The War of the Gargantuas
|The War of the Gargantuas|
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka
Henry G. Saperstein (USA)
Reuben Bercovitch (USA)
|Written by||Ishirō Honda
|Music by||Akira Ifukube|
|Editing by||Ryohei Fujii
Frederic Knudtson (USA)
Benedict Motion Picture Corp. (USA)
|Running time||90 minutes (Japanese version)
92 minutes (U.S. version)
The War of the Gargantuas, released in Japan as Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda versus Gaira (フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ Furankenshutain no Kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira ), is a 1966 Kaiju film, sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World.
It introduces two giant, hairy humanoids called Gargantuas, which spawned from the discarded cells of Frankenstein's monster from the previous film and are described as brothers. The Green Gargantua is violent and savage, preying upon human beings; as he lives in sea water, he is given the name Gaira (ガイラ, from kai, "sea"). The Brown Gargantua had been raised in captivity, and is docile and gentle; because he resides in the Japan Alps, he is called Sanda (サンダ, from san, "mountain"). The film follows the investigation and military engagements of these creatures until their climactic confrontation in Tokyo.
Several ambiguous references are made to Frankenstein vs. Baragon, such as the mention of a severed hand, but the only direct link between the films is the term "Frankenstein", which appears in the title and is used to refer to the Gargantuas ("Frankensteins") in the original Japanese dialogue. Like the previous film, which starred Nick Adams, War of the Gargantuas features a Hollywood actor (Russ Tamblyn) in the lead as a scientist, Kumi Mizuno as his colleague, and another Japanese scientist (previously Tadao Takashima, here Kenji Sahara). The similar casting has led to speculation that the film was intended to feature recurring characters. Eiji Tsuburaya helmed the special effects crew with monster suit actor Haruo Nakajima portraying the antagonistic Gaira. (Yū Sekida played Sanda.)
The film itself is rather vague as to where (if at all) The War of the Gargantuas falls in regard to the continuity of Toho's other kaiju films, or even if it should be considered a canonical part of the Godzilla series. In 2002's Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, however, specific reference to the Gargantuas is made, indicating that (in this variation on Godzilla continuity, in any case) The War of the Gargantuas is considered by Toho to be a legitimate part of the Godzilla universe. In addition, footage of the Gargantua Gaira is shown in both films Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. and "Godzilla: Final Wars", both involve summaries regarding some of the monsters that have plagued Japan in the past.
As the film opens, a small boat is seen chugging through stormy seas. A giant octopus appears from the ocean and seems bent on killing the sole crew member on deck. Suddenly, the octopus releases the man and retracts its tentacles from the boat. Relieved, the sailor peers out the porthole to see Gaira, a large green man-like creature, fighting the octopus. After easily defeating it, Gaira turns his attention to the boat and sinks it.
When the sailor is recovered from the ocean, he tells his tale of the large gargantua (Frankenstein in the Japanese version) to his doctors, who believe he is in shock and spouting nonsense. The press picks up on the story and interviews Dr. Paul Stewart (Russ Tamblyn) and his female assistant, Akemi (Kumi Mizuno), who once had a baby gargantua in their possession for study five years prior. Dr. Stewart and Akemi try to dispel the idea that the attack on the boat was caused by the gargantua they knew and studied because it was very gentle while in their care. Stewart postulates that the gargantua he studied wouldn't live in the ocean as it was found in the mountains and probably returned there when it escaped from his laboratory five years ago.
Another boat is attacked and the people of a fishing village see the gargantua off the coast at the same time that a mountain guide reports seeing the gargantua in the Japanese Alps. So, Dr. Stewart and Akemi go to visit the mountains and send there assistant, Dr. Majida (Kenji Sahara), to look at the evidence in the fishing village. Dr. Majida finds tissue stuck to the side of the fishing boat while Dr. Stewart and Akemi find giant footprints in the snow.
In the meantime, Gaira comes ashore and attacks an airport. As he munches on a woman he's pulled from inside a building, the sun appears from behind the clouds. Apparently, the gargantua doesn't like bright light and runs back to the sea. After Gaira attacks Tokyo at night, the residents are urged to turn on all of their lights and open their shades to drive him out of the city. He begins to retreat to the mountains and is met by the Japanese Self Defense Force, who use giant spotlights and bonfires to corral Gaira into a valley. Although conventional tanks, artillery, and machine guns have little effect on him, a newly constructed weapon—Maser Cannon's—badly injures Gaira. Bloodied and bruised, Gaira falls into the river and appears defeated. Suddenly, a larger, brown gargantua comes to his aid. Sanda, as he is known, pulls Gaira from the river and away from the military.
It turns out that Sanda is the gentle gargantua that Dr. Stewart and Akemi have studied years ago. However, his gentle nature is disturbed when he catches Gaira feasting on some boaters. Sanda and Gaira begin to fight. Inexplicably, Gaira begins running toward the city in an attempt to get back to the ocean. Dr. Stewart attempts to convince the military that Sanda, the brown gargantua, is good and Gaira, the green one, is evil and that blowing them up would simply scatter their cells all over the place, leading to the possibility of thousands of gargantuas.
