Giant Monster Attacks On London: A Natural History

By M@ Last edited 107 months ago
Giant Monster Attacks On London: A Natural History

While London can normally hold its own in comparisons with New York and Tokyo, these other world cities surely trump our own when it comes to giant monster attacks, right?

The Japanese capital gets smashed up by Godzilla almost every week. The Big Apple has also attracted the attentions of Godzilla, plus Cloverfield, King Kong and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

But London has also seen its share of mega-mutant mayhem — we're just more understated about it. Here, then, is our guide to the menagerie of supermegafauna that have unleashed their wrath upon the Big Smoke.

The Giant Behemoth (1959)


"Brace yourself for a shock", warns the trailer. "The biggest thing since creation," it fibs. The Giant Behemoth turns out to be a slack-jawed dinosaur with "radioactive fire breath" and an appetite for destroying London. Borne of some kind of nuclear test vagueness, the tautological monster makes its way to the capital, where it flattens cars, levels cranes and engages in unacceptable levels of antisocial behaviour. Includes footage of Big Ben being thumped. Rahhhh!

Gorgo (1961)


'Incredibly realistic', 'shockingly convincing', and 'like nothing you've seen before'...the film makers obviously didn't watch The Giant Behemoth a couple of years previously. Gorgo is another lumbering dinosaur thing, captured on a remote island and chained up for public spectacle (the film makers obviously did watch King Kong). Turns out that Gorgo is just a baby. As is the law in giant monster films, his 200-foot-tall mother, called Ogra, soon comes looking, working her way through My First Tourist Guide to London in search of her offspring. Big Ben gets a thumping, Tower Bridge goes a bit collapsey, and Piccadilly Circus is smited. Eventually, Ogra rescues Gorgo from Battersea Park. Everyone lives happily ever after, especially reconstruction firms.

Monty Python's Flying Circus: Spiny Norman (1970)


In the long and peculiar annals of London, Spiny Norman remains the only super-sized hedgehog ever to terrify the city...but only in the mind of one man. Dinsdale Piranha, one half of the notorious Piranha gangster brothers, had regular delusions of the giant erinaceomorph towering over the capital. The end credits of this series 2 Monty Python episode feature Norman lurking over Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and, naturally, Big Ben.

The Goodies: Kitten Kong (1971/1972)


In perhaps their most famous episode, comedy trio The Goodies open a clinic for 'loony animals'. One patient is Twinkle the cat, who has an unfortunate close encounter with a specially formulated growth mixture. The super-sized feline goes on the rampage, flattening the Post Office Tower, knocking the dome off St Paul's, smashing Westminster Bridge and crushing Michael Aspel. It looks a bit shit now but, believe it or not, Kitten Kong was nominated for a BAFTA.

Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons (1975)


In the terrifying conclusion to this famous Tom Baker story, a glove puppet purporting to be the Loch Ness Monster is drawn to the Thames by a glorified dog whistle. The beast rears its jerry-built head above the embankment wall at Millbank, but is soon driven away, when the Doctor feeds it the dog whistle. This is the only documented monster attack on London in which Big Ben is not thumped.

Michael Jackson (1995)

In simultaneously the greatest and naffest publicity stunt in living memory, Michael Jackson floated a nine metre-high statue of himself along the Thames to promote the HIStory album. The two-ton King of Prop necessitated the opening of Tower Bridge, before heading upriver where he totally demolished Big Ben. We think.

Reign of Fire (2002)


The year is 2084 AD. London is a smouldering ruin thanks to an infestation of dragons. Rentokil decline the job. St George is conspicuously absent. Fortunately, a stellar troop of humans stand in the dragons' way, including a Batman (Christian Bale), a Hardman (Gerard Butler), a Bond Girl (Izabella Scorupco), the greatest actor of this or any other age (Matthew McConaughey), and the doctor out of Deep Space Nine. Includes footage of Big Ben being thumped.

The Sultan's Elephant (2006)

Image by nickestamp in the Londonist Flickr pool.

Unbelievably, this attack wasn't in a film. It was in real life. Actual real life. The Sultan's Elephant was an oversized robotic elephant that trampled through the West End, bringing shock, awe and a new benchmark in pachyderm puppetry. OK, no buildings were destroyed (other than a strip of tarmac in St James), but it did squirt water in our face. That must count as minor harassment, right?

Mr Darcy (2013)

News just in...a four-metre high Mr Darcy has been spotted in the Serpentine. Run for the hills.


Did we somehow miss any giant intruders? Let us know in the comments. Note, monsters like the American Werewolf in London and those Attack the Block nasties are too small to count in this roundup.

See also: the top 9 London Doomsday scenarios.

Last Updated 08 July 2013