Category Archives: Science Fiction: Giant Monsters

Flicks about REALLY BIG MONSTERS! Don’t let them step on you.

Gojira (1984)

Also Called:
The Return of Godzilla

Godzilla (1985)
Date:
1984
Stars:
Ken Tanaka

Yasuko Sawaguchi

Yôsuke Natsuki

Writers:

Hideichi Nagahara

Director:
Koji Hashimoto
WRC Score:
2.5/4

An erupting volcano brings about the return of  Gojira in this sequel to the 1954 classic.  Or rather the first appearance of a new Godzilla, as the original…

But that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it?

This film is truly a product of its age, and I mean that above and beyond the references to the Cold War scattered about the film.  As it comes nine years after the last of the original series of Godzilla films, it marked a step up in special effects and a step away in story telling.  Thus we get a monster with a more mobile face (as well as other nifty touches here and there) abetted by a story that tries to reclaim the seriousness of the first film.

To a degree, it works.  This has the best story in years, the protagonists never become irrelevant to the action, and while there are howlers (the biggest of which being spoilers for the film and thus off-limits here) there is nothing that can’t be cheerfully ignored if you are in the frame of mind to do so.

That said, Gojira really, really should have been better than this.

It’s nice we have scenes where Godzilla snarls and where we can see his chest rise and fall.  Really it is. You know what else would have been nice?  Is if they could have had his eyes look somewhere other than up into space.  Like he was aware of his environment, instead of a movable prop.

There’s continuity issues here and there.  One character starts the film all banged up, only to appear in what seems like merely the next day completely better.  Calls for a city evacuation seem completely unheard.  And so on and so forth.

The really damning thing, though, is that the characters in Gojira are so very, very dull.  The pretty Yasuko Sawaguchi is especially plank like.  Even Godzilla is dull.  There are moments where he just stands there, like he’s waiting for his cue.  The movable prop thing, again.

Right or wrong, I’m inclined to blame director Koji Hashimoto on this.  There really should be something there that’s missing.  Even the worst of the earlier Godzilla had more life-like portrays than on display here.

So with all that’s good and bad here, I’d say Gojira just about ekes out a mediocre level rating (1 point).  I’m not going rush out and rewatch it any time soon (unless I do a Whale review for this site, which is a possibility), but I can’t say I didn’t like what I saw (1.5 point).  Maybe I’m just too easy to please, but I did have fun with this.  And in the end, that’s what counts.

Score: 2.5 points out of a possible 4

 

Godmonster of Indian Flats

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1973
Stars:
Christopher Brooks
Stuart Lancaster
E. Kerrigan Prescott
Writer:
Fredric Hobbs
Director:
Fredric Hobbs
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on March 8, 2010

From the moment I heard of Godmonster of Indian Flats (here after called Godmonster) I knew I had to see it. A movie about a Giant Mutant Sheep? Oh God, it had to be a sight to see!

I even came close to buying it one day.  Had the DVD in my hands. And then slipped it back on the shelf.

Always wondered if that was a mistake. Always doubted the wisdom of that choice.

Then I rented the movie from Netflix and found out I hadn’t wasted my money.  For once.

Of course, I wrote a review of the film, and with that thought about it no more.

Until I decided to reboot my site.  To rework and sort of condense things.

Boy, do I wish I had that disk now.

No, not really.

On the following pages waits my viewing of the film.  Back in the day (as now) I wrote it while watching the film for the full effect of the experience.  Six years on I’ve done a wee bit of pruning to streamline things.  A practice I find a little questionable (I sure as hell couldn’t make myself do this for a lot of the reviews I’ve rebooted) but what can you do?

My big fear is that I make this sound better than it is.  I sure as hell couldn’t make it any worse.

Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon

Also Called:

War of the Monsters

Gamera v. Barugon

Date:
1966
Voices:
Kôjirô Hongô

Kyôko Enami

Yûzô Hayakawa
Writer:
Niisan Takahashi
Director:
Shigeo Tanaka
WRC Score:
3/4

Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon (also known as Gamera v. Barugon as well as a few other titles) recounts Gamera’s return to the world stage as a threat to Humanity (yes, he’s a threat and a bad turtle to boot, damn it.)  This time, however, he has a rival, as a band of treasure hunters disturb an ancient monster known as Barugon.

