Back when I was painting monsters in various effects shops, one of the conversation topics was “What genre movies came out the year you were born?” Since I was often lucky enough to be sitting next to my favorite artist, my lovely wife, Cathy Tharp, I would get to remember 1954. She shares a birth year with three of my all-time favorite monster movies.

Top of my list for the best horror movies of 1954 is…


Them giant ant movie

Them! is the first and best of the giant monster movies from the 1950s. Atomic radiation has created enormous ants. I saw this for the first time on television back in the early sixties and loved it. I re-watch it every couple of years and it still holds up.

Them best horror movies of 1954

The acting, the pacing, even the full-sized monster ants are great. The ants don’t look perfectly real, but hey! They’re mutated. And the danger they pose is obviously real.

Them 1954 tunnels

Another plus for me is the climax of the film takes place in Los Angeles’ storm drains. I used to play in those storm tunnels in my younger ‘daze,’ so added chills for location. Mimic is my second favorite giant bug movie, but Them! will always be my favorite. If you haven’t seen it, check it out!

Them! release date: June 18, 1954 (US)

Next from 1954 is…

Godzilla AKA Gojira

Godzilla Gojira Japanese horror

Another favorite from my 1960’s childhood. I watched the version that had Raymond Burr in it. He was playing TV super lawyer Perry Mason at that time, so it was easy to take what he said about Godzilla seriously.

Godzilla 1954 horror movies

This Godzilla was kind of scary to the younger me — he had yet to become the goofball Godzilla of the late sixties and seventies movies. This Godzilla was a dinosaur the size of a mountain that was killing lots of people and destroying Tokyo.

Gojira best horror films of 1954

The effects in this first movie were the best of all the Godzilla movies until the 1980s. The movie is dark, moody, and very serious. [I finally got to see the original Japanese version of Godzilla (Gojira) a few years ago, and it’s even darker and grimmer than the American version!]. It’s easy to see why this monster has stayed so popular for seventy years.

Gojira AKA Godzilla, King of the Monsters! release dates: November 3, 1954 (Japan) and April 27, 1956 (US).

Last but not least is my wife Cathy’s favorite Universal monster

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Creature from the Black Lagoon poster

Creature from the Black Lagoon has one of the best man-in-a-suit monsters ever. It’s so good, you easily forget it’s a costume and believe it’s a real creature. This is the last classic monster from Universal Studios. (Sorry, Mole People).

Creature from the Black Lagoon best horror movie of 1954

Creature is a nice, tight “B” monster movie. Good story, good cast, moves quickly, and has plenty of suspense. Julie Adams is the perfect Beauty to the Creature’s Beast. Just like Fay Wray and King Kong. They click!

Creature from the Black Lagoon Ricou Browning

I got to see this movie on the big screen in 3D once. It was fun, but it’s just as good in 2D. If you’ve never seen it, go catch up! The first sequel, Revenge of the Creature (1955), is also pretty good. The third movie, The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), totally sucks. Word to the wise.

Creature from the Black Lagoon release date: March 5, 1954 (US).

Which Films Do YOU Consider the Best Horror Movies of 1954…?

Creature from the Black Lagoon Ben Chapman Julie Adams

Lauren Spear gave me a list of all the genre movies released in 1954, and there were some very good movies besides these three. (Shout out to the awesome squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!) But these were my favorites, born the same year as Cathy, and all classics!

Next year I’ll take a shot at 1955, my own birth year. I don’t think there were as many good monsters that year, but I’ll let you know.

Play the effects shop monster makers game at home! What monsters or scary movies share a birth year with you? Maybe you can tell us about your favorites.

Thanks to Lauren for letting me ramble. If you agree or disagree with me, let me know. I like to hear other people’s opinions.

Images used in this post were purchased via MovieStillsDB.

About the Author

Robert Tharp is married to the lovely and talented artist Cathy Tharp; and he's father to the lovely and talented Lauren Spear whose husband is the handsome and talented Frank Spear. Robert is now retired from what he had previously been doing.

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