Bragging Rights: My Top Five Favourite “Versus” MoviesPosted: February 12, 2013
Much to the chagrin of my film profs, I’ve always loved campy, over-the-top, plot-hole-riddled “versus” films. As you all know, I am a big fan of monsters, a love I’ve aligned with my feminist politics in gaming before. They’re also just incredible amounts of fun to watch and root for. So it’s only natural that watching monsters square off gladiator-style would win over my heart.
I come from a family with all older brothers, and have developed a mentality of constant competition. Not necessarily for bragging rights (but who doesn’t love those?), but also just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing who would emerge victorious. As a child, my one brother and I would attach all our Marvel action figures to our ceiling fan, then turn it on and take cover: just to see which one of our action figures would “win.” (Spoiler: it was always Thing. His hand grip was the exact same width as one of the fan blades, so when he hung on, it was for good. And if not, that was one heavy toy flying at ridiculous speeds possibly/probably right at your head.)
Versus movies appeal to this competitive/destructive part of my nature. I love lots of characters and monsters, and sometimes all I want to see is which one would emerge victorious if they were put head to head — anyone who has ever argued about the Superman versus Batman fight will know what I’m talking about. Yes, yes, all monsters have their own unique strengths and abilities, but until Godzilla, Mothra, Jason and Supergator become the next crime-fighting team, I want to see who will best the other in one on one combat (weapons are allowed, as well).
In that light, here are my favourite “versus” movies!
5) Freddy Versus Jason (2003)
These were both terrifying monstrous villains who had earned their respective places in the horror canon. I wouldn’t sleep or go camping for fear of being hunted and killed by vengeful and hellish monsters who needed the closest and easiest scapegoat to enact their mommy issues on. While I eventually grew up into a semi-functional human being no longer afraid of homicidal monsters, I couldn’t help feel a certain amount of satisfaction at the prospect of watching two nightmarish figures attempt to kill each other for a change. The basic premise is that Freddy is weakened, but still wants to cause murder-mayhem, so he summons up Jason. Jason, the bloodlusty creature that he is, kills too many people, taking Freddy’s victims (which understandably pisses Freddy off). Loose plot created in order these two to go at it? Check.
Who was I rooting for: Jason. I actually felt bad for Jason. He was a pawn in Freddy’s ill-conceived plan, and was just doing what he was good at: slaughtering the masses.
Who was the victor: Jason. Although Freddy’s playful wink at the end of the movie maybe suggests otherwise.
4) Dinocroc Versus Supergator (2010).
So, quite true to the B-movie creature features that are rampant nowadays (think Sandshark, Sharktopus), the story and acting of Dinocroc Versus Supergator is terrible. This isn’t a good film. It’s not even a particularly enjoyable film, considering it focuses more on the human’s melodrama/trying to survive than on the creatures. But that final showdown between Dinocroc and Supergator is great. For anybody who has ever argued with their friends about which animal is better, a crocodile or alligator, will feel thrilled and validated to watch Dinocroc and Supergator go at it Wrestlemania-style.
Who was I rooting for: Supergator. Here’s the reason I gave my roommate: he’s big, vicious, but he’s low to the ground (low-center of gravity, nothing’s knocking him over). And because Dinocroc looked too good/too much like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park. And nobody likes a show-off.
Who was the victor: Dinocroc, although technically the humans won by defeating both creatures. But when it came down to the ultimate mutated terrifying monstercreatures, Dinocroc did prove victorious over Supergator, by kicking him over and ripping his belly apart. It was gross and it broke my little heart. Turns out the low center of gravity wasn’t an advantage, after all.
3) Dracula Versus Frankenstein (1971)
So, first things first: yes I am talking about the film where Frankenstein’s Monster essentially looks like a mushy version of Leatherface. Now that that’s outta the way. In this film, Dracula is asking to be taken downa peg. He obtains (ie. steals) the Frankenstein Monster’s corpse so he can use it for his own evil purposes, and when the Frankenstein Monster decides he doesn’t want Dracula to kill the innocent woman (he’s standing up for her!) he decides to turn on his new boss. Apparently Freddy Vs. Jason couldn’t think of a plot good enough to justify their showdown, so they just stole the essential plot from this classic movie. But hey, whatever works, right?
