Why do we love monster movies? Maybe it's the special effects. Maybe it's the endless inventiveness of filmmakers, constantly having to come up with new ways to make monsters scary. Or maybe it's something deeper.
Maybe it's because we like to be scared, and (barring the rare shark attack), humans are pretty much at the top of the food chain nowadays. Maybe there's something primal in us that remembers what it felt like to be hunted, and seeks release through fiction. After all, you wouldn't want to come face-to-face with a supernatural beastie that looks at you and sees dinner, but isn't there something compelling about watching that story play out on screen? Whatever it is, monster movies are almost as old as cinema itself. This list compiles 50 of the best. Now, let's go monster hunting!
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
The Monster: The Creeper, who sort of resembles a dusty-jacket-wearing cowboy until he gets out that scaly old face. Oh, and a pair of wings.
The Movie: Nightmare On Elm Street-style horror, in which siblings Darry (Justin Long) and Trish (Gina Philips) are driving home for spring break when they encounter unimaginable horror in the countryside. And creepy old ladies with cats.
Coolest Detail: The Creepers truck has a clever little warning hidden in its licence plate BEATINGU.
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
The Monster: A giant dinosaur dubbed Rhedosaurus, this monster was peacefully hibernating in the ice of the Arctic Circle before atomic bomb testing woke him up.
The Movie: Sci-fi horror based on a Ray Bradbury short story, with a built-in warning about the use of atomic weaponry. Oh, and the stop-motion animation was by the legendary Ray Harryhausen.
Coolest Detail: The dinosaur skeleton prop used in the movie was nabbed from classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby.
Night Of The Lepus (1972)
The Monster: Bunnies. Yup, this is a monster movie about killer rabbits.
The Movie: A slightly daft sci-fi horror, Night Of The Lepus tries its hardest to make rabbits frightening, but cant quite succeed. Even a giant, mutated, man-eating bunny is still a bunny.
Coolest Detail: The rampaging rabbits were mostly normal-rabbits hopping around miniature sets, but there are also scenes featuring actors in bunny suits.
Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)
The Monster: Quetzalcoatl, or Q for short, is an Aztec god. And also, like the title suggests, a giant flying lizard.
The Movie: Larry Cohen's fantasy horror didn't kickstart the franchise he might've been hoping for the movie ends on a cliffhanger that didn't spark a sequel but it has become a cult favourite.
Coolest Detail: Q sets up home at the top of the Chrysler Building. Its Art Deco spire was what inspired Cohen to make the movie, because he thought it'd be the ideal location for a monster's nest.
The Monster: Small, toothy balls of chaos, Crites are an evil alien race.
The Movie:A comedy horror/sci-fi starring Dee Wallace-Stone, Critters has often been compared to Gremlins, but producers are adamant that it had nothing to do with that movie and there's definitely nothing cute about these critters.
Coolest Detail: The Crites speak their own language, which incorporates elements from French and Japanese.
The Monster: Basically, they're zombified beavers, mutated after a truckload of toxic chemicals was accidentally dumped into their river.
The Movie: At first glance, it's a typical cabin-in-the-woods movie, as a bunch of kids head out to the woods for fun times. But then the zombie beavers turn up, and it turns into a horror comedy thats surprisingly fun.
Coolest Detail: The final punchline which implies any animal can be infected with the same virus that created zombeavers is killer.
The Monster: Hybrid spiders, created by breeding an unknown and aggressive Amazonian spider with a common house spider. Terrifying, huge, with a deadly bite.
The Movie: Starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman, Arachnophobia is often referred to as a horror comedy, but that really depends on how scared you are of eight-legged beasties.
Coolest Detail: The sound of spiders being stomped was created by crushing crisps. Crunchy.
Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
The Monster: Engineers are modified humans who grow weapons in place of body parts. Weapons like, er, alligator jaws.
The Movie: Somewhere under all the gore and gleeful perversity theres a kind of detective story at the heart of Tokyo Gore Police, as Engineer Hunter Ruka (Eihi Shiina) attempts to track down the Key Man (Itsuhi Itao) who's behind the spate of mutations.
Coolest Detail: Pick your favourite mutation. They're all pretty cool.
The Monster: The monster of the title is a prehistoric flying lizard that might be a Pteranodon but the giant Meganulon insects it feeds on are pretty monstrous in their own right.
The Movie: A small mining town is plagued by monsters after nuclear tests crack open the Earth and release creatures trapped deep beneath the surface. So yup, this kaiju movie is another one with an anti-nuclear message built-in.
Coolest Detail: The US release of this movie includes documentary footage of a hydrogen bomb being tested.