Friday, February 4, 2011

The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #10 - #1

10. Jaws

Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The police chief of Amity Island, a fictional summer resort town, tries to protect beachgoers from a giant man-eating great white shark by closing the beach, only to be overruled by the town council, which wants the beach to remain open to draw a profit from tourists during the summer season. After several attacks, the police chief enlists the help of a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter. Roy Scheider stars as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as marine biologist Matt Hooper, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, Murray Hamilton as the Mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife, Ellen.

Jaws is regarded as a watershed film in motion picture history, the father of the summer blockbuster film and one of the first "high concept" films. Due to the film's success in advance screenings, studio executives decided to distribute it in a much wider release than ever before. The Omen followed suit in the summer of 1976 and then Star Wars one year later in 1977, cementing the notion for movie studios to distribute their big-release action and adventure pictures (commonly referred to as tentpole pictures) during the summer. Jaws is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. It was number 48 on American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movies, a list of the greatest American films of all time, dropping down to number 56 on the 10 Year Anniversary list. It ranked second on a similar list for thrillers, 100 Years... 100 Thrills and was number one on Bravo's list of The 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The film was followed by three sequels, none with the participation of Spielberg or Benchley. A video game titled Jaws Unleashed was produced in 2006.

During a late night beach party on the fictional Amity Island in New England, a 23-year-old woman named Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) goes skinny dipping only to be dragged under by an unseen force. Amity's new police chief, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), is notified that Chrissie is missing, and deputy Lenny Hendricks (Jeffrey Kramer) finds her remains. The medical examiner informs Brody that the death was due to a shark attack. Brody plans to close the beaches but is overruled by town mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), who fears that reports of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season. The medical examiner reverses his diagnosis and attributes the death to a boating accident. Brody reluctantly goes along with the explanation.

A short time later, a boy named Alex Kintner (Jeffrey Voorhees) is brutally killed by a shark at the beach. The boy's mother (Lee Fierro) places a bounty on the shark, sparking an amateur shark hunting frenzy and attracting the attention of local professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw). Brought in by Brody, ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) examines Chrissie's remains and concludes she was killed by a shark.

A large tiger shark is caught by a group of fishermen, leading the town to believe the problem is solved, but Hooper is unconvinced that the shark is the killer and asks to examine its stomach contents. Vaughn refuses to make the "operation" public, so Brody and Hooper return after dark and discover the dead shark does not contain human remains. Scouting aboard Hooper's boat, they come across the half-sunken wreckage of a boat belonging to local fisherman Ben Gardener. Hooper explores the vessel underwater and discovers a sizeable shark's tooth, and also Gardener's severed head, which makes him drop the tooth in a panic. Vaughn refuses to close the beaches, and on the Fourth of July numerous tourists arrive. A prank by two boys causes panic, before the real shark enters an estuary, kills a man and causes Brody's son go into shock after witnessing it. Brody forces Vaughn to hire Quint. Brody and Hooper join the hunter on his fishing boat, the Orca, and the trio set out to kill the shark.

Brody is given the task of laying a chum line while Quint uses deepsea fishing tackle to try to hook the shark. As Brody continues chumming, an enormous great white shark looms up behind the boat; the trio watch the great white circle the Orca and estimate it weighs 3 short tons (2.7 t) and is 25 feet (7.6 m) long. Quint harpoons the shark with a line attached to a flotation barrel, designed to prevent the shark from submerging and to track it on the surface, but the shark pulls the barrel under and disappears.

Night falls without another sighting, so the men retire to the boat's cabin, where Quint tells of his experience with sharks as a survivor of the World War II sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The shark reappears, damaging the boat's hull before slipping away. In the morning, the men make repairs to the engine. Attempting to call the Coast Guard for help, Brody is stopped by Quint, who destroys the radio with a baseball bat. The shark attacks again, and after a long chase Quint harpoons another barrel to it. The men tie the barrels to the stern, but the shark drags the boat backwards, forcing water onto the deck and into the engine, flooding it. Quint harpoons the shark again, adding a third barrel, while the shark continues towing them. Quint is about to cut the ropes with his machete when the cleats are pulled off the stern. The shark continues attacking the boat and Quint heads toward shore with the shark in pursuit, hoping to draw the animal into shallow waters, where it will be beached and drown. In his obsession to kill the shark, Quint overtaxes Orca's engine, causing it to seize.

