10 Best Old Monster Movies

Friday, March 4 by Charlie Higgins

Looking for the 10 best old moster movies? What is it about those giant, blood thirsty, hairy things that keeps popcorn-munching movie audiences coming back year after year? Whether you’re a creature-feature freak or prefer slow period dramas, all moviegoers can appreciate the thrill of seeing a huge ape or scaly beast wreak havoc on the big screen. Here are the 10 best old monster movies that helped give rise to a multi-billion dollar industry.

  1. “King Kong” (1933) The glaring political incorrectness and homespun special effects may be risible nowadays, but this highly influential tale of a giant ape falling for an underappreciated actress provided the necessary escape audiences needed during the height of the depression
  2. “Frankenstein” (1931) This definitive adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic novel induced shrieks and fainting spells when it first hit theaters. Boris Karloff’s nuanced, career-defining performance as the tormented creature remains one of cinema's most memorable transformations to date. 
  3. “Nosferatu” (1922) Even if 1920s silent German film is not really your thing, this early Dracula adaptation is sure to make your hairs stand on end in a dark theater. The film jump-started the career of one of German cinema’s great filmmakers, F.W. Murnau, who used real castles and landscapes in Central Europe to create an unforgettably spooky atmosphere. 
  4. “The Thing” (1951) Though the premise of a man-eating “thing” from outer space that attacks a group of research scientists holed up in the arctic is inherently ridiculous, this 50s gem by the legendary Howard Hawks delivers all the goods. A rarity of its time, the film’s success is built upon its natural dialogue and a director's steady hand rather than the awesomeness of its special effects.
  5. “Creature From The Black Lagoon” (1954) Director Jack Arnold created another 50s monster movie icon with this bizarre thriller about a group of scientists who discover a slimy, amphibious and, apparently, girl-crazy “Gill Man” while on a fossil hunting expedition in the Amazon. Not until “Jaws” would a film inspire such fear of recreational swimming.
  6. “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) Funnier and more self-effacing than the original “Frankenstein,” this unofficial sequel is rife with parody, taking deserved stabs at monster movie clichés, Hollywood romance and even Christian doctrine. Boris Karloff returns as the un-jolly green giant stricken by a curiously attractive female equivalent with really bad hair.
  7. “Cat People” (1942) Jacques Tourneur’s highly lauded psychological horror film about a woman who turns into a ferocious human-cat hybrid when sexually aroused is chock full of film school gender-political themes to chew on. However “Cat People,” as its conspicuous title suggests, works on a cheesy monster matinee level as well. 
  8. “The Wolf Man” (1941) Any fan of horror is no stranger to the hairy, often humble werewolf, and this early portrait of the famous lycanthrope who transforms in the light of the full moon ranks as one of the best monster movies of all time. Actor Lon Chaney gives a respectable performance as the cursed wolf man.
  9. “Godzilla” (1954) Godzilla is arguably the most well known Japanese film of all time, a fact that serious Japanese filmmakers may find disheartening. The giant radioactive lizard that spawned an empire has been mocked and remade so many times it’s easy to forget the simplistic beauty of this 50s classic.
  10. “Them!” (1954) Released the same year as “Godzilla,” this American film was a reaction to the very same Cold War-induced fears of atomic radiation held by Japanese society at the time. The “them” in question here are an army of giant mutant ants, the byproduct of nuclear bomb testing in the area. 
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