With “Jurassic World” — the fourth installment of the “Jurassic Park” franchise — and its genetically engineered Indominus rex storming into theaters this weekend, here’s a look back at the 10 best monster movies of all-time.
Courtesy of Universal
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic features some of the most squirm-worthy seconds in film: the bloody chest-bursting scene. Designer H. R. Giger couldn’t have conceived of a more petrifying creature. Scott’s space epic also included intricate characters, including Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley — one the best female protagonists of all time.
Although they’re not technically monsters, T. rex and Velociraptors are just as horrifying as any fictionalized creature. With the help of special affects wizard Stan Winston, Steven Spielberg delivered another groundbreaking movie that became a global phenomenon. It beat his “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” as the highest grossing film of its time. Its technological accomplishments paved the way for Stanley Kubrick and Peter Jackson’s VFX breakthroughs.
The new and CGI-improved King of Monsters will stomp back into action in director Gareth Edwards’ reboot this weekend, but Ishirō Honda’s original Japanese classic is unrivalled. The reptile made his debut (in rubber-suited glory) in 1954, setting the standard for “strange creature” features in both Japan and the U.S. The mutant monster ravaged the country and brought back the horrors of World War II’s nuclear devastation in the politically laced movie.
The fact that the 1975 thriller is not only one of the most enduring monster movies, but among the best blockbusters of all time speaks volumes about Steven Spielberg’s shark tale. The film single handedly altered the summer box office season and the summers of theater-goers, who surely developed irrational fears of swimming in the ocean. John Williams’ daaa-dum theme music will be forever ingrained in viewers’ psyches.
Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein
The adage “behind every great man is a great woman” rings true for this pair of films. Although “Bride of Frankenstein” is arguably the rare sequel that’s superior to its predecessor (thanks to Elsa Lanchester), “Frankenstein” is in a class of its own as one of the forefathers of the gothic horror genre. James Whale’s 1931 pic — roughly based on Mary Shelley’s novel of the same name — gave birth to one of the most loveable bigscreen monsters (and the first movie zombie). It holds a 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Even piscine amphibious humanoids are capable of love. When the Gill-Man falls for Julie Adams’ Kay, he abducts her to his underwater lair. Although he means well, the scenes of the Creature stalking Kay and mirroring her swim moves will give you the heebie-jeebies. As one of the first 3D horror films, the 1954 pic inspired sequels that were also released in 3D in an attempt to revive the fading format.
You’ll never look at a Furby the same way again. The seemingly innocent Mogwai, given as a pet to Zach Galligan’s young character for Christmas, turns vicious when water causes it to multiply. The creatures are then fed after midnight, transforming into grotesque pint-sized monsters. The cult hit gets better with each watching.
The climactic scene of King Kong climbing the Empire State Building with Fay Wray squirming in his clutches is one of the most memorable moments in cinema. The 1933 original blew viewers away with special effects pioneer Willis O’Brien’s stop-motion animation. Few movie monsters have been able to obliterate Manhattan, yet evoke sympathy from audiences like this giant gorilla. Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake was also powerful partly because of advancements in VFX and Naomi Watts’ turn as Ann Darrow.
The Thing (1982)
With the ability to assume the form and shape of any organic creature, this monster is capable of hiding in plain sight. The pic about a parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform, which victims are unaware of until it pouches, is one of the scariest movies of all time, if not for the disturbing chest scene alone that rivals “Alien.” John Carpenter’s creation was ahead of its time in 1982.
The Fly (1958)
David Hedison’s helpless “help me!” yelp still haunts audiences today. The only man-turned-monster of the bunch, a scientist morphs into an insect when his atoms are mixed up with a fly’s during a scientific experiment. Thanks to Oscar-winning makeup artist Chris Walas, Jeff Goldblum petrified in the critically acclaimed gory 1986 remake. “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”