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Global Horror and Monster Cinema: Giant Monsters

This is a resource guide for academic research in the global horror and monster cinema field of study.

Introduction to Giant Monsters

The Giant Monster genre of films is characterized by the appearance of a giant monster that rampages through an inhabited area causing extreme destruction and often at the expense of the tiny humans that are almost always underfoot.

Below is a listing of ten films in this genre from the global cinema community. This list is not all encompassing nor does it endeavor to rank these as the ten best giant monster films. 

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Godzilla (Gojira)

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In Godzilla or Gojira you see the island of Japan terrorized by a giant monster from the sea. You soon learn nuclear testing created this unstoppable monster. Will it destroy Tokyo or will they be able to stop it in time?

There is a rerelease American version called Godzilla: King of Monsters produced in 1956 starring Raymond Burr and features scenes with Burr spliced in to the original film. Take care to find the correct version when viewing for academic purposes.  

Director: Ishirô Honda

Writers: Takeo Murata, Ishirô Honda

Stars: Takashi Shimura, Akihito Hirata, Akira Takarada

Year: 1954

Country: Japan

Troll Hunter

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In Troll Hunter a group of university students head out with their video cameras to investigate the mysterious deaths of loads of bears in the mountains. The students soon meet the mysterious Hans whom they suspect for the brutal killings; however, they quickly learn he has a much more fantastic secret. 

Director/Writer: André Øvredal

Stars: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum

Year: 2010

Country: Norway

The Host

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The Host features an unidentified monster emerging from the Han River to take people. One family victimized by the river monster learns their loved one may not be dead and they set out to rescue her from the monster's clutches.

Director: Joon Ho Bong

Writers: Joon Ho Bong and Won-jun Ha

Stars: Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park

Year: 2006

Country: South Korea

King Kong

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In the original King Kong a director needs the perfect location to finish his film, and he chooses the remote Skull Island. He takes his crew and new film star to start shooting. She is quickly captured by the island natives and sacrificed to their nemesis, the giant gorilla King Kong. The crew races to rescue her from Kong and eventually capture the beast. Then they take him back to New York in hopes of turning a profit.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

Writers: James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose

Stars: Far Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot

Year: 1933

Country: USA


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Tremors features giant "worms" that live underground and begin terrorizing the sleepy town of Perfection. The local residents do their best to avoid the "grabbers" by hiding on the rooftops, but soon figure out they can't stay there forever. 

Director: Ron Underwood

Writers: S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock

Stars: Kevin Bacon, Finn Carter, Fred Ward

Year: 1990

Country: USA


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Monsters features some giant alien creatures brought to Earth by a NASA probe that crashed in Mexico. Now large swaths of Mexico are quarantined with the US and Mexican militaries attempting to keep control of the borders. During these events one young journalist volunteers to escort a tourist across the quarantined zone to safety. 

Director/Writer: Gareth Edwards

Stars: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able, Mario Zuniga

Year: 2010

Country: UK   


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Cloverfield follows a group of friends who are using a hand-held camera to tape a party. During the party some of the buildings in New York start to crumble and the friends are now running from a massive monster to save their lives and rescue a friend. Through the found footage cinematography we catch glimpses of the monster and the mass destruction.

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Drew Goddard

Stars: Lizzy Caplan, Mike Vogel, Jessica Lucas

Year: 2008

Country: USA


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Kronos sees a meteorite crash to Earth. Soon after a group of scientists head to investigate only to see a giant mechanical robot emerge from the ocean. The robot appears to be sent by aliens in an attempt to siphon off the Earths energy.

Director: Kurt Neumann

Writer: Lawrence L. Goldman and Irving Block

Stars: Jeff Morrow, Barbara Lawrence, John Emery

Year: 1957

Country: USA

Big Man Japan

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Big Man Japan is all about a 40-year-old man who lives alone in Tokyo. However, whenever a giant monster shows up to wreak havoc he transforms to a giant and steadfastly defends his homeland. 

Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto

Writer: Hitoshi Matsumoto and Mitsuyoshi Takasu

Stars: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Riki Takeuchi, Ua

Year: 2007

Country: Japan

Call of Cthulhu

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Call of Cthulhu is a gem of a movie presented in the style of a 1920's silent film. It features a man who goes to take care of his late uncle's affairs only to stumble upon a dark family secret. He eventually learns of three tales related to this madness inducing secret horror while he investigates. 

Director: Andrew Leman

Writer: H.P. Lovecraft (story) Sean Branney (adaptation)

Stars: Matt Foyer, John Bolen, Ralph Lucas

Year: 2005

Country: USA


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