War of the Gargantuas (1966)
Directed by Ishiro Honda
special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
Music Akira Ifukube
This is my favorite Toho Kaiju film that doesn’t feature Godzilla. It is the sequel to FCtW, but suddenly it seems Universal didn’t want Toho using the Frankenstein name in its US release. However, if you look at the monsters in this film, it’s clear they both resemble Frankenstein. Picking up from FCtW, the monsters flesh has undergone further mutation to the point where a very small piece can regenerate into a full organism. It’s several years from the death of the giant Frankenstein and Japan is faced with this new threat. The film begins with a fantastic sequence. A nighttime storm batters a fishing vessel. The boatswain is trying to steer the vessel through the rough waters. A large tentacle creeps up behind him and grabs him. Then another enters the room. In a wide shot we can see a giant octopus overtaking the ship looking for a midnight snack. Just when it looks like the man will be ripped apart, the tentacles make a quick retreat. Cautiously, he moves to the windows. Outside we see a giant beast battling with the octopus (one of my fave visuals of the film). But this green hairy water beast is not a savior. After dispatching the octopus he sinks the boat.
This is a rare Kaiju film that shows the monster eating humans in gory (for the time) fashion. At the airport the Green Gargantua (Gaira) picks up a woman, chews on her, then spits out her bloody clothes. Gaira begins invading the Japanese mainland looking for more food. I love the scale of the Gargantuas in this film. They are bigger than the original King Kong but not as big as Godzilla, allowing for some good detail in the minatures. The military attacks the beast and does some major damage until another monster show up to save him. The Brown Gargantua (Sanda) lives in the mountains and was raised by the scientists. When Sanda discovers his brother is eating humans he tries to stop him and a battle ensues. The battle escalates into the city where the two throw each other into buildings, smash through the infrastructure and bash each other with ships in the harbor. It is one amazing Kaiju battle, one of my favorites in giant monster filmdom. This was also the first appearance of the mazor cannon mounted on military vehicles. They’re put to dramatic use cutting through forest trees in the assault on the green Gargantua. It’s really a great film for fans of the genre supported by a great cast that includes Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno and Kenji Sahara. Akira Ifukube’s bombastic score is more prominent in this film with dramatic horn blasts and powerful melodies. You don’t have to see FCtW to understand and enjoy this film. If you have enthusiasm for giant monster films and haven’t seen this, I would recommend seeing it. It’s one of my top giant monster flicks of all time.
Guillermo del Toro has said in an interview that War of The Gargantuas is one of his favorite Kaiju films
Russ Tamblyn became famous for his starring role in the film version of West Side Story (1961)
Kumi Mizuno, who starred in War of the Gargantuas, also starred in Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), and Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966). She also returned for several millennium series Godzilla films (2000 – 2004).