If there’s one thing everybody knows about giant monster movies, it’s that Godzilla and King Kong are the go-to big guys when it comes to rampaging creature features. The King of Monsters and the King of the Apes have been resurrected and reimagined countless times over the decades, and they show no sign of slowing down, but the giant monster genre has a whole lot more to offer than the endless cycle of sequels, reboots, and remakes for our King monsters (although those movies have a heck of a lot to offer on their own!) Across decades, filmmakers from all over the world have returned to the monster movie to explore society’s ills, dream up spectacular set-pieces, and deliver some of the most entertaining, spectacle-driven films in cinema history.
The giant monster genre is one of the oldest, proudest, and internationally popular subgenres, so this is in no way meant to be a comprehensive best-of list. To the contrary, it’s an opportunity to hone in on some of my personal favorites and recommendations for those looking to expand their monstrous horizons beyond the big guys. Along those lines, I stuck to a rule of staying away from monsters who made their debut as a villain in a Godzilla movie — that means no Mothra, King Ghidorah, and so on — the only overlap is Rodan, who eventually went on to appear in a Godzilla film, but debuted first as his own headliner.
So without further ado, here are some great giant monster movies that aren’t Godzilla or King Kong. Be sure to sound off in the comments with your favorites.