With the boat immobilized, the trio try a desperate approach: Hooper dons his SCUBA gear and enters the ocean inside a shark proof cage in order to stab the shark in the mouth with a hypodermic spear filled with strychnine. The shark destroys the cage but gets tangled in the remains, allowing Hooper to hide on the seabed. As Quint and Brody raise the remnants of the cage, the shark throws itself onto the boat, crushing the transom. As the boat sinks, Quint slides down the slippery deck into the shark's mouth and is eaten alive. Brody retreats to the boat's partly submerged cabin. When the shark attacks him there, he shoves a pressurized air tank into the shark's mouth, then takes Quint's M1 Garand and climbs the Orca's mast. Brody begins shooting at the air tank wedged in the shark's mouth, causing it to explode and blow the shark to pieces.

As the shark's carcass drifts toward the seabed, Hooper reappears on the surface. The survivors briefly lament the loss of Quint, then cobble together a raft from debris and paddle to Amity Island.

9. The Mummy

The Mummy is a 1932 horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and starring Boris Karloff as a revived ancient Egyptian priest. The movie also features Zita Johann, David Manners and Edward Van Sloan. It was shot in Cantil, California, Universal City, and the Mojave Desert.

An Ancient Egyptian priest called Imhotep is revived when an archaeological expedition finds Imhotep's mummy and one of the archaeologists, despite a warning, recklessly reads an ancient life-giving spell. Imhotep escapes from the archaeologists, taking the Scroll of Thoth, and prowls Cairo seeking the reincarnation of the soul of his ancient lover, Princess Ankh-es-en-amon.

Ten years later, Imhotep calls upon two archaeologists, claims that his name is Ardath Bey, a modern Egyptian, and shows them where to dig to find Ankh-es-en-amon's tomb. The archaeologists find the tomb and give the mummy and the treasures to the Cairo Museum. The archaeologists thank Imhotep for giving them the information of where to find the tomb.

Imhotep was once mummified alive for attempting to resurrect her, and, upon finding a woman bearing a striking resemblance to the Princess, attempts to mummify her and make her his bride. In the end, she is saved when she remembers her past life and prays to the goddess Isis to save her. The prayer causes a ray from the statue of Isis to burst out and burn the scroll that gives Imhotep life. He crumbles into a heap of bones.

8. Michael Meyers

Michael Myers is a fictional character from the Halloween series of slasher films. He first appears in John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) as a young boy who murders his older sister, then fifteen years later returns home to murder more teenagers. In the original Halloween, the adult Michael Myers, referred to as The Shape in the closing credits, was portrayed by Nick Castle for most of the film, with Tony Moran and Tommy Lee Wallace substituting in during the final scenes. He was created by Debra Hill and John Carpenter. Michael Myers has appeared in ten films, as well as novels, a video game and several comic books.

The character is the primary antagonist in the Halloween film series, except Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which is not connected in continuity to the rest of the films. Since Castle, Moran, and Wallace put on the mask in the original film, six people have stepped into the role. Tyler Mane is the only actor to have portrayed Michael Myers in consecutive films, and one of only two actors to portray the character more than once. Michael Myers is characterized as pure evil, both directly in the films, by the filmmakers who created and developed the character over nine films, as well as by random participants in a survey.

Michael Myers is the primary antagonist in all of the Halloween films, with the exception of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, as that film did not feature any of the characters from the original two films and had nothing to do with Michael Myers. Michael would return immediately following Halloween III, in the aptly titled Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. The silver screen is not the only place Michael Myers has appeared; there have been literary sources that have expanded the universe of Michael.

Michael Myers made his first appearance in the original 1978 film, Halloween, although the masked character is credited as "The Shape" in the first two films. In the beginning of Halloween, a six-year-old Michael (Will Sandin) murders his older sister Judith (Sandy Johnson) on Halloween. Fifteen years later, Michael (Nick Castle) escapes Smith's Grove Sanitarium and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. He stalks teenage babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) on Halloween, while his psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) attempts to track him down. Murdering her friends, Michael finally attacks Laurie, but she manages to fend him off long enough for Loomis to save her. Loomis shoots Michael six times in the chest, before Michael falls over the house's second-story balcony ledge; when Loomis goes to check Michael's body, he finds it missing. Michael returns in the sequel, Halloween II (1981). The film picks up directly where the original ends, with Loomis (Pleasence) still looking for Michael's body. Michael (Dick Warlock) follows Laurie Strode (Curtis) to the local hospital, where he wanders the halls in search of her, killing security guards, doctors and nurses that get in his way. Loomis learns that Laurie Strode is Michael's younger sister, and rushes to the hospital to find them. He causes an explosion in the operating theater, allowing Laurie to escape as he and Michael are engulfed by the flames.

