Well, it is about time I faced this.
I have made it a point to see every possible giant monster film in creation. And it doesn’t matter where the film is from! When someone says “Ragnarok”, Thor immediately comes to mind. Maybe someone else’s mind. I think of the 2014 Norwegian monster flick with a giant serpent, a stolen egg, and underground tunnels.
Does anyone even know that there is a North Korean giant monster film that is a cross between Godzilla and Majin, called “Pulgasari”? And “Vulcan” is not only Spock’s planet of origin, but it is a boy and his giant flying monster story from the Philippines that was made in 1959 and remade in 1997.
Let’s face it, folks. They’re everywhere!
When I started this article, I fully intended to give a list of the Ten Best Giant Monster Films. But when I looked it over, the word “obvious” came to mind. There was really nothing there that would surprise most people. And the films were from either Japan or the US. The words “Godzilla” and “King Kong” were constants. “Obvious!”
But the Worst…now there is a list. And funny enough, it wasn’t as tough as you would think. Some of these films are renowned for their ineptitude. Some, if you haven’t seen them, you likely should.
10. 9. & 8. All Three “Rebirth of Mothra” films. (1996-98, Japan)
This series has it all: Tiny people with moth mounts, an evil sister, giant flying monsters that give little kids rides, along with bad dubbing, bad dialogue, questionable effects, and much more. This trilogy also has enough saccharine to kill laboratory rats and can get overly preachy about environmental issues. I love Mothra, but these really don’t help its image. And “The Rebirth of Mothra 4” is a video game.
7. Tentacles (1977, Italy)
A giant octopus attacks a beach resort, just in time for a sailboat race. Conventional weapons are ineffective against this monster. So, a local scientist sends his killer whales to destroy it. In the climax, we watch the killer whale hand puppets pull at an octopus in a fish tank. Shelley Winters adds star quality to this one. No, she doesn’t.
6. The Giant Gila Monster (1959, USA)
Did they really make this as a horror film, or were they trying to get the singing career of Don Sullivan started? It’s hard to tell. Like many of the films of the period, they use stock footage of a real Gila monster and real teenagers. Driving a flaming hot rod into the monster at the end is a nice touch. Produced by Ken Curtis, who would give us the TV series “Dark Shadows” in the 1960s.
5. Reptillicus (1961, Denmark)
A giant, overdressed serpent, with lots of sequins and a set of wings, is revived by a scientist in Denmark, which runs amok. It shoots spears from its mouth, which don’t really look they just scratched the frames of the film. Okay, maybe it does. And this is one of those films with a look at something growing in the ocean at the end, which would indicate a sequel that never happened (thankfully). Includes a full Danish cast. Yes, I find it surprising too.
4. The Monolith Monsters (1957, USA)
So, a meteor lands in the desert. In it is a crystal that grows huge. After it falls, it breaks and more grow. It just keeps on spreading and spreading, crushing everything around it. Finally, the scientists run water through the local salt flats, killing the mineral menace. You can’t write this stuff. Oh, wait, four people did. With Grant (The Incredible Shrinking Man) Williams.
3. The Creeping Terror (1964, USA)
A carpet-style monster from space with a taste for human beings. It sucks in people from the bottom. Interesting to watch that it eats people head first, but their screams stop only when the feet disappear. The creature also looks like a Muppet reject that likely ate everyone in a seldom seen pilot for Sesame Street. Vic Savage directs and stars in the movie. It cuts down on the number of people to blame the film on.
2. The Giant Claw (1957, USA)
There is so much that is laughable about this film. You have a large bird-like creature (okay, marionette) that is made completely of anti-matter. There is only one spot that is not and that is its mouth. So, the Air Force uses their famous plane that shoots from the back, getting a missile to enter its throat and blow it up from the inside. An embarrassed Jeff Morrow stars. There is a great quote from him about the movie in IMDb.
1. Cosmic Monsters (1958, UK)
Just a word about “giant insect created by magnetism” films from Great Britain; NO. Filmed with stock footage of insects made to fight each other that menace townspeople that don’t seem to realize that it’s only a movie! I’d like to say a word or two about these underground insect fight clubs, but this is not the time and I have to go polish my magnifying glass. The highlight of the film is when the little girl finds a huge insect egg and is told to boil it so it doesn’t hatch.
I couldn’t even purchase a pot big enough at Bed, Bath & Beyond!
American actor Forrest Tucker, who would go on to star in TV’s “F-Troop” as well as become the spokesman of a jock itch medicine (not a lie), stars.
Like any iceberg, there is more below the surface than above. These are not the only bad giant monster films out there, and they continue to make them all the time. And I will be more than happy to see them. And I don’t need the cast of MST3K to help me enjoy them. (“Reptillicus” was the first film of their rebirth).