The War of the Gargantuas

War of the Gargantuas (1966) movie poster

(1966) dir. Ishirô Honda
viewed: 02/08/09

Last year, I watched a long-time childhood favorite of Japanese monster movies (daikaiju eiga), Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) and pondered when its sequel, The War of the Gargantuas would be released on DVD, because it was not at the time.  Well, what a difference a half a year makes!  Here in both glorious Japanese and less-glorious dubbed English is the sequel to the original film, directed by the inimitable Ishirô Honda, who also directed the prior film as well as Gojira (1954) and many of its sequels.

It’s action-packed, it must be said.  Within seconds of the title sequence, a giant octopus attacks a fishing vessel, trying to eat the crew.  But then the octopus is pulled off, the crew is rescued by the giant green gargantua, a big hairy yeti-like thing with protruding teeth.  But even worse! He dumps the crew into the sea and begins to eat them! Bad big green gargantua!

Well, as the story unfolds, more and more people are attacked by this giant beast and people begin to suspect that it is the caveman-like hero/monster from Frankenstein Conquers the World.  But the scientists who knew him doubt that he would be a man-eater.  As the monster grows in ferocity, attacking the cities and the countryside, impervious to much except some laser technologies and electricity, he is rescued by his “brother”, the brown gargantua of the mountains, supposedly our hero from the prior film.  The brown gargantua tends to his hurt brother until he discovers that his brother eats humans.  And then, it’s all out war!

Where the previous film had significant references to the atomic bombings, this film is more about off-beat science and unkillable flesh that can grow into a whole other being.  And where green is evil, brown is good, and they die together in a battle that ends in a suddenly-erupting oceanic volcano.  Talk about deus ex machina!

I can’t really tell you why I liked this film at the time more than the others other than it was simply a bit different. I liked the child monster growing up to be the good monster.  And I don’t really know what else.

As an adult, the oddest thing is the green gargantua eating humans as his ultimate crime.  It’s not outright gory, but it is quite suggestive.  And with their misshapen faces and fuzzy fur and pokey teeth, they’re kind of charming.  Not as outre perhaps as the more plodding and cumbersomely-clad beasts, they stalk around and make for a good time nonetheless.

If it sounds like your cup of tea, it probably is.  If it doesn’t, it’s probably not.  For me, it’s a soft spot in my heart for this big, gruesome twosome.

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