I’m a sucker for giant, ominous statues. If Easter Island had 7-Elevens, I’d live there.
Quickest way to make me a fan of your movie or TV show? Toss in a giant, ominous statue. I don’t care if the statue is pure scenery or critical to the plot. Just stick it in there!
Here are seven of my favorites:
The Statue of Taweret!
Of all the things that kept us guessing about the island from Lost, the Statue of Taweret was by far my favorite. Introduced in Season 2 with only one four-toed foot intact, viewers had to wait until the Season 5 finale to see the whole thing, through one of the show’s most critical flashbacks.
Taweret is the (real life) Egyptian goddess of fertility, and while her inclusion may have been a nod to pregnancies being a “complicated” issue on the island, the statue was mainly there to tell us that people had been coming to this strange place for a very, very long time.
Hippo-headed and carrying an identical pair of huge ankhs, it’s among my favorite “monster” designs ever. (“Monster” in quotes because ancient Egyptians certainly didn’t view Taweret that way. She was a protector!)
The Yogurt Fake-Out Statue!
When meeting the heroes of Spaceballs for the first time, the diminutive Yogurt first pretends that he’s some enormous “living” statue, with smoking ears and a disembodied voice. It’s the old Wizard of Oz gag, played for a quick laugh.
I’ve never seen any “Making of Spaceballs” specials, but I’m guessing that camera tricks and movie magic made the model seem much larger than it actually was.
This is in stark contrast to what I believed as a child. In my head, the Yogurt statue had to be just as huge as the film suggested. I imagined that it found a second life on some backlot, stationed next to a bunch of prop sitcom houses. God, how I wish that were true.
The Titan of Braavos!
Game of Thrones (2011)
In Season 5 of Game of Thrones — the season that’s still playing out as of this writing — Arya Stark escapes to the free city of Braavos, where she hopes to learn the finer intricacies of assassination. (A useful skill for someone who can’t go to sleep before naming all of the people she wants dead.)
The Titan of Braavos is an immense statue that doubles as the main gateway into the city. This is a neat defense for Braavos, as it’s pretty hard to sail undetected under that thing’s legs. (The statue is so huge that its feet are rooted on two separate islands!)
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
Well, here’s an interesting twist: A giant statue that comes alive and KILLS EVERYTHING.
In Jason and the Argonauts, a little stolen treasure turns Talos mad with rage. The hulking monster’s attack was one of the ages, and easily ranks among stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen’s finest achievements. (With an assist to some expertly menacing music!)
Statues of Shang Tsung’s Island!
Mortal Kombat (1995)
It’s been said that Mortal Kombat — a movie that turned out a thousand times better than most could’ve predicted — made director Paul W. S. Anderson’s career. He deserves all the credit in the world for making such a great stew out of those ingredients, which included everything from a four-armed monster to a guy who threw killer icicles.
Anderson was also praised for making that much movie on an 18 million dollar budget. Much of the film is set on Shang Tsung’s unearthly island, and if you watch close, you’ll notice that the bulk of the sets only amounted to dim soundstages and small beaches.
Little touches made the environment seem far more “intense” than it really was — my favorite being a brief transitional shot of the whole island, bathed in red mist and covered with huge, ungodly statues.
I always dug the main statue in the foreground, originally mistaking it as a tribute to Shao Kahn himself. (It isn’t Shao Kahn, but it sure looked like one of his cousins!)
The Gates of Argonath!
The Lord of the Rings (2001)
I’m not a big Lord of the Rings guy, but I am a big ominous statue guy. The Gates of Argonath — two enormous statues that dissuaded Gondor’s enemies with “stay away” hand gestures — might be the largest on this list.
I’m afraid to say more, because I’ve only seen the LOTR movies once, and any attempt to explain these dudes will just leave me open to corrections. For more information on Magneto and Guy Holding Bird, read this page.
Headless Statue of Liberty!
I wanted to include one example of a “trashed Statue of Liberty,” and boy, I had so many to choose from. Lady Liberty has been mangled by Hollywood dozens of times, being a favorite target of everything from space aliens to nondescript terrorist organizations.
I’m giving Cloverfield the nod, because I’m me, and I never miss a chance to give Cloverfield the nod. Beheaded by the film’s monster, the statue’s head was memorably chucked across Manhattan like a giant baseball.
Actually, I’m more fond of the “quieter” shot of the headless statue, which was used in many promotional images leading up to the film’s debut. Back then, none of us had any idea what the Cloverfield monster looked like, and could only guess at its size and nature. As macabre as it sounds, seeing a headless Statue of Liberty gave us the highest hopes.
(And yes, I do semi-regret picking this one over the happier version from Ghostbusters II.)
Did I miss any other crucial giant statues? Yell at me in the comments!