Home » Bigger is Better: Old-School Giant Monster Flicks That Still Hold Up Remarkably Well

Bigger is Better: Old-School Giant Monster Flicks That Still Hold Up Remarkably Well

With Kaiju experincing a cinematic resurgance, people are falling in love with ferocious, roaring, giant monsters all over again. Because of that, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at some of the earliest entries in this sub-genre. B-Movies of the ‘50s and ‘60s—even dating back to the ‘30s—that defined monsters for an entire generation of moviegoers.

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Many of the classic giant monster features were B-Movies, even at the time. Now, a good portion of them are looked back on as classics. But how do they hold up compared to their modern counterparts, which thrive—often primarily—on special effects? Let’s find out.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Made around the same time as the original Gojira—which would be re-released in the US as Godzilla: King of the MonstersBeast has a lot in common with its more famous contemporary. It’s also about a creature created by atomic testing who rampages through a metropolitan city, in this case New York.

Kaiju Beast Them!

There were a ton of features in the 1950s about everyday creatures being mutated by radiation. This one focuses on giant ants. For this type of movie from this time period, Them! is one of the best. Yes, of course, it’s campy. But you can feel the absolutely genuine paranoia of the time all over this and I think that makes it an important representation of its time period.

Them!Clash of the Titans

The original Clash, featuring outstanding Harryhausen stop-motion effects—which also goes for other entries on this list—is a campy, delightful adventure. If Star Wars created the modern blockbuster event picture, this is the precursor to big, dumb fun spectacle movies. It’s a heroic action vehicle from a time before those were coming out every weekend.

Clash of the TitansThe Blob

While I tend to prefer the remake, The Blob was a favorite of mine as a kid. It’s so different from the other monster movies of the era because in this one, the monster is basically a formless entity. It has no real shape. There’s something Lovecraftian about that. Even though it’s basically Jell-O, it’s scarier than you think.

The Blob '58Q: The Winged Serpent

Larry Cohen’s Q is the latest entry on this list. By the time it came out, movies like this weren’t being made anymore. That’s part of what I love about it. Q is a relic to films that were even older. It’s also a smart, interesting, funny, fun feature with a dash of social commentary that Cohen could never go without.

Q: The Winged SerpentGojira

Retitled for US audiences as Godzilla: King of the Monsters and re-edited to feature American actor Raymond Burr, Gojira is a classic. This is as close as we’d come to found footage in 1954. This movie is designed to feel like newsreel footage. It tries to feel like it might actually be happening.

Godzilla 1954King Kong

King Kong is the gold standard of oversized monsters. At the time this movie was released, it was truly the 8th wonder of the world. People had never seen anything like this before. They were still getting used to hearing the actors talk in films, watching the crew get picked off by dinosaurs, watching a giant ape fall from the top of the Empire State Building… it took audiences on an adventure the likes of which they had never experienced.

King Kong (1933)

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Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
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