At first glance “War of the Gargantuas” from 1966 may seem like a “Godzilla” knock-off. That could not be farther from the truth. Since they both come from the same company, Toho, you could call “War of the Gargantuas” a cousin film to “Godzilla.” Much like the early Godzilla films “War of the Gargantuas” is a fun, entertaining monster movie and, to get personal, it helped solidify me as a horror fan at an early age.
It’s a dark, stormy night and a ship is stranded in the ocean, caught in a storm and under attack from a giant octopus. When the giant octopus lets go of the ship, the captain looks out the window and notices an ugly, green humanoid creature fighting the octopus. After it defeats the octopus the humanoid creature destroys the boat and devours the captain and his crew. Afterwards, a scientist and his assistant are being question by the police. They had a similar humanoid creature they have been studying since it was an infant, and the authorities wonder if it has grown up and is responsible for the killings. It turns out there are two creatures: the one studied by the scientists is brown, resides in the mountains and is peaceful; while the one responsible for the attacks is green, lives in the ocean and is evil.
When the green monster comes to land to feast he is nearly killed by the military. However he is saved by the brown creature. It turns out the green creature is an offspring of the brown one. Their friendship doesn’t last long though as they get into a a fight and then proceed to battle and destroy Tokyo.
You know this film is going to be a good one when you take a look at the credits. Here you have Inishiro Honda as director, Elji Tsubraya as the special effects director, Tomoyuki Tanaka as producer and Akira Ifukube as composer. This is the team that created the original “Godzilla” film, “Mothra” “Rodan” and many other classic Kaiju films. If you are looking for the cream of the crop of Kaiju films, you cannot go wrong with anything that has the involvement of these guys.
For its time the special effects were quite impressive. Yes it is miniature cities and men in monster costumes but believe me, these effects are still pretty good. I imagine some people may find these effects laughable and that is shame they will not be able to appreciate this film because of it.
If you are a fan of kaiju films or just want something entertaining I highly recommend checking out “War of the Gargantuas.” As I said early it help turned me into a horror fan and I am sure other horror fans can say the same. Mainstream filmmakers such as Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino have cited this film as an influence. I am so much a fan of this film that I have both the 90’s Japanese and American VHS releases.
Bonus Review: Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven
On March 26th legendary heavy metal band Pantera’s album ”Far Beyond Driven” is going to be re-released for its 20th anniversary. In my opinion, and that of other metal fans, it is one of the best metal albums of all time, and I mean real heavy metal not the fake metal like Metallica’s ”Black album.” What’s interesting about ”Far Beyond Driven” is that at the time they were creating this album, Nirvana was at their height in popularity and grunge music was the thing that was in style. Pantera basically said fuck that and they made one of the most extreme heavy metal albums of all time. ”Far Beyond Driven” debuted at number one on the Billboard top 200 charts! That is something that does not happen very often with a heavy metal album. Also, when this album came out, the critics had been saying that heavy metal had died. That is why Metallica changed their look and style with ”Load”. On the other hand Pantera and Slayer were probably the top bands that pushed ahead and refused to give into the fads of the time or change their style and they still managed to be mainstream.
”Far Beyond Driven” is a very special album. Just listen to some of the tracks and you will know what I man. This album has ”Strength Beyond Strength”, ”Becoming” ”5 Minutes Alone” ”I’m Broken”, ”Use My Third Arm” and several more tracks that are examples of what real metal is.
What has always made Pantera so unique is that they were the biggest underground band to ever rising to fame from touring and a fan base instead of radio and television. And who can forget Pantera’s guitarist Dimebag Darrel who was as good, if not a better guitar play than Eddie Van Halen? It’s a shame what happened. Pantera, along with Slayer, Morbid Angel and other bands of this era were the extreme American heavy metal bands of the era making heavy music at a time when metal was called dead. And if you are new to extreme metal or want to get into extreme heavy metal this is a great place to start. Check this album out.