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Last night I watched The Mighty Peking Man for the first (and probably last) time. It's a 1977 Cantonese King Kong ripoff, made purely "to capitalize on the craze surrounding the 1976 remake of King Kong."[Wikipedia]

The Peking Man himself (a.k.a. Xingxing Wang, a.k.a. Utam) is a ten-story-tall gorilla from the jungles of the Himalayas. But rather than doing King Kong grunts or Tarzan yells, he makes this awful nails-on-a-blackboard screeching noise.

You can hear the screech for yourself around 2:11 in this clip.

When I heard this, my reaction was, "Why is a giant ape making the Godzilla noise?" (An example from Godzilla versus Hedorah (1971) is at 3:17 in this clip. Very similar, yes? And I'm sure the top answer will provide tons more examples of the same sound effect.)

Now, it's not literally the same sound effect AFAIK; we're not talking Wilhelm scream here. But it seems like many Japanese and Cantonese movies of the 1960s–1980s have a particular archetype for "what big monsters sound like" — namely, they screech. Whereas in American big-monster movies, the big guys make much more guttural, animalistic vocalizations, like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park or King Kong (2005) (or Kong's noises in King Kong (1933), for that matter).

Why is this? Are there any academic studies on the subject? What's the historical timeline of big monster screeches — in particular, did it all start with Godzilla (1954), whose noise was famously made by a resined glove rubbing the strings of a double bass? But Godzilla's 1954 roar actually isn't as screechy as kaiju noises became two decades later; so what triggered the escalation in screechiness?

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I am not 100% sure if there is actual significant to it, but I know a lot of the sounds are recycled. Sometimes permanently and sometimes due to lazy production. For example, Mothra’s screeching sound is actually the sound of Anguirus’ roar sped up.

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Yeah, they use random side effects in order to provoke fear - they used the same sound in most of the Godzilla moves as well as in the Pacific Rim.

It’s a regular sound used in nearly all monster movies including in one scene of the monsters in “A Quiet a Place” and many more movies having screeching monsters or alien invasions as well.

I believe Alien used it in the scene with the Alien queen and later on in Alien: Covenant

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    This is an interesting laundry list of screeches. It would benefit greatly from some YouTube links (or other links to audio) to support its claims. – Quuxplusone Oct 29 at 16:14
  • That would be interesting @quuxplusone - want to put one together as a YouTube playlist? Let me know the link and I’ll compile the sounds in audacity – Miles Price Oct 29 at 22:24

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