CATEGORIES Action, Animation, Classics, Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, New Releases, Peter Jackson, Cinematical Seven, Lists, Movie News, New Releases, Cinematical
Titans will clash (or something) and beasties abound in Louis Leterrier's remake of the 1981 cult classic Clash of the Titans, which hits theaters this weekend. The story is loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus (Sam Worthington), who tries to save his family from Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Perseus leads a dangerous mission into dark, forbidden worlds where he battles unholy demons and giant beasts -- my favorite being Medusa, whose hairstyle I often tried to imitate as a child. Perhaps the most feared beast of all in Titans is the Kraken -- an ancient sea monster that tries to devour a virgin sacrifice as demanded by the sea goddess Thetis. (At least in the original version of the film.) It will be great to see the monster rise up in a larger than life way in the remake.
Clash of the Titans isn't the only film to feature fantastical creatures awakened and unleashed in order to wreak havoc on the world at large, though. In fact, here are seven others baddies who've done much the same. Hit the jump for The Biggest and Baddest Unleashed Beasts.
The Alien Queen
Ridley Scott's Alien introduced us to arguably the most terrifying space monsters to ever grace a screen, but it was James Cameron's sequel that really upped the ante. The Xenomorphs in Aliens are more numerous (and just as savage as ever), but the real game-changer can be summed up in two words: Alien Queen. The giant den mother of the alien hive is the stuff of nightmares. She's enormous, she's every bit as capable of ripping you to shreds as her offspring (just ask Lance Henriksen's Bishop, who finds out exactly what she can do firsthand ... ) and she's really unhappy with Ripley and company by the time the film's climax rolls around.
One of the tenets of good screenwriting is that the antagonist must be at least somewhat stronger than the hero -- if we never feel doubt about the outcome, then there's no suspense and the story doesn't resonate with audiences. With the Alien Queen, Cameron almost went too far -- creating an adversary so much stronger than the heroic Ripley that we as an audience feel she has no chance at all when the final showdown begins. Cameron's one step ahead of us, though, and the battle between Sigourney Weaver (in an Exo-Suit Cargo Loader) and the mother of some of the galaxy's most feared predators turns into a fight for the ages. Ripley may ultimately win out, but the Alien Queen secured her spot as one of the baddest bitches in the universe.
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
"I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puft!" says the lovable Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) in Ghostbusters. After Dana (Sigourney Weaver) and Louis (Rick Moranis) transform into demonic beasts, they summon Gozer, who warns before vanishing that a "destructor" will come for everyone. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) tells the group to clear their heads in order to avoid manifesting this evil force, but Stantz inadvertently "awakens" a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who tries to destroy the city with his fluff. It doesn't help that his mouth is frozen in that creepy, cavernous smile. Have you ever gotten marshmallow on your fingers and ended up sticking to everything in sight? Imagine being full body slathered in it. P.S. this pick inspired me to make s'mores tonight and they were delicious.
If the idea of fighting a hellhound wasn't daunting enough, how about a hellhound who's been imbued with the ability to not only reincarnate, but to split his essence as well? This is what Hellboy finds himself up against when he encounters Sammael in Guillermo Del Toro's adaptation of Mike Mignola's classic comic book. Hellboy has numerous run-ins with the various mutts, but eventually they square off in a crowded subway during one of the film's most entertaining sequences. Here Ron Perlman and the beast go toe-to-toe in a showdown in which they're surrounded by countless innocent civilians. Sammael, aside from being strong, is also quite cunning -- witness the way he takes out a pillar in order to drop an overhang on Hellboy. Our hero eventually wins out (while saving kittens!) when his nemesis gets up close and personal with a speeding subway train.
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy had no shortage of memorable monsters. But the one most fans "nerd out" over is the Balrog of Morgoth. This imposing demonic beast would have been hard to forget under normal circumstances, but he moved into the unforgettable category thanks to his epic showdown with Gandalf the Grey in Fellowship of the Ring. Sheathed in fire and shadow, this beast encounters the intrepid fellowship in the Mines of Moria. As our heroes flee across a narrow bridge, the wizened wizard stops to confront their pursuer. Things seem almost anti-climactic when the bridge collapses and the Balrog falls into the abyss, but with a flick of his fiery whip, he pulls Gandalf along for the ride. The two then wage an epic battle while plummeting through what seems like a bottomless pit before winding up on a snow-covered mountain. Sure, the Balrog gets his ass kicked by a guy who kinda looks like grandpa after a three-day bender, but hey -- he's Gandalf. I'm sure he'd have kicked the crap out of any other member of the Fellowship -- yes, even Aragorn.
Aside from The Mummy aka the High Priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) being kinda hot -- at least when he was alive -- he also has great staying power ... and the ladies love him. Anck-su-Namun loved him so much that she murdered the Pharaoh she was to be married to and then killed herself so they could be united forever in death. Well, really it's more because she didn't want to suffer the consequences for her actions, but director Stephen Sommers has said there is an element of Romeo and Juliet in the film. Imhotep ends up dying anyway (a "suffering for eternity" kind of death) but is accidentally resurrected centuries later. He gets more of his form back with each person he kills. Many killer sandstorms and hoards of beetles later he's a mummy that looks nothing like the Universal monster cemented in our memories and more like an ancient creature you do not want to contend with.
Even though most American audiences are only familiar with the campy and cawing Japanese monster for his hobby of trampling everything in his path, Godzilla (or Gojira -- his original name) was actually quite the philosophical fellow. He was born as a symbol for the nuclear anxiety of the times -- casting his grim shadow over us all. Don't be fooled by his metaphorical façade though, this bad-ass beast is more than capable of crushing cities and taking out the biggest bosses in the galaxy, even when there's no nuclear threat involved. His origins are described differently from film to film, but most of the movies indicate he was awakened from his prehistoric slumber by toxic radiation. This explains how he got his awesome "atomic breath," which I used to try to imitate as a child with Atomic Fireball candy. Godzilla has a tough dino-like exterior which shields him from harm and he can heal himself. He even rocks some serious ninja skills on land and in water. Sometimes he likes long walks on the beach and candle-lit dinners.
Finally it comes down to the beastie with the mostest, courtesy of one H.P. Lovecraft. This cosmic creature has been the subject of dozens of films and even when the Great Old One's name isn't spoken outright, his influence is so far-reaching that the mere suggestion of his existence is enough to drive mortal men insane. Films like 1959's Caltiki: The Immortal Monster, the denim-clad bulge happy The Shuttered Room starring Oliver "Don't-Poke-Your-Eye-Out" Reed, The Curse of the Crimson Altar, The Beyond and Dark Waters are just a few of the films that refer to the crafty subtext, esoteric occultism and underground netherworlds that are ripe with Cthulu-happy goodness.
One Cthulhu film not to be missed is the brilliant Call of Cthulhu, which is a silent film adaptation of Lovecraft's story of the same name. Branney and Leman's flick treats the ancient beast in a way not unlike Lovecraft's fiction -- as some terrible and incomprehensible