1. Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009)
Proof that the ages-old tradition of pitting scary villains against each other isn’t dead, this 2009 direct-to-DVD schlockfest offers a promise it can only hope to deliver right on its packaging. On the front, the title characters battle it out under the sea, with a giant cruise ship dwarfed by their majesty. On the back, the shark jumps out of the water to take down an airliner. (Less important: human “stars” Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas. What, everybody else in the entire world was busy?) Naturally, the acting is atrocious and the effects are unintentionally hilarious. But hey—a mega shark battles a giant octopus!
2. Komodo Vs. Cobra (2005)
But well before the mega shark and the giant octopus met (well, four years before), two other unlikely gigantic enemies faced off. In Komodo Vs. Cobra, Michael Paré (that’s right, Eddie from Eddie And The Cruisers) and his team of reporters come upon an island where some secret experiments have turned shit very large. (“Is there anything on this island you didn’t super-size?”) Naturally, a battle ensues between a huge CGI snake and a huge CGI dragon. Why didn’t this movie didn’t get as much buzz as Mega Shark? Because it wasn’t called Mega Komodo Versus Giant Cobra. Duh!
3. The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy (1958)
The Aztec Mummy, a monster that behaved more like a luchador than a centuries-old undead beastie, had already seen a lot of action by 1958. He’d first been resurrected in the low-budget (really low-budget) The Aztec Mummy in 1957, then returned the same year for Curse Of The Aztec Mummy. Fighting a robot made about as much sense as anything else in his other features, and in The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy, he did just that, albeit after mounds of scenes recapping the series to date. But the final confrontation left a little to be desired, which may be why this film ended up as the subject of an early episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and now ranks as #23 on the IMDB’s all-time worst list.
4. Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
Two of recent filmdom’s greatest villains collide in this epically silly battle of brains (and knife-fingers) vs. brawn (and a hockey mask). Freddy Krueger, from the Nightmare On Elm Street series, is living in hell, and he somehow resurrects Jason Voorhees (from the Friday The 13th series) in a bid to get himself released from the underworld. (Pay no attention, just wait for the action.) Most of the movie is Jason doing Freddy’s bidding, but in the insanely long finale, the two go head-to-head, with Freddy eventually losing his. That isn’t really a spoiler, since a tease at the end indicates that Freddy lives. (Of course.)
5. “XTC Vs. Adam Ant” (1996)
As far as John Linnell and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants are concerned (at least according to this straight-faced, self-serious, but ultimately deliberately ridiculous song from Factory Showroom), XTC and Adam Ant are locked in a titanic struggle to determine the future of rock. “Content vs. form… Beatle-based rock vs. New Romantic / History will decide,” go the spare lyrics. Apparently it’s a hard-fought battle: “Just when you think it’s finished, with XTC on top / Ant music like a phoenix flies back up the charts.” Given that Adam Ant released his last album back in 1995, while XTC was still putting out demo collections as of 2001, this battle may have finally been decided.
6. AVP: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
There’s no reason that the creatures from the Alien and Predator franchises shouldn’t exist in the same universe, is there? Humans from Earth have encountered both over the years—and come out on top. (Go, humans!) And Alien Vs. Predator actually has a vaguely interesting idea at its core: The Predators purposely allow the aliens to breed so they can hunt them. (They’re the “ultimate prey,” or some such nonsense.) Most of the action takes place in a giant underground pyramid, though, and there’s plenty of silliness thrown in before, during, and after the actual “battles.” The big twist ending, though, is right in line with the Alien franchise: An alien infects a Predator, setting up a hybrid for the sequel, the much, much worse Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem.
