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Best Monster Movies of All Time

'Pacific Rim' makes our list of horror classics

Godzilla attacks a train in a scene from 'Godzilla.'
Embassy Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images
July 15, 2013 1:40 PM ET

Director Guillermo del Toro inherited a generations-old legacy of timeless monster movies when he signed onto Pacific Rim, a sci-fi feature of colossal proportions that pits mechas against seaborne terrors. From Godzilla trashing Fifties Tokyo to the creature from Cloverfield stomping around New York in 2008, we’ve watched onscreen monsters of all shapes and sizes try their hand (or claw) at destroying humanity for almost a century. Pacific Rim’s baddies, then, have some pretty big shoes to fill. Here we take a look back at the greatest monster films in cinematic history.

20. Pacific Rim (2013)
After a century's worth of monsters coming from outer space, Pacific Rim shifts the paradigm: stop looking at the sky, the monsters are coming from deep beneath the Pacific Ocean floor. Known as the Kaiju, these monsters intend to exterminate humanity. The only hope of defeating them? Massive man-made machine called "Jaegers" which are controlled by two pilots whose minds are connected by a neural bridge.

Summer Movie Preview 2013

19. The Thing (1982)
It's pretty tough to trust your friends when a parasitic, extraterrestrial life form has infiltrated your remote research station located in the Antarctic tundra. The Thing assimilates other organisms and mimics them, making it nearly impossible to tell whom it's inhabiting. That is, until it manifests itself into horrifying and unimaginable creatures.

18. Gremlins (1984)
Intended as a Christmas gift, this cute Furby-esque creature named Mogwai is more devious than it appears. Water causes it to multiply into hundreds of rampaging creatures that, when fed after midnight, transform into grotesque little reptilian monsters that specialize in mayhem.

17. The Mummy (1932, 1999)
An iconic movie monster, The Mummy is a classic story of the mysteries of ancient Egypt. Imhotep, a high priest, has been buried alive for centuries, only to be awakened by a passage in the Book of the Dead. He isn't the only one to look out for, as his mummified priests and a swarm of flesh-eating beetles have the tomb surrounded. You're guaranteed to be wrapped up in this thriller, or your mummy back (badum-tsh).

16. Cloverfield (2008)
This "found-footage" blockbuster crushed the box office with over $170 million, much the same as how this destructive space creature devastates New York City in a matter of days. The concept behind the monster is likened to that of a spooked elephant on a rampage, only on a mammoth scale. After it severs the head of the Statue of Liberty, its message is clear: Run for your lives.

15. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Amidst an all-star cast of Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia and Steve Martin, the real show-stealer in this musical adaptation happens to be a massive, foul-mouthed extraterrestrial plant named Audrey II who feeds on human blood. Audrey II grows in size and power with everything (or everyone) it gulps down, rendering even the most formidable weed-whacker useless.

14. Tremors (1990)
Those tremors aren't an earthquake you're feeling. It's actually an underground stampede of colossal carnivorous worm-creatures called Graboids making their way to the surface of the earth to devour you. It gets even better: the Graboids are in fact tongues of an even more colossal burrowing worm-creature deep beneath the soil.

13. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
In this dark and fantastic tale, Guillermo del Toro delivers with plenty of mythical creatures to dazzle audiences. However, the one monster in this film that takes the cake is the Pale Man. He is an emaciated, fleshy cannibal (if you can call him a human) who sits motionless at the head of an extravagant feast that you dare not touch. Perhaps his most terrifying feature – his eye sockets are in the palms of his hands that he inserts his eyeballs into. 

12. The Day of the Triffids (1962)
trif·fid |'trifid| (n.) – gigantic, man-eating plants bio-engineered by the USSR that were accidentally released into the wild to wreak havoc on the world. Oh, and they can walk on their roots and sting people with poisonous venom, too. When an unusual meteor shower blinds almost the entire earth's population in one night, it's doubtful that the remaining humans can outrun and exterminate these deadly weeds.

11. The Blob (1958)
Landing on Earth encased in a meteor, the Blob is harmless, mysterious goop. But it isn't long before it engulfs every human in its path, growing increasingly daunting with every slimy inch. Two teens first witness the wrath of this gelatinous monster and try in vain to warn the town. Assuming the youngsters are crying wolf, the townspeople ignore their alarm and realize their blunder after it's too late.

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