The best monster movies of all time

You just can’t beat the terrifying fun of a good monster movie. Full of adrenaline-inducing storylines, and stomach-churning visuals, creature features are an entertaining cinematic ride. Typically focusing on an intimidating beast battling against humanity, monster movies can fall under many different genres, but generally, they always deliver a banging allegorical story about universal horror. From fears of the atomic age, to intergalactic panic – there are plenty of symbolic creature plots that have captured our nightmares over the years, and tons of brilliantly designed monsters that still haunt our dreams today.

But what makes a monster movie? For this list, we are going with the classics. By that, we mean werewolves, supernatural folk, space invaders, and giant city-destroying monsters are all up to bat. However, we have deliberately decided to leave zombies out of the line-up, simply because we believe that there are too many excellent undead films that deserve recognition. If you are looking for the walking dead, be sure to check out our list of the best zombie movies. We have also omitted any supernatural serial killers, like our boy Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger – since again, this list would go on forever if we did.

Now with all that out of the way, it’s time to meet the terrifying monsters that made the cut into the big leagues. We’ve picked the people eating, and home destroying champions of cinema. So, get ready for some fangs, scales, and a scarily entertaining time – here is our list of the best monster movies you can watch right now.

What are the best monster movies?

  • Godzilla
  •  Cloverfield
  •  Creature from the Black Lagoon
  •  The Blob
  •  The Host
  •  Frankenstein
  •  Little Shop of Horrors
  •  Them!
  •  Dog Soldiers
  •  King Kong

Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla isn’t just one of the best known cinematic monsters; he has also spawned the longest-running movie franchise of all time. With 36 movies under the reptile’s belt, it was tough to pick just one of these iconic kaiju films to put on our list, but in the end, we decided that you just can’t beat the original. Directed by Ishiro Honda, the first Godzilla movie wasn’t just your typical fun giant monster flick; it had darker roots, and at its core, symbolises nuclear annihilation.

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The film is a metaphorical story, showing a dinosaur creature who shoots atomic breath from its mouth and is just generally an unstoppable force, taking to the streets of Tokyo. As the monster tramples the city, the sheer chaos and terror in the movie reflects the real-life devastation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Besides these hard-hitting themes, the film was also the first of its kind to use suitmation-revolutionising the sub-genre, and cementing its place in cinematic history.

Cloverfield (2008)

There is just something about seeing a giant monster’s destruction through the eyes of a regular person that ticks all those heart-racing boxes, and makes for one damn entertaining film. Cloverfield is a found footage horror movie centred around a group of people who were just trying to record some heartfelt messages at their friend’s farewell party. However, their plans are chucked in the bin when a giant monster decides to lay waste to New York City, and their videotape starts to document all the carnage and urban destruction first-hand instead.

The story is tight, full of striking special effects that still hold up by today’s standards, and there is never a dull moment as we watch a bunch of average joes trying desperately to survive. Cloverfield is a monster movie that pushed the found footage format to new heights, terrifying us with glimpses of a mysterious monster, building suspense and capitalising on the universal fear of the unknown…oh and city-destroying creatures, I guess.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Taking a break from giant beasts, and looking at some of Universal Studios’ classic monsters instead, let’s talk about one of the best creature features ever to hit the big screen, Creature from the Black Lagoon. An iconic science fiction movie with a suspenseful aquatic twist, Creature from the Black Lagoon, follows a group of scientists venturing out into the Amazon – on a research expedition to find the link between land and sea animals.

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The group finds their proof, encountering an ancient, humanoid amphibian who begins to kill the crew to avoid capture, and to save itself and its home from the scientific invaders. It isn’t often you find yourself sympathising with a monster, but here you worry about the fish man’s fate, and root against the humans. Creature from the Black Lagoon is a monster movie that’ll stick in your mind for years to come, and will probably make you think twice before you ever take a dip into any body of water ever again.

The Blob (1988)

Pink goo has never been so intimidating. A gore masterpiece, The Blob is an unstoppable, carnage maker, and to this day, stands as a highly entertaining, and too often overlooked monster movie. A remake of the 1958 film, the 1988 version of The Blob is a movie that blows its predecessor out the water, thanks to its fast-paced story, violent scenes, and some of the most horrifically graphic practical effects you’ll ever see.

Directed by Chuck Russell (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors), the movie follows a gelatinous alien consuming a small American town. After a meteorite falls from the sky, a slimy substance is found by an elderly man, who unfortunately ends up having the slime adhere to his hand. The substance begins to consume him, growing in size, and oozing its way around the town, graphically absorbing everyone in its wake. The film is straight fun, has some crazy deaths, and never takes itself too seriously.

The Host (2006)

A record-breaking South Korean creature feature, The Host is a movie that puts a monstrous twist on a typical kidnapping storyline. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, the Academy award-winning auteur behind one of the best movies of all time, Parasite, his first monumental success story was The Host, a film about an amphibious monster. After an American pathologist (Scott Wilson) orders his assistant to dump some toxic chemicals into the Han River, a mutated creature emerges and begins to terrorise Seoul.

