8. King Kong
One of the most unusual and endearing romance stories ever seen, a giant ape swooning over a glamourous actress is certainly not your average celebrity love story. But if you say you didn’t shed a tear by the end, you are either lying or made of stone, or just a regular person because admittedly it is a fictional ape.
But regardless, King Kong is undoubtedly an icon, one that occupies the emotional centre of his story as well as the undeniable charm that permeates the film, something that neither of the big budget remakes (though Peter Jackson came pretty close) have captured to the same extent.
7. Cat People
A key example of how horror can use a subversive and implied tone to tackle a subject matter that most genres would stay far away from.
On the surface, it may appear to be a simple story of a woman that transforms into a cat when aroused, but the fact that Cat People examines every aspect of the story is what makes it unique. It also serves as an allegory for childhood abuse and the destruction it creates as well as the constrictions of social prosperity.
Quite possibly the single most iconic image in horror history is the giant slab of what resembles a man stretched out on a table as it is slowly lowered and a delirious scientist rushes about in excitement. Frankenstein remains the quintessential sympathetic monster as a creature of terrifying proportion that somehow evokes empathy from the viewer.
The film has eclipsed the original novel and though some will argue differently, remember that the flat forehead, green tinted skin and neck electrodes are all editions from the film, as is the hunchback henchmen and spooky castles (and before anyone starts complaining, Bride of Frankenstein is also spectacular).
There are so many incredible monsters to come out of what must be an extremely irradiated Japanese sea, almost too many to name and if I were to try and do so, they would take up most of this list. If I were to pick one, it would have to be the vengeful yet heroic Godzilla.
A post Hiroshima Japanese film industry poured its resources into this subversive commentary of the event of reasoning why something that saves so many must also be so destructive. Even if it is obvious that the giant lizard is a man in a suit, it moves, roars and stamps with such ferocity that you inevitably believe in the size and scale of the monster to make it a great creature feature.
4. The Fly
Body horror seems to hold a special place in our subconscious fear, maybe it is the mutated version of humanity that resonates with us on the most primeval method, maybe we unconsciously associate our own worst fears with?
Regardless, David Cronenberg’s science fiction horror is so effective in so many ways, it warns of the dangers of progress, the horror of what lies beneath and the slow transformative process acts as one of the most terrifying slow burns in cinema history. But it also provokes broader emotions than just horror, such as admiration, sympathy and wonder, all underpinned by the deepest disgust.
Before we start talking about the film itself, take a moment to admire the beauty of the design of the Xenomorph itself, inspired by Swiss painter and Sculptor H R Giger. The fact that it can be admired as a work of brilliance only makes the achievements of Ridley Scott even greater as he creates such a seminal horror film that evokes such terror from such a creature.
Alien is an impeccably crafted story on survival and littered with intricately organised exposition and relatable characters that bring forward the horror and claustrophobia of the situation far more than any lazy gore effects.
2. The Thing
The Thing itself may be the most remarkable single movie monster ever. Obviously there are the practical effects, models, puppetry and mechanics that defy believe, but combine them with the paranoia of its shape-shifting abilities, its fortitude, the mutated body horror, and multiplicity and the Thing is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
Carpenter designs his characters with a specific grounded nature (such as Kurt Russell’s maverick helicopter pilot) to emphasise the unnatural style of this alien parasite that is as sickening as it is wondrous.
It may be ironic that the greatest monster movie centres on a creature that is not from another world, a mutated human or an ancient evil, it is simply a giant shark. The fear of the unknown permeates the film, drawing suspense from what he audience cannot see rather than what we expect to see. The shark is an unnameable terror that only shows its face in the film’s last act, but has permeated our innermost fears long before that.
It is also a force far beyond the ability of man to control (another subtle Spielberg nod to man vs nature) as the eating machine munches its way through characters that we empathise with and care about, but we know they have little chance of survival against this creature that cannot be reasoned or bargained with. Jaws still stands as an enduring and pure form of horror, and the greatest monster movie of all time.
Author Bio: Joshua Price considers himself more of a fan that happens to write near insane ramblings on movies and directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, Fellini, Kubrick and Lumet rather than an actual critic and other insane ramblings can be found at criticalfilmsuk.blogspot.co.uk.