1. The Giant Claw (1957): This was a giant bird that could grab jetliners in its claws. It was constructed for the film by a Mexican puppet-maker. Indeed, it looks like a Big Bird piñata. Once its anti-matter shield was disabled by a blast of masic atoms, it was brought down by air-to-air missiles.
2. Robot Monster (1953): This space alien was a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a deep sea diver’s helmet. Robot Monster makes my Bad Movie Festival.
3. The Killer Shrews (1959): Dogs in fright masks. Yes, dogs. As you can see from the bottom photo, the filmmakers have also applied shaggy patches to the sides of the dogs and ropy rat tails to their backs. When humans escaped from their island, the killer shrews died of overpopulation.
4. The Black Scorpion (1957): This was an apparently gray (not black) giant scorpion that mutated in the core of a Mexican volcano. The scorpion looked a lot like a plastic toy bug from a cereal box, except that it is constantly drooling. Lured into a Mexican soccer stadium, it was dispatched by electrocution.
The Black Scorpion also makes my list of Least Convincing Mexicans.
5. The Creeping Terror (1964): This space alien (actually, there were two of them) resembled a giant slug. Although any human could out-crawl the monsters, many very bad actors were nonetheless consumed. The two Creeping Terrors were done in, respectively, by a grenade and a vehicular collision.
6. War of the Gargantuas (1966): The fuzzy giants were brothers – Gaira was the mean green one from the sea and Sanda was the nice brown one from the land. After their brotherly brawl reduced Tokyo to rubble, they met their end through volcanic activity.
7. Godzilla versus the Sea Monster (1966): Ebirah the sea monster was a giant lobster, that looked like a promotional giveaway for Red Lobster (the restaurant chain). It mutated, of course, by heavy water. Finally, Godzilla ripped off its claws (and presumably started looking for clarified butter). The filmmakers also ignored the fact that lobsters don’t turn red until cooked.
8. Wasp Woman (1960): This was a slender, attractive woman wearing an insect mask. (The owner of a cosmetics manufacturer became worried that she was aging out of her looks and injected some wasp material from her R&D lab.) Once carbolic acid was thrown in her face, the Wasp Woman was pushed to her death off a skyscraper.
9. It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958): “It” was a guy who appeared to be wearing a gorilla suit modified with a pig snout and hands that are webbed and clawed. He met his end when deprived of oxygen.
It! is a nice time capsule of the Mad Men days: the male astronauts sat around a table at their Mars space station and were served coffee by their female colleagues. They also thought nothing of smoking cigarettes and shooting off pistol rounds inside the spaceship.
10. Mothra (1961): This giant moth with glowing eyes, as all of the Japanese Godzilla-era monsters, mutated with the help of radiation. To add to the weirdness, she had her own posse of two miniature fairies, first played by the Japanese girl group The Peanuts. In various movies, Mothra was wrestled to death by Godzilla (who was then killed by her larvae) and burned to death by Gigan’s laser ray (and then Gigan was killed by Mothra’s suicidal embrace). Mothra appeared in at least 12 more movies. (Yes, I do rate Mothra as less believable than Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah.)
Note: 50s pinup queen Mara Corday starred in Giant Claw and Black Scorpion (along with Tarantula).