7. The Wolfman

The Wolf Man is a 1941 American Monster/Werewolf/Horror film written by Curt Siodmak and produced and directed by George Waggner. The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as The Wolf Man, and it also stars Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Béla Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya. The title character has had a great deal of influence on Hollywood's depictions of the legend of the werewolf. The film is the second Universal Pictures werewolf movie, preceded six years earlier by the less commercially successful Werewolf of London. A remake was released in early 2010 starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.

Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) returns to his ancestral home in Llanwelly, Wales to reconcile with his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), after learning of the death of his brother. While there, Larry becomes romantically interested in a local girl named Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers), who runs an antique shop. As a pretext, he buys something from her, a silver-headed walking stick decorated with a wolf. Gwen tells him that it represents a werewolf (which she defines as a man who changes into a wolf "at certain times of the year.")

Throughout the film, various villagers recite a poem that all the locals apparently know, whenever the subject of werewolves comes up:

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

That night, Larry attempts to rescue Gwen's friend Jenny from what he believes to be a sudden attack by a wolf. He kills the beast with his new walking stick, but is bitten in the process. He soon discovers that it was not just a wolf; it was a werewolf, and now Talbot has become one. A gypsy fortuneteller named Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) reveals to Larry that the animal which bit him was actually her son Bela (Béla Lugosi) in the form of a wolf. Bela had been a werewolf for years and now the curse of lycanthropy has been passed to Larry.

Sure enough, Talbot prowls the countryside in the form of a two-legged wolf. Struggling to overcome the curse, he is finally bludgeoned to death by his father with his silver walking stick. His father watches in horror as his son transforms back into a human as the police rush to the scene.

6. Dracula

Dracula is a 1931 horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Béla Lugosi as the title character. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the stage play of the same name by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which in turn is based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Renfield (Dwight Frye), a British solicitor, travels through the Carpathian Mountains via stagecoach. The people in the stagecoach are fearful that the coach won’t reach the local inn before sundown. Arriving there safely before sundown, Renfield refuses to stay at the inn and asks the driver to take him to the Borgo Pass. The innkeeper and his wife seem to be afraid of Renfield’s destination, Castle Dracula, and warn him about vampires. The innkeeper's wife gives Renfield a crucifix for protection before he leaves for Borgo Pass, whence he is driven to the castle by Dracula's coach, which was awaiting him at Borgo Pass, with Dracula himself disguised as the driver. During the bumpy ride, Renfield leans out and starts to ask the driver to slow down, but is startled to see that the driver has disappeared, and a bat is leading the horses.

Renfield enters the castle welcomed by charming but odd nobleman Count Dracula (Béla Lugosi), who unbeknownst to Renfield, is a vampire. Renfield expresses concern about the strange disappearance of the coach driver and his luggage, but Dracula assures him that he has arranged to have his luggage delivered. They discuss Dracula's intention to lease Carfax Abbey in London, where he intends to travel the next day. Dracula then leaves and Renfield goes to his bedroom. Dracula hypnotizes Renfield into opening a window and then causes him to faint. A bat is seen at the window, which then morphs into Dracula. Dracula's three wives suddenly appear and start to move toward Renfield to attack him, but Dracula waves them away, and he attacks Renfield himself.

Aboard the schooner Vesta, bound for England, Renfield has now become a raving lunatic slave to Dracula, who is hidden in a coffin and gets out for feeding on the ship's crew. When the ship arrives in England, Renfield is discovered to be the only living person in it; the captain is lashed on the wheel and none of the ship’s crew is discovered. Renfield is sent to Dr. Seward’s sanatorium.

Some nights later at a London theatre, Dracula meets Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston), who is with a group in a box seat area. Dr. Seward introduces his daughter Mina (Helen Chandler), her fiancé John Harker (David Manners), and the family friend Lucy Weston (Frances Dade). Lucy is fascinated by Count Dracula, and that night, after Lucy has a talk with Mina and falls asleep in bed, Dracula enters her room as a bat and feasts on her blood. She dies in an autopsy theatre the next day after a string of transfusions, and two tiny marks on her throat are discovered.

Several days later, it is seen that Renfield is obsessed with eating flies and spiders, devouring their lives also. Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) analyzes Renfield's blood, discovering Renfield’s obsession. He starts talking about vampires, and that afternoon chats with Renfield, who begs Dr. Seward to send him away, because his nightly cries may disturb Mina’s dreams. When Dracula awakes and calls Renfield with wolf howling, Renfield is disturbed by Van Helsing showing him a branch of wolfbane. It stops wolves, as Van Helsing says, and also is used for vampire protection.

