25 best horror movie monsters

10 of 26

17. Godzilla

Godzilla, alas, has become something of a parody of itself these days. Modern viewers have, frankly, a lot of dreck to wade through, even if they are devoted to this gigantic, irradiated lizard being. After all, there’s the execrable 1998 Godzilla and a much better, if still uneven, American Godzilla film released in 2014.

Of course, Godzilla is really the purview of the Japanese film industry. Godzilla first appeared on film in 1954, via director Ishiro Honda and the actor who played Godzilla himself, Haruo Nakajima. By the way, Nakajima crammed himself into the often uncomfortable Godzilla suit for 12 movies straight. He also said that even he, who had literally donned the skin of the monster, had no idea if Godzilla was male or female.

But for all the silliness you might encounter in the Godzilla franchise, the monster itself is still a serious threat. Generally, Godzilla is taken to be some sort of prehistoric monster, slumbering peacefully beneath the seas until nuclear testing awakens it. Godzilla then lumbers ashore and begins to completely destroy Tokyo. The best efforts of military personnel, scientists, and civilians are all for naught. Nature, vast and angry, prevails.

The 1954 Godzilla was especially concerned with the effects of nuclear war and scientific hubris, making it one of the most thoughtful and devastating films in the franchise. It also introduces the monster itself. Godzilla is stupendously large, so much so that it dwarfs many buildings. With its distinctive, screaming call, anyone in Godzilla’s path is sure to be awash in terror.