Who’s a hundred feet tall and can scale tall buildings in a single film? It’s King Kong! With the Eighth Wonder of the World tearing it up in Kong: Skull Island, giant monsters are back—as if they ever left.
You’re not likely to run into Kong or Godzilla in any of the seven cities that feature Watson Adventures scavenger hunts for the public, but they’ve all had their share of run-ins larger-than-life monsters. Here’s a ranking of those seven cities, and times they were menaced by massive (and sometimes not-so-massive) movie monsters.
Sorry, Boston. When a big wall in a baseball stadium is about all you’ve got going for you, your giant monster cred is pretty beat.
Maybe Hollywood takes the whole City of Brotherly Love thing too seriously, because pickings are pretty slim here too. The city got close with the 1958 monster classic The Blob, set in a nearby suburb—although the movie’s real-life star-jelly inspiration happened in Philly proper in 1950. There was that one time M. Night Shyamalan killed everyone in Philadelphia—except a very confused Mark Wahlberg—with vengeful trees.
Chicago likes to play a lot of other cities in movies (like Gotham City in a bunch of Batman flicks), so it doesn’t get attacked as often as some other movies on this list that get to play themselves. It did enjoy a brush with a big alligator in, um, Alligator, and a large mutant monster thing in The Relic—filmed in the Field Museum, one of our favorites—but those don’t qualify as massive. Chicago’s biggest bust-up would have to be Transformers: Dark of the Moon, when it’s absolutely demolished by the titular giant alien robot guys.
4. Washington, D.C.
Hollywood likes to blow up the nation’s capital, but humans are usually to blame there. Still, the city has been obliterated by aliens in Independence Day and invaded by distant cousins of King Kong in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And it earns major oldies points for its brush with giant monsterdom in the B-movie classic The Deadly Mantis, featuring, well, yeah, a giant praying mantis that turns out to be pretty deadly. At one point the Mantis climbs the Washington Monument because it’s…America’s most twig-like structure?
3. Los Angeles
Sure, aliens attacked L.A. in the original War of the Worlds, and zombies wiped out much of what passes for humanity there (we kid, we kid!) in Zombieland, but you came for the giant monsters. The brilliantly titled Dragon Wars: D-War unleashed enormous serpents and dragons on the city, and the finale of the horror comedy This Is the End featured an appearance by Satan himself, this time as a towering monster who was huge in, um, more ways than one. (Feel free to Google it yourselves, this is a family-friendly site.)
Oh, and bonus points go to L.A. for its role in Mighty Joe Young, which includes the 15-foot ape barreling down Hollywood Boulevard.
2. New York City
Perhaps the obvious choice to top this list, New York gets attacked by monsters so often it’s amazing anyone still lives there. What, you mean the original King Kong and the dreadful ’90s Godzilla aren’t enough for you? Fair enough! They’ve also seen giant space worms in The Avengers, alien destruction in Independence Day, the mysterious giant monster in Cloverfield, and heck, even the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
1. San Francisco
Sorry, Big Apple, but we left our monster-loving hearts in San Francisco. Not because it gets wrecked in some of our all-time favorite giant-monster movies including, Pacific Rim and the 2014 Godzilla. The Bay Area wins the monster list for Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, a steaming pile of guilty-pleasure garbage in which a monstrous shark by turns leaps into the air to bite an airplane, chomps the Golden Gate Bridge in half, eats a submarine, and battles an enormous cephalopod, all realized in the worst computer graphics that clearly very little money was set aside to buy. (Warning: The video above is pretty loud!)