Now that we’re past The Winter Soldier, the next big genre movie I’m excited to see is Godzilla.
I know not everyone gets that, and those who do can seem like crazy people, but that’s because only most of the giant-monster movies have been silly or bad or both. There were at least two great ones that once gave me terrible nightmares, and they give me hope that this one can do the same.
The Americanization of the 1954 original Godzilla (Gojira) spoiled an awful lot of what was great about that film, and I’m not even busting on Raymond Burr. As Ryan Britt pointed out in his tor.com article last week, the revelation of the monster is reported after-the-fact in Godzilla, King of Monsters! More importantly, almost all of the personal drama is stripped away because, even then, Americans didn’t like reading subtitles.
The original film is scary as hell, if you embrace the 60-year-old effects. The nighttime rampage still gives me a chill.
The other giant-monster movie that still works for me is the original King Kong. Yes, the effects are ancient, but not only are they a triumph of the contemporary technology, but the presentation of the monster is dramatic, suspenseful, and potentially nightmare-inducing.
My childhood giant-monster nightmares weren’t based on a particular movie, but I’m sure seeds were planted while I was watching those two classic films. These days, only a few giant-monster films have come close to scaring me, including The Host and bits of Monsters and Cloverfield—the latter mostly in the earliest moments of hearing the monster from across the city and seeing the destruction it’s capable of wreaking.
Have you seen any giant-monster films that actually frightened you? Do you think the genre is inescapably silly or that filmmakers have simply failed to make them scary most of the time? Whether because it’s scary or campy, what’s your favorite giant monster?