – and it’s up to Matthew Broderick’s Dr. Niko “Nick” Tatopoulos and his team to bring Godzilla’s reign of terror to a halt.
Sporting a huge budget and special effects capabilities for the era, Emmerich’s film was a major blockbuster which progressed digital production and creature design as we neared the new millennium. Although Godzilla wasn’t taken kindly by critics upon release, there is much to admire here, and nearly 20 years on, it still holds up technically and aesthetically.
9. The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Universal Studios were the original home of the monster movies. Famed for their representations of classic characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy, no rival company could compete with their exquisite output. One of their finest offerings was Jack Arnold’s 1954 horror The Creature from the Black Lagoon; a film which was originally released in 3D during the format’s swift fad period.
Dubbed as “Gill-man” by Richard Carlson’s Dr. David Reed, the world-famous amphibious humanoid has become an icon of popular movie culture. His scaled, fish-like design is a work of creative genius, and the silently stalking manner of his attacks make him one fearsome monster indeed. Even to this day, The Creature from the Black Lagoon is still a marvellous feat of filmmaking; maintaining that wonderfully rustic approach to character creation and genre formatting.
8. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Seamlessly blending body horror and jet-black comedy, few films straddle tonal shifts and monster exploration quite like John Landis’ seminal An American Werewolf in London from 1981.
The film is now largely considered as a cult classic, and rightly so. Following two US backpackers as they trek across the North York Moors, a brutal werewolf attack leaves one dead, and the other cursed. The claret-drenched masterpiece is endlessly quotable, sports some of the most remarkable make-up and visual effects works, and features a spine-chilling soundtrack which renders each sequence with palpable tension.
And yet, even in all the gruesome transformation scenes, and lashings of gory violence, Landis’ movie is still an absolute riot: as funny as it is fearsome. Shame about that dreadful sequel which nobody wanted…