Top 10 American Kaiju Movies (besides Godzilla) According to Letterboxd

Japan is known for giant monster movies such as Godzilla. It’s been one of their main movie imports for decades, but the United States has struggled with the genre. Although movies like The Beast of 20,000 Fathams and King Kong were very influential, there isn’t a long history of prestige giant monster movies in the west.

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Most of the giant monster movies America has made have been B-movies or SyFy originals, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many worth watching. Letterboxd is a good measure of what the general movie buff enjoys and according to site users, these are some of America’s best giant monster movies.

ten King Kong (2005) – 3.3/5

The remake of the 1933 classic. Peter Jackson’s King Kong once again sets the story in 1933 and slightly reinvents the characters. Jack is now a screenwriter for the desperate Carl Denham but Anne is still the leading lady. When they discover King Kong on Skull Island, they bring him back to New York where he meets his fate.

While the film is criticized for its length, most appreciate Peter Jackson’s love and passion for the original. New versions of classic characters work well and the setting is recreated in loving detail. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original, it does come pretty close in the eyes of some users. It is not surprising that Peter Jackson King Kong is one of the best.

9 Cloverfield (2008) – 3.3/5

Clover goes wild in the town of Cloverfield

A going away party is interrupted by the attack of a giant monster. Ever heard that one? One of Matt Reeves’ first films, Cloverfield was a found footage monster movie about a group of friends trying to save another friend before the monster kills her and them.

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Many Letterboxd users cite the film’s ability to handle post-9/11 anxieties. It’s one of the few American monster films that attempts to be allegorical in this way. These days, the found footage thing is a bit stale and that makes the movie slightly frustrating for modern audiences, but this film is not short on highlights.


8 Rim of the Pacific (2013) – 3.3/5

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim was Guillermo Del Toro’s love letter to Japan’s giant monster and mecha movies and anime. After moments at the end of a long road with giant alien monsters, the remaining Jeager pilots launch an attack that will hopefully save humanity from extinction.

Pacific Rim is one of Guillermo Del Toro’s finest films, thanks in part to the passion and love he pours into it. Pacific Rim has excellent visuals and inventive creature designs and most importantly the Kaiju vs. Mech action scenes are well choreographed and expertly shot. Unfortunately, most Letterboxd users report uninteresting characters that bring the movie down.

7 Mighty Joe Young (1949) – 3.4/5

Mighty Joe Young 1949

many years later King Kong Merian C. Cooper is well back to the giant ape with Mighty Joe Young. This time, the film follows a young girl who befriends a baby gorilla. When she is older, the gorilla is now twice the size he should be and acts as her protector. She signs a deal to bring him to New York to run a new club, but things quickly spiral out of control.

Mighty Joe Young is a beloved film from the 1940s and boasts excellent early stop motion animation from a young Ray Harryhausen. It is significantly lighter than King Kong and follows a similar plot structure. The film’s breeze creates a certain appeal that has distracted Letterboxd users from the similarities to King Kong.

6 Super 8 (2011) – 3.4/5

Joe facing the monster in Super 8

Some of the best giant monster movies tend to be love letters to things past. Spielberg’s love letter to JJ Abrams comes in the form of Super 8a film about a group of young children who want to make a movie on their super 8 camera. When they witness a horrible train accident, they discover an alien creature that they decide to help get back home.

Super 8 just celebrated its tenth anniversary last year. This movie has a lot of hallmarks from early Steven Spielberg, including a father figure who grew distant from their child. It gets a lot of love on Letterboxd for its amazing production value. While the story is a little redundant for some people’s tastes, it’s a solid attempt at a heartwarming sci-fi classic.

5 Love and Monsters (2020) – 3.4/5

Love and Monsters Dylan Obrien Dog

love and monsters follows a boy played by Dylan O’Brien after nuclear radiation causes various insects and animals to grow to massive kaiju-like sizes. He decides to go get his girlfriend who he hasn’t seen since before all this happened. Along the way, he meets a grizzled hunter and his daughter, as well as a dog to help him on his journey.

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Even though it didn’t get much love when it was released, it ended up being a surprise to everyone who made it. This heartwarming journey wrapped in a giant monster movie sports inventive designs and likable characters you want to see win. For many Letterboxd users, the movie was a breath of fresh air as it was a mid-size blockbuster not based on a pre-existing IP address.

4 Them! (1954) – 3.5/5

Always From Them!, the 1954 Giant Ant film. A giant ant attacks two figures

A true classic. Them! concerns the appearance of giant man-eating ants in the American desert following nuclear tests. Now a group of unlikely heroes must team up to stop the ants before they spread across the land and eventually the world.

This monster movie from 1954 was a huge hit for WB at the time. Even today, most Letterboxd users found a lot to like about the movie. By today’s standards, the movie looks a bit cheesy, but there’s a good production job and black-and-white thrills to satisfy any fan of giant monsters.

3 Tremors (1990) – 3.5/5

The cult classic that spawned numerous sequels, Tremors followed a group of people, including a young Kevin Bacon, as they discover giant worm-like monsters in the desert. These monsters move quickly and suck people into the ground to be devoured. To survive, they must destroy the worm before it catches them.

Letterboxd users love how this movie languishes in its B-movie status. It’s a fun and enjoyable movie with likable characters and an awesome creature design. One of the most impressive elements, however, is the tight script, with each scene building on the last in a way that helps the film not overstay its welcome. Maybe it’s time for a Tremors to restart.

2 The Blob (1988) – 3.6/5

The titular monster in the blob is the product of a secret government experiment in germ warfare. This giant gelatinous creature begins to terrorize a small town and the only ones to know about it are a group of teenagers. They try unsuccessfully to warn the townspeople but the government is actively trying to cover up their mistake.

One of the rare cases where the remake is considered better than the original. the blob plays on 80s government paranoia and 50s nostalgia in an interesting way. Although the creature effect is quite simple, some of the other practical effects are still considered some of the best.

1 King Kong (1933) – 3.9/5

King Kong defends himself from attacking planes.

Often considered one of the first giant monster films, King Kong followed adventure filmmaker Carl Denham to Skull Island. There, the natives decide to steal his leading lady, Anne, and sacrifice her to their god King Kong. During the rescue mission, they managed to knock Kong out and bring him back to New York, where he escaped and was killed on top of the Empire State Building.

The movie everyone else strives to be. For some reason, this 1933 classic is simply unbeatable for Letterboxd users. The inventive stop motion effects and fast-paced story really appeal to users. Monster movies around the world owe something to the Eighth Wonder of the World.

NEXT: Every Kong Movie Ranked According To Letterboxd

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Kimberly B. Nguyen