This, the second in the first series of Gamera flicks, is probably the best of the bunch.  Which isn’t saying much as that means it’s only slightly less silly than the previous flick, and the ones that follow tend towards barrel scrapping.  We’re going to say about a one point on this, and that’s probably being generous.

That said, this is probably my favorite of the first series.  (2 points) There’s a dark streak here that the other films don’t have, and I think it adds a certain gravity to the proceedings.  At least as much as a film featuring a fire-breathing flying turtle can have.

As an added bonus, there are no squeaking kids proclaiming those obvious malign Gamera a “good” Monster.  So it’s got that going for it,

If you have to see one Gamera movie, let me recommend Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.  However, if you must see one of these early, shall we say less polished, flicks (and more power to you), bear in mind that this film spoils the ending of Giant Monster Gamera, an ending so goofy that frankly deserves to be seen unspoiled.

The Giant Gila Monster

Date:
1959
Stars:
Don Sullivan

fred Graham

Lisa Simone
Writer:
Jay Simms
Director:
Ray Kellogg
WRC Score:
2/4

This is the story about a young man, struggling to make his way in the world.  Working as a mechanic, he saves up money to build his hot rod and care for his ailing sister.  All the time he’s threatened by the richest man in town.

Oh, and there’s a giant gila monster crawling around killing people.  But who wants to see that, in a movie called The Giant Gila Monster?

Well, me.

And perhaps everyone who paid good money to see this flick.

I mean, there are nice long stretches of no monster action here.  And when you do see the monster (a rather bored looking beaded lizard) there hardly seems any connection to the people around it.  It’s not totally removed from the plot, but sometimes it sure felt that way.

There’s also a disconnect in places, between the tragedy the monster causes and Our Hero’s busy life.  Sets a bit wrong with me, especially towards the climax.

Outside of that, it’s about as well put together as you can expect a B-movie to be.  The acting ranges from professional to awful (sadly the female lead hits the latter category).  What effects it has are quite obvious in realization (miniatures, miniatures, and the occasional monster gloved hand).  I hesitate to put it in the mediocre end of things; call it one of the better Bad Movies (0.5 points).

For all my carping, I rather enjoyed the flick (1.5 points).  Maybe not enough to watch again (though I need to if I’m doing a longer review) but enough to say I wasn’t sorry I wasted my time.

Monster

Date:

1980

Stars:

James Mitchum

John Carradine

Philip Carey

Writers:

Kenneth Hartford

Walter Roeber Schmidt

Garland Scott

Herbert L. Strock

Directors:

Kenneth Hartford

[Uncredited]

Herbert L. Strock

WRC Score:

2/4

Note: 

First posted in a
different form on
October 10, 2014

Just as you thought it was safe to go into the water, something comes out of the water to go get you.  Is it an animal? A shark? All devil?

A monstroid?

No, it’s Monster, one of the worst giant monster movies of all time.  And by worst I mean gloriously, gloriously bad.

We got all the symptoms.  We got questionable acting.  We got padding a plenty.  We got a supposed director who may or may not have ever been present on set.  Most telling of all, we’ve got John Carradine in an extended cameo as a local priest.

And the monster F/X!  Cheesy, goofy goodness.

All in all a bad flick. (0.5 point).  A little let down there’s no small town stomping good, but I’m quite fond of Monster for some reason (1.5 points).

Don’t… don’t look at me like that. I’m ashamed enough as is.

Overall Score: 2 total points out of a possible 4

Taekoesu Yonggary

Also Called:

Yongary, Monster
from the Deep

Date:
1967
Stars:
Yeong-il Oh

Jeong-im Nam

Sun-jae Lee
Writers:
Ki-duk Kim

Yun-sung Seo
Director:
Ki-duk Kim
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
April 7, 2012

A nuclear test disturbs a mammoth fire breath horror that comes charging into the nearest city and…

Sure. Taekoesu Yonggary is the standard Giant Monster movie deal.  Think more Gamera than Godzilla (despite appearances) and you have a fair grasp of the flick.  Except I find the kid here far less irritating than in Gamera, but that’s an personal preference.

