13 Badass Monster Movies To Watch Before Seeing 'Pacific Rim: Uprising'
With "Pacific Rim: Uprising" on the way, we don't blame anyone for having a serious monster movie craving. And whether you prefer your monsters of the gigantic variety -- or just large enough to devour a few hapless civilians -- there's plenty out there worth watching. Like these...
'Pacific Rim' (2013)
It goes without saying that you can't prepare for "Pacific Rim: Uprising" without first watching the original. "Pacific Rim" may not have been everything fans were hoping for, but it certainly didn't skimp on the robot vs. kaiju action or the rousing speeches. When you give director Guillermo del Toro a lot of money, he delivers plenty of CG spectacle.
It's only fitting to kick off your monster movie marathon with the original army-flattening, city-smashing giant lizard. "Godzilla" spawned a franchise and an entire genre. And while the effects may be dated, there's a reason it remains a beloved classic even 60 years later.
'Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack' (2001)
Once the original "Godzilla" is out of the way, you might as well jump forward to this 2001 sequel. You'll really get your money's worth in this monster-infested crossover, which features three iconic beasts all duking it out for your viewing pleasure. "Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" strikes that crucial balance, blending the cheesiness of classic monster movies with more modern special effects.
A small group of survivors are trapped inside a bar while a horde of ravenous beasts waits to devour them. It's hard to imagine a more simple and satisfying monster movie premise than that. This horror film is definitely low-budget, but satisfying nonetheless.
'The Host' (2006)
"The Host" is about the truest successor to "Godzilla" you'll find in the 21st Century. It too deals with a giant monster spawned from man's own hubris and laying waste to a major metropolitan area. For a time, "The Host" was the highest-grossing film ever in South Korea, and it's not hard to understand why.
Hollywood hasn't had a great deal of luck trying to replicate the appeal of the Japanese Godzilla movies. If anything, those movies inspired by "Godzilla" are more satisfying than the direct adaptations. Take this 2008 gem, for example, which uses the found footage format to great effect. "Cloverfield" has now become a franchise unto itself, with each new movie being wildly different from the one before it.
Like "Cloverfield, "Monsters" applies the "less is more" approach to giant monster movies. The focus isn't on the giant monsters themselves so much as the two human characters, a photojournalist and the woman he's been hired to escort through Mexico's "Infected Zone."
Here's another monster movie that makes excellent use of the found footage approach. "Trollhunter" purports to be a documentary about a group of filmmakers wandering the Norweigian wilderness alongside a man who hunts trolls for a living. The special effects aren't terribly robust, but the film manages to be riveting regardless.
'Attack the Block' (2011)
Giant monster attacks make for unlikely heroes. That's the idea behind this terrific action comedy, which features a gang of surly South London teens struggling to save their neighborhood from murderous -- and furry -- alien invaders. This movie lead to John Boyega being one of the new faces of the Star Wars franchise.
'The Cabin in the Woods' (2012)
Ok, this is not a straight-forward big monster movie. And it's mostly a horror movie that subverts and embraces the genre. But it's worth checking out for the final act, where bloodbath barely covers the struggle that pits humans against supernatural monster things. At first, "The Cabin in the Woods" plays out like a fairly straightforward parody of the Evil Dead movies. But by the time the climax rolls around, the plot veers in unexpected directions and our heroes are confronted with versions of almost every major Hollywood monster and killer in existence. In short, there's a lot of bang for your monster buck here.
'Shin Godzilla' (2016)
"Shin Godzilla" pushed the long-running franchise in a new and more stylish direction. The addition of co-director Hideaki Anno (of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" fame) helped give this reboot a fresh voice that combined the best of the classic movies with a dramatic new edge. It clearly worked, as many Godzilla fans consider this to be one of the best in the series.
You can only watch so many monster movies in a row without feeling a little burned out on them. Luckily, "Colossal" offers a very novel approach to that genre. Anne Hathaway stars as a woman with a troubled personal life, who slowly comes to realize that she's inadvertently controlling a giant monster stomping its way through South Korea.
'Kong: Skull Island' (2017)
It never hurts to offset your Godzilla diet with a dash of King Kong. The Kong franchise got a fun (if uneven) reboot with this 2017 action film, which kept the giant ape out of New York and on his home turf for a change. It's always satisfying to see a heroic monster smash his way through evil beasts and sinister soldiers alike.