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THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966)

aka Furankenshutain no kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira
Article 3459 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-25-2010
Posting Date: 2-2-2011
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara
Country: Japan
What it is: Giant monster movie

A human-shaped undersea creature is terrorizing boats on the ocean.  Witnesses claim the monster is the one raised by scientists, but the scientists don't believe it is the same creature.  However, it turns out there are two creatures, one an evil clone of the other. 

This is a sequel to FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, but the American version of the movie obscures the connection.  This was fairly easy to do; it looks as if between the two movies, the visual conception of the monster was radically changed, so the creature Sanda here bears little resemblance to the monster from the original movie.  The earlier movie is largely dismissed as one of the weaker kaijus, but this one has a strong cult following and many choose it as their favorite Japanese monster movie.  In some ways I can see why; Gailah the sea creature is one of the nastier kaiju monsters, if for no other reason than it explicitly eats people, something that is mostly implied for the other monsters.  There's some memorable scenes here; when Gailah takes a woman out of her apartment, we expect a KING KONG-like moment, but instead the monster eats her and spits out her clothing.  Other memorable scenes; a laser attack on the monster destroys hundreds of trees, the good monster discovers the truth about the evil monster, and a lounge singer sings the unfortunate song "The Words get Stuck in my Throat".  In some ways, the fact that the monsters are humanoids helps the movie, as the battles are more lively  than in some of the other kaijus.  There's also a bit of emotional resonance when we discover that the military plans to show little attempt to differentiate between the good and evil monsters, and will seek to destroy both.  This is one of the more memorable kaijus out there.

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