The War of the Gargantuas
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|The War of the Gargantuas|
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka
Henry G. Saperstein
|Written by||Ishirō Honda
|Music by||Akira Ifukube|
|Edited by||Ryohei Fujii
Frederic Knudtson (USA)
Benedict Motion Picture Corp. (USA)
|88 minutes (Japan)
92 minutes (USA)
The War of the Gargantuas, released in Japan as Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. 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 Japanese-American science fiction kaiju film co-produced by Toho and UPA. The film is a sequel to the 1965 film Frankenstein Conquers the World and is directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and stars Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, and Kenji Sahara, with Yû Sekida and Haruo Nakajima as the performers for the Gargantuas, Sanda and Gaira.
The film tells the story of two giant, hairy humanoids called Frankensteins (Gargantuas in the American version) that were spawned from the discarded cells of Frankenstein's monster from the previous film. A green one raised in the sea named Gaira (ガイラ?, from kai, "sea") is violent and savage, while a brown one who resides in the Japan Alps, named Sanda (サンダ?, from san, "mountain") is friendly and docile. The film follows the investigation and military engagements of these creatures until their climactic confrontation in Tokyo.
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 Togawa (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 their 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 Cannons — 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. This is confirmed when the scientists encounter Sanda in the mountains and he rescues Akemi from falling to her death, risking his own life and breaking his leg in the process. However, he has become leery of humans after seeing Gaira's horrific injuries and quickly vanishes once again. Later, he catches Gaira feasting on some boaters and attempts to kill him to stop the carnage. Unfortunately, he is hesitant about harming his brother and this, along with his broken leg, allows Gaira to overpower him before escaping to the sea. Dr. Stewart attempts to convince the military of Sanda's innocence and that blowing them up would simply scatter their cells all over the place, leading to the possibility of thousands of gargantuas, as the monsters can regenerate from even a tiny piece of tissue. The press and military remain skeptical.
Gaira reappears in Tokyo, no longer afraid of the city lights, and corners Dr. Stewart and Akemi. Sanda arrives to save them once again and attempts to placate his brother, but Gaira is beyond reason and the confrontation escalates to a violent brawl, causing great destruction in the process. The battle eventually leads out to sea, where the military begins an aerial bombardment. Unfortunately, the bombs disturb a giant underwater volcano, and the two monsters are engulfed in smoke and fire. By the time the volcanic cloud dissipates, both monsters have disappeared without a trace.
- Russ Tamblyn - Dr. Paul Stewart
- Kumi Mizuno - Akemi Togawa
- Kenji Sahara - Dr. Yuzo Majida
- Nobuo Nakamura - Dr. Kita
- Jun Tazaki - General
- Hisaya Ito - Police Chief
- Yoshifumi Tajima - Police Officer
- Ren Yamamoto - Sailor
- Kipp Hamilton - Herself
- Kozo Nomura - General's Aide
- Nadao Kirino - Soldier
- Shoichi Hirose - Soldier
- Tadashi Okabe - Defiant Reporter
- Hideo Shibuya - Skeptical Reporter
- Yû Sekida - Sanda, the main protagonist
- Haruo Nakajima - Gaira, the main antagonist
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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 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. The project never came to fruition.
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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.
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- "The War of the Gargantuas (1966) - Ishiro Honda". AllMovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
- 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.
- Ragone, August (2007, 2014). Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9
- "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.