Breaking Down The Language Barrier

Godzilla has an official site. Scratch that, official sites. That is something which can be considered public knowledge. But how often does an English-speaking intellectual look upon these pages? Not many. But I did, and I am going to walk you through three main parts of Toho’s own pages on our beloved kaiju icon, Gojira. This is an effort to be like a guide so you can also gain access to these sites and not get lost due to getting lost in translation. So, let’s go shall we?

Now, as far as I can tell, there are three main homepages for Godzilla that Toho is paying for. One of the official site which has been around since 1998 at least and has been changed in design every time a new film gets released. The URL for that is here: http://www.godzilla.co.jp/index.php. To quickly go over that site which almost every fan has been to at least once, there are some polls, there are some nice photographs of some merchandise. Nothing really interesting or worth while. You could find all of that information in MonsterZero’s history, which SciFiJapan is now taking in.

Next is something interesting: internet theme parks. This was not the first time I saw an internet theme park. No, no. Younggu-Art also has one with a webzine. Talk about learning a lot about the film, "D-War". This "internet theme park" is called "Godzilla Graffiti". Link to it is here: http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/graph/index.html#1 . Now, on this site, you go to the bottom and on the clickable links, it just makes a screen above turn into an animated version of one of five kaiju: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mechagodzilla - all of the poplars and what can be called, "Toho’s Big 5". Though click a link at the bottom at what looks like Minilla, Mothra Larvae, and the 1961 Shobijin and you get a resume of the guy (who I do not know his name) who did the art on the page before. Nice if you want to have a computer-generated image of one of "Toho’s Big 5" in .gif format.

Third and last is there main page for Godzilla. Just plain Godzilla. Link to it is here: http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/godzilla/index.html. Though you will learn that the archive site and the fan club links are invalid. They do not work at all. On with parts of the site which is active, at the top you see a caricature of the Mire/Gira-Goji suit. This is nothing new, since it was used on flyers of G2K in Japan. In fact, I got a link to these photos. The first clickable link via image is a whole page of caricatures for kaiju from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) to Godzilla 2000. Now, this does exclude ones like Battra and the multiple form of Desotroyah, but is ok. Go back to the main page. Then click on the second link which is a picture, mainly of the Mire-Goji suit. You get a slightly flawed listing of the Godzilla suits. First mistake is that it has not been updated since Godzilla 2000, and second, for some reason. Then the listing for the Shodai and Gyankushu-Goji suits have been merged into one, with only the Shodai-Goji getting depicted. The descriptions of the suits, when translated, are nothing special. Just say how one suit is different. A good example is translation the description for the Mire-Goji suit. Just says, "At the end of the century, a revived Godzilla is vicious! He now has a big mouth, characterized by shark-pointed dorsal fins. [Rest could not be translated] Last, but not least, is a picture with two links. One link has pics of all Showa kaiju and the second has all Heisei kaiju plus Orga and the Mire-Goji.

Now, here is a link map for all of the pages…

1. Godzilla Graffiti
MAIN PAGE - http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/graph/index.html
RESUME OF ARTIST - http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/graph/profile.html

2. Godzilla General
MAIN PAGE - http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/godzilla/index.html
CARICATURES - http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/godzilla/il.html
SUIT HISTORY - http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/godzilla/rekidai.html
SHOWA KAIJU - http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/godzilla/1954.html
HEISEI KAIJU - http://www.toho-a-park.com/character/godzilla/1984.html

And do not forget the official Blu-Ray site:MAIN PAGE - http://www.toho-a-park.com/tokusatsu-bd/

Daikaiju Refrence No. 1

By Kuroneko-Sama

Konnichiwa! I am Kuroneko-sama. There a few out there who may already be acquainted with me from Kaiju Galaxy, Gojira’s Sanctuary, or even Toho Kingdom.This is my first posting here at Journalism G2K, and I am very excited to be a part of this. This initial post of mine will be the first of many in what I hope will be a fun and concerted effort for and of many daikaiju aficionados.“References” is something I came up with in order to illustrate just how the reach of daikaiju eiga such as Godzilla and Gamera extends, and not just in the manner of TV shows and films. This is to be a weekly article. If you happen to have anything to contribute to “References”, I urge you to please do so. I also emphasize that, while Toho Kingdom has a similar article to their site, those who do submit references and sightings, do so honestly, and do not simply look at and take credit for the discoveries of others. Please also keep submissions appropriate, and keep in mind the consideration of others. Also, feel free to leave comments! Any and all feedback is welcome, provided it is appropriate.Thank you!*~Kuroneko-sama~*

