With the Kraken soon to be released once more in theaters everywhere thanks to the imminent remake of Clash of the Titans, it’s high time I took a long, hard look at the many awe-inspiring behemoths that have stomped their way across motion picture screens over the years. You can have your little vampires, werewolves, zombies and mummies–when you’re looking for wholesale destruction and unbridled terror, nothing serves it up quite like a massive irradiated monstrosity. We’re taking a look at the big boys this time out, so strap in and make sure you’re wearing your helmet! Oh, and aren’t you glad I completely avoided saying, “Size matters”?
Decidedly less sexy than his female counterpart, the 50-foot Woman, Colossal Man nevertheless was deemed awesomely cheesy enough to be the brunt of one of Mystery Science Theater 3000′s most memorable episodes.
Wanna know how dangerous this massive arachnid from the 1955 movie of the same name was? They actually had to call on Clint Eastwood to stop the thing. That’s right, the future Dirty Harry plays a fighter pilot who makes an appearance at the end of this seminal monster movie.
San Francisco is the city of choice in Harryhausen’s It Came from Beneath the Sea, and what comes from beneath the sea is this gigantic octopus, a beastie who threatens to tear down the Golden Gate Bridge if it isn’t stopped. If only it had swung by Haight-Ashberry, this might have all been avoided…
Smaller and not as fierce as his cinematic cousin Kong, you still can’t help but have a soft spot for Joe. After all, he does manage to win a tug of war with a bunch of wrestlers, and his theme song is Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer”, which shows a discerning musical taste.
Starting out very small in 20 Million Miles to Earth, this alien/reptilian Harryhausen creation gradually grows to mammoth proportions, threatening the Eternal City of Rome in the process. Proving to be the most cultured of movie monsters, he chooses the Collosseum as his target.
Godzilla meets Blair Witch as this hardly seen amphibious terror emerges from New York Harbor and turns the city upside down. As we’re made privy to the detailed doings of a gang of whiny twenty-somethings, we can’t help but pray for a better look at the giant thing that’s causing all the mayhem. And hope that it eats them all.
So many possibilities here, and if you’re a guy and you say they’ve never occurred to you, you’re lying. Not only is she one of the most unforgettable giant “monsters”, she also has one of the most famous movie poster of all time.
First appearing in the pages of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the Balrog of Khazad-dum was perhaps the one monster LOTR fans were most anxious to see translated to the screen–and Peter Jackson certainly didn’t disappoint with his hellish interpretation of Morgoth’s minion.
Rounding out Toho’s Holy Kaiju Trinity is everyone’s favorite enormous irradiated pterodactyl. This dude is so huge that he can level skyscrapers just by flapping his wings, and also makes the coolest noise this side of Big G himself.
A kaiju flick for the 21st century, The Host is a tour-de-force of giant monster action, and the titular creature is a brilliant and terrifying reinvention of the classic archetype. Plus, he’s also a giant fish with legs, which rules.
Before Jurassic Park, even before Godzilla, there was this dinosaur run amok, one of Harryhausen’s first giant monster creations. An ambitious son of a gun, he runs rampant through the Big Apple itself, making his last stand in Brooklyn’s own Coney Island amusement park.
The three-headed arch-nemesis of Godzilla, this alien hydra spits lightning in every direction, destroying everything in its path. It also resembles the Chinese dragon, leading some to see it as Japan’s criticism of its Communist neighbor. Nothing like a little political commentary in a giant monster flick!
My personal favorite Harryhausen creation, this giant bronze statue is cold-blooded murder in physical form, coming after Jason and his Argonauts with relentless fury. An ancient giant robot of sorts, he is undone when Jason “unplugs” him, pouring out the black, oil-like substance he seems to run on.
The creation of Toho Studios’ chief Japanese rival company Daiei, the beloved giant turtle became a national institution perhaps second only to Godzilla himself. The invincible Guardian of the Universe, Gamera is nothing short of a cult icon.
Perhaps the most instantly recognizable of all of Ray Harryhausen’s creations, the giant Cyclops appears in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, giving the fabled sailor a little more giant monster mayhem than he bargained for.
Toho’s second most famous monster, the world’s biggest flying insect is actually a god, worshipped by a bunch of Pacific natives with spray-on tans and accompanied by his own tiny twin fairies who sing to him. Not a bad gig for a creature whose main weapon is silk.
A gelatinous red mass of all-consuming alien gunk, the Blob gets larger the more it absorbs, until it threatens to swallow up an entire town. Fortunately, Steve McQueen is able to prove that even as a teenager, he was already a consummate badass.
From the dark recesses of the mind of Dr. Raymond Stantz came this titanic walking mountain of fluff. The corporeal embodiment of Gozer the Traveller, Sta-Puft wreaks havoc through mid-town Manhattan before getting roasted by the boys in gray.
It may look absolutely nothing like the traditional mythological representation of a Kraken (they’re more like giant squid), but Harryhausen’s beloved brainchild remains 1,000 tons of awesome in a 500-ton bag.
They don’t call the big guy “King of the Monsters” for nothing. Four hundred feet tall. Breathes nuclear fire. Star of about 749 movies. He’s battled everyone from Baragon to Bambi, and has perhaps the most rabid fan base of any monster on the planet.
And the number-one most kick-ass giant monster in movie history…(naturally)…
All due respect to the rest, but there is only one true King Kong. No matter what Peter Jackson has to say about it. The first, and still the most memorable giant movie monster, the Eighth Wonder of the World is awesome incarnate. Brought to life by the legendary Willis O’Brien, Kong is the last word in massive movie behemoths. Plus, he has excellent taste in chicks, even if there’s not much he can do with them.
For more horror news, opinions and other fun crap, including info on Dracula casting rumors, the Top 10 Most Overrated Horror Movies, and a boatload of classic Godzilla trailers, check out Brian’s daily blog, The Vault of Horror, at thevaultofhorror.net.