Who was I rooting for: Frankenstein. Have we noticed a theme? I tend to go for the slower, larger, less-manipulative monster. The underdog monster, if you will. And because his finisher is a bear hug — that kills you.
Who was the victor: Seeing as how Dracula rips both of the Frankenstein Monster’s arms off and then continues to decapitate him (with his bare hands), Dracula appears to be the victor here. But like any good versus movie, both monsters are left decimated, and because of the Frankenstein Monster’s chasing Dracula away from the castle, Dracula can’t make it back inside before sun rise and he gets reduced to a pile of ash. At least Frankenstein’s Monster had to be disassembled to be defeated, unlike his foe who can’t stand a little vitamin D and some sunshine.
2) Alien Versus Predator (2004)
This is the face-off between two ultimate hunters. I feel like the reward for winning this battle should be: “Okay, so you get to destroy all humans now.” And it makes sense that Predator should win this one because it’s revealed that both humans and facehuggers are only here because the Predators have let us live this long. We are their version of reality TV, essentially. It is revealed that the facehuggers were only on Earth because the Predators needed something disposable and tough to train their young Predators against. And humans were the food to make the aliens all big and strong and scary. Yeah, Predators are the biggest jerks ever.
Who was I rooting for: Predator. Because… I have no justifiable reason. I should be on the Aliens’ side, because they were being bred essentially for horrific murder. I just really like Predator, guys.
Who was the victor: Predator. I’m not proud of this win, since the Predator that defeated the Alien Queen at the end did have the help of the surviving human, Alexa. And, as I’ve previously mentioned, the Predators are just giant assholes. So, it’s not a clean win and it sounds like it should be a disqualification to me, but what can you do?
1) Mothra Versus Godzilla (1964)
There was no other option but for Mothra Versus Godzilla to take first place. Godzilla, and his amazing series of fights against other great monsters began my love of all monsters and campy creature flicks. The political critique inherent in Godzilla flicks elevate these movies from just simply creature features, as well for me. And for monster battles, there really aren’t any done better.
When I first thought of writing this column, I was asked why I chose Godzilla fighting Mothra over Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla, and there are two reasons. One, the Mothra installment of the Godzilla franchise is easily the best. The movie is so weird and the most iconic example of the thrills and excitement of versus movies. Godzilla takes on Mothra and the humans, and does so exceptionally well. Two, what makes the Mothra fight so great to watch is the fact that Godzilla and Mothra are two entirely opposite entities. It’s the ultimate face-off because it’s a fight of two completely different abilities. Watching Godzilla fight a different version of himself is awesome, yes, but watching him square off against a creature entirely unlike himself is pure, unrelenting excitement because there is no telling who will get the upper hand and how. Both have advantages over the other, and it’s about watching them find and exploit their weaknesses. And, admittedly, Godzilla reigns King of the Versus Fights. If you want to experience the best of any monster-mania-match-ups you want to watch a Godzilla flick.
Who was I rooting for: Godzilla. Because moths are gross (and Godzillas are awesome). Doesn’t matter that Mothra was basically just protecting her unborn baby-mothras, I will always root for Godzilla. Because he can melt shit with his atomic breath. And he’s just cranky people keep bothering him and waking him up. Which I can relate to.
Who was the victor: Godzilla. Obviously.
Honourable mention: Now, I suppose I’m limiting myself by saying versus “movies.” I was enjoying the Marvel storyline A v X (because I do not like Captain America, and I really wanted to see Cyclops show him whose boss) and because it held the possibility for some great versus fights. My love of Thing was rewarded when he crushed Namor, but the story itself got really bad really fast (even for a “versus” premise).
Who was I rooting for: Thing.
Who was the victor: as true to my childhood experiences with the ceiling fan, the Thing always wins, because with Ben Grimm, it’s always clobberin’ time.
What are your favourite versus films? Or what are your most desired versus battles?