Reference(s) No. 1
TV Reference(s):Godzilla
Show: Red Dwarf
Season: II
Episode No.: 9
Episode: Thanks for the Memory
Air Date: BBC2 on September 20, 1988
Official Website: http://www.reddwarf.co.uk/news/index.cfm

Plot synopsis: After getting drunk at Rimmer’s “Death Day” party, Lister, Rimmer, the Cat, and Holly wake up the next day, and discover that they are missing four days! Not only that, but somehow Lister and the Cat each has a broken leg, Lister’s puzzle is magically finished, and Holly can’t find the black box that records their every movement! Following the black box’s tracing signal, the crew watch the recording, despite a previously recorded Holly’s warning not to, and discover just what happened and how they came to lose those four days.

Reference(s): While watching the first part of the black box recording, Holly interrupts by saying, “What does all this have to do with broken legs, finished jigsaw puzzles, and Godzilla-sized footprints?”

Credit for reference(s): Kuroneko-sama


Film Reference(s):Godzilla
Film: Toy Story
Year: 1995
Plot synopsis: Woody has the perfect life with Andy and his toy buddies – until Buzz Lightyear arrives, and ruins everything. Now Woody has to reconcile his differences with Buzz, escape the destructive next-door-neighbor, prove himself to his friends, and get back to Andy before the family moves!

Reference(s): Hamm, the piggy bank, makes Godzilla references when he refers to Rex, Andy’s toy tyrannosaurus, as “Spillzilla” and other names.

Credit for reference(s): Kuroneko-sama


Other Reference(s):Godzilla
Media type: Radio Advertisement
Advertisement for: Restoration Specialists of Lake City, FL
Summary: A radio advertisement for the services offered by said businessReference(s): The advertisement involves a woman calling in the people from Restoration Specialists, saying that her currently missing pet basically did some damage to her home. At the end of the advertisement, one of the men from Restoration Specialists says, “Uh, ma’am, I think we found your pet.” Following this statement is the sound of the 1954 Godzilla’s “roar” or "groan".

Credit for reference(s): Kuroneko-sama

Exclusive Interview with August Ragone

By Donny Winter

After much searching I was finally able to find someone who was going to Comic Con this year that shares the same love for Japanese Giant Monsters (Kaiju Eiga) as I do. After 25 years of experience in commenting on Japanese film and popular culture whether it be online, on the radio, on television, or at various festivals; author August Ragone is bringing his inspiring knowledge to Comic Con!

1) What is your role in the convention this year?

I’m attending as a “Professional” on the behalf of Chronicle Books, much as last year, to promote “Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters,” I will also be hosting a presentation of 200 rare, behind-the-scenes photos from his “kaiju eiga”, called “Godzilla & the Master of Monsters.”

2) How long will you be attending?

I will be signing on Saturday at 2pm and presenting on Sunday at 1:30pm, but I’ll blow into town on Thursday.

3) What are you hoping to bring to people’s attention through your presentation?

To showcase the drive and genius of Eiji Tsuburaya — to give them some perspective as well as a better appreciation of the scale of his films. That’s the goal.

4) Do you have a website where people can learn about you?Folks are encouraged to check out my blog, “The Good, the Bad, and Godzilla” — which will feature all of my obsessions — at http://augustragone.blogspot.com

August Ragone will be at Comic Con on the weekend of July 25th and 26th and his presentation on that Sunday will be held in Room 8. Be sure to attend his wonderful tribute presentation to Eiji Tsuburaya, Japan’s famous Master of Monsters. Not only will you learn about a phenominal man who took monsters to a whole new level, but you will learn about a genre of films that deserves a lot more credit and admiration

Making of Gojira Tai Gigan

In light of the Plaza Atlanta’s showing of this film, I have decided to go ahead and edit this making of "Godzilla vs. Gigan". This was the most profitable films of the 70’s decade of Godzilla film and is one of the better attempts. The production notes go as fallowed…

Production on this film started before "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" was even released into theaters (technically by a couple of days). The origins of the story did not come from Shinichi Sekizawa but another writer by the name of Kaoru Mibuchi who wrote just one draft of a story called, "Godzilla vs. The Space Monsters: Global Security Order" or better known by it's short title, "Godzilla vs. The Space Monsters". The plot of the draft was as fallows:

"A plane going to Hadena Airport gets stuck into a mysterious storm which they see for a second the kaiju Gigan. One Gigan disappears, the storm stops and everyone in the plane is in shock. Later that night, the planes pilot (Okamoto) goes to a Science Center on top of a Godzilla Tower to find answers about the strange creature he saw. Telling no one, he enters the building at 1 AM and even though he told no one he was coming, a phone in the room rings saying, "I know you are there... I can answer all of your questions." Okamoto asks who is speaking with the voice confirming that his name is the Alien Miko and that he controls the skies over Japan from now on.

