Wednesday, October 15, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 15 Movie 2

"War of the Gargantuas" (1966) is something of a sequel to the previous year's "Frankenstein Conquers the World" with a similar set of characters to the first movie. Russ Tamblyn essentially takes over the role Nick Adams had in the prior movie, and Kumi Mizuno playing essentially the same character as she did earlier.

In an eerie opening, a boat at sea is attacked by a giant octopus. The octopus is then attacked by a green giant humanoid creature, which defeating the octopus, turns on the ship himself, devouring 4 of the 5 crew members. As other sea attacks occur, the media and the military believe that this gargantua is the Frankenstein monster (from the previous movie) Dr. Stewart (Tamblyn) and his colleagues assure them that it can't be, their Frankenstein was destroyed and even if it were somehow alive, it couldn't live under water. After the gargantua attacks an airport, a bad lounge inger, and battles the military, it's discovered that not only are the cells of this creature the same as Frankenstein's immortal cells, but that there is also a brown gargantua, who appears more intelligent and is peaceful in nature.

We learn that this brown gargantua, now named Sanda, is the original Frankenstein, and that the green one, Gaira, grew, starfish-like from a piece of anatomy that the original Frankenstein lost in the first movie. Now the military must be careful in destroying the monsters. If they blow them up, then every single piece of scatetred flesh has the potential to grow into a giant Frankenstein.

While the military searches for the gargantuas and plots to destroy them, Stewart and Akemi (Mizuno) seek Sanda in an effort to save him, as he is the gentle, non-violent one, and not responsible for the attacks committed by his brother.

Eventually, the two gargantuas battle each other in Tokyo, then at sea where an oceanic volcano erupts, destroying them both.

This is one of my favorite monster movies of all time. That said, much of my fondness for it is nostalgic. When I was a kid, this movie seemed to be playing on tv all the time, usually as part of "The Creature Double Feature" on Channel 56 out of Boston, or by itself on weekend afternoons.

I think this movie holds up really well. Unlike a lot of other movies, the monsters are on screen for a lot of the film. The effects are really good, and on the dvd the mattework which often mars these movies, has been cleaned up. The actors are good, and this movie, especially in the early third, has a lot of really good, eerie imagery. Akira Ifukube's score is very effective. This movie also introduces the energy emitting maser cannon tanks, a specialized tank which would go on to appear in many of the shared universe Godzilla movies in years to come.

The English version eliminates all reference to Frankenstein, and the dubbing (even Russ Tamblyn's looping of his own dialogue) is poor, so stick with the Japanese version. If giant monsters fighting each other aren't your thing, then this movie will probably not change your mind.

1 comment:

Dave Lowe said...

My first memory of this movie was my Mom calling up to my room that a Godzilla movie was on TV. I was a freak for him then and ran downstairs hurling myself in front of the tube. I knew instantly it wasn't one I had seen before. I waited and waited for Godzilla to appear. That day I learned in my Mom's head... rubber suit monsters + Japanese cast = Godzilla movie.

It was still cool though and now a old fave.