A rare toe dip into the sub-genre by South Korea, Taekoesu Yonggary doesn’t quite make the grade.  It has F/X that range from adequate compared its contemporaries to the downright embarrassing.  The script, too, doesn’t do it any favors.  All in all, I’m afraid it’s a bad film (0.5 points).

That said, I adore this movie.  Super fun.  I’d watch it again in a heartbeat.  (2 points)  Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of giant monsters or bad movies in general.

Overall Score: 2.5 total point out of a possible 4

The Food of the Gods

Opening Thoughts

2016-food of the gods-note-000H. G. Wells’ Food of the Gods, or, rather The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth, is a satirical novel detailing the invention of a substance that causes gigantism in various organisms, including, in time, Humans. It concludes with the start of a great war between the giants and the regular folk, one the giants seem destined to win.

Which isn’t even hinted at during the course of this flick.

In fact, if anything part of the book could be honestly said to be adapted here, it’s the first part, where a village finds itself forced to deal with giant wasps, chickens, and yes, rats. Of which little actually seemed to interest Wells.

And all of which interest Bert I. Gordon, King of the Superimposed Giant Monsters.

On the matter of if this was a good thing or not, I will let the reader decide for themselves. Me, I’ve never been able to finish the book. The movie, however, I love dearly, despite its problems.

And what problems are these? Well, turn the page and we’ll start the ball rolling.  A farm house in the woods has become the home of something… horrible…

Empire of the Ants

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1977
Stars:
Joan Collins

Robert Lansing

John Davie Carson
Writer:
Jack Turley
Director:
Bert I. Gordon
WRC Score:
2/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 9, 2010

It’s easy to mistake Bert I. Gordon as a one note man, filming variations on the same story for the entirety of his career. This neither accurate or fair: Only nine of his twenty-four movies dealt with over-sized animals and/or people threatening the world. It’s just that those nine tend to loom large, as it were, over the rest of his output.

Empire of the Ants marks the last time Gordon went to this particular well, as well as the last time he–now how to put this kindly?–“adapted” a story by H. G. Wells. As the poster implies, it deals with over-sized ants. It’s also the only film that dares stand antenna to antenna to the Sci Fi classic Them!.

How does it do in comparison to either the Wells story or Them!? Well, let’s just say that Gordon should have stuck with Giant Grasshopper movies and leave it at that.

I loved this movie as a kid. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Which only proves I never had much taste in movies.

As an adult, I haven’t had much use for it. I get kind of riled up towards the end of this particular review over certain aspects of the flick, but I don’t hate the movie.

Really.

I’ll prove it to you. Turn to the next page and see for yourself.

Food of the Gods

Date:
1976
Stars:
Marjoe Gortnor

Pamela Franklin

Ralph Meeker
Writer:
Bert I, Gordon
Director:
Bert I. Gordon
WRC Score:
3/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 15, 2010

2016-link-box-002

A restful retreat for two friends turns to tragedy as one of them dies of massive poisoning. Meanwhile a remote farmhouse becomes a place of horrors as chickens grow to enormous size. But these are but the least of the threat brought on by the Food of the Gods.

This is one of the Giant Monster movies Bert I. Gordon is best known for, featuring not one, not two, but three types of giant creatures to plague the protagonists.  It stems from the first part of H. G. Well’s classic novel of the same name, but stems is all you can say about it.

In comparison to the Giant Monster Movies that came out of the Seventies, Food of the Gods isn’t that bad.  This isn’t saying very much as its competition includes such winners as The Giant Spider Invasion and Empire of the Ants.  It’s an average sort of creature feature, in other words.  No better or worse for that (1 point).  In fact, the F/X works tend to be rather good for the period.

Though sadly we’ll becoming back to that point before long.