Days later, the JSDF encounters a UFO, none other than Gigan. But in an aerial chase, they also encounter the daikaiju Megalon. The fighter pilots left standing land their planes on a near by island. Megalon fallows the pilots to the island, till Anguirus comes and starts a rumble. Winning the fight, Anguirus seems to have the upper hand till Gigan comes. But after a while, Godzilla appears and Gigan and Megalon take off. But then the lead squadron pilot gets a message from the Alien Miko and says that King Ghidorah, who is flying overhead of the island, is his chariot and he controls the Japanese skies.

Once airline travel stops on an international level, all satellites in space are destroyed. Miko finally says that either let him have Earth, or water, gas, and electricity shall be shut off in Tokyo just as a first step. If an answer is not given soon, the kaiju will attack Tokyo. The Godzilla Tower in science land keeps tabs on the kaiju, till they find out that the kaiju are making a bee line to the Tokyo Tower, The kaiju mistaken the tower as the real Godzilla, only behind the kaiju is the real Godzilla and the main battle commences. But Gigan leaves with the other kaiju.

The Alien Miko announces that the first cities to be destroyed will be Tokyo, Moscow, and New York. A combined effort of Anguirus and the Military does not stop Gigan, and the other two kaiju are just attacked with planes and military - nothing making progress. Megalon and Ghidorah come to Gigan's aid and help kill Anguirus. But Godzilla shows up and the three space kaiju go without putting up a fight. Meanwhile, the Alien Miko makes himself seen and it turns out he is a gigantic brain (Note to reader: this reminds me of the character Carl-Brain from Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Aqua Teen Hunger Force). He blames Godzilla and the Japanese military for the damage done and basically said obey or die.

Wanting a less gruesome appearance, Miko wants to merge with the statue idol Majin-Tulo, an ancient Andes Mountain idol statue kept near the Godzilla Tower found in the Palace of the Gods. Legend has it that one the Palace is disturbed and the mountain destroyed, his eyes shall glow read and throw it's sword into the air, with the sword killing the evil beings and going back into his hand. Stupidly, Miko commands Gigan to cut the statue in half to insert himself into the statue. But Godzilla and Anguirus are there, ready to take on Gigan and the other two space monsters. But Gigan escapes to complete his mission, but the statue starts bleeding. Majin-Tulo finally comes alive and mortal wounds Gigan with his giant katana while throwing it through King Ghidorah. The three monsters leave, with Megalon getting beaten up by Godzilla and Anguirus before he gets to go away. Miko is cornered by the three good kaiju as Godzilla delivers the final blow onto Miko."

An interesting point is that in the artwork by Hurricane Ryu for this version of the story, Gigan's right claw was a spiked wrecking ball and not a regular claw. Some speculate that his right claw could change into a wrecking ball, but there is no true evidence that this art is accurate to the original script since Ryu came around long after the Showa series ended.

Later on, Shinichi Sekizawa got onto the story and wrote three drafts, the second draft turned in August 1971 and the third draft turned in on October 6, 1971. The many differences between Sekizawa's and Mibuchi's versions of the screenplay was that Angurirus and Majin-Tulo was replaced by Varan and Rodan and instead of Megalon, a monster named Mogul was to appear. But in the end, it would be with Angurius coming back, Rodan appearing only in stock footage, and Mogul not being used. All three drafts of the screenplay are remakes of Mibuchi's but still keep close to what would become the final product.

Shinchi Sekizawa's final script is actually one which many may like in that it deals with two subtexts: the economics of kaiju and why certain kaiju are still popular. Kaiju can be categorized into two sections: legendary icons and marketing tools - both stating kaiju's role in society. Godzilla is both - a marketing tool since people can’t stop buying merchandise and a legendary icon for being a versatile character able to fit into many sub-context over time, not just nuclear war. This becomes a major ideal in the beginning of the story when Gengo presents his characters Shukra and Momagon to an editor in chief of a local manga company. The main problem with these two characters is that they cannot be interpreted differently by different people for different reasons. Godzilla could be an anti-nuclear war symbol for humanitarian causes or a symbol of Japan against another country for political purposes. Shukra is only a monster against homework and all Momagon represents is a monster made of the hate of too strict mothers. Both symbols are negative and can easily be seen as only one thing: by what their creators meant them to be. Homework, in this century, is being added more and more to pupil's agendas and advertised as "fun" and strict mothers is something rare enough that one strict mother mention is worth of news time. Both are not versatile and unless they develop a cult will not be profitable. That is why Godzilla is popular and still making cash. Like Dr. William Tsutsui said, "...he is simply too big of a property."