Dracula visits Mina, asleep in her bedroom, and bites her, leaving neck marks similar to those on Lucy. The next morning, Mina tells of a dream in which she was visited by Dracula. Then, Dracula enters for a night's visit at the Sewards. Van Helsing and Harker notice that Dracula does not have a reflection in a mirror. When Van Helsing shows this "most amazing phenomenon" to Dracula, he reacts violently, smashes the mirror and leaves. Van Helsing deduces that Dracula is the vampire.

Meanwhile, Mina leaves her room and runs to Dracula in the garden, where he wraps his cape around her and attacks her; the next morning, she is found and awakened from unconsciousness. Newspapers report that a "mysterious, beautiful woman in white" has been luring children from the park with chocolate, and then biting them. Mina recognizes the beautiful lady as Lucy, who has risen as a vampire. Harker wants to take Mina to London for safety, but he is finally convinced to leave Mina with them. Van Helsing orders Nurse Briggs (Joan Standing) to take care of Mina when she is sleeping, and not to remove the wreath of wolfbane from around her neck.

Renfield again escapes from his cell and listens to the three men discussing vampires. Before Martin (Charles K. Gerrard), his attendant, arrives to take Renfield back to his cell, Renfield relates to Van Helsing, Harker and Seward how Dracula convinced Renfield to allow him to enter the sanitorium by promising him thousands of rats with blood and life in them.

Dracula enters the Seward parlour and talks with Van Helsing. Dracula states that because he has fused his blood with Mina's, she now belongs to him. Van Helsing swears revenge by sterilizing Carfax Abbey and finding the coffin where he sleeps; he will then thrust a stake through his heart. Dracula tries to hypnotize Van Helsing, almost succeeding, but Van Helsing shows a crucifix to the vampire and turns away.

Harker visits Mina on a terrace, and Mina speaks of how much she loves "nights and fogs". Harker notices Mina’s changes and says he likes them, not realizing that she is slowly transforming into a vampire. A bat (Dracula) flies above them and squeaks to Mina, to which she responds: "Yes? ... Yes? ... I will". Mina then tries to attack Harker. Fortunately, Van Helsing and Dr. Seward arrive just in time to save him. Mina confesses what Dracula has done to her, and tries to tell Harker that their love is finished.

Later that night, Dracula hypnotizes Nurse Briggs into removing the wolfbane wreath from Mina's neck and opening the French windows so he can enter her room. Van Helsing and Harker see Renfield, having just escaped from his cell, heading for Carfax Abbey. They see Dracula with Mina in the abbey. When Harker shouts to Mina, Dracula sees them, thinking Renfield had trailed them. He strangles Renfield and tosses him down a staircase, and is hunted by Van Helsing and Harker. Dracula is forced to sleep in his coffin, as sunrise has come, and is trapped. Van Helsing prepares a wooden stake while Harker searches for Mina. He finds her in a strange stasis. Dracula moans in pain when Van Helsing impales him, and Mina returns to normal. Harker leaves with her while Van Helsing stays. Church bells are heard, implying that they will be married.

5. The Creature

Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 monster horror film directed by Jack Arnold, and starring Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, and Whit Bissell. The eponymous creature was played by Ben Chapman on land and Ricou Browning in underwater scenes. The film was released in the United States on March 5, 1954.

Creature from the Black Lagoon was filmed and originally released in 3-D requiring polarized 3-D glasses, and subsequently reissued in the 1970s in the inferior anaglyph format (this version was released on home video by MCA Videocassette, Inc. in 1980). It was one of the first Universal Pictures films filmed in 3-D (the first was It Came from Outer Space, which was released a year before). It is considered a classic of the 1950s, and generated two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. Revenge of the Creature was also filmed and released in 3-D, in hopes of reviving the format.

A geology expedition in the Amazon uncovers fossilized evidence from the Devonian period of a link between land and sea animals in the form of a skeletal hand with webbed fingers. Expedition leader Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) visits his friend, Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson), an ichthyologist who works at a marine biology institute. Reed persuades the institute's financial backer, Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning), to fund a return expedition to the Amazon to look for the remainder of the skeleton.

