50 Best Monster Movies That Will Make You Gaze Into The Screen In Awe
Have you also noticed a decline in movies featuring monsters? Well, except for films featuring supernatural creatures such as vampires or werewolves, there are still plenty of those (Psst, check out our post featuring the best vampire movies). Thinking psychologically, monsters no longer scare people like they did a century ago with the appearance of the first monster movies. Supposedly, the first sci-fi horror monster movie was the 1915 silent film The Golem, directed by Paul Wegener. The monster featured was a clay statue that had been revived and had fallen in love with a woman. However, the golem went on a rampage when the lady didn't return his love. Sadly, that's a lost film.
Now, it's relatively unlikely to see a golem as the "bad guy" in a movie. You're likelier to see a cutesy-patootsie monster in a kids' cartoon than in a horror film. These days, the contemporary "monsters" portrayed in movies are usually those walking among us. After all, aren't humans the most dangerous and terrifying predators on the planet? After mosquitos, of course. Although the first monster horror movies were relatively laughable, it was around the 1930s and up until the end of the 20th century when the best monster movies were booming and scaring moviegoers to death.
Although Hollywood studios still take on the job of remaking some classic monster movies once in a while, the truth is that most of the time, they will not beat the original. Whether that's the actual source or the first book-to-film adaptation. However, there are exceptions and examples of when non-first remakes are better. For instance, although both are remakes of John W. Jr. Campbell's novella, the 1981 version of The Thing is acknowledged as better than The Thing from Another World from 1951.
However, there's something different about those horror movies and films in other genres featuring monsters from the Golden Age of Hollywood, New Hollywood, and up to the contemporary period of filmmaking. They haven't lost their "charm," if you could call it that, and may still send shivers down your spine when re-watching them today.
Below, we've gathered a lengthy list of the best monster movies, with some of them also making it to the list of the best horror movies of all time. However, this list won't feature just horror movies. Prepare to see the adventure/action/fantasy genres mixed in as well! What is your favorite monster movie? Let us know!
1979 | 1 hour 57 minutes | Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
The crew of the commercial spaceship Nostromo is on its way home when it picks up a distress signal from an undiscovered moon. Three crew members leave the spacecraft after a bumpy landing to explore the area on the moon. The ship's computer determines that the signal they received was a warning rather than a distress call, as they find a chamber filled with hundreds of enormous, egg-like objects. One of them cracks, and something aggressive and extraterrestrial is set loose, and they must deal with the repercussions. Alien, hands down, remains one of the most innovative and horrifying movies ever made. Compared to the sci-fi horror movies we get today, the 1979 classic still packs a strong punch. It's one of those unique movies that has held up very well over time. Even over 40 years later, with the advancements in cinematography and CGI, everything still feels fresh. The movie is a study of terror. Although it may not be as action-packed as the other movies in the franchise, it raises the anxiety associated with being hunted to the next level.
1986 | 2 hours 17 minutes | Directed by James Cameron
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn
Aliens is a direct continuation of Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien, so make sure to watch it first before you jump into this one! In the direct sequel, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is called back 57 years after her close brush with the alien species, this time to assist a squad of highly skilled colonial marines in fending off the evil extraterrestrials. But this time, a space colony on the moon LV-426 has been overrun by aliens. The colonial marines discover they are up against more than they anticipated. Ripley has to try to save a small girl who is the lone survivor of the practically destroyed space colony while the Marines fight to defend themselves. James Cameron chose to take a radically different approach when faced with the challenging task of making a sequel to Ridley Scott's masterwork Alien. He intended to create a fast-paced, playfully ironic, loud action extravaganza. And interestingly, he managed to do it while still upholding a stylistic and literary coherence that smoothly integrates Aliens with the first movie. It's one of those occasions when a sequel is pretty much on the same level of quality as the original.
1982 | 1 hour 49 minutes | Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Adapted from John W. Campbell Jr.'s novella Who Goes There? (1938), the film tells the story of a group of American researchers who travel to Antarctica and come upon the so-called "Thing," an extraterrestrial parasite, a monster, that assimilates and then imitates other living beings. There are perhaps very few people left who haven't heard of The Thing. Four decades later, John Carpenter's masterpiece remains one of the most enjoyable horror movies ever created. It's quick, clever, and utterly thrilling from beginning to end. Other than that, it's a rare case of an adaptation doing justice to the original source and being better than the first book-to-screen adaptation, which was Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks' 1951 film The Thing from Another World. This is one of Carpenter's best films, along with They Live (1988) and Halloween (1978). It's deservedly worshiped by all horror buffs. Watch it, and you won't be disappointed.
1987 | 1 hour 47 minutes | Directed by John McTiernan
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall
After a minister's helicopter crash on a Central American island, Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team of special forces are assigned to rescue him from the guerrillas. Soon they learn that they were sent to the island for another reason and that an alien warrior is hunting them down. Despite having a short running duration of barely 100 minutes, Predator manages to fit all three genres - macho action, gory horror, and enjoyable sci-fi - into one cohesive package. The alien in Predator is just as inventive, even though it may not be as attractive as the creature from Alien (1979). In this case, the extraterrestrial is actively hunting people for sport rather than just seeking to reproduce and overtake the human population. Despite having a nearly elementary plot, this is one of the most effortlessly enjoyable action films of the 1980s. A masterclass in suspense and gory action.