As Gaira attacks Tokyo yet again, Sanda appears and attempts to stop his younger, green counterpart from destroying the city and eating people. Dr. Stewart and Akimi are both there and are almost killed until the two creatures see each other. Once again, they begin to fight, but this time the city provides the arena for their conflict. The confrontation eventually leads out to Tokyo Bay, where helicopters armed with bombs showering the waters near the two. Unfortunately, the bombs activate a giant underwater volcano, which quickly engulfs the two monsters
Additional credits 
- Teruyoshi Nakano – Assistant Director of Special Effects
- Yasuyuki Inoue – Special Effects Art Director
- Fumio Nakadai – Director of Wireworks
- Teisho Arikawa – Director of Special Effects Cinematography
- Sokei Tomioka – Cameraman
The original ending of the film was to not only have Sanda and Gaira swallowed up by the new volcano, but the lava was to have spread to Tokyo where it was to destroy the city as well as the remaining cells of the monsters; cited in an interview with director Honda in Guy Tucker's Age of the Gods: A History of the Japanese Fantasy Film.
US producer Henry G. Saperstein had planned to make a sequel where either Sanda, Gaira or a similar, new creature were pitted against Godzilla. It was called Godzilla vs. the Gargantuas.
References and homages 
Besides its cast and crew, The War of the Gargantuas makes several homages and vocal references to Frankenstein vs. Baragon, though none conclusively tie the two films together:
- An alternate ending of Frankenstein vs. Baragon featured a battle between Frankenstein and the Giant Octopus; War of the Gargantuas begins with a battle between Gaira and the Giant Octopus.
- The young Frankenstein loses a hand during his escape in Frankenstein vs. Baragon; in the English version of War of the Gargantuas, Dr. Stewart refers to a "desiccated" hand belonging to no "known creature".
- Akemi flashes back to her experience with the young sanda in the laboratory, scenes reminiscent of those of Sueko with the young Frankenstein in Frankenstein vs. Baragon.
- Frankenstein fled to the mountains after his escape in Frankenstein vs. Baragon; Sanda is discovered in the mountains in War of the Gargantuas.
- The theatrical cut of Frankenstein vs. Baragon ends when a sudden earthquake envelops Frankenstein after his bout with Baragon; another natural disaster destroys the Gargantuas when their battle takes them to sea.
- In Crank 2 (2009) there is a fight scene which is an homage to the final battle scene in The War of the Gargantuas—it takes place in a transformer plant and utilizes many of the cinematic cues from the Gargantuas film.
- The Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Battle of the Humungonauts" is a parody/homage to this film, going so far as to reference the song "The Words Get Stuck in my Throat" which appeared in the film.
- Actor Brad Pitt cited the movie as his inspiration to go into acting at the 84th Academy Awards.
- Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has said in an interview that War of The Gargantuas is one of his favorite Kaiju films.
English versions 
Two English versions of The War of the Gargantuas exist. Following the film's initial release, Toho commissioned an international version from a Hong Kong studio. This version is a straight dub of the Japanese version with new English titles. Russ Tamblyn is dubbed by another actor, despite having spoken English on the set of the film.
For its American release in 1970, the film was redubbed by Glen Glenn Sound in Los Angeles. All references to Frankenstein and the monsters' names were removed, which required Russ Tamblyn to loop himself. Also inserted in this version were several "new" scenes with Russ Tamblyn. During production, director Ishiro Honda filmed several scenes twice: once with Dr. Stewart (Tamblyn's character) and once without. The scenes without Tamblyn were used for the Japanese and international versions while the scenes with Tamblyn appear only in the US cut of the film. Several other changes were made to the picture, including the removal of Akira Ifukube's "Operation L March". In its place was a stock cue by composer Philip Green called "Terror Hunt". Additionally, several Ifukube tracks from Monster Zero were inserted into the film.
In 1992, Paramount and Gateway Home Video released the American version of The War of the Gargantuas on VHS and Laserdisc. A widescreen transfer of this version was released on DVD by Classic Media in 2008. The Classic Media DVD (a double feature with Toho's Rodan) also marked the debut of the original Japanese version in the United States. Author and kaiju-fan Steve Ryfle reportedly pushed for the inclusion of the international dub on the DVD release, although this didn't come to pass. At present, the only known official release of the international version on home video is an out-of-print, heavily-edited, Dutch-subtitled VHS.
DVD release 
- Released: September 9, 2008
- Galbraith, Stuart IV. Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, McFarland, 1994. ISBN 0-89950-853-7
- Pusateri, Richard (1998). "A G-Fan Retrospective: War of the Gargantuas". G-Fan 32: 28–33.
- "フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ (Furankenshutain no Kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-07-17.