Like all other scripts written in the 70's, the big problem with them is lack of originality in the scripts - mainly in the variety of scenarios. "Godzilla vs. Gigan" copies the "Invasion of Astro Monster" script in many ways. Aliens want to colonize Earth since their planet is uninhabitable, and use space monsters - usually one of them being Ghidorah - to try to defeat Godzilla. The screenplay also did what author David Kalat calls, "raids the history of Godzilla for it's presentation". The film's budget saving trademark was the extensive use of stock materials. The decision for stock music was Tomoyuki Tanaka's and for the stock footage, it was on Teruyoshi Nakano. The stock footage collection in this film came from the films "Rodan", "The Last War", "Atragon", "Mothra vs. Godzilla", "Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster", "Invasion of Astro Monster", "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster", "Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira", "Destroy all Monsters", "All Monsters Attack", and "Godzilla vs. Hedorah". Music wise, cues from all of these films (all Akira Ifukube’s) including the famed "The Birth of the Japanese Islands" are present in their original edits, but is a thrill ride for die hard fans who can pick stuff out and think, "Wow, it is like the ultimate combination of all of these elements for this time period!"

Durring this time period, Toho actually started laying off some of their actors (most from the "Toho Actors Club") and other crew members, totaling 350. All of the acting in the film is enough to get you through. We get 2-D characterization - only details which are professional, nothing intimate or layered. Though this would be the last time that we see strong, human, female characters for the rest of the Showa series. The main one, Tomoko, is a ferocious, karate-skilled, smart woman who gets physical and is even called a "bitch" in the dub. If that isn't a strong female character for this kind of film in it's time, I do not what is.

Special effects, for another time, are taken over by Teruyoshi Nakano. But Nakano does nothing remarkable - it is all on Gigan. Originally designed by Noboyusi Yasumaru, the concept art depicted Gigan with a bigger head, shorter and skinnier tail, a larger, single horn on top of his head, larger mandibles, and his hand claws being skinnier and more curved in. The drawing was very bizarre compared to the final product. The suit's large redesigned claws and feet, however, proved to be a problem for the suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma. Satsuma, making his second appearance in kaiju eiga, decided to come back regardless of the horrible Hedorah experience because he became friends with Nakano and gained a certain respect for the art of siutmation from Haruo Nakajima. In the acclaimed book "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla", "That is Yasumaru for you. His priority is design, not the operation of the suit or the actor. The claws and feet were a solid piece of resin... incredibly heavy and almost impossible to move. Finally, Mr. Nakano agreed to intercede and he got Yasumaru to reluctantly hollow out the claws. Gigan had arms and legs specifically, and was easier to move in. You can do moves like brandishing the huge claws. You can think of how to play in a suit like that. But the feet were so big that they easily caught on other objects or on my opponent, and I tripped a lot." Gigan, though, was not complete. Wanting to sell monsters who were less threatening since they were more popular, Gigan's trademark beam would not be actually seen on film. The concept of it came from Teruyoshi Nakano. In an interview, Nakano said, "I very much was interested in the sixth sense of human beings at the time. I knew that many statues of Buddha had auras around their heads, and I had read an article about strange rays coming out of the foreheads of human beings. So, I originally intended to have a ray come out of Gigan's forehead. However, I changed my mind because the ability didn't seem to fit the cyborg. It fit only human beings. That's why I didn't use it. Gigan had a very strong and angular form. It was enough to express the great power of the monster. So, the laser beam wasn't needed." Gigan would become one of Toho's most popular monsters. A different suit would eventually be used for the next film and the TV series after that, with Satsuma only playing the kaiju again in the 1973 film.