They go aboard a tramp steamer, the Rita, which is captained by a crusty old codger named Lucas (Nestor Paiva). The expedition consists of Dr. Reed, Dr. Maia and Williams, as well as Reed's girlfriend, Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams), and another scientist, Dr. Thompson (Whit Bissell). When they arrive at Dr. Maia's camp, they discover that his entire research team has been mysteriously killed while he was away. Lucas suggests it was done by a jaguar, but the others are unsure. The audience is privy to the attack upon the camp, which was committed by a living version of the fossil the scientists seek-curious upon seeing the expedition, the creature investigates the camp site, but its sudden appearance frightens the members, who attack it, whereupon the enraged creature kills them in response.

The excavation of the area where Maia found the hand turns up nothing. Mark is ready to give up the search, but David suggests that perhaps thousands of years ago the part of the embankment containing the rest of the skeleton fell into the water and was washed downriver. Lucas says that the tributary empties into a lagoon known as the "Black Lagoon", a paradise from which no one has ever returned. The scientists decide to risk it, unaware that the amphibious "Gill-man" that killed Dr. Maia's assistants earlier has been watching them. Taking notice of the beautiful Kay, it follows the Rita all the way downriver to the Black Lagoon. Once the expedition arrives, David and Mark go diving to collect fossils from the lagoon floor. After they return, Kay goes swimming and is stalked underwater by the creature, who then gets briefly caught in one of the ship's draglines. Although it escapes, it leaves behind a claw in the net, revealing its existence to the scientists.

Subsequent encounters with the Gill-man claim the lives of two of Lucas's crew members, before the Gill-man is captured and locked in a cage on board the Rita. It escapes during the night and attacks Dr. Thompson, who was guarding it. Kay hits the beast with a lantern; driving it off before it can kill Dr. Thompson. Following this incident, David decides they should return to civilization, but as the Rita tries to leave they find the entrance blocked by fallen logs, courtesy of the escaped Gill-man.

While the others attempt to remove the logs, Mark is mauled to death trying to capture the creature single-handedly underwater. The creature then abducts Kay and takes her to his cavern lair. David, Lucas, and Dr. Maia give chase to save her. Kay is rescued and the creature is riddled with bullets before he retreats to the lagoon where his body sinks in the watery depths, presumably dead (the creature's death was left open to allow for a sequel).

4. Alien

The Alien (sometimes referred to as a xenomorph) is a fictional endoparasitoid extraterrestrial species that is the primary antagonist of the Alien film series. The species made its debut in the 1979 film Alien, and reappeared in its sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997), two crossovers Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), as well as the various literature and video game spin-offs from the series.

Unlike many other recurring enemy extraterrestrial races in science fiction, the Aliens are not an intelligent civilization, but predatory creatures with no higher goals than the propagation of their species and the destruction of life that could pose a threat. Like wasps or termites, Aliens are eusocial, with a single fertile queen breeding a caste of warriors. The Aliens' biological life cycle, in which their offspring are violently implanted inside living hosts before erupting from their chests, is in many ways their signature aspect. Their design deliberately evokes many sexual images, both male and female, to illustrate its blurring of human sexual dichotomy.

Films:

Alien (1979)

The spaceship Nostromo visits the desolate planetoid LV-426 after receiving an unknown signal, discovering that it comes from a derelict alien spacecraft. Whilst exploring the ship, one of the Nostromo's crewmen discovers an egg-like object, which releases a creature that attaches itself to his face and renders him unconscious. Some time later, the parasite dies and the crewman wakes up, seemingly fine. However, an alien creature later bursts out of his chest and, after rapidly growing into an eight-foot creature, starts killing other members of the crew.

Aliens (1986)

Lieutenant Ellen Ripley, the only survivor of the Nostromo, awakens from hypersleep 57 years later, aboard a new space station. She discovers that LV-426 is now home to a terraforming colony. When contact with the colony is lost, Ripley accompanies a squad of space marines there aboard the Sulaco.

Alien 3 (1992)

Due to a fire aboard the Sulaco, an escape pod is released. It crash-lands on the refinery/prison planet Fiorina "Fury" 161. Ripley is the only survivor. Unknown to her, an egg was aboard the ship. The creature is born in the prison and begins a killing spree. Ripley later discovers there is also an alien queen growing inside her.

Alien Resurrection (1997)

Two hundred years after the events of the previous film, Ellen Ripley is cloned and an Alien queen is surgically removed from her body. The United Systems Military hopes to breed Aliens to study on the spaceship USM Auriga, using human hosts kidnapped and delivered to them by a group of mercenaries. The Aliens escape their enclosures, while Ripley and the mercenaries attempt to escape and destroy the Auriga before it reaches its destination, Earth.

The Alien design is credited to Swiss surrealist and artist H. R. Giger, originating in a lithograph called Necronom IV and refined for the series' first film, Alien. The species' design and life cycle have been extensively added to throughout each film.