Personally, I love Food of the Gods.  The story, which does have its problems, doesn’t bother me and it has Pamela Franklin, one of my all time favorite actresses, in it.  I have fun watching it and even as I write this I’m wishing I could see it again (2 points)

There is, though, one inescapable problem.  There’s some very obvious violence against the rats in the F/X.  While it bothers me to see, it doesn’t affect my over all enjoyment of the film.  However I can see where it might someone else’s.  Thus I’m filing Food of the Gods as NOT RECOMMENDED.

Overall Score: 3 (-) total point out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

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Empire of the Ants

Date:
1977
Stars:
Joan Collins

Robert Lansing

John Davie Carson
Writer:
Jack Turley
Director:
Bert I. Gordon
WRC Score:
2/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 9, 2010

2016-link-box-002

Empire of the Ants tells a cautionary tale about trying to run a land development scam.  Namely make sure there are no giant ants living near by.  Otherwise you and your marks might be forced into a cross-country flight.

Bert I. Gordon is famous for his Giant Monster movies.  Or maybe infamous is the better word for it.  In any case, this is (currently) the last one he made.  And most likely the worst of the bunch.

Oh, the plot moves fluidly from place to place and the characters don’t grate nearly as bad as they could.  But that doesn’t mean any of them are good.  About the best you can say is that the acting is competent and the F/X could be worse.  Some how.

Just don’t let anyone with any knowledge of ants near it.

Comparing it to most classic Giant Monster Movies, this one’s terrible. However, comparing it to other Giant Monster Movies of the Seventies, it’s a decent enough flick. What does that mean?  I dunno.  I just got done ripping into it for the Whale review and am feeling charitable?

Probably.

As I didn’t find myself hating or disliking it (1 point) I feel inclined to grant it an on the cusp mediocre (1 point). It really, really could have been worse.

That said, I’m sliding a NOT RECOMMENDED on at the end, cause I’m certain other viewers won’t feel as warmly to it as I do.

Overall Score: 2 points out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

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Godmonster of Indian Flats

Date:
1973
Stars:
Christopher Brooks
Stuart Lancaster
E. Kerrigan Prescott
Writer:
Fredric Hobbs
Director:
Fredric Hobbs
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on March 8, 2010

2016-link box-001

Godmonster of Indian Flats recounts  the various schemes and dirty dealings of a small town mayor.  And there’s a giant mutant sheep in there.  Somewhere.  I guess.

This is one of the great heart breaks of the B-movie game.  I mean, a giant mutant sheep!  On the rampage!  My God, that’s never been done before.

And for all the staying power Godmonster of Indian Flats has it might as well not have been done now.  It’s not good enough to entertain nor bad enough to linger as an unpleasant memory.  It just treads water in a sea of dullness that not even its frankly bizarre ending can rescue it from.  (1 point)

It’s been six years since I saw it for review, and if it wasn’t for the reboot I wouldn’t be thinking about it now.  Then I didn’t like it very much.  I’m not really desperate enough to seek it out to see if I changed my mind. (0.5 point).

Look, I know it sounds different, but the sheep hardly enters the picture.  If you’re looking for ewe madness, there are other, better movies out there.  Leave this one in its well-earned obscurity.

Overall Score: 1.5 point out of a possible 4

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Kingu Kongu tai Gojira

Also Called:

King Kong v. Godzilla

Date:
1962
Stars:
Tadao Takashima

Kenji Shara

Yû Fujiki
Writers:
Shin’ichi Sekizawa

[American Version]

Bruce Howard

Paul Masob
Director:
Ishirô Honda
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on August 19, 2009

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (also known as King Kong v. Godzilla) tells the tale of a pharmaceutical company out in search of a monster to help promote their product.  As they do so, a giant radioactive dinosaur you’ve probably never heard of before frees himself from his icy tomb and begins strolling across scenic Japan.  Are these two plots related?

It’s a distinct possibility.

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira is a step up from the previous installment, which isn’t saying too much.  This, though, is where the Godzilla series began its slide into silliness, with “comical” characters and the monsters behaving less like apocalyptic threats and more like clownish wrestlers.

I say this like it’s a bad thing.  It isn’t.  When the series hits its stride, such little details are quite entertaining.

