Monday, December 21, 2015

My Top 10 Favorite Kaiju Films

     No matter what genre or sub genre in film; everybody has their favorites either somebody's Top 10 or  having a mile long list. The following list is following the previous kaiju theme from an earlier post from this year. Instead of unmade kaiju films, this list will share my Top 10 favorites. Though a few of you may totally agree with my choices or disagree; please keep in mind that this list is what truly makes me happy. So please enjoy reading this post and hopefully I'll get a few who'll agree.

#10 – Godzilla (2014)
           For an updated American Gojira film to replace Emmerich's failure, Godzilla 2014 did an outstanding job by staying true to the franchise. Gareth achieved his main goal of giving moviegoers a type of 'high' following the end of the film, and I had it for three days afterwards! My favorite thing about the film were the MUTOs (especially the male), and their design differed from everyday kaiju from films or television shows. Personally I enjoyed the main focus on the coming of the MUTOs which most fans complained about following its release. Next to that, I have to agree with other G-fans that for a Godzilla movie; there wasn't enough of him. You may be wondering why G’14 is at the bottom of my list? My reasoning is that, even though this was a great movie; this updated film isn’t my all-time favorite but, it deserves to be the starting point for this list. 

#9 – Pacific Rim (2013)
         Who doesn’t like giant robots fighting giant monsters? Guillermo Del Toro did an outstanding job directing this film which many people probably dreamt about coming onto the big screen.  The entire film had pretty awesome action packed fighting sequences and an easy to follow storyline (even though it got somewhat boring halfway through the film).  I wasn’t much of a fan for the Jaegers but, I enjoyed the kaiju designs especially Knifehead and Onibaba. I don’t know how Del Toro will pick up where he ended the film but, I’m looking forward for the sequel in the future (or possibly an animated series).  

#8 – Reptilicus (1961)
         You’re probably wondering why Reptilicus is in eighth place before Pacific Rim and G’14? My answer is that this film, while growing up; came on the Syfy channel occasionally and the cheesy effects captured my further attention to kaiju. Funny to say that a puppet brought more fascination than suitmation or CGI but, this film was quite entertaining to watch. Reptilicus doesn’t get enough love but, this Danish-American kaiju film captured my imagination at a young age and I treasure its affect on me since.  Also, who doesn’t love a prehistoric serpentine dragon that spews acid and can regenerate?   

#7 –The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
       Being a sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World, this film featured two humanoid kaiju known as Gaira (green) and Sanda (brown). Described as being “brothers”, Gaira was the aquatic antagonist who was a man-eater while Sanda, whom was raised by humans; is the peaceful yet justifiable protagonist. This film is basically a gigantic sibling rivalry. I was extremely excited for this film to finally be released in the United States since I had never seen it before. Being paired off with the film Rodan, War of the Gargantuas made it to #7 on my favorite kaiju films. Not to mention it begins with the return of the giant octopus, Oodako (who appeared in King Kong vs. Godzilla and in a deleted scene of Frankenstein Conquers the World).

#6 – Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
         Out of all the Gamera films that I've seen over the years, I have to truly say this one is my all-time favorite. I remembered watching Guardian of the Universe on television with my family and it blew my mind away. That one scene when everybody witnesses Gamera flying for the first time still brings tears of joy to my eyes. This film was quite inspirational to me since this was probably the first time I'd truly understood the flying fire-breathing turtle. I can't recall if I already seen previous Gamera films like War of the Monsters (Barugon) or Destroy All Planets (Viras), but out of all of them; this one is truly my all-time favorite.  

#5 – Varan the Unbelievable (1962)
         Even though I had to watch this film with subtitles, Varan the Unbelievable does indeed match his title. First off, I own the Japanese audio only version of the film on DVD which came along with two other classic Toho science fiction films: The Mysterians and Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People. All three are now hard-to-find. Secondly, Varan is one of my favorites plus he's my go-to monster on Godzilla: Unleashed on the Wii. Varan would had been killer in the first draft of Godzilla vs. Gigan, or even Godzilla, Anguirus, and Varan: Giant Monsters All Out Attack but, his popularity isn't that high. Oh well, maybe they couldn't use him because he's unbelievable.     

