Ahead of the new Godzilla movie, we look back at celluloid's scariest
Being scared out of your wits in front of the silver screen is a great feeling. When you bite your nails and have to hide behind the popcorn, you know you’re onto a winner. Movies about monsters are still so popular that you don’t even have to wait until Halloween to scream.
Cinematic monsters these days cover a broad spectrum from werewolves and vampires, to full-on, out-of-this-world alien terrorisers.Increasingly, filmmakers have a whole host of tools at their disposal to tap into the audience’s psyche by the clever use of subliminal imagery to create monsters that are faster, stronger, bigger and smarter – oh, and they chuck in acid for blood and two heads, just for extra scares.
King Kong (2005) We were first introduced to the giant ape from Skull Island in 1933’s groundbreaking film. There have certainly been many remakes since. The 2005 version is an impressive attempt, with Andy Serkis, the king of motion-capture characterisation breathing new life into the colossal primate. But what makes Kong so scary? Perhaps the idea that one of our animal relatives could be so huge, reap mass destruction on New York and fall for a human.
Alien (1979) Alien is one of the ultimate film monsters – the creature doesn’t have a name, it’s not even the biggest on this list, but if you were to put this extra-terrestrial fiend in a death match against any of the others, it would be the last monster standing. With acid blood coursing through its body, razor-like teeth and a vicious reproductive cycle, Alien still strikes fear into viewers today. Director Ridley Scott very cleverly plays with imagination and you barely see a shot of the whole beast during the entire film, building suspense and tension with every scene.
Godzilla (1998) Godzilla first appeared in Ishirõ Honda’s 1954 film about the monster, and his physical form unquestionably represents many things we find frightening. Part reptile, part dinosaur, he has giant rows of teeth, as well as atomic breath – a reference to the Japanese creators. When the film was first released, the memories of the nuclear bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were still fresh in the Japanese consciousness and in some films Godzilla was destructive and in others he was the hero. The 1998 version, starring Matthew Broderick, sees the radioactive lizard run riot in Manhattan.
Predator (1987) Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t scare easily, and in his heyday there weren’t many men on screen with bigger muscles. But when Predator came out, the alien warrior had Arnie running scared through the jungle. The film charts a team of commandos on a special mission in a Central American jungle lead by Major ‘Dutch’ Schaefer (Schwarzenegger). By the time the crew realise they’ve been sent on a fool’s errand, the predator has started picking them off one by one. For the best part of the film, the predator is only seen as movements in the dense jungle foliage until the end, when his full gruesomeness is revealed.
Pacific Rim (2013) Pacific Rim is set in the distant future where humans are fighting an ongoing battle against monstrous sea creatures called Kaiju. Emerging from an ocean portal, these beasts very nearly decimate the human race. In the film, humans develop machines called ‘jaegers’ to defeat the meanies, but the Kaiju simply evolve, proving themselves to be a fearsome adversary in the process. Kaiju is the Japanese word for monster – an apt name for these unrelenting beasts.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006): Pale Man Not exactly the baddest of film monsters, while Pale Man’s got no super powers to speak of, he’s certainly one of the spookiest. Pale Man has his eyes on the palms of his hands and doesn’t like being woken up much. In this fantasy film, young Pan is sent to live with her fascist stepfather and escapes into a magical world. There, she meets all kinds of ghouls but Pale Man steals the show, with his saggy skin and penchant for feasting on children. Godzilla is in cinemas across Dubai from Thursday May 15.