By Mateo Requejo-Tejada, Josh Silva, and Cam Lippincott
Last year, people thought the biggest battle of the century would be the 2020 Presidential Election. Little did they know that four months later, two even more famous figures, King Kong and Godzilla, would claim that title 59 years after their previous duel. In anticipation of their next clash, the country’s foremost kaiju experts at The Las Lomas Page have decided to create a list determining what the best
monster movie of all time is. Interspersed with a collection of Godzilla films is some more contemporary monster fare, totaling twenty movies. If – for some reason – you haven’t seen these, we’ve recapped each one.
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965):
Godzilla in Space. If those three words don’t already convince you that this film is a cinematic masterpiece, we don’t know what will. This movie has it all: aliens, mind control, and most importantly, monsters. If you want to see Godzilla bodyslam a three-headed dragon on a meteorite flying through space, this movie is for you. After aliens “borrow” Godzilla and Rodan to fight King Ghidorah (also known as Monster Zero), they proceed to mind-control the monsters to attempt to take over the earth. This film is obviously in the top tier of monster movies. Also, Godzilla dances in this one.
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994):
While SpaceGodzilla’s name is not winning any awards for creativity, he is an entertaining monster nonetheless. This movie suffers from lackluster fight scenes that mostly feature laser beams and very little physical combat. SpaceGodzilla has a cool design, but unfortunately, the directors barely put him in the movie. This one is okay.
Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001):
This movie has the best title of any piece of art in history; however, its contents do not back it up. This movie also has very little physical combat and forgets what makes monster movies entertaining. Too much dialogue and little action are why this movie is hard to get through. This one is below average at best and doesn’t live up to its potential.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993):
This is the third Godzilla film to feature his robot counterpart. Although Mechagodzilla is not the star of the movie, Baby Godzilla is. After Godzilla tears down Japan in search of the baby, humans create a robot form to counter it. The most entertaining scenes are when Baby Godzilla interacts with the humans, rather than the monster fights, which are disappointing at times. This is a decent film but could use more monster fights.
King Kong Escapes (1967):
Though King Kong does not exactly escape from anything, this is still a good movie. King Kong takes on his robot counterpart, Mecha-Kong. This movie has some pretty funny scenes with King Kong. Though the movie could use more King Kong, the plot is okay, which makes waiting for Kong to show up worth it. It has good monster fights, which include King Kong taking on a random dinosaur as well as his robot counterpart (robot King Kong). This one is above average.
Gamera, The Giant Monster (1965):
Gamera is a giant turtle that can breathe fire and fly by spinning fast. Even though this movie is in black and white in a time where color film was widely available, it still holds up. Gamera does not fight a monster and instead just kind of walks around randomly. Overall this movie is pretty good and ends with Gamera being sent to Mars.
This was the second Godzilla film to be made by an American studio, and it should have been the last. This movie is nothing but a poorly-made attempt to capitalize on Godzilla’s name. It’s disgusting what they did to poor Godzilla in this film. We don’t even understand how the creators of this movie can sleep at night knowing what they have done. No one should watch this movie.
Shin Godzilla (2016):
This movie is so good it deserves its own article. This movie adheres to the original Godzilla movie from 1954 and makes Godzilla a scary monster rather than a goofy one. Shin Godzilla is less of a monster movie and more of a movie about a country that is completely unprepared for a crisis that stands before them (sounds familiar). Godzilla is a terrifying monster that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is easily one of the best monster movies ever made and is an extremely good movie on its own.
Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973):
Another day, another monster. A kaiju named Megalon awakens and now ravages the cityscape of Tokyo and threatens all of Japan. This giant cockroach menace is out of control and led by a hijacked robot named Jet Jaguar. There is only one monster that can keep this foe in check – Godzilla. As Godzilla appears (an hour into the movie), a goofy yet awesome battle ensues. This film features the best team-up in cinema history, with Jet Jaguar holding down the foe while Godzilla does a perfectly horizontal flying kick into its chest. This film is a must-watch.
Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019):
A sequel to 2014’s American version of Godzilla, Godzilla: King of Monsters was one of those films you watch during summer, not because it seems like a well crafted Oscar-worthy film, but because it has a big lizard with nuclear breath and you saw that one girl from Stranger Things in the trailer (also, it was hot and the movie theater had AC). While this sequel did take itself a bit too seriously and may have lacked a good plot, dialogue, pace, and sensible logic, it makes up for it with larger-than-life cinematography and intense action, as well as more nods to the original Godzilla films. We recommend seeing this movie just to see everyone’s favorite nuclear breathing lizard in today’s CGI.
