WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS

(1965)
(Japanese Title: Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira)
With Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Nobuo Nakamura, Jun Tazaki, Susumu Fujita
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Reviewed by JB

This review is of the American version of the film. 

Collectiing little bits of Gargantua is a Japanese craze!      WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS is a quasi-sequel to FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (aka FRANKENSTEIN VS. BARAGON).  In that film, Nick Adams and Kumi Mizuno try to protect a boy who unknowingly eats the heart of the Frankenstein monster which has been irradiated by atomic bomb dropped on Japan (oh, just go with me on this one) who then grows up to be a giant twenty-story tall monster, although he's still technically a nice guy.  In WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, Nick Adams has been replaced by Russ Tamblyn and the huge hairy monster now has a brother who is not so nice and spends most of the movie running around Tokyo eating citizens and spitting out their clothes.

    Got that?  Good.

    Like so many Japanese Giant Monster films, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS is pretty ridiculous but awfully enjoyable in the right frame of mind.  Unlike some films of this genre, there's not a whole lot of time setting up the plot.  Within the first few minutes, a green Gargantua battles a giant octopus at sea, and from that point on, he is rarely off screen.  He rampages through Japan for much of the first half of the film, with his best moment coming when he attacks a female American lounge singer screeching through a song title "The Words Get Stuck In My Throat", probably the most celebrated moment by fans of this film.  The singer is awful, and it actually sounds like a kazoo got stuck in her throat along with the words.  I can imagine cheers throughout cinemas all over the world when Green Gargantua picks her up and tries to get her stuck in his throat.

    A brown Gargantua arrived halfway though the film, and this is the one we are supposed to think is the giant from FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, even though he looks different than the one in the first film. Brown Gargantua is still nice, and remembers Kumi Mizuno from the first film (she is kind of unforgettable!), while his green brother is evil, and has no respect for Kumi Mizuno (the blaggard!) or anybody else for that matter. By the end of the film, tensions have flared enough between the siblings that they begin the battle for which the picture is titled. 

    When you have two giant hairy Gargantuas running around and destroying buildings, there's really not much a human cast can do to be noticed.  The beautiful Kumi Mizuno spends some time worrying about the fate of Brown Gargantua, while Russ Tamblyn mumbles through most of his dialogue without much enthusiasm.  I always liked Tamblyn, from WEST SIDE STORY to his occasional appearances as God on his daughter Amber's short-lived TV series Joan of Arcadia.  But in this film, it looks like he either doesn't want to be there or is having a tough time trying to act with a cast of native Japanese talents who do not speak English.

    For a Japanese monster movie, the first film, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, was kind of sweet and touching in some ways.  WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS is not, but it gets an extra half a star over the previous film for its faster pace and its emphasis on two giant hairy creatures knocking the crap out of Japan and themselves.  2 - JB

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