Sadly though, this was the last time that Haruo Nakajima could play Godzilla. Along with being one of the 350 kicked out of the Toho Actors Club, his displeasure of working without Tsuburaya would have him to do his final role, which is not a disappointing one. He wipes his lip, beats his chest, talks to other kaiju, and even gets to be the first person to act inside the suit while Godzilla bleeds. He even smacks his head. The performance gives us a rather animated portrayal of Godzilla. Angurius makes one of his last appearances, before having a cameo in the 1973 film and "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla." This would be the last time the Soshingeki Goji suit would be used, in which was in dire need of repair and is to this day the second most used Godzilla suit ever, spanning five years of usage. Plus, it would be one of the final times that an actual suit would be use for promotional events. In some water scenes, the Musuko-Goji suit was used. Angurius is being played by Yukietsu Ina. Mr. Ina does a fairly energetic and eager version of the kaiju which Mr. Sekida did in "Destroy All Monsters" and "Godzilla Raids Again", along with being the first of many free lance actors who would do it just for the money for the rest of the Showa series. The Angurirus suit, sadly was also in need of repair, and even suffered discoloration when used in the water for the Sanami Bay sequence. King Ghidorah, also played by a freelance actor Kanta Ina, is not really active in the fighting - with only Tsuburaya-era Ghidorah from stock footage doing much fighting. The props at the beginning scene which are usually known for their stiffness, were never used again except for in Zone Fighter and Megalon, otherwise they were hung up in a back shed along with a Megalon prop and a Mechagodzilla prop.
"Godzilla vs. Gigan" was released during the period of time referred to as the Godzilla Champion Festival, in which all Godzilla films from 1969 to 1973 were accompanied by a re-edited version of a 60's kaiju film with the editing done by a not-so content Ishiro Honda, along with animated shorts like a Toho produced Pinocchio cartoon and an edited version of Disney's "Peter Pan". The film would be a double kill for Toho. The film brought in 40,000 - more people than the previous film "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" and with the budget being smaller than Hedorah, it was a double success. The film would be accompanied at the festival by a Pinocchio animated feature, another animated feature with the main character being an orphaned bumble bee, and something with some class: an episode of THE RETURN OF ULTRAMAN (and this is especially interesting as the character of Tomoko Tomoe was played by Yuriko Hishima, who played Ultra Garrison character Anne Yuri in Ultra Seven). An interesting thing to note about this theatrical release is that this may have been the time in which the first theater exclusive toy was released. A set of bouncy balls were released. 5 balls, with a picture of Gigan, King Ghidorah, Godzilla, Angurirus, and Mothra Larva in each ball. They came in a bag.

America's release of the film was rather different. Cinema Shares, a rather small company, did a poor job with publicity for the film. It is understandable though, since this film - released in 1977 in America - was released five months after the almost legally troubling US release of "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla". Sadly, no material from the release really survives this day except for in some long time and rich fan's collections. Though author Steve Ryfle did offer a quote from the film's TV Spot in his book "Japan's Biggest Mon-Star". The quote goes something like this:, "From beyond the stars came the most fearsome monsters in the galaxy! Only Godzilla stands in their way in GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND! Is even Godzilla strong enough to defeat the invaders? Matching unbelievable strength! Exchanging incredible detonating rays! Don't miss GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND!". The film would go on to be shown in grindhouse cinemas and drive in circuits. Cuts made to the film include the cutting out of the word "bitch", so as to leave the viewer with an awkward line, "You are a hard". Also cut is the part where Gigan cuts Angruius's snout. While the American print with the "On Monster Island" was released on a Canadian bootleg VHS release, Sci-Fi Channel did show this print of the film till 2002 when Sony/Tristar bought the rights to the film, where a clean, widescreen print would be shown. Though it should be noted that some times, the print of the film shown, is a dubbed version of the Japan version of the film. The difference between the International and Japanese versions of the film other than the credits and end card is that in the Japanese version, there are bubbles in Japanese which indirectly act as subtitles for what the monsters are saying. The international print of the film does not have this. The film would from 2002-2005 would be paired up with Godzilla vs. Hedorah and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla for yearly marathons usually on Labor Day or Memorial Day Marathons in the morning hours.

What is really mixed up is the film's releases in Europe. The Polish theatrical poster shows the Gyankushu-Goji suit on it along with a giant cockroach along with it. In Brittan, the film got a fourth title card. The film was retitled, "War of the Monsters". Though confusing informed fans as to if there was a relation to this film and the Showa Gamera film of the same name, the print did not confuse fans like the American credits which said the film was directed by "Jan" Fukuda. But the most bizarre part of the film's European release was Germany's dubbing, which has become notorious for completely mixing up the plot worse than an American dub made by Toho in Hong Kong or by the American distribution company itself. Apparently, the German dub says that Gigan was made by Dr. Frankenstein who for the Aliens before he died. Ghidorah though was said to be a pet/slave to the aliens. Other than that, the German dub keeps everything true to the original, including the monster's talking scenes.

Godzilla vs. Gigan is one of the smartest business-geared productions but yet one of the most unoriginal 70's era Godzilla films. To me, it is one of three Godzilla films which define the 70's Godzilla experience. If it was up to me, other than Mothra vs. Godzilla and Gojira, it is the best Showa Godzilla film. Nothing more can be said on the film, except I salute it for it's acomplishments and love the underlying theme of how to market kaiju.