3. King Kong

King Kong is a fictional monster resembling a gorilla that has appeared in several movies since 1933. These include the groundbreaking 1933 movie, the film remakes of 1976 and 2005, as well as various sequels of the first two films. The character has become one of the world's most famous movie icons and, as such, has transcended the medium, appearing in other works outside of films, such as a cartoon series, books, comics, various merchandise and paraphernalia, video games, theme park rides, and even an upcoming stage play. His role in the different narratives varies from source to source, ranging from rampaging monster to tragic antihero. The rights to the character are currently held by Universal Studios, with limited rights held by the estate of Merian C. Cooper, and perhaps certain rights in the public domain.

In the original film, the character's name is Kong, a name given to him by the inhabitants of "Skull Island" in the Pacific Ocean, where Kong lives along with other over-sized animals such as a plesiosaur, pterosaurs, and dinosaurs. An American film crew, led by Carl Denham, captures Kong and takes him to New York City to be exhibited as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

Kong escapes and climbs the Empire State Building (the World Trade Center in the 1976 remake) where he is shot and killed by aircraft. Nevertheless, as Denham comments, "It was beauty killed the beast," for he climbs the building in the first place only in an attempt to protect Ann Darrow, an actress originally offered up to Kong as a sacrifice (in the 1976 remake, the character is named Dwan).

A mockumentary about Skull Island that appears on the DVD for the 2005 remake (but originally seen on the Sci-Fi Channel at the time of its theatrical release) gives Kong's scientific name as Megaprimatus Kong, and states that his species may have evolved from Gigantopithecus.

The King Kong character was conceived and created by U.S. filmmaker Merian C. Cooper.

Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) agrees to star in a film directed by Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong). The two set sail on the S.S. Venture for filming on a mysterious island in the Indian Ocean. During the course of the voyage, Ann falls in love with First Mate Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot). The island is reached but the natives kidnap Ann and prepare her as a sacrifice to Kong, a huge gorilla-like creature who dwells on the island. Kong discovers Ann tied to a native altar and carries her to his jungle lair.

Driscoll, Denham, and the crew set out to rescue Ann. They are menaced by dinosaurs, first by a Stegosaurus, and then a Brontosaurus, along the jungle trail and many crew members are killed. Driscoll finds and snatches Ann from Kong's lair but the two are pursued by Kong as they race through the jungle to safety. Kong destroys the native village in his search for Ann. He is finally subdued by hand-tossed gas bombs. Denham returns to civilization with Kong in tow. When Kong is exhibited on the New York stage, he breaks his chains, retakes Ann, and climbs to the top of the Empire State Building. He dies in a hail of machine gun fire from a squadron of military airplanes. Ann is reunited with Driscoll. Below on the street, Denham makes his way through the gathered crowd to look upon the fallen Kong. A police lieutenant says to him, "Well Denham, the airplanes got him." The movie ends with Carl Denham's reply, "No, it wasn't the airplanes... It was Beauty that killed the Beast."

2. The Monster

Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code horror film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features Dwight Frye and Edward van Sloan. The Webling play was adapted by John L. Balderston and the screenplay written by Francis Edward Faragoh and Garrett Fort with uncredited contributions from Robert Florey and John Russell. The make-up artist was Jack Pierce.

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), an ardent young scientist, and his devoted assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye), a hunchback, piece together a human body, the parts of which have been secretly collected from various sources. Frankenstein's consuming desire is to create human life through various electrical devices which he has perfected.

Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), his fiancée, is worried to distraction over his peculiar actions. She cannot understand why he secludes himself in an abandoned watch tower, which he has equipped as a laboratory, and refuses to see anyone. She and her friend, Victor Moritz (John Boles), go to Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan), his old medical professor, and ask Dr. Waldman's help in reclaiming the young scientist from his absorbing experiments. Elizabeth, intent on rescuing Frankenstein, arrives just as Henry is making his final tests. They all watch Frankenstein and the hunchback as they raise the dead creature on an operating table, high into the room, toward an opening at the top of the laboratory. Then a terrific crash of thunder, the crackling of Frankenstein's electric machines, and the hand of Frankenstein's monster (Boris Karloff) begins to move.

