Return of the Giant Monsters

Return of the Giant Monsters

Note: I consider giant monsters to exclude dinosaur films, King Kong/giant ape films and Godzilla/Toho/Japanese films because they garner their own classifications.

The 1950’s seemed to be filled with movies about giant monsters. Spurred by advances in special-fx and filming techniques, giant monsters hit the big screen with abandon. Ray Harryhausen led the way with his stop-motion animation in films such as, It Came from Beneath the Sea, Twenty Million Miles to Earth, and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Masking and rear projection techniques also produced impressive results with Them, The Deadly Mantis, Tarantula, War of the Colossal Beast, and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

In the 1960’s with Hollywood turning completely to color films, these techniques seemed less impressive. Aside from Godzilla movies, there were very few giant monster films produced with major studio distribution after the 1970’s. A couple of notable ones include,  Q – The Winged Serpent (1982) and Tremors (1990). Recently, with the aid of digital-fx, more realistic monsters could be brought to the screen with impressive results. More dynamic and convincing, these new monsters interact with humans on a level never before seen in film. Recent successes have brought the giant monsters back from the brink and they have once again become a viable movie topic.

Here are some of the best of the last decade:

Cloverfield (2008)

I’m still hard pressed to tell you what ‘Clover’ looks like but this was one of the first giant monster films to be completely shot at ground level – like what we would actually see if we were there. Impressive action from the moment the Statue of Liberty head lands on the city street and giant monster destruction ensues. Also includes military battle for containment, a staple in giant monster films.

The Mist (2007)

Someone (the military) opened a door to another dimension and some gargantuan creatures came through it. We have some unique looking giant beasts in this one. However, the real horror of this film is not what the monsters do, but what the humans do to each other. Love the flying pteradactyl looking creatures and there is a giant praying mantis beast, too. The ending is a shocker to everyone that sees it.

Monsters (Beware) (2010)

This film didn’t have as much action as I wanted. It was more about the journey our two main characters had to face struggling to get out of Mexico and the strong commentary of social issues facing Mexican illegals. But the payoff at the end was big as the two goliath octopus creatures (very Cthulhu -like) cross the border into US territory for a brief liaison. (Let’s see ya’ ask them for ID.)

Troll Hunter (2010)

Who here, thought trolls were small elf-like creatures, raise your hands? Well this film will put you straight once and for all. It seems some giant creatures have been coming out of the mountains and eating the Norwegian farmer’s livestock. The government cover-up includes killing some bears and taking photos of supposed hunters who have saved the day. The real story is about the government employed troll hunter who lets some college news reporters follow him to track down the real culprits. (Subtitled in English)