Kong: Skull Island (2017):
An extra large, chest-beating gorilla with a heart of gold that protects the environment and kills giant murderous skull crawlers…what more do you need? This movie was equally hilarious as it was action packed; it’s a great summer film that you should immediately check out. Although we may be biased, there’s something about a big monkey that will always hold a special place in our hearts. No other film can make death scenes as funny; besides, no movie is complete without an angry swearing Samuel L. Jackson starring in it. This movie is a cinematic masterpiece.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974):
Two Godzillas? how is this possible? Which is the real one? Follow along with a confusing, and at times, anticlimactic plot to find out the truth to this mystery. Filled with goofy and hilarious puppet-like action, this movie isn’t afraid to not take itself too seriously, unlike modern Godzilla films. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla has the same bodysuit monster action and confusing plot points, except this time the stakes are higher. Godzilla seems to be aimlessly causing destruction around Japan. But all isn’t as it seems when another mysteriously shiny, metallic, havoc-wreaking Godzilla confronts this Godzilla. All is eventually revealed as the movie showcases an epic battle between monster foe and monster hero. This 1974 Toho Godzilla film is a must-watch.
Pacific Rim (2013):
Let’s not talk about…It had cool action and CGI, but beyond that it lacked creativity, felt lowkey like a Power Rangers/Voltron ripoff, and was the same action film script we’ve seen in every summer blockbuster movie to date. A good watch if you’re bored, other than that there’s nothing special about it.
The film which spawned dozens of often campy sequels is actually a somber cautionary tale directed towards a species racing towards perfecting new cycles of destruction. The plot is simple: an ancient sea creature, whose habitat was disrupted by the atomic bomb, emerges in Japan and wreaks havoc. Director Ishiro Honda is careful to balance his destructive spectacle with footage of its consequences on Japan’s civilians. This gives the miniature sets, unrealistic as they may look, more depth and texture than the pixels of any modern blockbuster. The film that started it all easily earns its place in the monster movie pantheon.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962):
Between Godzilla Raids Again and its seven-years-belated sequel, Japan had fully recovered from the destruction of World War II and had altogether embraced consumerism. The tonal change of King Kong vs. Godzilla reflects this; a lighter, tongue-in-cheek adventure replaces the original film’s grim tone. Instead of bystanders wailing at the deaths Godzilla has wrought, we see a pharmaceutical executive who watches King Kong and Godzilla fight as if it were a WWE match. The film culminates with a very funny fight sequence that sadly ends in a disappointing anti-climax. This really says a lot about our society.
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964):
The Godzilla franchise escalated fairly quickly from a monster destroying a city, to a monster fighting another monster, to a princess getting possessed by Venusians who predict the arrival of monsters. That’s not even this film’s weirdest aspect. Half of it hardly involves kaiju, focusing instead on an entertaining sci-fi plot that detours into Seijun Suzuki-esque gangster territory. When monsters do appear, they spar in another charmingly funny set piece, which at one point involves Godzilla and Rodan playing volleyball with a rock. This also has some of the franchise’s best cinematography, with the rich Eastmancolor Tohoscope illuminating Japan’s beautiful landscapes.
Destroy All Monsters (1968):
Destroy All Monsters might be the Godzilla franchise’s most chaotic entry. It wastes no time setting its elaborate and bewildering plot in motion – which is half standard Godzilla film, half Star Trek episode, and hops across Moscow, Paris, London, and space. The plot’s incoherent mechanics are not important; however, they merely exist to get the monsters from one miniaturized set piece to another, and these set pieces are some of the franchise’s best. A highlight is when all the monsters – too many to count – team up to pummel Ghidora while Godzilla’s dullard son nonchalantly watches.
Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (2014):
In addition to producing such boundary-pushing serialized masterworks as Ghost Wars (2017-18) and Wynonna Earp (2016-), the Syfy Channel also has a bountiful industry of disaster movies, the most famous of which is Sharknado (2013). While these films try to ingratiate themselves into the So-Bad-It’s-Good Canon, they forget one essential rule: the greatest masterpieces of bad taste (The Room, Birdemic, Gotti) were sincere efforts that failed spectacularly. These, on the other hand, are cynical, abysmally lazy time-slot fillers, which have no more importance than the commercials which pad them. The fights are so mind-numbing and inexpressively cheap that they’re not even worth recounting.