The 411 Movies Top 5 07.12.13: Week 382 - Top 5 Monster Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 07.12.2013
From Jurassic Park and King Kong to The Wolf Man, Godzilla and more, the 411 staff counts down their top 5 monster movies of all time!
Welcome to Week 382 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: Pacific Rim comes out this week and it should be all kinds of greatness. With the movie based on a world where monsters have run amok, let's count down our Top 5 monster movies.
A true cult favorite, this 1990 movie was released to little hype but became a sleeper hit and spawned sequels and a TV show. A small (about a dozen people) mining town find themselves tangling with bizarre worms the size of battleships with huge maws of teeth. The filmmakers smartly don't show the beasts too much, letting us see the effects of their arrival with the ground flying up as they travel lightning-fast and people are sucked under the ground. When we do see them, it's freaky as hell but the movie's wonderful tongue-in-cheek humor and great cast (Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Michael Gross and Reba McEntire) are what makes this shine of truly normal people trying to handle these beasts in a great cult monster flick.
4. The Monster Squad
A title like that belongs on this list, right? It's helped that the movie itself is the epitome of a cult classic, ignored in 1987 but a following so large that the DVD/Blu-Ray has a "Making of" documentary longer than the movie itself. The plot is obvious as a group of kids realize their small town is under attack by classic Universal movie monsters but don't let the humor fool you, these beasts are stunning in their power. A Wolfman who slices and bites, a Creature from the Black Lagoon crushing guys down and a Mummy who's slow but effective. Topping it all off is perhaps the most bad-ass Dracula ever shown on film, the sequence where he stalks through the town square, brushing aside and killing cops without even looking at them as insects, still gets you and for once, a mingling of major characters that truly works and a fun ride for horror fans old and new.
3. Jurassic Park
Some may argue about this as a "monster movie" due to the beasts being dinosaurs but you can't ignore how that was the key to its success. Thanks to advances in CGI, you had realistic dinos of all types and Steven Spielberg brilliantly lets us see them as magical beings with the introduction of brontos welcoming the visitors. But then we get the thrilling rain-soaked T-Rex attack and then the vicious Raptors that freak you out. I still remember opening night as the entire theater shrieked in terror when a Raptor suddenly leapt out at them, a testament to how well these beasts worked on screen and how scary such monsters can be.
2. Godzilla (1954)
The original is still the best of the bunch. The film that kick-started the entire kaiju craze, the classic tale of a creature mutated by atomic testing and taking out its anger on Tokyo. The scenes of destruction are stunning to the point you can ignore it's obviously a guy in a suit, this version far darker and thus terrifying. Ignore how campy later films in the series get, the first is still a stunning intro the King of All Monsters and is to be revered as a groundbreaker for the entire genre.
1. King Kong (1933)
Peter Jackson did his best but the CGI-heavy 2005 remake still misses the great touches of the 1933 classic, still one of the most groundbreaking stop-motion films ever created. Kong is amazingly well done, monstrous but clearly the heart to make you sympathize but we also get a giant dinosaur and the fantastic sequence of Kong running wild in New York City, tearing up train cars and climbing up the Empire State Building to tangle with airplanes for a thrilling climax. It set the bar for almost every monster feature that's followed and still amazing to watch today in awe of the creatures that can freak you out.
SHAWN S. LEALOS
5. The Mist
My first experience with The Mist was not from reading the classic Stephen King story. No, my first experience was the audio book. Unlike audio books where someone reads you the book, there were actual actors playing the roles like an old radio play, including sound effects. It was a really creepy and disturbing listen. Despite that, I really wasn't prepared for what happened in the movie, where the bleak ending in the story was absolutely devastating in the movie. The monsters here were creatures from the fog and they drove our hero to an unspeakable decision.
For people unaware, the man who is directing the Godzilla remake is a man named Gareth Edwards. The guy has only made one major movie before, which was the amazing monster movie aptly titled Monsters. What was most interesting about that movie was that the monsters themselves were in the background of the movie and Edwards focused instead on the two main characters, a photojournalist and the woman he has been tasked with getting out of the war zone in Mexico where all the monsters reside, and to safety in America. When the monsters show up, they are definitely unique, but what is amazing is that Edwards created them himself and kept the monster movie to a budget of only $500,000. I have no doubt he will make Godzilla amazing as well.
3. Gojira (1954)
Speaking of Godzilla, you can't have a countdown of monster movies without the original post-war monster movie. I am also wanting to specify that I am choosing the Japanese version and not the Americanized film that adds an unneeded Raymond Burr to the story. Of course, Gojira is the story of a giant dragon-like monster who can breathe fire, created basically out of the waste of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Japan. It is an allegory, but more than that, it created the greatest giant creature in cinema history.
2. The Wolf Man
I can't have a Top 5 list of monster movies without one of the original Universal monsters. The original five Universal monsters included Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man and The Wolf Man. While many consider Bride of Frankenstein to be the best of the movies, but I have always held a soft spot for The Wolf Man. I think the best thing about this particular monster is that it is the tragic story of a man who is cursed as the monster as our hero and villain is the same person. Forget the remake, the original with Lon Chaney Jr. is still the best.
1. The Thing
Sure the bad guy is an alien, but it is also a monster and one of the best to ever appear in movies. The movie is originally based on The Thing from Another World, but John Carpenter changed almost everything and made it so much better. The movie is closer in resemblance to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as you don't know if the person you think you know is your friend or foe. The effects in this movie are also top notch, with some of the best disgusting gore effects of the era. This is not only one of the best monster movies, but one of the best horror movies ever made.