Through Fritz's error, a criminal brain was secured for Frankenstein's experiments which results in the monster knowing only hate, horror and murder. The manufactured monster despite its grotesque form, initially appears not to be a malevolent beast, but a simple, innocent creation. Frankenstein welcomes it into his laboratory, and asks his creation to sit, which it does. Fritz, however, enters with a flaming torch which frightens the monster. Its fright is mistaken by Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman as an attempt to attack them, and so it is taken to the dungeon where it is chained. Thinking that it is not fit for society, and will wreak havoc at any chance, they leave the monster locked up where Fritz antagonizes it with a torch. As Henry and Dr. Waldman consider the fate of the monster they hear a shriek from the dungeon. Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman rush in to find the monster has strangled Fritz. The monster makes a lunge at the two but they escape the dungeon, locking the monster inside. Realizing that the creature must be destroyed Henry prepares an injection of a powerful drug and the two conspire to release the monster and inject it as it attacks. When the door is unlocked the creature emerges and lunges at Frankenstein as Dr. Waldman injects the drug into the creature's back. The monster knocks Dr. Waldman to the floor and has nearly killed Henry when the drug takes effect and he falls to the floor unconscious.

Henry leaves to prepare for his wedding while Dr. Waldman conducts an examination of the unconscious creature. As he is preparing to begin dissecting it the creature awakens and strangles him. It escapes from the tower and wanders through the landscape. It then has a short encounter with a farmer's young daughter, Maria, who asks him to play a game with her in which they playfully toss flowers into a lake and watch them float. The monster enjoys the game, but when they run out of flowers, tragedy occurs. Due to his defective brain, the monster thinks Maria (unable to swim) will float as well as the flowers, so he picks her up and throws her into the lake, and the girl drowns. Realizing he has made a terrible mistake, the monster walks away feeling troubled and remorseful. This drowning scene is one of the most controversial in the film, with a long history of censorship.

With preparations for the wedding completed, Frankenstein is once again himself and serenely happy with Elizabeth. They are to marry as soon as Dr. Waldman arrives. Victor rushes in, saying that the Doctor has been found strangled in his operating room. Frankenstein suspects the monster. A chilling scream convinces him that the monster is in the house. When the searchers arrive, they find Elizabeth unconscious on the bed. The monster has escaped. He is only intent upon destroying Frankenstein.

Leading an enraged band of peasants, Frankenstein searches the surrounding country for the monster. He becomes separated from the band and is discovered by the monster who, after the two stare each other down for a curious moment, attacks him. After a struggle, in which Frankenstein's torch fails to save him, the monster knocks Frankenstein unconscious and carries him off to the old mill. The peasants hear his cries and follow. Finally reaching the mill, they find the monster has climbed to the very top, dragging Frankenstein with him. In a burst of rage, he hurls the young scientist to the ground. His fall is broken by the vanes of the windmill, saving him from instant death. Some of the villagers hurry him to his home while the others remain to burn the mill and destroy the entrapped monster.

Later, back at Castle Frankenstein, Frankenstein's father, Baron Frankenstein (Frederick Kerr) celebrates the wedding of his recovered son with a toast to a future grandchild.

1. Godzilla

Godzilla is a daikaijū, a Japanese movie monster, first appearing in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd. The monster has appeared in numerous other media incarnations including video games, novels, comic books, television series, and an American remake. Another separate American remake is currently in production by Legendary Pictures.

With the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear detonations and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, the stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla in the role of a hero, while later movies returned to depicting the character as a destructive monster.

Godzilla is the main character of all of the Godzilla films, though there are numerous different versions of the monster. The silver screen is not the only place Godzilla has appeared; there are literary sources that have expanded the universe of Godzilla. Godzilla and the Godzilla universe have also starred in comic books, manga, Japanese television, and many cartoons.

Showa series

The Showa-era Godzilla films were the first of the film series. In total, there are fifteen Showa-era films, amounting to over half the total Godzilla movies currently in existence.

The first film was simply titled Godzilla (1954). In the original film, Godzilla was portrayed as a terrible and destructive monster. Following the success of Godzilla, Toho started filming a quickie sequel called Godzilla Raids Again. In this film, a new Godzilla was set up to fight another dinosaur-like creature, Anguirus. This second film started a trend for Godzilla films, where Godzilla would fight other giant monsters. In his fifth film, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla took the role of a hero. From that point on, to the end of the Showa series, Godzilla stayed a hero, protecting Japan against attacks from other monsters, aliens, etc. At one point, Godzilla even adopted a son, Minilla, in Son of Godzilla, who would make appearances in later Showa-era films.

