I typically don’t like to speak for anyone but myself, but I think it’s pretty safe for me to assume that you, like me, are totally excited about the impending arrival of Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla reboot, set to stomp its way into theaters on May 16th. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re feeling the same way I’m feeling, right about now.
But alas, we must wait.
While we all patiently await the arrival of the ‘King of the Monsters,’ now is a better time than any to take in the sights and sounds of giant monster movies past. Sure, waiting sucks, but we hope this list will help make the countdown a little less painful, and whole lot more fun.
Here are 10 recent giant monster movies to hold you over, and get you in the proper mood for Godzilla 2014!
The most logical place to start on your journey to Godzilla’s theatrical arrival is 2010’s Monsters, which was directed by Gareth Edwards, the man behind the mega-sized Kaiju’s return to the big screen. In fact, it was Monsters that directly led to Edwards making his way to Hollywood and landing the Godzilla gig, so if you’re interested to see what the British filmmaker is capable of when it comes to monster movies, look no further. That said, Monsters is more of a human drama, set against a backdrop of a monster invasion, so expect a whole lot more destruction in Godzilla than what’s on display in this highly impressive debut effort.
If it’s destruction and a whole lot of exciting monster action that you’re looking for, then Pacific Rim is your movie. Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to Kaiju movies, Pacific Rim pits giant robots against giant monsters, and the result is a highly entertaining ride that’s sure to put you in precisely the right mindset for the new Godzilla flick. Del Toro even dedicated the film to the late Ishiro Honda, who directed the original 1954 Godzilla (aka Gojira).
One of my personal favorite giant monster movies in recent years is 2006’s The Host, which hails from South Korea. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, the film centers around a giant monster that emerges from the Han River, the result of Americans dumping hundreds of bottles of formaldehyde into the sewer system. It’s a political commentary if you want it to be and a family drama when it chooses to be, but above all else The Host is one hell of a monster movie, featuring one of the most truly impressive CG creations in the history of giant monsters. Absolutely breathtaking to behold, this one is.
In 2008, American filmmaker Matt Reeves came along with the J.J. Abrams-produced Cloverfield, which put a found footage spin on the giant monster movie. The original Godzilla was a starting off point for the film, intended to be an allegory for post-9/11 anxieties and fears, the same way Godzilla was for life in Japan post-Hiroshima. In fact, Abrams got the idea for Cloverfield after looking at Godzilla toys with his son, and being hit with the thought that America needed its own giant monster. Thanks to Cloverfield, we've now got one of our very own, and a pretty damn awesome one it is!
In 2011, J.J. Abrams brought another memorable monster to the big screen in Super 8, which he wrote and directed. Originally thought to be a prequel or sequel to Cloverfield, given inherent similarities in the concept, Super 8 turned out to be a loving homage to the films of Steven Spielberg, and can in many ways be seen as a spiritual remake of E.T. – only, with a whole lot more death and destruction. A monster movie with ample amounts of heart, Super 8 absolutely nailed that Spielberg vibe, and brought a whole lot of cinematic magic back to the big screen.
Andre Ovredal brought giant monsters to Norway with Trollhunter, a found footage film about college students making a documentary about an alleged bear poacher. As it turns out, the man doesn’t hunt bears but rather massive trolls. In a humorous twist, the trolls have a particular hatred for those who believe in God, and they can smell the blood of a Christian from a mile away. A fascinating movie, with a whole lot of humor, Trollhunter is one flick you absolutely must experience before you die, and it features several jaw-dropping giant monsters, which are some of the most impressive – and massive - we’ve seen in recent years.
Greg McLean followed up Wolf Creek with Rogue in 2007, an Australian flick about a giant man-eating crocodile that’s one of the best sea monster movies to come out in recent years. Though the fright factor of crocodiles and other water-dwelling beasts has been seriously diminished by silly Syfy movies, Rogue does a damn good job of showing that a killer croc movie can still pack a whole lot of bite. Centering on a group of tourists who are terrorized by a particularly vicious crocodile, Rogue is full of interesting characters and terrific effects, making it the rare movie of this sort that’s a genuinely good one.
BIG ASS SPIDER!
Speaking of Syfy movies, Mike Mendez’ Big Ass Spider! has all the ingredients of one, from the silly characters to the monstrous CG monster, military involvement to a scientific experiment gone haywire. Though it’s no doubt a Syfy Original on paper, Big Ass Spider! is in execution a truly entertaining movie, playing out like the sort of B-movie that Syfy only wishes they were capable of creating. It is, in so many words, the best Syfy movie that Syfy never made, and one of the most entertaining B-movies to come along in recent years. If you’re looking for a giant monster movie that’s all about fun, I can assure you that Big Ass Spider! delivers the goods.
If there’s an award for most creative monster movie it’d have to go to the Irish film Grabbers, which was released back in 2012. In it, an alcoholic and a workaholic are forced to fend off a gargantuan blood-sucking alien creature, which just so happens to be highly allergic to alcohol. Once they make this realization, they and a group of fellow survivors hole up in a pub, intent on getting as drunk as humanly possible, so the monsters will have no interest in dining on them. Modern day creature features don’t get much more fun than this one!
We round out the list with Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella The Mist, which is absolutely jam packed with a whole host of different monsters. Though the film primarily focuses on the humans, and how they react to the arrival of the mist-dwelling creatures, there’s plenty of monster action on display throughout, including the particularly memorable sight of one of the largest movie monsters of all time (above). The Mist pulls no punches in its depiction of a monster invasion, and it's a definite must-watch on the road to Godzilla. As a matter of fact, Darabont did an uncredited rewrite on the Godzilla 2014 script, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen what he did with The Mist.
Are there any other recent monster movies that you’d recommend? Comment below and add them to the list!