Making of Daikaiju Gamera

Gammera. He's neat. He's full of turtle meat. I never though I would say that infamous line. But it is a suitable say to begin something which I usually don't talk about: Showa gammera. Only I should say Gammera with the extra "m" since I am talking Showa. The original gammera film is sadly not very well studied upon, unless you own MONSTERS ARE ATTACKING TOKYO, one of the numerous books by Stuart Galbraith IV and Guy Tucker's book AGE OF THE GODS. Sadly, I own neither nor is there any book previews or anything. So I wrote this paper "in the cold". But I always try for a challenge and hopefully this paper pleases.

Gammera was not the first thing for Daiei's monster division. Originally, another film about giant rats were to be used. The film was to be called GIANT GROUP BEAST NEZURA, or simply SWARM OF RATS. The film's premise was simple: they were going to make miniature sets which rats would be let loose and chew up things, especially dolls of people. Sadly, it never got off the ground because by 1964, kaiju eiga - then dominated by Toho - gave off the appearance of being expensive. You had to have a good script, a good budget for the SFX, and some good actors. Another factor of this project's cancellation was that the flea infestation inflicted the studio, making filming with rats impossible. The project was overall canceled and was turned into nothing. But with this hole in the schedule, something needed to be a filler and fallowing the making of the original Gojira, Gammera came up to seize the day.

When Gammera came up, script writer Nisan Takahashi was hired. Takahashi is also the one who came up with the premise of "a flying turtle". Concerning the flight patterns, it was inspired by fire works instead of a flying saucer (this shows that fireworks used to be very different back in the day). Most important, he came up with the name Gammera, which is an alteration of the Japanese word "turtle". With the main premise set down, the art department was set to do the special effects. Noriyoshi Inoue (not related to Yasuyuki Inoue of the Godzilla franchise) was the main designer for Gammera, drawing a massive 500 sketches with only the first one being ultimately used. Daiei executives set the budget at 8 million yen, which in those days were $100,000 USD. Finding a director was one of the hardest parts of the filming process with many turning down the project like the Nezura film and many were turned down by Daiei, but one name prevailed: Noriaki Yuasa. Noriaki Yuasa would come to find the film to be a struggle to make. While Toho had the luxury to have two different directors for their kaiju films (one for actors and the other for SFX), Yuasa would end up shooting both SFX footage and acting footage. The first planning meeting for the film lasted no long considering the time it ended: 10:30AM. By that afternoon, Takahashi already wrote a synopsis titled, "Fire Eating Turtle Attacks Tokyo." This became a trademark for Takahashi, who gained a reputation of having a harder time coming up with ideas than writing the script. The script would ultimately involve nuclear test in a similar fashion of American monster films.

Being produced by the art department in Daiei's Tokyo division only made it harder to make the film. The reason for only the Tokyo division do the work was because of conflicting the schedule between Gammera and it's Daiei competitor Daimajin. Also being taunted by his fellow directors, he was told that he should play Gammera. Two main points for the shooting was to be different from "GOJIRA" and to show mostly monster films, since this film has an obvious American feel to it. But one thing that both Yuasa and Tsuburaya had in common was that they did not show human casualties in monster films. Along with choreographing the battles, only 4 months were used for filming with a little over half of that for the SFX shooting. Due to budget, the film was shot in black and while. Another technique used in the film was that showing Gammera's legs was avoided if possible. Yuasa said once in an interview that he started directing Gammera once the kaiju got his name. Taking only a month to draw the storyboards, the story boards were fallowed closely, questioning how much direction Yuasa gave. Sadly, producer and Daiei exec Hidemasa Nagata did not once visit the set. One must question weather or not this is a sign of not so good faith. Something one must question is how faithful the budget reported was. Apparently, due to the gunpowder and strategic lighting of the holes which shoots fire while Gammera flies was very expensive which for just one cut of film containing the activity, unless going to another cut of film shot as the same time as the previous. The total cost for one of these scenes was $3,361 on average with each hole's lighting costing $84 due to the type of gunpowder used.

Working with the actors was an easy task, especially considering that Yuasa allowed actors to improvise if it was necessary and he loved working with kids. However, Yuasa did mention in an interview that when Gammera saves a child, he did that out of chance and not because of the "hero to children everywhere" subplot which would plague the rest of the Showa series. Post production lasted only a month. Tadashi Yamaguchi saw only a rough cut of the film and made one minute cues which would be later mixed for the film. In the first test screening, everyone was worried since Nagata usually had his way with film whether they go out or they fail. After the screening for Gammera, an employee quietly said to Nagata, "Well, that's the way it is sometimes." Nagata replied, "Isn't the film good?" All of the employees in the room rapidly agreed with the producer and executive.

