WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS
FRANKENSTEINS MONSTERS: SANDA VS GAIRA
(Furankenshutain no Kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira)
War of the Gargantuas is a fairly typical Japanese monster movie of the era. There are all the hallmarks of one of Ishiro Hondas films the stolidly colourful action; the lack of real human content; the cheaply colourful effects with men in rubber suits battling it out. This is a film that seems far more enthusiastic about the scenes of the military moving into operation, shooting at things with a massive outlay of artillery, setting up electrical transformer devices and placing giant sparkplugs into a river than it invests anything in the perfunctory scenes between the two leads Russ Tamblyn and Kumi Mizuno.
The effects are generally colourful, although frequently fall down when it comes to the shabby model ships that we see in the opening scenes or those with Gaira throwing around very unconvincing model tanks and batting down helicopters. There are however some entertaining scenes like with Gaira attacking Hanada Airport, loping across the runway and reaching through windows to snatch a woman up in its paw or later grabbing and devouring a singer in a nightclub. This undeniably reminds of King Kong (1933), which Honda had notedly paired up against Godzilla earlier in King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962) especially the scene where the good Frankenstein monster saves Kumi Mizuno from a fall by catching her in in his hand. The creatures have certainly become more ape-like than they were in Frankenstein Conquers the World. The film reaches an entertaining climax with the two monsters fighting, toppling buildings and then heading into the water and bashing each other with entire ships, before being devoured in a volcano that conveniently just pops up out of the ocean.
War of the Gargantuas exists in different forms. The US version of the film, which runs four minutes longer than the Japanese version, was taken over by producer Henry Sapirstein who removed all reference to Frankenstein monsters and has them called merely brown and green Gargantuas. In this version, Russ Tamblyns scenes are also re-edited so that it appears he is present in events more crucial to the film.
Ishiro Hondas other genre films include:- Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954), Gigantis the Fire Monster/Godzilla Raids Again/The Return of Godzilla (1955), Rodan the Flying Monster (1956), The Mysterians (1957), The H-Man (1958) about a radioactive blob that can dissolve people, the Yeti film Half-Human (1958), Varan the Unbelievable (1958), the space opera Battle in Outer Space (1961), Gorath (1962) about a rogue planet, King Kong vs Godzilla (1962), Mothra (1962), Atragon (1963) about a super-submarine, Attack of the Mushroom People/Matango, Fungus of Terror (1963), Godzilla vs the Thing/Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Dagora the Space Monster (1964), The Human Vapor (1964) about a gaseous villain, Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Monster Zero/Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965), King Kong Escapes (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzillas Revenge (1969), the submarine adventure Latitude Zero (1969), Yog The Monster from Outer Space (1970) and Terror of Mechagodzilla/Monsters from an Unknown Planet (1976).