This year has shown that people are aficionados of big-budget monster flicks. In addition to Godzilla vs. Kong, 2021 is awash in kaiju and monster culture, including Godzilla: Singular Point, SSSS.Dynazenon, and Shin Ultraman, to name just a few.
However, there will be a new generation of monster fans who desire more films featuring gigantic creatures, but who may require assistance in locating such films. What to do? Worry not, for here are some of the most necessary monsters and kaiju to satisfy your monster cravings!
1. Godzilla/Gojira (1954)
You must see this flick! There are no justifications for this! Gojira, the masterpiece from 1954, is the only gigantic monster picture you need to see if you want to understand the genre. In addition to being a master of the gigantic monster genre, Gojira is one of the greatest Japanese films ever produced.
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Gojira was Japan’s cathartic encounter with the horrors of nuclear war, with Godzilla himself an obvious metaphor for the atomic bomb. For all its serious honesty, the film nonetheless manages to capture the horror of its frightening source while still standing out among the greatest of the kaiju genre.
2. Shin Godzilla
Compared to Gojira, Shin Godzilla is a modern-day masterpiece. Shin Godzilla is a terrifying modern retelling of Godzilla’s first invasion on Japan, directed by Neon Genesis Evangelion veterans Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi. When you know the background of the picture, it was a deliberate decision to make the movie as talky and political as it is.
Using Godzilla as a satirical tool to poke fun at Japan’s response to the tsunami of March 11 and the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Shin Godzilla shows how the monster can serve as a metaphor for many different things. This isn’t to add that it features one of the scariest Godzillas and some of the best modern Japanese tokusatsu effects work.
3. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
While the kaiju genre has its origins in Japan, Hollywood has done some honor to the genre in recent years. 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters is included in this list! It’s safe to say that director Michael Dougherty (of Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus fame) has crafted one of the most lavish love letters to Godzilla ever, one that also features some of Godzilla’s most recognizable co-stars, like King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan!
Akira Ifukube’s renowned compositions from composer Bear McCreary are reworked in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, making it feel like a classic Godzilla picture given a Hollywood makeover with awe-inspiring kaiju moments. For those who have never seen a kaiju film before, this is an excellent introduction to the awesomeness of huge monsters.
4. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
Toho essentially had one of the earliest cinematic worlds, including their version of the Avengers: The Toho Avengers. When Destroy All Monsters! came out in 1968, it set a new standard for the genre battle genre. A diverse cast of Toho monsters, including well-known characters like Godzilla, King Ghidorah, and Mothra, as well as lesser-known ones like Gorosaurus and Manda, appear in the film.
Alien invasions are one of the most common kaiju plotlines. In the end, King Ghidorah faces up against a slew of huge monsters from all around the world in a final battle royal. For a sampling of Toho’s greatest monsters, Destroy All Monsters is the best place to start.
5. Mothra (1961)
In addition to Godzilla, the enormous moth goddess Mothra has become a cultural icon in Japan thanks to her premiere feature film in 1961, which is regarded as a classic of the genre. For the first time in past kaiju movies, director Ishiro Honda deliberately made Mothra the hero, as we see her embark on a warpath to preserve her island’s twin fairies.
The kaiju genre’s iconic “Showa” era (1954-1975) human narrative is one of the sharpest in Mothra’s critique of capitalism and colonialism. Additionally, special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya contributed some incredible effects work, while composer Yji Koseki provided an amazing score.
6. War of the Gargantuas (1966)
We can now recommend some cult classics! War of the Gargantuas has been praised by everyone from Guillermo del Toro to Tim Burton. Despite the fact that it is a sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World, War of the Gargantuas stands on its own as a Cain and Abel tale with huge monsters!
Bigfoot-like Kaiju Gaira and Sanda, who wish to coexist peacefully with humans but must battle their carnivorous brother, are at the crux of the film’s conflict. One of monster movie cinema’s best final battles is included in this virtually Shakspearian drama!
7. King Kong (1933)
In addition to Godzilla, King Kong is one of the most recognizable cinematic monsters. And his initial film in 1933 is not only a must-see gigantic monster film, but also a must-see film in its own right! Willis O’Brien’s first blockbuster picture featuring groundbreaking effects.
The story of a group of explorers who land on a remote island and come face to face with prehistoric animals is what makes King Kong such a classic. In addition to being a classic Beauty and the Beast tale, the picture features Kong and Anne Darrow, a blonde beauty (Fae Ray). King Kong is a picture that has influenced a generation of directors, from Steven Spielberg to Peter Jackson.
8. The Heisei Gamera Trilogy
Including the complete trilogy as a single recommendation may seem like a cop-out, but these three films are that good. They are three of the greatest kaiju films ever made, rivaling even the finest Godzilla movies.
“The Heisei Trilogy,” as it is known to fans, brought Gamera’s campy kid flicks to maturity, making it one of Japanese film’s most mature and well-made works to date.” There is so much to like about each film that we strongly encourage you to seek out the trilogy in its entirety.
9. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Ray Harryhausen is a name that is nearly universally associated with monster movies. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, his debut film as a director, is a standout in his impressive collection of work. Inspiring films like Gojira and Cloverfield, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was one of the first to depict the dangers of atomic radiation in a monster movie.
The Rhedosaurus, the film’s iconic monster, was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Foghorn” and has become a cinematic legend in its own right. In addition, this is not the only Ray Harryhausen film on the list.
10. Cloverfield (2008)
In the midst of a kaiju-free period, Cloverfield is a fantastic found-footage horror thriller! Although there is some obvious marketing gimmickry, Matt Reeves’ gigantic monster picture uses discovered video to great effect, giving the spectator the impression they are right on the front lines when a kaiju attack occurs.
Clover, the titular character, is the star of the show throughout the film’s action sequences, which keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Due to the way the film depicts Clover’s rampage, it is one of the genre’s scariest kaiju icons. Honestly, that’s a great way to describe the film!