The film would be released in Japan on Nov. 26, 1965. The film was a respectable money maker. On the other side of the world, different things were cooking up for this film. Supposedly reported to be budgeted at a million dollars, Gammera was marketed like a Godzilla film. The extra scenes, filmed in New York City, became a nuisance and the film. Opening on December 15, 1966 - ten days before Christmas, the film would durring the second half of it's run played with the film KNIVES OF THE AVENGER. Interesting advertisements for this double bill including, "Gammera the Invincible vs. Rurik the Viking." Gammera would later become the most bootleged kaiju film ever on DVD.

Making of Gojira Tai Hedoah

Godzilla vs. Hedorah is quite the oddity of the whole of kaiju eiga - or even wider - tokusatsu eiga. Most probably the one good Godzilla film which gets ridiculed the most due to the number of poetic liberties Yoshimitsu Banno took with this production, the film still holds up to this day as one of the strongest anti-pollution films which actually at face value is a loose remake of the original Gojira itself. Sadly, the making of the film has not been well documented, but we were graced to have a 5mm home movie of the production included on the R2 DVD and an abundance of photos, but little to no coverage in interviews. So I shall, with the best of my ability cover the abstract work of art that is "Godzilla vs. Hedorah".

In the late 1960’s and 1970’s, Japan began taking up a newfound awareness regarding pollution. Pollution in the 70's came to bring on many things. Charles Manson rambled on about it as part of his defense which no one seems to understand, the discoveries of holes in the ozone layer started here, and asthma started taking a hold on Japan in the form of a sickness nicknamed "Yokaichi (pronounced Yoka-ichi) Asthma". The development of this was not all that surprising since it is a natural thing to happen when an area goes industrial. At one time, there was even an order carried out to have oxygen tanks deployed onto street corners for people not to pass out. This caught Director Yoshimitsu Banno's eye. So much that he had in 1970 created an audio-visual exhibit of showing people volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. All of this was part of a pollution exhibit at the iconic Mitsubishi Pavilion Expo, since earthquakes and volcanoes are among some of the biggest nature-sourced pollution sources. Toho Studios was involved in way that they accepted a commission to participate in the expo. In an interview Banno stated that, "At the time, the rapid elevation of the nation's economic strength (something which would be more refined on in "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah"(1991)) created a huge pollution problem. So I asked Tanaka, 'What about a pollution monster?' and he agreed".

However, joining up with Toho, Banno undoubtedly noticed that it was a dark time. Eiji Tsuburaya had died the year before, effecting the first kaiju film Toho worked on without the reknowned master, "Space Amoeba". Also, Godzilla himself was turning kid-friendly. While this is a bad thing, it did conceal Godzilla's place in pop culture. Last and not least, Tanaka was growing increasingly sick, therefore he was not at Toho to supervise the production. Taking his chances, Banno joined forces with an unstable Toho Studios to produce "Godzilla vs. Hedorah".

The script, co-written by Banno, really copies the original film in many ways - just replace the first generation Godzilla with Hedorah and an eye-patched Serizawa with a head bandaged Dr. Yano. Like in the original, the new threat is felt first by fishermen: a scene similar to the showing of the Oxygen Destroyer to Emiko occurs when Hedorah flies by and the family fish tank goes cloudy, killing the fish and a lot more. This film is also the only film to show the deaths of humans since the original Gojira, especially comparing the shot of the crying women in Gojira to the rapidly decomposing body of a man in the film. These are just some of the underlying similarities to the original which makes this film really good in an aspect. The theme of the film is also executed just like "Gojira", just replace the topic with pollution. Like the aforementioned predecessor, this film does not point fingers at any specific human and in the end takes a force stronger than a nuclear weapon to dispose of the newest foe, which was created through a by product of man.

But changes also occur, some for the better. Along with Banno, the script is written by Takeshi Kimura. In many ways, he (Kimura) reverses what Shinichi Sekizawa did since 1963. The kaiju in "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" are not characterized as a weapon or a deity, nor do the battles the monsters fight grow out of human conflicts. Instead, Godzilla is acting for himself in this film. While Godzilla doesn’t feel the same way as in the original, he might as well be fighting Hedorah only so he will live. This is what author David Kalat referred to when "Godzilla acts as a free agent."