#4 – Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster (1964)
         Considered the archnemesis of Godzilla, King Ghidorah is probably the most recognizable foe. He appeared in about nine films (including a few variations), two television series, and in all of the Gojira-themed video games; Ghidorah deserves a spot in this list. Being his first debut, I feel that Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster should be everybody's go-to film if they want total kaiju mayhem. Not only does Ghidorah makes his first (but not last) appearance; he does battle against the combine strength of Toho's strongest (Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra) and almost wins. Talk about a real monster especially in Destroy All Monsters!
#3 – Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)
         Who doesn't love Frankenstein's Monster? Apparently Japan did enough that they created a kaiju-themed movie about him. Frankenstein Conquers the World (or Frankenstein vs. Baragon) is probably one of Japan's weirdest yet interesting kaiju-themed piece of cinema. Toho took a classic literary monster then transformed him into an enormous, radioactive manster. You're maybe wondering why this film is before its sequel, War of the Gargantuas? First off, its Frankenstein's Monster. Second, not only does he become a kaiju but he fights another kaiju (the original Baragon; including Oodako the Giant Octopus from an alternate ending). Aside from Frankenstein, now we need other classic monsters fighting kaiju like a final cut of Godzilla vs. Wolfman, or a "Mothra vs. Dracula"?   
#2 – Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971)
        During my childhood, this was the one Gojira film that I never missed watching on the Syfy channel. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (or Godzilla vs. Hedorah), to me, is truly unique in a way. Other than the antipollution messages throughout the film, Hedorah was probably one of my favorite kaiju antagonist. He's that awesome that I don't even have an action figure of him...yet. You're probably reading this and thinking to yourself that I like a gigantic pile of crap but, Hedorah was one of those truly bizarre kaiju in which you had to admire him at one point throughout the film. Face it, if the humans didn't help Godzilla; most likely he would've been suffocated to death. Also, Godzilla flies in the movie so, that's another reason this is #2.    

Honorable Mentions:

- Reptilian (1999/2001): An updated Yongary, Monster from the Deep which offers hostile extraterrestrials; poor, but decent graphics, and finally a fight between Yongary and Cycor.
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974): Its kaiju versus mech in this truly classic film as Godzilla fights a mechanical doppelganger with the help of Anguirus (poor Anguirus), and the fashionably late King Caesar. 
- King Kong Lives (1986): The 70’s version of King Kong had its ups and downs but, its sequel offered more to the franchise as Kong is set loose onto the United States yet has another reasonable love interest. 
- Gamera the Brave (2006): Gamera the Brave was a pretty good updated film to the Gamera franchise but, what I really enjoyed in this film was the rival monster Zedus. 

#1 – King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
          They've done Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, and Freddy vs. Jason so why not King Kong vs. Godzilla? Aside from the nightmarish Toho Kong suit, this film didn't really have any flaws in my opinion. For those who'll argue about the "scientific aspect" of the film, although the original Kong would've been crushed by Godzilla (literally); please be aware that in kaiju films almost anything can happen. Examples can include but not limited to the following: the walrus kaiju Maguma from Gorath, Frankenstein's monster becoming a kaiju himself, or even Guilala, the gigantic-space-chicken-thing from The X from Outer Space. Just because you believe King Kong could never match-up against Gojira, it doesn't mean it isn't possible in the realm of entertainment. The main two reasons why this kaiju film tops the rest is that: 1) it had Kong as the hero while having Godzilla as the villain; and 2) the 1962 Gojira suit is my all-time favorite incarnation of the King of the Monsters.

     I hope you enjoyed this list for my Top 10 Favorite Kaiju Films. Next list will be of my Top 10 Disliked Kaiju Films and remember: "Let them fight!" 


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