Even More Great Giant Monster Movies That Don’t Involve Godzilla or Kong

When it comes to giant monster movies, Godzilla and Kong get a bit too much love. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore both of them (in fact, Godzilla is my favorite fictional character of all time!), and they totally deserve their place at the top of the heap, but they’re just so popular that their films overshadow everything else in the subgenre. Sure, some recent Hollywood movies like Rampage and Pacific Rim have gotten their names out there, but for the most part, the vast majority of fans simply aren’t familiar with the wider kaiju world.

And that’s a real shame. As I’ve written about a few times before, a lot of these films are just as good as their more famous counterparts, and they deserve to be seen by just as many people. So to help make that a reality, I’ve compiled yet another list of five great giant monster movies that don’t involve Godzilla or Kong. These are some of my absolute favorite films in this subgenre, and if you’re a fan of giant monsters, you’re definitely going to want to check them out too.



Rodan was one of the earliest Japanese giant monster movies (it came out only two years after the original Godzilla), and to this day, it’s still one of the best. It tells the story of how its titular kaiju first appeared in the modern world, but it doesn’t take the route most of us would expect. Rather, it’s a somewhat twisty tale with a couple of really cool surprises (which I won’t spoil in case you’ve never seen it!), so even when Rodan’s not on screen, this film is always a really great watch.

Then, when the big pteranodon finally does show up, it gets even better. The kaiju action here is top-notch, so giant monster aficionados are definitely going to get what they came for. In fact, since Rodan can fly, the action in this movie is pretty different from your typical kaiju fare. It’s more than just a larger-than-life animal stomping through a city, so even though the film is almost 70 years old, it still feels quite fresh.

On top of all that, Rodan also makes its titular monster surprisingly sympathetic, so unlike most giant monster movies, this one won’t have you cheering and pumping your fist when the humans finally win. Instead, you’re probably going to feel conflicted and even a bit sad. You obviously want the characters to live in peace, but you also want the same for Rodan, and unfortunately, the two simply aren’t compatible. Something has to give, and that sad inevitability helps make this an all-around great story that’ll stick with you long after the credits roll.

The Giant Behemoth

A dinosaur with its head above a building

The Giant Behemoth (originally released as Behemoth, the Giant Sea Monster) is a British kaiju film from 1959, and it’s about a radioactive dinosaur that attacks various towns before finally wreaking havoc in London. Admittedly, it’s not the most original movie in the subgenre, so if you’re looking for novelty and innovation, you’re not going to find it here. In fact, the plot of this film is basically just a rehash of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, but despite that, it still manages to be a really good time.

Like a lot of giant monster movies, this one starts out with a mystery. At first, you know there’s some sort of creature terrorizing these people, but you don’t know what it is. As the film goes on, it slowly develops this mystery more and more, and even though you know exactly where it’s going, the ride is fun enough that the predictability isn’t too much of a problem.

Then, when The Giant Behemoth pulls back the curtain and shows you just what this thing is, the film gets even better. The special effects for it were done by Willis O’Brien, the man who did the effects for the original King Kong, and while he clearly had some budgetary restrictions this time, O’Brien’s work here does not disappoint. In particular, the third act is a super fun romp that any fan of old school giant monster movies is sure to enjoy, so while The Giant Behemoth is admittedly a bit more generic than I’d prefer, it’s still good enough to deserve a spot on this list.

War of the Gargantuas

A giant furry monster

War of the Gargantuas is a Japanese movie produced by Toho, the studio that makes the Godzilla films, and it’s the sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World, a movie I included on my first list in this series. Surprisingly though, it doesn’t have anything to do with Frankenstein’s Monster…well, at least not the way we usually think of the creature.

See, this isn’t a conventional sequel. Rather, somewhat like Evil Dead 2, War of the Gargantuas reimagines its predecessor a bit and then continues that new, revised storyline, not the narrative of the original film. In fact, if you didn’t know it was a sequel, you’d probably never even think to connect it to Frankenstein Conquers the World. Sure, it calls its monsters “Frankensteins,” but beyond that, it doesn’t have any real link to the Frankenstein mythos.

But even so, this is still one of the best giant monster movies ever made, so as long as you accept it on its own terms, you’re sure to have a great time with it. It has all the fun kaiju action we fans crave, and it also adds a really cool twist that elevates it above most of its cinematic peers. War of the Gargantuas uses its titular monsters to infuse its story with real emotional and thematic substance, so if you’re looking for a great all-around watch, this is definitely the film for you.

The Valley of Gwangi

A person up against a big dinosaur

If you’ve ever wondered what a dinosaur western would look like, then The Valley of Gwangi is just the movie for you. It’s about a group of cowboys who explore a mysterious, unexplored valley that’s said to be cursed, and during their time there, they encounter a bunch of prehistoric creatures. Most notably, they manage to capture an allosaurus, a dinosaur that’s very similar to a T-Rex, and after they bring it back with them, they put it on display in a show. As you can probably guess, the creature eventually escapes, and it goes on a rampage through the town.

Admittedly, that story is basically a rehash of King Kong, so the big draw here isn’t the plot. Rather, what sets The Valley of Gwangi apart from most other giant monster movies is its western feel and great special effects. The cowboys and the frontier-like setting make this film unlike just about anything else the subgenre has to offer, and the prehistoric creatures are brilliantly brought to life by stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen.

Those two features more than make up for the familiar plot, so despite its shortcomings The Valley of Gwangi is a super fun ride. It’s especially fun for fans of stop motion animation, but even if you don’t have any particular affinity for that style, it’s still one of the best giant monster movies most people have never seen.


The Statue of Liberty's head lying in the street

Of all the giant monster movies on this list, Cloverfield is hands down the most well known. It’s a big Hollywood film directed by J. J. Abrams, so most of you have probably at least heard of it. But if you haven’t seen it, you need to change that. Right now. Well, maybe not right now. Finish reading this article, and then go watch this movie.

So what makes Cloverfield so good? Well, for starters, it’s found footage, so if nothing else, it just feels different from most other kaiju films. While the style can feel a bit played out these days, this film came out before the post-Paranormal Activity found footage explosion, so at the time, it was actually quite fresh. And even today, that still makes it rather unique among kaiju movies, so it doesn’t feel nearly as generic as many other found footage films.

On top of that, this movie also takes a very Jaws-esque approach to its monster, and it works beautifully. In fact, it feels almost like a disaster film that just happens to involve a kaiju, so it doesn’t follow the typical playbook nearly as closely as most other giant monster movies. It’s very much its own thing, and in a subgenre that’s saturated with generic (even if fun) carbon copies, that makes Cloverfield a really welcome change of pace.


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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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