7. Godzilla Vs. Mecha-Godzilla (1974, 1975, 1993, 2002, 2003, under various titles)
A giant lizard who’s either the avenging spirit of World War II or a cuddly, really big superhero (depending on which movie you watch), Godzilla has faced his fair share of goofy, oversized opponents. There’s Mothra, the giant moth, who gets in the big G’s face whenever he starts acting out too much; the three-headed dragon King Ghidorah; the mutated rose bush Biollante; and so on. Few movies in the series beyond the first really make an effort to give a sense of scale to their titanic lead, and the battles between Godzilla and his multitude of foes generally turn into wrestling matches between sweaty guys in rubber suits—which is, of course, part of the fun. Mecha-Godzilla may not be the most ridiculous thing that Godzilla ever came up against, but it’s definitely impressive. First appearing in Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), the robot was designed by aliens to frame Godzilla for crimes he didn’t commit. Which makes hardly any sense at all, but after all, this is a franchise that gave the world Hedorah, a literal smog monster.
8. Billy The Kid Versus Dracula (1966)
Who better to take down the evil, blood-sucking king of vampires than one of the Old West’s wildest, fastest-shooting figures of legend? According to the crappy, no-budget “adventure” Billy The Kid Versus Dracula, just about anyone, including an old-lady doctor and a pair of bereaved German immigrants. When vampiric John Carradine comes to town, weirdly dolled up in an undertaker’s suit, top hat, and giant red bow, titular hero Chuck Courtney responds by refusing to believe in vampires, getting his ass kicked by a random human rival, refusing to listen to any information on how to fight vampires, and heading off to his final confrontation armed only with a gun, which he’s already been told will have no effect on the nosferatu. Fortunately, he’s apparently watched a lot of episodes of the old Superman TV serial, and he knows what to do once he’s emptied his gun into his invulnerable, unfazed enemy: look frustrated and chuck the useless gun at him. Fortunately, Dracula can shrug off bullets, but a flying gun to the head knocks him out long enough for Courtney to borrow a scalpel from the old-lady doc and pound it through Dracula’s heart. Life-or-death struggles have rarely been so poorly staged and yawn-inducing.
9. Boa Vs. Python (2004)
Within the first few minutes of the 2004 SCI FI (SyFy?) Channel flick Boa Vs. Python, one thing becomes abundantly clear: When there’s a giant python on the loose, nothing but an equally giant boa can take it down. Well, the two surely do battle, but after scientists release them into the wild, they find each other and make the snake with two backs. The python later devours the boa’s eggs, and the two start to fight below the city—under a disco, on subway tracks—until the python is hit by a train. Love hurts. And as evidenced by this scene, it affects the humans as well:
10. The Batman Vs. Dracula (2005)
As if the concept of the Dark Knight meeting the centuries-old vampire isn’t absurd enough, its execution in this straight-to-DVD animated release is precariously perched on the border between deranged fan-fiction and hokey fever dream. After busting out of Arkham Asylum, the Penguin accidentally revives Dracula from a coffin thought to contain a stolen fortune. One blood-bank robbery and several garlic-bomb-mounted batarangs later, the titular duo finally have their showdown in Dracula’s underground crypt, where he threatens to drain Batman dry and to use his “cape as a dinner napkin.” (Which would be downright laughable, were Dracula not voiced by Fargo’s Peter Stormare.) Batman, plucky hero that he is, triangulates his position from deep underground and lures Dracula all the way back to the Batcave, which just so happens to be where Bruce Wayne keeps his solar-energy-storing machine for the conveniently scheduled upcoming Energy Expo. Not content to merely reduce Dracula into a pile of sun-drenched dust, Batman has to deliver another crushing blow by diving fist-first into the sack of monster bones.
11. Hercules Against The Moon Men (1964)
Before it was dubbed into English, Hercules Against The Moon Men wasn’t about Hercules at all—it was about an Italian silent-film hero named Maciste. No matter, because that doesn’t make the film any better or worse. In ancient Greece, some sort of space baddies throw their lot in with an evil queen, demanding human sacrifices from the locals. Hercules ain’t having it, of course. Early on, evil is represented by a spotlight, which, come to think of it, isn’t any dumber than having evil represented by the wind in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. After Hercules battles the queen’s monster and her best soldiers, he gets really pissed. When we finally meet the “moon men,” they’re made out of rocks, and they move about as fast as Sleestaks—their chosen method of destruction is to walk up to people really slowly and kinda squash them. When Hercules finally gets to fight them—after an interminable five-minute sandstorm in which nothing happens and a whole bunch of stock natural-disaster footage flashes by—it's anticlimactic and silly. Which is just about perfect in this situation.
