War of the Gargantuas (1966)
It’s Kaiju night as I focus on one of those Japanese imports we loved watching repeatedly on TV growing up.
Ask me who my favorite over grown monster is by way of Japan and I will always point to the Big G himself. Godzilla or Gojira if you prefer. Now ask me what is my favorite Kaiju movie and depending on what day of the week it is I just might direct you to this monster bash from the famed team of director Ishiro Honda and F/X master Eiji Tsuburaya working under the Toho banner.
In the English dubbed version this clash of monsters deletes the idea that the original Japanese version was more or less a sequel to the previously released Frankenstein Conquers the World starring Nick Adams. From the outset this Kaiju effort offers an adventure tale of epic proportions all on it’s own.
In a fantastic prologue a fishing trawler at sea is fighting a harsh storm when a giant Octopus stretches it’s tentacles across the ship and latches onto our wheelman. Just as it’s about to take the ship to the murky depths it releases it’s hold and takes on a much larger obstacle in the guise of what will become known as Green Gargantua. The big green guy destroys both the Octopus and the ship. Not satisfied there he quickly plucks the drowning sailors from the ocean and makes a meal of them. Like any good tale of terror, one sailor will live to tell the tale.
As was the custom at the time, an American actor was brought in for international flavor so we get Russ Tamblyn as a gargantua specialist brought in to hear the story. In a flashback sequence, Russ and Kumi Mizuno at one time had a small childlike creature aptly titled Brown Gargantua. Somehow he escaped and hasn’t been seen since though reports of huge footsteps have been spoken of in a snow capped mountainous region.
Now that G.G has tasted human flesh he’s hungry for more and getting braver. He begins venturing on land causing panic and the patented fleeing of people with the large predator just over the skyline of buildings in the background. Eventually he’ll venture in to a populated area and crash a nightclub scene where singer Kipp Hamilton is belting out the song, “The Words Get Stuck In My Throat.” (been humming that tune for years).
Time for the military to move in behind the face of stalwart Jun Tazaki as the General in charge of taking out G.G. The military does a top notch job utilizing cannons, helicopters and rays of punishing electricity that burns the skin of our green guy leaving him battered and bloody. While the scene is rather punishing and cruel the F/X are expertly done with the rays cutting down all the trees that the G.G. is attempting to hide behind. He finds no solace in the rivers either that have been rigged with electricity. Things are all about to change when a second creature, the Brown Gargantua comes to his rescue.
In a tale of good vs. evil we will soon find the new guy in Brown is a peaceful creature and respects the human race while the Green fellow would much rather feast on those walking the streets and hiking trails of Japan. The military naturally wants both creatures destroyed while Russ and Kumi are fighting to have the Brown guy spared.
A battle of epic proportions is about to unfold with Tokyo as a backdrop to the proceedings.
The one thing that sets this film apart for me compared to many of the other Toho Kaiju flicks are the costumes used by the actors in the gargantua suits. They are less stiff and don’t look to be of the rubber variety. They allow the actors their own muscle tone and make for great agility when the final battle comes. Sure the faces are a bit of a paper mache project but they are iconic enough that if I ever run into a gargantua I would expect them to look just like these guys.
The film is in color and if you are a student of the many Toho monster epics you’ll smile at the soundtrack, the military models and the guys will all point to Miss Mizuno’s attractive features and say, “she’s the same actress that lured Nick Adams into trouble in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero.” She also serves as that beauty and the beast inspiration when it comes to her and the Brown Gargantua which is an obvious cliché of the giant monster epics dating back to Kong.
Now it’s time to see which Toho classic Kristina decided to shine the light on over at the Speakeasy so click here to stomp your way across Tokyo Bay.
War of the Gargantuas has been featured as part of the Why Horror? Why Not? celebration.