1993 | 2 hours 7 minutes | Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
With the release of Jurassic Park in 1993, Hollywood witnessed something utterly unique that had never been seen before. Dinosaurs had never appeared on film with such astonishing realism as they did in 1993. And the plot is phenomenal and original. Steven Spielberg brought back the dinosaur genre, which was only used in caveman movies. The film starts with scientists who have created dinosaur clones and are getting ready to launch a theme park where visitors may see them. Richard Attenborough's character, John Hammond, invites a group of people, including his grandkids, to the park to see the dinosaurs and unwind. Even if it doesn't seem like anything could go wrong at the moment, one of the park employees is up to no good. Dennis Nedry wants to steal dinosaurs' embryos. He breaches security to get the embryos and escape. However, he's not the only one who may flee when the park's security is breached; so can hungry dinos. After that, dinosaurs are let loose to roam all over the island, and everyone is in danger. This is where the fun begins. The story is fantastic because it shows us how an actual scientific miracle was formed and then shows how it later turns into a catastrophe in which everyone's lives are at stake. If you somehow managed to miss it, make sure you watch it right now to find out what everyone was so impressed by in 1993.
Godzilla, King Of The Monsters! (1956)
1956 | 1 hour 20 minutes | Directed by Terry O. Morse, Ishirō Honda
Starring Raymond Burr, Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata
The Americanized version of the Japanese film Gojira (1954) stars Raymond Burr as American reporter Steve Martin. Despite being little more than a movie about a man in a rubber suit destroying a small Tokyo set, it has a lot going for it. The action is captivating and climactic, and it is well-paced. Most people agree that it's just a conventional story of a radiation-mutated prehistoric creature emerging to confront the world with his increased strength. Still, there's a little more to it than that. Toho Studios did something truly unique with this film. It's a cultural phenomenon and a metaphor for a specific experience of a particular period of recent history. The movie isn't "mythic" in the sense that it piques the interest of viewers the way that ancient stories did; instead, it is the myth itself, the tale we tell around our hearth fires at night, to make the strange seem understandable and fend off demons. Due to its historical significance, Godzilla will outlive every subsequent science fiction movie.
1990 | 1 hour 36 minutes | Directed by Ron Underwood
Starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter
In the classic thriller Tremors, Val McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) portray the two surprise heroes who try to escape a little desert town in Nevada. However, they stumble upon several unexplained deaths and a worried seismologist, Rhonda (Finn Carter), studying anomalous readings underground. The trio battles gigantic, prehistoric, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh with the aid of eccentric survivalist pair Burt and Heather Gummer (Gross Michael and Reba McEntire). The plot is well-developed, the acting and dialogue aren't overly corny, and the effects are excellent for a vintage film. Tremors is the type of film that defies easy categorization. It has elements of all genres, including horror, comedy, action, and adventure. It succeeds in being the thrilling and incredibly entertaining B-grade horror movie it sets out to be. It is a lot of fun.
Creature From The Black Lagoon
1954 | 1 hour 19 minutes | Directed by Jack Arnold
Starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning
In the narrative, an amphibious creature from the Devonian Period is discovered on a scientific mission in the upper Amazon. Fighting breaks out as the men debate the best course of action to pursue as the monster begins to defend its territory by assaulting expedition members. Should it be put to death or captured for scientific study? In either case, they must go quickly since Kay (Julie Adams), the only female on the team, has caught the creature's attention. In contrast to most science fiction movies from the 1950s, Creature From The Black Lagoon is not one to laugh at. Just by looking at the title, we can tell there is a monster around. However, for a while, we only see one of its claws. Withholding the monster's appearance on-screen certainly prompts suspense and mystery. Undoubtedly, the "creature" from the 1950s served as the model for numerous knockoffs. This is a fantastic film with a strong feeling of unsettling atmosphere. It has excellent acting and bona fide screams brought on by the terrifying sight of the creature (which is actually Ricou Browning in a gill suit). Because of the action and tension, you'll be on the edge of your seat. This is required viewing for all fans of 1950s sci-fi and horror films.
1954 | 1 hour 34 minutes | Directed by Gordon Douglas
Starring James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon
It is revealed that the strange fatalities in the New Mexico desert result from giant mutant ants that were created due to the "A Bomb" testing conducted there. One of the huge queen ants escapes to Los Angeles, where she begins producing eggs that could spell the end of civilization. It exudes just the perfect amount of the paranoia that developed as the nuclear age grew. The puppetry and special effects on display are of a very high caliber for the period. Them! is one of those films that is hard to place in a single category. It varies between a crime story, sci-fi, and horror elements. Back in the day, Them! gave many moviegoers nightmares. Even today, the movie has the power to accomplish that. See it for yourself, and let us know how it goes!
1931 | 1 hour 10 minutes | Directed by James Whale
Starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke
This classic horror movie follows the deranged scientist, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), as he assembles a creature from deceased people's body parts. Frankenstein succeeds in resurrecting his monster (Boris Karloff) with the help of his devoted assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye). Yet, the frightened, bewildered creature escapes into the countryside and starts to cause havoc. Frankenstein looks for the elusive creature and ultimately has to face his tortured creation. Like Tod Browning's Dracula (which was released earlier in the same year), Frankenstein is a significant film that should be required viewing for any fan of science fiction or horror. However, it's not just a dry academic work; it's an entertaining film that must be felt with the heart. Although this wasn't the first Frankenstein movie (the first one was directed by J. Seale Dawley in 1910), it remains a timeless masterpiece. This incredibly spooky story, entirely filmed in black and white, nevertheless carries the hallmarks of a true classic. Almost a century has passed since the initial screening of this fantastic production, but that does not change the fact that it is a hauntingly beautiful, terribly tragic piece of absolute genius that is as compelling now as it was when it was made in 1931. A timeless classic.