10. Swamp Thing (1982)
He appeared in comic books more than a decade before this feature-length adventure, but there's something infinitely satisfying about watching Swamp Thing flip military boats like toys right before your eyes. It wouldn't be a true Eighties monster movie without toxic waste, an attractive love interest and a whole host of other done-to-death clichés. Whatever. Swamp Thing rules.
9. Jaws (1975)
Ever since Steven Spielberg set a high-concept benchmark with Jaws in the summer of 1975, we've been afraid to get our toes wet. The giant man-eating shark, accompanied by its ubiquitous theme music, preyed on helpless beachgoers – and viewers' psyches – with such ferocity it made this film a contender for the scariest movie of all time.
8. The Toxic Avenger (1984)
Overt campiness aside, dweebs everywhere can sympathize with New Jersey nobody-turned-superhuman Melvin Ferd. Maybe that's why a measly blip on the B-movie radar has remained a cult favorite for more than 30 years. Fortunately, our hero has his heart in the right place, which is why he's the only monster on this list who aids humanity instead of destroying it.
7. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
In search of the link between land and sea animals, a group of scientists find living evidence in the depths of the Amazon in the form of a creepy, amphibious humanoid. One of the most horrifying scenes, in which the Creature stalks Julie Adams underwater, is responsible for landing the Creature on this list.
6. The Fly (1958)
What a premise. A scientist gets his atoms mixed up with a fly's, and the result looks exactly as repulsive as you'd think. The only thing more grotesque than a man with an insect head is the tiny bug that screams a chillingly human "Help me!" Incorporating elements of science fiction, The Fly proves you can make a freaky flick with a tight budget and a little imagination.
5. Alien (1979)
Though perhaps more of a horror film than a monster movie, Ridley Scott's scary-as-hell breakthrough deserves a place on this list if only for its chest-busting climax. Even without a space slug exploding through your sternum, the myriad creations of artist and creature designer H. R. Giger, especially the Alien itself, are enough to make anyone squirm.
4. The Wolf Man (1941)
Everything we picture when we think of werewolves comes from this film. While hours of on-set preparation were required for the transformation of man into hirsute beast, the visual impact is simply hair-raising. No silver bullets here, but the misunderstood creature does meet his end with a brutal bludgeoning, courtesy of a silver walking stick.
3. Frankenstein (1931)
"There is no denying that it is far and away the most effective thing of its kind," reads a 1931 New York Times review of this monster masterpiece. Though it barely resembles Mary Shelley's source material, Frankenstein perfected a balance of creepy and horrifying in the form of Boris Karloff's humanoid menace. Those neck bolts and flat-head makeup gave us the heebie-jeebies, not to mention some great Halloween costumes. Plus, it's arguably the first zombie movie.
2. King Kong (1933)
Fay Wray writhing helplessly in the clutches of a gigantic ape atop the Empire State Building is a Hollywood moment if there ever was one. The incredible stop-motion animation that brought Kong to life enthralled audiences and inspired a generation of city-smashing beasts that would, in their turn, lay waste to midtown Manhattan.
1. Godzilla (1954)
The movie that set the standard for creature features to come. More than a dozen sequels would follow, but none can match the 1954 classic in which a reptilian mutant the size of a skyscraper tears through urban Japan. Besides symbolically touching on the country's all-too-recent relationship with nuclear devastation, Godzilla debuted what has since become the most iconic monster to grace the big screen.
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