That stride, sadly, begins in the next flick.  It’s not boring, it’s just a little mediocre bordering on bad film (1 point).

That doesn’t keep me from loving it to death (2 points). Kong!  Godzilla!  In a battle to the death!  Or until the film budget conks out.

While everyone should see at least one Godzilla flick (they’re good for you!) I’m not sure Kingu Kongu tai Gojira is one to recommend. Still, you could do much, much worse than this.

Overall Score: 3 points out of a possible 4

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Daikaijû Gamera

Opening Thoughts

Also Called

Gammera the Invincible

Giant Monster Gamera

Gamera

Date:
1965
Stars:
Eiji Funakosi

Harumi Kiritachi

Yoshiro Uchida
Writer:
Nisan Takahasi
Director:
Noriaki Yuasa
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 14, 2009

Daikaijû Gamera/Giant Monster Gamera is one of a whole slew of movies cashing in on the success of Gojira/Godzilla (1953). Like its fellow cash-ins. it really doesn’t hold a candle to what it copies.  That said, Gamera is the only Daikaijû to have a successful series of films, thus making him Big G’s only real rival.

The giant turtle has done well by himself in recent years, what with an excellent trilogy in the Nineties and the potential new series being tossed around in the wake of, again, Godzilla’s success.

While I can’t say I enjoy Gamera movies the same way I enjoy Godzilla movies, it’s always good to see him still in action.  Which sort of surprises me that I’m so down on this movie.  Oh, I don’t hate it, don’t get me wrong.  I just don’t really care if I see it again.

Perhaps the rest of this review might shed some light on this.  Or not, as the case might be.

First things first.  This write-up assumes a basic knowledge of Daikaijû Eiga. If you don’t have one (and asking what the hell Daikaijû Eiga is a good sign you don’t), a basic knowledge can be provided by headed over to my little essay on the subject. We won’t gossip about you while you’re there.

Well, not too much, any way.

Also, I wrote the following review based on watching the subtitled Japanese version of Daikaijû Gamera/Giant Monster Gamera. Specifically the translation released by a company called Neptune Media. Since that time another company picked up the title; thus there might be a difference in subtitles and overall flow of the story. This I mention only as a heads up; the differences should be minor.

On the next page we begin looking back at the so-called friend to children everywhere. Just how friendly was he, really?

Daikaijû Gamera

Also Called

Gammera the Invincible

Giant Monster Gamera

Gamera

Date:
1965
Stars:
Eiji Funakosi

Harumi Kiritachi

Yoshiro Uchida
Writer:
Nisan Takahasi
Director:
Noriaki Yuasa
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 14, 2009

2016-link box-001

Daikaijû Gamera (also known as Gammera the Invincible and Giant Monster Gamera ) tells the story of a giant monster turtle trying to make his way in the modern age.  This involves smashing down buildings and generally making a pest of himself.  Just like any monster would, when you think about it.

Of the Giant Monster set, only Gamera rivals Godzilla in terms of popularity.  This is no doubt due to it’s slouching over into kiddie territory almost from the get go.  That he is a rather unique looking creature didn’t hurt, either.

The trouble is that this flick is little more than a bad Godzilla clone (.5 points).  Too many plot contrivances happen for it own good.  The worst of which happen during the climax, though Gamera’s “final’ fate might be worth seeing just for the sheer mind blowing ludicrousness of it all.

Now as a rule, I’m the perfect audience for this type of flick.  From childhood on this have been one of my favorite subgenres.  And Gamera rated high back then.  Neck and neck with Godzilla.

With this film, though, I’m at a loss.  I don’t hate it–don’t get me wrong–but I don’t like it, either (1 point).  I can’t get my groove on with it.  I can’t flip that little switch in my head and just believe the way I can sometimes do with the older Godzilla films.  Sad to have lost that with such an old friend, but what can you do?

In the end, if you have nothing better to watch, this isn’t bad time killer. If, however, you can watch any Godzilla film, or, better still, the remake series starting with Gamera daikaijû kuchu kessen/Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, do that instead.

Overall Score: 1.5 total points out of a possible 4

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