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Brotherly Love and Monstrous Rampage: “War of the Gargantuas” (1966)



By Alexander Miles

By the late 60’s Toho Studios, Japan’s leading monster movie manufacturer, had already reached the pinnacle of their success with the Kaiju genre. With films like Godzilla (1954), Rodan (1957) and Mothra (1961) reaching worldwide attention and gaining a devoted fan following, it seemed perfectly logical to keep on building cardboard cities and the rubber suits to demolish them. However, one cannot go around smashing the same city (i.e. Tokyo) 3 times a year and expect to get the same thrilling result. Yeah, what a bummer!

War of the Gargantuas (1966) although considered one of the studios best monster rumbles, is far below bar in terms of acting ability with, say, Rodan. This film is supposedly a sequel to the previous years Frankenstein Conquers the World, in which the cells of the Frankenstein Monster have regenerated into two giant creatures which resemble something between King Kong and Frankenstein. They are only identified by their colors: the green gargantuan, who lives in the ocean and is a destructive SOB, and the brown gargantuan, who lives in the mountains and is friend to all man kind. The film kicks off with greeny rising from the sea to destroy a ship, terrorize an airport and eat a couple of noisy humans.

The military doesn’t take kindly to that and they fight back with their “deadly lasers”, which, ironically, look like the same laser guns from a few previous Godzilla films (cheap bastards!) Eventually, the older, gentler brown gargantuan arrives to help his injured brother to safety. Once out of harms way a family feud begins. The brown one looks down upon his brothers nasty habits (like eating people and spitting out only their shirts) and they proceed to behave like all brothers do when confronted: beat each other to death! In a brawl that will likely conjure up memories of your own siblings, the giant’s battle from the mountains, to Tokyo, to the middle of the ocean only to both end up being swallowed by an underwater volcano.

Isn’t it great when we learn that even giant monsters can also have family disputes?

While the Monster battles and special effects are entertaining, the acting and dialogue are painful to watch. The only decent actors are the Gargantuas themselves, and they don’t even have dialogue. Like Frankenstein Conquers the World, whose leading star was American actor Nick Adams, the leading role goes to another American actor, Russ Tamblyn. Russ goes on to ruin the picture with expressions and deliveries that show a complete lack of interest. In one particular scene his assistant is dangling from a branch over a deep ravine, and being the caring employer that he is, asks her in the calmest, most bland way, “Are you ok? Just hold on, I’m coming!” Fast forward a few scenes when the big green badie is getting ready to eat his assistant (once more managing to get herself in danger) only to drop her unto a flight of stairs. Now, being a doctor, you would think that he would show some care and gentleness to someone obviously badly injured. But no, he walks over looks at her, picks her and walks away. Sounds like the right guy to work with, doesn’t it?

What the film lacks in acting chops is made up in reels full of monster mahem. To be honest, it’s the only real reason the film is good and has survived the years. Interestingly enough, at the 84th Academy Awards, Brad Pitt citied the film as his inspiration to go into acting. The film is also a personal favorite of film directors Guillermo del Toro (the upcoming monster epic Pacific Rim) and Tim Burton. Hey, to each his own right? I’m sure we could all sleep better at night knowing that these films could have inspired organizations like WWE as well!

If we can learn one thing about this film it’s that, if you really want to settle a score with a sibling… just find the nearest tank and throw it at them!


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