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Gang-du (Song Kang-ho) runs a snack bar near the river, and as you can guess, finds himself face to face with the mutated monster. As the creature begins attacking people, it ends up snatching his daughter Hyun-seo (Go Ah-sung). However, Gang-du won’t leave his daughter to die, and ventures into the sewers to rescue her. The movie is full of brilliant actors, has a creepy looking monster to make you squirm, and it also looks fantastic – full of charming cinematography that adds to its tense, and grimy atmosphere.

Frankenstein (1931)

We couldn’t talk about the best monster movies without mentioning one of the most iconic creations to hit both the literary and cinematic world, Frankenstein’s monster. Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel of the same name, Frankenstein stands as one of Universal Studio’s most successful and acclaimed early creature features.

Directed by James Whale, and starring horror icon Boris Karloff, the black and white movie starts with a cold opening, as a man warns viewers that what they are about to see may be too shocking- and boy, they didn’t disappoint. The film was a boundary-breaking stamp on the monster genre, showing more violence, a darker subject matter than any of its predecessors, and stunning production design inspired by German expressionism. Following a scientist who is obsessed with creating life, we see a monster being made, and later scorned to his fiery demise. The movie is stylish, full of character, and is an indisputable classic.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Feed me, Seymour! It’s easy to find a monster that can make you scream, but it’s rare to find a creature that can hold a tune as well. Little Shop of Horrors is a musical monster movie about an intergalactic carnivorous plant with a very big appetite. Directed by film legend Frank Oz (the voice of Yoda and the director of The Dark Crystal), the movie is adapted from the off-Broadway black-comedy musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by a ‘60s film by Roger Corman.

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Set in Skid Row, the musical follows Seymour (Rick Moranis), an employee at Mr Mushnik’s struggling flower shop who is in love with his co-worker Audrey (Ellen Greene). One day he brings his mysterious, exotic plant into work, and business starts to finally look good until Seymour learns that the plant needs human blood to survive. With some banging songs, amazing comedy, and sprinkles of cute romance, here is a top-notch monster movie full of personality, and some mind-blowing special effects that literally everyone can enjoy.

Them! (1954)

In the same year as the iconic Japanese Kaiju movie, Godzilla graced the big screen; another atomic classic was released. However, instead of a reptile, this time we’re looking at a horde of humongous insects. Them! is an American Sci-Fi movie about carpenter ants who have grown to gigantic sizes due to radiation. The film was one of the first movies to use bugs as the main figure in a giant monster feature, sparking the ‘big’ insect craze that would later take Hollywood by storm.

At its core, Them! is a cautionary tale about nuclear bombs, and how contaminating nature could have dire consequences that irreversibly impact the world we live in. Besides being a box office hit, the film is also widely regarded as one of the best science fiction movies to come out of the 1950s, thanks to its fast pace script, and striking special effects.

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Few films are as entertaining as Neil Marshall’s directorial debut, Dog Soldiers. An action-packed monster movie that never takes itself too seriously, Dog Soldiers is full of gore, good humour, and has plenty of quality canine puns. The movie revolves around a group of British soldiers performing a standard military training exercise in the Scottish woods. Everything seems normal at first, with the men more concerned with the football match they are missing than their wilderness test. However, things start getting dicey thanks to a full moon, and a pack of hungry werewolves.

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The group discovers the remains of an unmarked military camp that’s been devastated by unknown attackers – kicking off a series of deadly events involving radio silence and many supernatural creatures out for their blood. From violent action sequences with assault rifles firing off at the beasts, to scenes showing gory mangled limbs being held together by superglue – here is a ridiculous horror movie that fully knows how ridiculous it is, and is just impossible not to love.

King Kong (1933)

There is no shortage of King Kong films to choose from, but despite our love for Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake, you just can’t overlook the culturally significant, groundbreaking original 1933 monster movie. An action-adventure film that centres around a giant Gorilla- like creature, popularly known as Kong, the movie tells the story about a monster who turns out to be a romantic at heart… in a weird possessive kind of way, I guess.

A film crew heads to an uncharted island, home to an ancient beast. However, as soon as they arrive, their leading lady is kidnapped by the island’s natives and offered up as a sacrifice to Kong. Luckily the huge ape takes an immediate shine to her, sparing her life while the crew start their quest to come to her rescue. The movie uses stop-motion animation, and inspired countless other filmmakers to make films about huge creatures. King Kong isn’t only the film that really kicked off the giant monster movie trend, but it is also a stunning prehistoric fever dream that still holds up today.

And there you have it, the best monster movies of all time, if you are looking for more thrills, be sure to check out our list of the best horror movies on Netflix.

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Emma-Jane Betts

Staff Writer

Updated: Aug 02, 2021


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