12. Marvel Vs. Capcom (1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2009)
It isn’t clear who was clamoring to see iconic American comic-book figures like Captain America, Spider-Man, and Colossus team up to beat the tar out of iconic Japanese videogame figures like M. Bison, Mega Man, and Chun-Li. But starting in 1996 with the X-Men Vs. Street Fighter arcade game, those people, whoever they were, got their wish, and the Marvel Vs. Capcom series was born. The game designers at Capcom even threw in a bunch of non-iconic figures, like Omega Red, Baby Bonnie Hood, and Shuma-Gorath, to give fans their quarter’s worth. For those who had long wondered what the clash of these geek legends would be like, there was one simple answer: very, very, loud. There wasn’t much of a story to the game, though, beyond “hyper-pituitary loons in costumes pound each others’ faces in,” and no real resolution to a battle that continues to be fought in truck stops and Laundromats all across the nation.
13. Mortal Kombat Vs. DC (2008)
Sure, the Marvel Vs. Capcom games settled a good portion of some of the sadder schoolyard bets, but where’s the love for the people wondering how The Flash would fare against Sub-Zero, or whether Lex Luthor could hold his own against Raiden? Well, they were in luck with last year’s release of Midway’s Mortal Kombat Vs. DC. For some reason, Midway tirelessly thought up a seamless explanation for how these two worlds could merge: by exploiting a tossed-off mention in the comics of Superman’s vulnerability to magic and coupling it with a pair of simultaneous portal-creating explosions in both the Mortal Kombat and DC worlds. They also stripped their hallmark franchise of its defining characteristic by dialing down the gore, and not allowing the DC heroes to execute fatalities. Still, seeing Superman whale on Batman is pretty much the definition of entertainment.
14. Super Smash Bros. (1999)
Super Smash Bros.—the game that pits Mario, Kirby, Link, and tons of other Nintendo and third-party game characters into all-out brawls—has become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to believe it’s only been around for a decade. The series grows more outrageous and fan-pleasing with each release, swelling to 35 seemingly randomly chosen characters for the current Wii iteration. (Though Capcom’s very Japanese Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom—due out in America in December—pitting a bizarre smattering of Capcom characters against ones from the library of Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko Production is arguably more fan-pleasing and random.) But while characters like Pit from the little-remembered NES classic Kid Icarus, Sega’s Sonic, and Solid Snake from the Metal Gear series now join the battle, the rules remain the same: Wallop the bajeezus out of your opponents so you can send them sailing out of the arena. The only way the series could get better is by integrating lost relics of Nintendo’s golden era, like Howard and Nester from the Nintendo Power comics.
15. “Bambi Meets Godzilla” (1969)
Marv Newland hoped to create a real live-action film as a school project, but after a month, the shooting wasn’t going well. After losing the opportunity to get an essential scene of his film, and with the deadline for his project nigh, Newland trudged back to his room in defeat and decided instead to draw the cartoon Bambi Meets Godzilla. Now considered an animation classic, Bambi Meets Godzilla is only 90 seconds long—with good reason, as a face-off between Disney’s beloved fawn and the King Of The Monsters necessarily wouldn’t take very long. Although the non-epic showdown has produced many fan-produced updates, sequels, and re-imaginings in the 40 years since, none capture the humor of the true battle being fought in “Bambi Meets Godzilla”: filmmaker vs. filmmaking.
16. Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009)
If the title were entirely accurate, it’d be something more like Monsters Vs. One Alien, Except Eventually He Clones Himself. But apparently brevity won out over accuracy. Really, this recent CGI kids’ film doesn’t have much going on except the titular concept and a deep love of the cheesy old creature features of the ’50s. The plot features an alien invader facing off against a wacky group of Earth monsters, who’ve been kept in secret captivity by the American government, in some cases for decades. Still, the newest addition—a woman struck by alien energy on her wedding day, and grown to immense size—has barely settled into her new cage when the fighting breaks out. Fortunately for the rest of humankind, she proves pretty capable, because for the most part, the rest of the monsters and aliens are pretty ineffectual, though kinda entertainingly goofy.
