For the month of February, we’ll be doing something special here at Biff Bam Pop! Each week our writers and correspondents will be compiling lists of their favorite things. Many of us were introduced to the word ‘kaiju’ in last summer’s Pacific Rim, but it’s a Japanese word that’s been around for a long time. It means ‘strange beast,’ and daikaiju means ‘giant strange beast’ or ‘giant monster.’ After the jump follows my top five daikaiju from the world of film.
While the word is Japanese, no real list of daikaiju would be complete without listing at least one giant monster created by Ray Harryhausen. The five tentacled octopus of It Came from Beneath the Sea, or any of Sinbad’s larger nemeses come close, but my fave Harryhausen creation is the Venusian growing monster called The Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth. Great little film, great big stop motion monster.
If two heads are better than one, how about three? Whether you spell it Ghidrah or Ghidorah, this king of the space monsters has always been Godzilla’s greatest foe. Without arms it can scrap with the best of them, with wings that allow him to fly, and gravity beams blast from all three mouths, King Ghidorah is truly one of the most dangerous creatures to fight the king of the monsters.
Speaking of the king, Godzilla has reigned as king of the daikaiju for over fifty years and nearly thirty films. This metaphor for the atomic bomb has been both enemy and friend to mankind, battled dozens of other monsters, and been one of the longest running movie franchises in history. Let’s face it, Godzilla is bad ass, and he returns to American movie screens in 2014, watch out!
As long as we’re talking about kings, we need to talk about one of the originals, Kong. Brought to life by Willis O’Brien via stop motion animation (which he taught to the aforementioned Harryhausen), Kong was a huge box office blockbuster in the United States for decades. Several remakes and even a couple sequels (one in which he battled Godzilla) followed, proving he still can bring in the bucks.
Yes, the big moth. One of the few (sometimes) female daikaiju, Mothra holds a special place in my heart. She has different forms, she’s a god, and she’s also one of the few daikaiju to defeat Godzilla in battle. Even Kong and Ghidorah haven’t done that. I love me some Mothra, and the 1964 film in which she first puts the beatdown on the Big G, Mothra Vs. Godzilla, is still my absolute favorite kaiju eiga, hands down.