Tuesday, April 23, 2013

War of the Gargantuas, The (1968)


I was flabbergasted when I first heard there was a sequel to “Frankenstein Conquers the World”. How could there be a sequel to film with such a ridiculous concept of a giant Frankenstein monster facing off against a prehistoric burrowing dinosaur? After seeing what a campy delight the first film was I couldn’t wait to see the sequel which has not one, but two giant Frankenstein monsters. Far be it from me to actually enjoy this sequel even more!
Some discarded cells from the first Frankenstein monster before its demise (either by an earthquake or a giant octopus, depending on which version of “Frankenstein Conquers the World” you see) grow into two giant hairy looking clones. The first is a brown fur gargantua which is a docile creature that was raised in captivity for the first five years of its life that resides in the Japanese Alps. The second is a green fur bastard that feeds on humans and resides in the sea. Can a scientist and his attractive assistant stop this sibling rivalry before it destroys Tokyo?
Despite being a sequel the ties to the first film are few and far between with only quick references (one mentioned the severed hand sequence) and no reoccurring characters. Where the first film had American actor Nick Adams playing a scientist, this sequel has American actor Russ Tamblyn playing a different scientist character (why not make it the same character for better continuity?) and he is quite terrible. Thankfully there’s enough monster mayhem and to overlook his lack of leading man charisma.
The monsters themselves are great Kaiju creations the special effects are tops, some of the best Toho studio ever created in the heyday of their “Godzilla” franchise. Director Ishirō Honda even makes the film more violent than his normal Toho science fiction outing, with the human killings by the green gargantua being rather disturbing as he chomps down on people spitting out torn bloody clothing. Definitely not like the late 60s kid-friendly “Godzilla” outings.
“War of the Gaurgantuas” is one of the best giant monster Kaiju films in the “Toho Universe” (which also includes the “Godzilla” franchise”). Our gargantuas would even make flashback appearances in both “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” and “Godzilla: Final Wars”. Sadly “War of the Gargantuas” really marked the end of the classic era of Toho Kaiju films as all their other entries in the genre made at the same time and later in the decade would be far below par (I’m looking at you “Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster” and “Son of Godzilla”!).
Written By Eric Reifschneider

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