The Best Kaiju Movies That Don't Have Godzilla In Them

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Vote up the movies that can really tear the house down.

Godzilla is the King of the Monsters in more ways than one. However, there are a lot of fantastic kaiju movies without Godzilla in them. Even narrowly defined as giant monster movies specifically from Japan, the kaiju genre has a lot of fantastic films on offer. If that definition is broadened out and made less rigorous, there is truly a motherload of terrific, city-stomping action from around the globe.


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    576 VOTES

    Monsters, mechas, and mayhem. The big-budget epic Pacific Rim was directed by Guillermo del Toro in 2013 and spawned a sequel a few years later. Mankind does battle against a race of colossal sea monsters that have emerged from an interdimensional portal on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Humans assemble, and psychically merge with, an army of Jaegers (or giant mechas) to fight these new visitors. Combat and destruction ensue.

    For the true kaiju fan, there's way too much robot/mecha stuff in this film. But it's still got some great-looking creatures - and a budget that allows for some beautiful destruction.

    • Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Diego Klattenhoff, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day
    • Released: 2013
    • Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

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  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe
    Photo: Toho

    This 1995 film is considered by many kaiju fans to be the best film of the genre during that decade. It features a rebooted, angrier Gamera as he defends the Earth against the Gyaos. The Gyaos are nasty, giant, Pterodactyl-like creatures. One of the many great scenes in Gamera: Guardian of the Universe involves an epic showdown over the Fukuoka Dome baseball stadium.

    This film shows that Gamera isn't just a cute, lovable turtle. He can be as mean as anyone out there. He can also out-fight even the most fearsome of kaiju rivals.

    • Actors: Tsuyoshi Ihara, Hirotaro Honda, Ayako Fujitani, Yukijirô Hotaru, Shinobu Nakayama
    • Released: 1995
    • Directed by: Shusuke Kaneko
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    237 VOTES
    Photo: Toho

    This 1956 standalone feature introduced the giant Pteranodon, Rodan, to audiences. Rodan later reappeared in a number of classic Godzilla films. It was Toho's first kaiju film made in color, making the destruction caused by his supersonic flight-enabling wings against the Japanese Self-Defense Forces all the more enjoyable.

    In fact, it's such a good story, with such great Showa-era special effects, that you probably won't even find yourself missing that big lizard guy.

    • Actors: Akihiko Hirata, Yumi Shirakawa, Kenji Sahara, Yoshifumi Tajima, Minosuke Yamada
    • Released: 1956
    • Directed by: Ishirō Honda
  • Merian C. Cooper's King Kong introduced the world to the giant ape who would take on New York City after being seized by evil opportunists from his tropical island home. The famous showdown atop the Empire State Building leaves viewers heartbroken after the great beast perishes.

    True, he's not from Japan, and he wasn't awakened by an atomic device. But the fact that he later reappeared in Toho's 1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla makes it hard to argue against King Kong's kaiju credentials. More importantly, King Kong is one of the most well-developed and tragic creatures ever to hit the silver screen. Decades after Kong's film debut, his demise still brings tears to viewers' eyes.

    • Actors: Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong, Frank Reicher, Sam Hardy
    • Released: 1933
    • Directed by: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack