While the long-running Godzilla franchise isn't exactly renowned for its terrifying moments, just put yourself in the shoes of the people living in Tokyo, San Francisco or wherever else Godzilla attacks. Just the mere thought of being at ground level while the iconic giant lizard goes on the rampage is enough to send a chill up the spine.
It's a scenario that vividly springs to life again in this month's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the latest chapter in the Warner/Legendary Pictures 'MonsterVerse' series. Krampus director Michael Dougherty pits Godzilla against equally famous enemies King Ghidorah and Rodan, while A-listers including Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Charles Dance are mere human witnesses to the colossal onslaught that ensues.
So get those fingers covering your eyes, hide behind the sofa, and prepare for popcorn to fly everywhere. These are the five scariest moments in Godzilla history.
5. Godzilla Junior takes over – Godzilla Vs. Destroyah (1995)
Godzilla began life in 1954 as the brainchild of Japan's Toho Studios. For a few years, Toho's Godzilla Vs. Destroyah was the final Godzilla movie, which initially promised to bring Godzilla to an end. A tense film throughout, Godzilla is bringing Godzilla Junior into the world. The trouble is, Godzilla is dying, threatening to end the world with a monumentally powerful nuclear blast that was triggered by a volcanic eruption.
Throughout, Godzilla goes on terrifying rampages, even destroying Hong Kong in the process. All the while, the Japanese Self Defence Forces are attempting to reverse the potentially catastrophic nuclear meltdown. Meanwhile, the Oxygen Destroyer used to defeat Godzilla in the 1954 original has given birth to a new breed of monsters: the Destroyah, who eventually kill Godzilla Junior.
In the final 10 minutes of the film, gigantic, terrifying monsters are attacking one another at the same time that the Japanese army are also attempting to stop the potential nuclear catastrophe. It's all a bit much. Just as the Japanese army think they've sorted it all out with freeze weapons, killing both the Destroyah and Godzilla, however, something appears amongst the smoke and debris. Godzilla Junior revived and angry: iconic scream lets rip. Credits roll. Chills.
4. Shin Godzilla's arrival and transformation – Shin Godzilla (2016)
Shin Godzilla is the scariest Godzilla film since the 1954 original. That's because this is is a Godzilla unlike any that has come before, with a twisted look that will leave more than a few of you terrified. To make matters worse, this Godzilla transforms, starting life as something grotesque before turning into a mammoth, hideous beast.
The government is slow to react to Godzilla's changes, meaning more and more destruction lies in its wake. And when Shin Godzilla first arrives on the scene, it is pure nightmare fuel, its giant, bulging fish eyes protruding out of its head as it slides and wriggles across the ground, blood gushing out of various orifices.
This is where the seemingly inept politicians begin to learn of the true terrors of Godzilla. Eventually, Godzilla manages to stand, struggling to its feet as it crushes several tower blocks, its arms growing out of its body, before it begins to grow in size to new gargantuan proportions.
3. Godzilla arrives – Godzilla (2014)
Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla was the start of the 'MonsterVerse' and the second attempt to bring Godzilla to Hollywood. (Let's forget the disastrous Roland Emmerich film from 1998, shall we?) Godzilla's arrival from the sea remains one of the film's most powerful and memorable moments, leaving untold devastation in its wake.
Something's coming. Something big. Godzilla's scales burst out of the waves before it can be seen swimming underneath a warship. The sheer scale and size of Godzilla causes a tidal wave, with plenty of death and destruction along the way. The scene ends with a tantalising glimpse of Godzilla's tail. This is one big Kaiju. (Translated as 'strange creature' in English.)
2. Shin Godzilla Atomic Breath – Shin Godzilla (2016)
As we've already explained, Shin Godzilla (2016) is a scary film at the best of times. But it's when the titular Shin Godzilla lets rip with its atomic breath, followed by gigantic, terrifying lasers from its back and scales, that we learn exactly how powerful this Godzilla is.
A pained Godzilla hunches over, before we get a close up of its eyes opening. A moment passes and a full-on city-wide destruction takes place. City officials are rushed indoors as Godzilla breathes fire all over Tokyo, laying waste to all that lies in its wake. It doesn't stop there – we see Godzilla fire off its famous atomic breath, with a high-pitched screech to go alongside it. It's terrifying, with the city (and viewing audience) stunned into silence.
Just as you think it's coming to an end, Godzilla fires off monumental lasers from its back, literally slicing tower-blocks apart. The destruction is on another level, stopping to show us the human cost. The world around Shin Godzilla is now a hellish landscape of fire and destroyed buildings.
1. Tanks attack Godzilla – Godzilla (1954)
The original 1954 Godzilla movie set a template for monster epics that is emulated to this day. The movie is filled with a sense of dread that simply isn't captured in many movies underneath the same genre umbrella. And despite the fact that the effects have clearly aged, there are still some scary moments in the 1954 genre classic.
This is a Godzilla that is to be feared, not applauded or rooted for – it's a scary beast that knows nothing but destruction. Of course, this makes sense as Godzilla is a metaphor for the nuclear bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki just nine years earlier in World War II.
We get to see just how terrifying Godzilla is when the army attacks with tanks. It doesn't work. Godzilla rampages through Tokyo, destroying everything in its path with its powerful atomic breath. Citizens run, screaming, but to no avail. People drop dead as they might in a nuclear blast. Nothing can stop the sheer size and unholy power of Godzilla.
Toby Saunders is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.