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Review: War of the Gargantuas (Japanese Version)

May 24, 2009

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Always entertaining to watch a Giant Monster movie – I remember this one from my misspent youth.  Being a completist (and never having seen it) I’m doing the Japanese version rather than the American one.

Short plot – A giant green apelike being destroys a freighter in Japan. No one believes the story the survivor tells, so they get Japan’s foremost expert on “Frankensteins”…*Gar 2

the gaijin Dr. Stewart (Russ Tamblyn, who’s given a dubbed voice an octave lower than his normal speaking voice)…
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I’m not inserting those captions by the way – that’s how they were on the frame grabs

who insists that his Frankenstein is dead, having escaped to Mt. Fuji after being raised by his assistant Akemi (the gorgeous Kumi Mizumo) and him, and anyways, his Frankenstein wasn’t from the ocean, thanks very much. However, continuing attacks by the green Frankenstein (later named Gailah), notably at an airport** have Stewart looking to prove that it’s a Frankenstein, but not his.

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Meanwhile we get some romance vibes from the Tamblyn/Mizumo relationship that never are made explicit, and a big military buildup in the mountains to take down Gailah, with masers and electrified rivers.  Just as the military might of the Japanese SDF is about to rid the planet of the Gailah menace, another Frankenstein appears – Dr. Stewart’s (now named Sanda) to save Gailah, even though they’ve never seen each other before and have no motivation to aid each other…

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(look – Sanda even has a chance to throw a “shame-on-you” look back at those mean humans).

We find out Gailah is sort of a clone of Sanda (don’t ask). Sanda, due to being fed the Milk of Human Kindness is ready to help humanity, first by saving Akemi from certain death, and then by fighting Gailah when Sanda finds out Gailah eats people.

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Destruction of Tokyo ensues for a while after that, and then Gailah and Sanda roll out into the open sea where an undersea volcano cooks them up*** – roll credits.

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Aside from some indecision on whether the Gargantuas should move slowly or quickly (seems to be an issue of what the Gargantua is supposed to be doing in the scene apparently, rather than a Godzilla, who if I recall correctly, always moved kinda slowly, lending the man in the suit scale: here when Gailah is filmed at near regular speed he looks like a guy in a suit) I found the film a fine waste of time.

* And can be located with a single phone call!

** This is one of the major differences from the American version – Gailah eats a victim here and spits out something. The American version has an insert shot of the dress of the woman he ate landing on the ground.  My favorite bit of the movie. Other differences – Russ Tamblyn’s real voice is used, and the print is overall brighter looking compared to the Japanese version, almost as if the American distributor got a look at the movie he just bought and screamed at his partner, “HERSCHEL!! I CAN’T SEE THE MONKEYS!! “

*** Really – one second, we’re looking at Gargantua beatdown, then the camera pans and – look at that! – an undersea volcano. No mention of it until the Gargantuas are rolling into it.

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