There’s nothing like a great monster movie to get your heartbeat racing, a perfect blend of adrenaline-fuelled thrills and stomach-churning scares that often feels like the cinematic equivalent of a death defying rollercoaster ride. At the same time, monster movies have long been the proud home of allegorical storytelling, gorgeously designed stand-ins for the real-life fears that plague and control us, and in the film’s below you’ll see an especially interesting assemblage of both modern panic and technology-age terrors, born specifically out the era in which they were created, and more universal, primal fears, timeless reminders of the dark corners of the human mind. You’ll also see some plain old downright fun monster mashes.
A bit of housekeeping notes here: I’m casting a pretty wide net here as to what counts as a monster, however, I won’t be including zombies, vampires, or werewolves for two reasons. One, they are such established subgenres in their own right, they really need their own lists. (Check out our picks for the Best Vampire Movies here). Two, because they are so prolific and trendy at the start of the millennium (especially vampires and zombies), they would either dominate the lineup or force the list to become so big it would be unwieldy. I’m also being a bit of a tough cookie about the fact that having a great monster doesn’t make something a monster movie, which means no Harry Potter, Pan’s Labyrinth, or anything with the Hulk.
Honorable Mentions: The Monster, Brian Bertino‘s grim addiction allegory featuring a knockout performance by Zoe Kazan; Grabbers, a cheeky Irish creature feature with a comedic flourish; Shin Godzilla, Toho’s reboot of the Godzilla franchise fuelled by a satirical spin on bureaucracy; and Slither, James Gunn‘s stomach-testing B-movie homage.