Countdown

September 1999


Title

Tape BoxHello movie fans, it's been a while.  This month I'm going to clue you in on one of the few Japanese monster movies that doesn't include Godzilla or Gamera.  I'm talking about the 1966 joint Japanese-U.S flick War of the Gargantuas.  It comes from Toho Studios, the same people who made the Godzilla flicks.  Cinemania gives it 1 star, but that really doesn't mean a damn thing here at GDI.  Right away, I'm going to apologize for the quality of the video.
    Here are the statistics.  The director is really the star of this film.  I'm talking about the immortal Inoshiro Honda, who directed the original Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and the GDI favorite, Destroy All Monsters.  The cast includes a lot of Japanese cats, and one who we have actually seen in movies that don't involve people in rubber suits.  There is Russ Tamblyn who was in the 1982 flick Human Highway with Dennis Hopper.
    Let's get to the story.  We start with a boat that has been sunk by mysterious means and there is only one survivor, and he says it was sunk by a monster.  So the Kyoto Laboratory is called and we get our one American Paul Stewart who looks a lot like Dan-O fro Hawaii Five-O.  Apparently they had a monster that later escaped.  We get some sad attempt to establish a plot by mentioning numerous sightings around the world.  They learn nothing from the survivor.  Neither do the divers searching the toy model wreck.  Apparently they were sunk by a hairy green giant who apparently ate the crew . . . mmm tastes like sushi.
Hey! It's Chaka!    In come the Japanese reporters.  Have you ever noticed that these cats are so non confrontational and accepting of whatever bullshit is laid upon them.  This hot Japanese chick flashes back to these scenes where the baby gargantua, who looks a lot like Chaka from land of the Lost, seems peaceful.  Then we cut to a fishing village who has caught the Gargantua in its net.  You have to be warned now that the chick is one of those "I feel for the monster" kinds of chicks.  Always trouble.  We also have some allusion to the fact that there may be two Gargantua. It Looks Like AkitaAlready there is too much damn plot development in this flick.  That's what happens when you let Hollywood get its oily paws on a genre.  I have to mention there is a Professor Akita, who I think is the same one from Buckaroo Banzai.
    Finally, 16 minutes into the film, the Gargantua starts attacking an airport.  Not a whole lot of damage, but he does eat a screaming chick.  We also learn that it doesn't like the sunlight, so it hauls ass back into the sea.  As soon as it started, the destruction ends and we get back to some more plot development including more senseless chat about the monster not being their cute one.  CRAP!!!
        There is a plan to beat him, either electrifying Tokyo harbor, or illuminating Tokyo, but nothing seems to come of that.  Then we get to a disturbing part where some American girls sings some song.  Is it the Gargantua themeTastes Like Chicken song?  Then, as if by popular demand, the Gargantua attacks and tries to eat the chick.  But they turn on the lights and she is only injured.  Damn it!  Why the hell doesn't life give us what we want.  So Tokyo is on alert and all lights are to be turned on.  The monster is working for Tokyo Gas and Electric.
 

New From TycoNow we get to what makes Japanese monster movies great.

MODELS.

   Yes, well designed models used to show a massive armed defense force that Japan does not have.  Included among these vehicles are my favorite lightning guns that have been used in a lot of monster defense scenes.  With the forces ready, the battle ensues with them shining lots of lights on him.  And that is it.  They are only going to contain him.  They are waiting for the erection of a giant laser gun.  At the 31 minute mark, they finally attack the creature.  Gargantua responds by tossing tanks around like models (hey!).  Turns out they are trying to lead it to a trap as it heads for the mountains where they have these lasers positioned.  Also of note is the fact that he doesn't seem to have as much of a problem with sunlight any more.
What A Shocking Turn Of EventsFinally the dumb assed monster staggers into the trap.  The monster takes out a few helicopters and then steps into the lasers which hurt him enough to stall him.  That's when the lightning guns go off and start putting the lock on the Gargantua.  The eco boys would be happy with the amount of trees that were destroyed in this scene, but then again, they would have wanted to save the creature, so screw them.  Finally he steps into the river which they have mined with electrodes, giving him one hell of a charge out of life.

THE END!

    Not!  Turns out, like the plot has been trying to allude to, there is a second one.  This one is brown and helps the green one away.  Why the hell didn't they open up on him to?  The Japanese may be able to improve on already designed electronic devices, but they are as stupid as rocks when it comes to destroying monsters.  In good old America, we would have crushed them both.  Now they are referred to as Green Gargantua and Brown Gargantua, but I'll just call them Green or Brown.  The scientists start making all kinds of statements of how the creatures live.  Apparently the understanding of the biological workings of a species is determined by watching them run around a forest.
Valderee!    The bottom line here is that the brown one is peaceful and the green one is not.  Sort of a giant Cain and Abel deal (in fact they even mention it).  Later they do some testing of sample cells and they discover that the cells are identical, but not brothers. They believe that the green is a mutated form of some skin that fell off of the brown one.  There we have the "we can't attack them because their cells may multiply" shtick.  There is one guy who wants to napalm these guys, I liked him.
    There are these singing nature hikers (in the Gargantua attack zone), who gives us a reason for the lead guy and gal to get closer to each other.  This is another scene screaming for a monster attack.  Mister Honda knows exactly what his audience wants because not 1 minute later, the green one attacks.  During this scene the chick trips and falls off a ledge and is hanging by a limb.  She looses her grip of the limb but the brown  one catches her and helps her to safety.  Jeez, didn't see that one coming.  She tries to talk to the ape, but it doesn't listen.
Hot Japanese ChicksLater, the government goes in for the full on attack, and doesn't care if the brown one is good or bad.  Meanwhile, the brown one finds out that the green has been eating humans and attacks him.  See, giant creatures that smash buildings and caused untold amounts of human suffering and financial losses have feelings too and must be allowed to live.  They both leave the mountains, heading for the city and the military really starts attacking.  The scientists somehow convince the military to attack only the green one, so all of the toy models are moved to the beaches.  There is some good panicky evacuation scenes here but not a lot of building damage.  In the end, the green one gets to the sea.  Again they debate on how to destroy the monsters and the fear of scattering the cells.  The scientists plot on the side how to save the brown one.  God dammed scientists are always interfering!
Urban RenewalThe chick goes to try and save the brown one but the guy and her get trapped in a subway.  She gets grabbed by the green one, but before he can eat her, the brown one shows up, so he drops her and we finally get the city smashing monster fight we have been itching for.  Adding to this upcoming finality, the army has decided to stop listening to the scientists.  So now the monsters and the army are trashing the city. Toy model destruction is the best kind of destruction.  Oh and the brown keeps trying to convince the green one to stop with crude had gestures.  Then the lightning guns kick in.  Mmmm, total monster carnage.  A steamship gets tossed while the battle is taken to the water.  Somehow during that point a friggin volcano erupts around them.  Now what the hell is that.  Sad music starts playing and the monsters vanish.  No resolution!  Godzilla wouldn't leave you hanging like this.
    So why do I review this movie, when it pales to its rubber suit counterparts.  Vince and Aarron both detest this film, one of the few times that they agree.  Mercedes won't even watch it.  I don't know why I like it, even after tearing it apart, I still like the film.  What are you going to do.

 



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