The Showa-era movies played on a lot of fears and interests of people during the period in which they were made. For instance, Godzilla was a movie designed to warn people about the use and testing of nuclear weapons. Likewise, Godzilla vs. Hedorah was designed to carry a message about the dangers of pollution. As space exploration and the Space Age were extremely popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many of Godzilla's films revolved around Godzilla fighting alien monsters, or involved an alien invasion in some shape or form. For instance, in the movie Destroy All Monsters, an alien race had managed to take control of all of earth's monsters, who were eventually freed from their control, and destroyed the aliens who had put them under control.

Heisei series

The Heisei-era Godzilla films were the second of the film series. In total, there were seven Heisei-era films, making them amount to one fourth of the total Godzilla movies in existence.

The Heisei-era films differed drastically from the Showa-era films in a variety of ways. The most prominent difference is that Toho did away with Godzilla being the hero of the films. While occasionally Godzilla would take the role of an antihero, he was still consistently portrayed as hazardous to humanity throughout the films. The Godzilla outfit was updated to look more realistic and much more intimidating than previous suits. Another significant difference is that the series was given an overall plotline with story arcs. Each movie happened in some sort of sequence, and generally referenced previous movies to further the plot of the series.

As in the Showa era, in the first Godzilla movie of the Heisei era, The Return of Godzilla, Godzilla was the only monster to make an appearance. All succeeding Heisei-era movies would have Godzilla fight other giant monsters. Like the Showa series, Godzilla adopted a son, Baby Godzilla, as his own child. In the final Heisei-era movie, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla dies after undergoing a nuclear meltdown, and his son (by that point almost half as tall as his father and called Godzilla Junior) absorbs the radiation and quickly matures to become the new King of the Monsters.

In much the same way that the Showa-era played on fears and interests of people during the time period of production, Heisei-era Godzilla films made some attempts at making statements on popular topics for their time period. One good example would be Godzilla vs. Biollante, which made explicit warnings against research involving genetic engineering. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah touched on US-Japanese relations stemming from World War II and introduced a time-travel plot. Other themes in the movies included commenting on research into hazardous material and making environmental statements.

American remake

In 1998, TriStar Pictures produced a remake set in New York City, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Matthew Broderick; the film's name was simply Godzilla. Despite negative to mixed reviews from film critics and negative reception from the fans of the original Japanese Godzilla, the film was a financial success, taking in nearly $380 million worldwide, and spawned an animated television series called Godzilla: The Series, which drew much better reception all-around. However, no sequel was made. Toho classifies the monster in this movie as Zilla, and it was featured briefly in their film Godzilla: Final Wars. Makers of this film stated in cinematic magazine interviews that the American incarnation of the monster did not merit having "God" in his name. Previous to the "Zilla" announcement, the creature was widely referred to by traditional Godzilla fans as Fraudzilla, for obvious reasons, or GINO for Godzilla In Name Only.

Millennium series

The Millennium series of Godzilla films are the third and currently last of the film series. There are six of these films, making them slightly under a fourth the total of the series.

The Millennium series attempted to bring Godzilla back to his roots by eliminating a few of the things that the Heisei-era films had done. The most notable of these changes are, with one exception, the lack of any real continuity in the movies. Godzilla is, however, still a hazard in the Millennium series, and is always a destructive force.

American reboot

It has been confirmed by Variety that Legendary Pictures had acquired the rights to the character and that a new Godzilla movie is being planned for release in 2012. In addition to Legendary, producers of the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers, Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will be the executive producers. Very little is known about the project so far. At the 2010 San Diego Comic Con, representatives from Legendary Pictures were on hand to pass out t-shirts depicting a new Godzilla design. On January 4th, 2011, it was announced that Gareth Edwards will direct the the film. The original script writer David Callaham has been replaced by a new yet-to-be-announced writer.

Godzilla is one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese popular culture worldwide and remains an important facet of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre. He has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the United States, as well as an allegory of nuclear weapons in general. The earlier Godzilla films, especially the original, portrayed Godzilla as a frightening, nuclear monster. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese held about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the possibility of recurrence.

As the series progressed, so did Godzilla, changing into a less destructive and more heroic character as the films became geared towards children. Since then, the character has fallen somewhere in the middle, sometimes portrayed as a protector of the world from external threats and other times as a bringer of destruction. Godzilla remains one of the greatest fictional heroes in the history of film, and is also the second of only three fictional characters to have won the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded in 1996.

Monster Info From Wikipedia

See Also: The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #11 - #20 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #21 - #30 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #31 - #40/ The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #41 - #50 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #51 - #60 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #61 - #70 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #71 - #80 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #81 - #90 / The 100 Greatest Monsters From Movies And Television #91 - #100

1 comment:

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