My kids and I have been marathon watching all the Jurassic Park movies lately in anticipation of this week’s release of Jurassic World. It has been really cool for me as a father to watch them discover these movies with the same wide eyed awe I did when I watched them years ago in the theaters. I must admit, with my kids being 10 and 7 I wondered if I might be showing them this stuff too soon and would end up dealing with nightmares of dinosaurs eating people but I am happy to say that this whole “genetics thing” really works. Much like their dad, they can’t get enough of it. While Jurassic Park is about dinosaurs, it is in essence a good old fashioned monster movie. This one just happens to feature velociraptors. As I was thinking about all of this I thought it would make sense for this week’s #thereisnospoonfriday to be my top 5 monster movies of all time. As with all my lists, this is according to me. I welcome your comments and your own lists and truly love geeking out to this stuff with all you movie dorks like me. The rule for this list is that there must be a “monster” of some sort in the film – that’s it. Let’s roll.
1. Jaws – I vividly remember the first time I saw this movie. Like everyone else, I was immediately terrified of the ocean and getting munched on by a giant shark. Beyond being just a good old fashioned monster movie (yes – I know it is a shark but this one is a “monster” in my mind) it is also a really well made and acted movie too. This is early Spielberg and I still think to this day it remains one of his very best movies. The fact that you don’t even see the shark until ¾ of the way through the movie and you are scared of it is evidence of a master director at work. I love Roy Scheider as Chief Brody, but for my money the best character in the movie is Quint played by Robert Shaw. The scenes of the shark are terrifying and of course the soundtrack is a classic, but the best part of the movie is when Brody, Quint and Hooper are on the boat talking “scars”. Just a great scene. But the scene everyone remembers best is: We’re gonna need a bigger boat!
2. Jurassic Park – Every kid, by law, loves dinosaurs. I was not an avid reader growing up (ironic since I ended up being an English major in college) but whenever a dinosaur book made it’s way into my possession I would pour through them with a passion. These things once lived on earth and that simultaneously thrilled me and scared the crap out of me. Up until Jurassic Park though, they never got the proper movie treatment. Sure – there was King Kong and some might even say Godzilla is kind of dinosaur-ish, but we were thirsting for a good dinosaur flick when Jurassic Park came around. This movie still holds up today really well too. The scene in the Tyrannosaur paddock with the kids is epic (that guy on the toilet getting munched especially so) but the real monsters of this movie are the velociraptors. They were fast, mean and even worse – smart. It is tough to pick one iconic scene from a movie with so many so I will go with my personal favorite and the one piece of dialogue that everyone knows from this movie – “clever girl”. “Clever girl”
3. Aliens – Some will argue with me and say the first one, Alien, is the better choice. I very passionately will tell those people they are about as wrong as brown socks are with sneakers. THIS is the movie that took a great concept and monster in the first one and put it on steroids. Very rarely does the sequel outdo the original, but this is one where indeed it does. Ripley is the ultimate bad ass heroine and this is the movie where she gets to show it – and then some. Ripley is part of a military crew going to a colonized planet where they have lost contact with the colonists, only to discover it is overrun not just with one of these monsters, but literally with thousands. This movie is fast, intelligent and claustrophobic all at once. Ripley steals the show, but I have always been a Michael Biehn fan since Terminator and his Corporal Hicks is pretty cool in his own right. Yet – this is Ripley’s movie, and the scene everyone knows and loves epitomizes her bad-assness when she says to the Queen alien “Get away from her, you bitch!” – “Get away from her, you bitch!”
4. Gremlins – not every monster movie has to be scary. Sometimes monster movies can be fun – and funny – too. This is definitely a “monster” movie – but the monsters, while maybe scary to a 5 year old, are really more fun and wacky than they are intended to scare you. It all started with the cute Gizmo – a teddy bear come to life that our hero gets as a gift from his father. Unfortunately, our hero doesn’t listen to the instructions of how to care for Gizmo and gets water on him after midnight and then an army of little Gremlin monsters begin to take over an unsuspecting small town. There are some truly hilarious scenes of the gremlins causing havoc, but everyone still remembers “stripe” – the leader of this new gremlin army. A fun, family friendly monster movie? Yes please. One of the most memorable scenes is when Billy’s (our hero) mother faces gremlins in the kitchen one of them meets a microwave induced death. Gremlin, meet Microwave
5. The Thing – unlike Gremlins, this movie is effing scary. Like – really effing scary. Picture a monster that can literally take on any form of any living thing, throw in a team of people in the remote wasteland of Antarctica and you have one hell of a movie. The fact that as the movie progresses you never really know who is real and who is the thing and you get great gore, a great monster and incredible drama. Kurt Russell is the man, so much so that he should just be called “The Man” instead of Kurt Russell, but he gives a really subdued, less in your face performance here. There are so many great scenes in this movie to pick from, but here is one of my favorites. That thing is weird!
This list was much tougher to come up with than I thought it would be. For one, I excluded many great zombie movies that just as easily could have been on here. I also left off Godzilla – but outside of the nostalgia of watching Godzilla vs Mothra on Saturday afternoon creature double features as a kid they really weren’t very good movies. I am also lukewarm on the recent Godzilla that just hit the theaters too. So there you have it, my top 5 monster movies of all time. Happy Friday and remember – there is no spoon.