Giant Monsters


“It was beauty killed the beast.”

My choices for the ten best daikaiju (Japanese only) films

  • Gojira (1954)
  • Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964)
  • Daimajin (1966)
  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
  • Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999)
  • Rodan (1956)
  • Mothra (1961)
  • War of the Gargantuas (1966)
  • Godzilla 2000 (1999)
  • Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Great lizards smashing cities. Oversized gorillas grabbing cute girls. Herds of dinosaurs running down modern boulevards. It’s giant monsters. They are rarely the stuff of introspective cinema, but they can be great fun for a matinee, preferably with a tub of popcorn and some good & plentys.

I’ve dropped this list under horror because, well, it is filled with monsters, but almost none of the giant monster films are frightening.  Perhaps the original Godzilla, King of the Monsters, might make you uncomfortable, or Them! could cause the most sensitive viewer to hide, but most are just action pictures.

Giant Monster pics can be divided into Fantasy-based and Sci-Fi-based. The Fantasy films rarely focus on the monster(s). There is the occasional Dragonslayer, but far more along the lines of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The Thief of Bagdad, where the giant creature is one in a series of trials the hero has to overcome.

The Science Fiction movies can likewise be split into two groups: Exploration and Science Gone Amuck. The former dates back to silent films. A team discovers a lost land filled with dinosaurs or equally unlikely giants (The Lost World, The Land Before Time). The latter popped up in the ’50s with the advent of nuclear bombs and has been going strong ever since. In these films, nuclear, genetic, or a more obscure technology either creates or awakens an enormous creature. These are the movies that come to mind when I hear the term “giant monster.” Godzilla. Gamera. Ymir. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. These are the icons. And I’ll be reviewing a lot of their films. Because Godzilla has had such a long cinematic history, I’ve included a page covering the big guy’s 60 year run.

Fans of Japanese giant monster flicks sometimes use the term kaiju, meaning mysterious creature, or daikaiju, which adds the prefix “giant.” 

Giant Monster Films:

Giant Monsters Sorted by Year: