Monster films have been part of the film world since the dawn of cinema. From Godzilla to Mighty Joe Young, and even giant robots, they have fascinated audiences for decades. However, the true king is returning to cinemas this week, with “Kong: Skull Island” roaring onto the screen. The first sighting of Kong was back in 1933 and was one of the first special effects masterpieces. “King Kong” combined stop motion visual effects, puppets, and real actors to craft a story about nature gone awry. In the years since the original film, subtly has been given to Kong as a character, culminating in Peter Jackson’s spectacle “King Kong” in 2005. Underappreciated in its own right, the franchise returns to the big screen for the first time in over a decade.
With the return of Kong, what are your favorite monster films? This counts as any sized monster you choose, just as long as they frighten and pose a threat to their films and audiences alike. We have a few of our favorites below. Tell us your favorites in the comments below and on the message boards!
1. Alien (1979)
One of the most terrifying movies of all time also has one of the best monsters in cinema history. H.R. Giger’s character design and sets are astounding, which single-handedly sets the tone and aesthetic for the franchise. Who knew in 1979 that Giger had created the creature of our nightmares? The Xenomorph is the perfect creature of destruction, with no morality or cares in the world. The perfect killing machine haunts Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) throughout the film. While “Aliens” is a favorite to some, the closed quarters and claustrophobia of “Alien” make the creature all the more menacing and dangerous. With Ridley Scott returning to the franchise this summer for the 3rd time, it’ll be interesting to see what he has in store.
2. Jaws (1975)
Perhaps the ultimate monster film, “Jaws” is the film that inspired a generation to be scared of the water. There’s little doubt that “Bruce” continues to terrorize audiences today in the Steven Spielberg masterpiece. For years Spielberg has received praise for his restraint in showcasing the shark. Since then, films like “Godzilla” and “King Kong” (2005) have tried to use similar structures to achieve the effect. However, Spielberg’s accomplishment was due to malfunctioning to a broken shark, not planned genius. That said, his ability to improvise to the film we got is the work of a master, and it is impossible to deny its long-term effect on cinema.
3. The Thing (1982)
“The Thing” is another cross-genre masterpiece that has been able to hold up its effective critic of the red scare almost forty years later. Created during the Cold War, “The Thing” features a poignant critic of the distrust that still existed between the USSR and the United States into the 1980s. A remake of “The Thing from Another World” (1952), John Carpenter pulled an Arthur Miller and made the story a perfect allegory for the political climate around it. Add in a masterful score by Ennio Morricone, and the tension has never been higher in a film. The aliens are creepy, but the metaphor “humanity is the monster,” is still a poignant one, especially in today’s political climate. A classic in every sense, “The Thing” remains one of the great monster films of all time.