Top 20 Greatest Giant Monster Films of All Time!

by boritom | created - 12 Oct 2011 | updated - 29 Mar 2012 | Public

The best of the biggest giant creature features, from Japanese Kaiju Eiga, to classic American epics.

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1. Gojira (1954)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
78 Metascore

American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi

Votes: 21,963 | Gross: $2.42M

Ishiro Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya and Akira Ifukube collaborate for the first time in what is, perhaps, the most striking and effective monster epic of all time. Darker and much more somber in tone than Toho's later into the series, it is also far more effective and thought provoking.

2. King Kong (1933)

Not Rated | 100 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
90 Metascore

A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher

Votes: 69,988 | Gross: $10.00M

The original, of course, is the best. Willis H. O'Brien's effects have not aged badly at all, considering how much the technology has changed. This film actually had people fainting in the theaters in its original release.

3. Cloverfield (2008)

PG-13 | 85 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.0
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64 Metascore

A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack.

Director: Matt Reeves | Stars: Mike Vogel, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller

Votes: 330,787 | Gross: $80.05M

J.J. Abrams brings to the screen a truly jarring and suspenseful monster epic. The beauty of this film is the fact that we see it unfold from a very human perspective, and that the effects don't look like effects!

4. The Lost World (1925)

Unrated | 106 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

7.1
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The first film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic novel about a land where prehistoric creatures still roam.

Director: Harry O. Hoyt | Stars: Wallace Beery, Bessie Love, Lloyd Hughes, Lewis Stone

Votes: 3,767 | Gross: $0.55M

One of the earliest attempts at bringing to the screen a truly epic battle of the giants, based on the original novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Willis H. O'Brien, who went on to design the effects work on King Kong (1933), produced some truly excellent work here.

5. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

Approved | 80 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

6.7
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A ferocious dinosaur awakened by an Arctic atomic test terrorizes the North Atlantic and, ultimately, New York City.

Director: Eugène Lourié | Stars: Paul Hubschmid, Paula Raymond, Cecil Kellaway, Kenneth Tobey

Votes: 5,517 | Gross: $5.00M

One of the primary inspirations for Gojira, this film stands up as one of the most enduring sci-fi monster epics of all time.

6. Them! (1954)

Not Rated | 94 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

7.3
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The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.

Director: Gordon Douglas | Stars: James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, James Arness

Votes: 16,570

An unusually effective film, and one of the first in the radioactive mutant monster sub genre.

7. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

Unrated | 103 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

6.9
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The aftermath of the Oxygen Destroyer brings forth Destoroyah, a beast intent on killing Godzilla, who is on the verge of a nuclear meltdown.

Director: Takao Okawara | Stars: Takurô Tatsumi, Yôko Ishino, Yasufumi Hayashi, Megumi Odaka

Votes: 4,097

Strangely powerful and emotional film, Godzilla's final battle harkens back to the aftermath of the original film. This one actually made me cry, twice!

8. Gamera daikaijû kuchu kessen (1995)

Unrated | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

7.0
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A hibernating species of giant carnivorous bird is awakened on a Japanese island shortly after the Japanese military encounters an unidentified mass moving beneath the water off-shore.

Director: Shûsuke Kaneko | Stars: Tsuyoshi Ihara, Akira Onodera, Shinobu Nakayama, Ayako Fujitani

Votes: 2,167

In this relaunch of the popular Gamera franchise, both the effects and story development have improved 100 fold over the previous run.

9. Rodan (1956)

Unrated | 74 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

6.4
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Mutant pterosaurs and prehistoric insects terrorize humanity.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa, Akihiko Hirata, Akio Kobori

Votes: 3,409 | Gross: $0.50M

Toho's first color Kaiju Eiga is also one of its best. Do yourself a favor, though, and watch the unedited Japanese version, unless you're a fan of pointless and excessive narration.

10. Mothra (1961)

Passed | 101 min | Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

6.6
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Shipwreck survivors are found on Beiru Island (Infanto tô), which was previously used for atomic tests. The interior is amazingly free of radiation effects, and they believe that they were ... See full summary »

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Furankî Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyôko Kagawa, Yumi Itô

Votes: 2,604

The great winged goddess's first film, featuring some of the most exceptional effects in the genre.

11. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

Unrated | 89 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

6.5
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A greedy developer unwittingly hatches a gigantic baby moth upon Tokyo, while Godzilla strikes once again.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yû Fujiki

Votes: 5,486

The best series entry in the 60's era, the film has both excellent special effects and a truly strong plot that actually pulls you into the film, so you're not counting the minutes until the next effects sequence.

12. Daikaijû Baran (1958)

87 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

5.7
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When a rare species of butterfly is found in a mysterious valley in Japan, a pair of entomologists go to investigate and find more. However, when they get there they find an uncharted lake ... See full summary »

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Kôzô Nomura, Ayumi Sonoda, Koreya Senda, Akihiko Hirata

Votes: 349

The original Japanese cut of this film is by far superior to the hack and slash job done on the American release. Though a bit slow in spots, it highlights the craftsmanship prevalent in the early Toho special effects team.

13. The Blob (1958)

Not Rated | 86 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

6.4
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An alien lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.

Directors: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., Russell S. Doughten Jr. | Stars: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, Olin Howland

Votes: 18,454

A truly unique monster, as it really is what it says on the tin: A blob of organic material that ingests its victims completely.

14. King Kong (2005)

PG-13 | 187 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
81 Metascore

In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann

Votes: 346,863 | Gross: $218.08M

The best remake of the original, presenting a true adaptation of the original as well. Unlike the 1976 remake, the only updating is where the special effects are concerned.

15. Jurassic Park (1993)

PG-13 | 127 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

8.1
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68 Metascore

During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

Votes: 707,012 | Gross: $402.45M

A truly intense film experience, Spielberg's first dinosaur epic is also the best. The beauty of this film is that both the effects and the acting are on an equal par.

16. Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (2004)

PG-13 | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

6.5
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Godzilla's fiftieth Anniversary project, in which Godzilla travels around the world to fight his old foes plus a new, mysterious monster named Monster X.

Director: Ryûhei Kitamura | Stars: Masahiro Matsuoka, Rei Kikukawa, Don Frye, Maki Mizuno

Votes: 5,910

The most action packed entry in the series, and a great example of how a massive monster melee should be presented.

17. Gamera the Brave (2006)

96 min | Action, Adventure, Family

6.8
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In 1973, Gamera sacrifices his life to rid the world of the Gyaos once and for all. Thirty-three years later, a small boy, whose father witnessed the 1973 event, named Toru finds a ... See full summary »

Director: Ryuta Tazaki | Stars: Ryô Tomioka, Kaho, Shingo Ishikawa, Shogo Narita

Votes: 711

Although a fairly odd entry into the Gamera franchise, it is also one of the most visually striking, and emotionally effective films in the genre as a whole.

18. Mighty Joe Young (1949)

Approved | 84 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.0
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61 Metascore

A young woman who has raised a giant gorilla from an infant brings him to Hollywood years later seeking her fortune in order to save her family's ranch.

Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Terry Moore, Ben Johnson, Robert Armstrong, Mr. Joseph Young

Votes: 3,801

Ray Harryhausen's Kong-like epic, which views the monster in a much more sympathetic light than most films. A definite must-see for fans of the genre.

19. Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)

Not Rated | 88 min | Action, Family, Sci-Fi

6.8
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After the appearance of a new Gojira (Godzilla), the Japanese government builds a robotic Godzilla from the bones of the original monster that attacked TÃf'kyÃf' in 1954 to stop the beast.

Director: Masaaki Tezuka | Stars: Yumiko Shaku, Shin Takuma, Kana Onodera, Kô Takasugi

Votes: 2,965

Fantastic action and adventure yarn about Japan's efforts to eradicate the irradiated leviathan once and for all.

20. Godzilla 1985 (1984)

PG | 103 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

6.2
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Thirty years after the original monster's rampage, a new Godzilla emerges and attacks Japan.

Directors: Koji Hashimoto, R.J. Kizer | Stars: Raymond Burr, Keiju Kobayashi, Ken Tanaka, Yasuko Sawaguchi

Votes: 4,888 | Gross: $4.12M

The rebirth of the Godzilla franchise, and one of the few times where the American edit is almost as good (if a bit laughable in spots) as the Japanese version.