17. Cats & Dogs (2001)
What could be more iconic and fun than the world’s favorite pets resolving their age-old rivalry in graphic fashion, assisted by the best special effects 2001 had to offer? Maybe a version of the story that was less sloppy, slapsticky, and generally inept. The main problem with the film—which pits tech-happy canine agents against evil cats bent on undermining man’s best friends—is that it’s calculated to a fault, and in trying to appeal to kids of all ages, it mostly manages to be a big frantic disposable explosion of a film. But hey, it made some money. Therefore, guess what’s planned for 2010? Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore. No, we aren’t kidding. Look it up.
18. RoboCop Vs. The Terminator (1994)
So there’s this cyborg, half-man, half-machine, all cop… and there’s also this evil artificial intelligence from the future that likes to make killer robots and send them back in time. Somehow, these two have got to meet. RoboCop Vs. The Terminator, the Sega Genesis videogame based on the Frank Miller comic book that almost got made into a movie, most likely started with the title and worked its way back from there. RoboCop’s equipment somehow leads to Skynet, so the human resistance sends someone back in time to take the metal out of the picture. Skynet finds out, and sends back a Terminator to protect its ancestor. RoboCop eventually figures out who the good guys are, and the bullets start flying. The game was better than the average licensed property, and it offered something that few other entries on this list can provide: No matter how convoluted the story gets, the audience gets to actively participate.
19. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
Any 5-year-old will tell you, if you put two monsters in the same room, sooner or later, they’re gonna fight. It isn’t about common sense,or character motivation, or even good drama—it’s just about what’s right. When the Lon Chaney, Jr. wolf-man (the original one) meets up with Frankenstein’s monster (here played by Bela Lugosi, perhaps trying to make up for his mistake in refusing the role the first time around) in Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, there’s nothing inherently acrimonious between them. Chaney is just looking for a way to successfully kill himself; his investigations have led him to the research of the now-deceased mad doctor who built Lugosi’s tortured form, so one would think that the two could find some ground for reasonable discussion. Initially, they make friends, but eventually, talks break down, awkward struggling ensues, and it takes a burst dam and flooding river to restore the status quo.
20. Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys (1993)
Super shlockmeister Charles Band—the director behind such films as The Gingerdead Man and the upcoming Evil Bong II: King Bong—took the characters from other B-flicks (Dollman, Demonic Toys, and Bad Channels) to create this hybrid of ridiculousness. A tiny cop, played by B-vet Tim Thomerson (Con Express, Evil Bong, uhh… Robert Altman’s A Wedding) is recruited to help eliminate the evil toys inhabiting a toy warehouse. When it comes down to a battle between Thomerson and Baby Oopsie Daisy… Well, you’ll just have to see it yourself to find out. And hey—music by Devo!
21. Dahmer Vs. Gacy (planned release 2010)
It’s impossible to judge Dahmer Vs. Gacy at this point, because it’s still in production, but let’s judge it anyway, based on a synopsis from director/star Ford Austin: “Dahmer Vs. Gacy follows the infamously famous serial killers as they race to kill everyone and anything that stands in their way until they finally fight each other… to the death!” Other things this movie has going for it: some sort of plot about a genetically altered “super serial killer,” and appearances by former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler and original Wizard Of Oz little person Jerry Maren.
22. Bloodz Vs. Wolvez (2006)
Sure, modern action-horror-violence fans know the Underworld movies as the place to go to see werewolves fight vampires. But why go with expensive, polished schlock when there’s cheapie cash-in schlock to be had? The Underworld movies don’t even have “vs.” in the title, so how could they possibly be thought to respect the decades-long tradition of monster-on-monster action? In the direct-to-video microbudget film Bloodz Vs. Wolvez, two urban gangs—one composed of werewolves and one of vampires, though they all pretty much look like hissing people with glued-in enamel fangs—face off over territory, in a story midway between monster movie, gangland story, and semi-competent student film. The gracelessness starts with the opening, in which the backstory of the epic struggle is presented in the form of a loping, laid-back rap—which is largely inaudible, because various Wolvez and Bloodz keep hissing, snarling, and posturing at each other over the background music. It doesn’t go anywhere reasonable from there.
23. Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971)
Monster-movie mash-ups are all about the big-ticket names; fascinating though it might be, people aren’t going to flock to see Zontar Vs. Torgo. So it would only be natural to assume that when Dracula and Frankenstein, two of the biggest names in the business, square off, the resultant film would attract some serious talent. But a quick Google search of “Dracula Vs. Frankenstein” reveals the horrible truth—the only movie with that title is from cheesemeister Al Adamson. To paraphrase the MST3K boys, it features nothing and stars no one, apart from a tragically slumming Lon Chaney, Jr., visibly suffering from the bad health and alcoholism that killed him two years later. Chaney plays mute assistant to J. Carrol Naish, who’s working on a science-related project that involves killing people with axes. Vegas entertainer Regina Carrol (who happens to be the director’s wife) comes in to investigate after her sister disappears, and somehow, Dracula shows up, and Frankenstein creates a monster to battle him. And such a fight it is—maybe three murky minutes of clumsy grapples, and then the credits roll. Great stuff for connoisseurs of crap cinema; everyone else should stay away.
24. “Freddy Vs. Ghostbusters” (2004)
The downside to fan-made movies like this 35-minute effort from Denver filmmaker H.R. Braxtan: No one will ever mistake them for the real thing. The upside? As with fan fiction, anything can happen. “Freddy Vs. Ghostbusters” pits a new batch of Ghostbusters, headed by the nephew of Harold Ramis’ character, against Nightmare On Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger in a battle for control of the Mile High City. It’s all pretty awkward—filled with flat jokes, lame callbacks to both franchises, community-theater acting, and mismatched music cues—but the enthusiasm spills off the screen. It’s essentially a filmed play session, and it knows it. Braxtan apparently enjoyed it, too. In 2006, he made a feature-length sequel called Return Of The Ghostbusters.
25. Ninjas Vs. Zombies (2008)
We haven’t seen Ninjas Vs. Zombies yet—it’s making the film-festival rounds, and we aren’t talking Cannes—but the concept is simple. From the official website: “It’s ninjas versus freakin’ zombies! Who wouldn’t watch this film?!” The word “film” might be stretching the definition; from the trailer, this looks like some dudes (and ladies, undressing, of course) having fun in the backyard. Not unlike Freddy Vs. The Ghostbusters, but with a bit of added production value.
26. Vampires Vs. Zombies (2004)
Ninjas may have been inspired by 2004’s Vampires Vs. Zombies, though why anyone would take inspiration from a film that Something Awful called a “wretched, scarred, abused, tortured rape victim of a movie” is a mystery. You aren’t watching this for artistic value, in any case, but at least they could’ve have the vampires actually fight some zombies.
27. Zombie Vs. Shark (Zombi 2, 1979)
Italian director Lucio Fulci stretched his career across several decades, but his name has become synonymous with gore thanks to the almost avant-garde violence in the films he made in the ’70s and ’80s. Zombi 2—deceptively titled to nab European audiences hoping to see a sequel to George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead, which was released there as Zombi—helped make that reputation, thanks to infamous scenes of eyeball-gouging and other nasty bits of business. But one of its most famous scenes is also one of its least bloody. Perhaps hoping that a little of Jaws’ magic would wear off, Fulci squeezed in a confrontation between a bloodthirsty zombie and a shark. Well, “confrontation” might be too strong a word. The shark looks, and apparently was, heavily sedated, and the zombie doesn’t so much attack it as hug it while dispensing some fake blood into the water. While it is actually a guy in makeup wrestling a shark—something most people don’t see every day—there’s clearly something missing. You know what’s needed here? A bigger shark. Maybe some kind of mega-shark.