New York is famous as a breeding ground for monsters. With the metropolis about to get ripped to shreds on Friday in giant monster flick Cloverfield, NY's love affair with deadly, inhuman beasts is on our minds. HP Lovecraft wrote back in the 1920s that the Red Hook neighborhood was built over a vast, subterranean chamber where demons worshiped ancient monsters; and in 1933, the first King Kong movie gave the world an iconic view of a giant gorilla battling planes on top of the then-ultra-modern Empire State Building. But there are some other New York monsters you might have forgotten. We've got ten to remember.
What could be scarier than a bunch of new agey doctors giving you weird drugs while you're pregnant with Satan, or maybe an alien? Watch Mia Farrow try to cope with city life while pregnant with . . . something. It's all just typical New York stuff in Rosemary's Baby (1968), the ultimate urban mom horror-scifi monsterfest.
Speaking of scary babies, the man who brought you the ultimate evil baby movie It's Alive, Larry Cohen, made one of the great early-80s NY monster movies: Q the Winged Serpent (1982). Not only does it feature amazing stop-motion work on the monster — some sort of resurrected Aztec god — but you simply cannot beat a movie where a semi-naked lady sunbathing on her NY rooftop is snatched up and eaten by a winged lizard.
V, the Miniseries (1983) featured seemingly-nice aliens who came from a ship hovering over New York, but who would later rip off their human skins to reveal their hideous, reptile faces and evil natures. Though they claimed that they wanted to be friends with humans, it turned out they just wanted to eat us, turn us into soldiers, and use us as slaves. Much of the miniseries takes place in New York, though the human resistance to the aliens is located (improbably) in Los Angeles.
In response to rumors that alligators and other nasties were turning mutant in New York's sewers, a band of filmmaking geniuses brought you C.H.U.D., (1984) a tale about "cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers" who come out at night to eat New Yorkers. Now let's not get too picky about details, since if these creatures aren't human it's not exactly cannibalistic for them to eat people. One of the best B-movies of the 80s, if only due to the frantic efforts in movie ads to tie the flick into "current events."
And then, of course, there's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who almost destroyed New York in Ghostbusters (1984). Best giant monster ever.
In 1985, Greg Bear gave us the first nanotechnology "gray goo" scenario in his memorable novel Blood Music. In it, an experiment with nanotech goes horribly wrong after a Jekyll-ish scientist injects the nanites into his bloodstream and they become self-aware. After disassembling the scientist's body, they go on a global rampage, turning humans into the raw materials for their new cities. There's an amazing scene where a character looks out over New York City after its conversion to nanotech and says most of the city "looked like it was covered in brown and black blankets."
One of the best monsters ever to hit New York starred (not surprisingly) in a mostly-forgotten movie by Guillermo Del Toro (director of Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth) called Mimic (1997). In it, giant cockroaches (you can see one in the top image) from the NY sewers learn to emulate human form in order to camouflage themselves, hide in the subways, and EAT PEOPLE. Seriously great human-size monsters here. Mira Sorvino stars as the detective on their trail.
We try not to speak of Roland Emmerich's U.S. version of Godzilla (1998), but there it is. The movie was made; it had a really lame CGI version of Godzilla in it; New York was attacked. There, I admitted the movie exists. Now I will close my eyes and start chanting again.
And of course no list of NY monsters would be complete without at least a cursory nod to the Fantastic Four, since pretty much every Marvel hero lives in New York anyway. That's why Galactus attacked New York in the most recent Fantastic Four movie. Galactus is just a scary cloud in the movie, but looks more like a regular giant monster or maybe a giant robot in the comic books.
And the outlier: A giant chicken terrorizes Hoboken in Daniel Pinkwater's young-adult novel The Hoboken Chicken Emergency (1977). Later made into a movie, the novel is great stuff — goofy and smart — plus it's the only story we can think of about giant chickens set in New Jersey.