The parts of the script which did not resemble the original are also interesting. In an interview, Teruyoshi Nakano claimed that the sequence where Godzilla is flying was not in the script, and needed what he said, "Something extraordinary". Nakano was also uncomfortable with the images of death in the film, including the scene where Godzilla's eye is burned. So that is why many scenes of comedy relief are added, from the flying scene to Godzilla doing the Ultraman stance. The non-Gojira parts of the script are obvious, but saddening. Authority figures come off as incompetent. They do not listen to the ideas of the people who were attacked by Hedorah and are constantly "schooled", beginning with the assumption that Hedorah is just a water creature. They fail in offensive procedure too. When fixing the electric towers for the giant electrodes, they complete the task at a poor rate which in a regular film from both sides of the Pacific the task would be done on time. But this is intentional as it adds to the gloom of the film. For they do not fail that their weapons are useless, but rather they act like they do not care.

Female character development is stuck in this part of the film also. The main female character, the wife of Dr. Yanno is, with all respect to the female of my species, a pain in the ass. She is only thinking of herself. When reporters come to the house to do a report on Hedorah and get data on the human damage the monster has done through taking photo of Dr. Yanno and Ken's injuries from earlier on in the film, the wife says no for SHE would be ashamed. This plays into the natural state of women who always want a "handsome" male companion and not someone who would be more or less ugly. Though with maturity this attitude would subside, Mrs. Yanno is obviously not mentally mature. Another point is that while she is hearing about high death tolls, the killing of her fish, and Ken's near death experience, she only responds to the problem of her gymnastics pupils having a hard time breathing. Sad indeed. The teens, male and female, are just stupid. They have no logic or common sense. That is all that can be said on that. This could be commentary on the hippie movement going on at the time in Japan though.

The funky things in the film seem to overshadow the good things in some people views sadly. One thing which sets off everyone who watches the film is the bar scene. One of the criticisms with the scene is the blob in the background. The blob on the wall is really salad oil applied on a small plate. The oils were accompanied with red and yellow coloring and then projected by a strong light. "That image was projected onto a back screen behind her (mentioning the dancing girl) with the plate being twisted according to the music's rhythm. It was the same technique for how we used to create a moving background in car driving scenes." Banno once said. The whole idea came from a gay bar in Chicago at the time. What inspiration! The dancing girl in the film though was inspired by a bar in Tokyo's Akasaka region called "Juliana's". At that bar/club, girls would just get up on boxes and start shaking their hips. Though Banno has denied in interviews that the scene was inspired by drug usage. "I had a lot of interest in new expression. I liked the movie 'Woodstock'. It was a very emotional movie for me." Banno said.

This "new expression" came with a score by Ifukube student Riichiro Manabe with a rather unique score and a song by Banno, which is sung by one of the main characters titled "Give Back the Sun". Sadly, that was wrongly ridiculed and the score for this film not used again except for in the worst Godzilla film of them all, "Godzilla vs. Megalon". However, animated sequences were also added. This came by when Banno noticed at the Mitsubishi Expo that a girl asked to borrow a companion magazine at the expo which had manga in it. Banno thought that the young people liked manga, so all animated scenes in the film can be called the first Godzilla "anime". Both aspects though bring out a uniqueness which has brought on a cult status to this film, with the manga edge coming over even to the film "Godzilla vs. Gigan".

However, this film is monumental for it's special effects changes. Teruyoshi Nakano, joining the staff some seven years beforehand, now took role of director of Special effects with the assistant director being future Director of Special Effects Koichi Kawakita. Still there was the legendary Haruo Nakajima, but one person came in who would change the history of Godzilla forever: the coming of Kengo Nakayama, better known by his stage name of "Kenpachiro Satsuma". It all started with Banno recommending Satsuma for the part. Kenpachiro raced to the studios as fast as he could, since he was fresh and wanted a role badly. He was interviewed by Teruyoshi Nakano, who explained the plot of the film to Satsuma. Ken asked, "What type of role should I take in this film, sir?" Nakano replied, "Oh yes, it is a very powerful role, Mr. Nakayama. There's a meteorite which falls into Tagonoura Bay (around Osaka) in Shizuoka Prefecture and it grows into a huge, 50 meter monster named "Hedorah" (Hedorah comes from the word Hedoro, the Japanese word for sludge). And I want you to do the monster Hedorah." Satsuma had a moment of silence at the shock of what role he was getting. He wanted to do something which had his whole body act and now he was playing a kaiju. But in a documentary from 2008, Satsuma said, "I am an actor damn it!" Satsuma played both crawling and walking Hedorahs. Knowing already Nakajima, he wasn't as intimidated as one might have thought. The 330 pound sponge rubber adult Hedorah suit was hard to move in. So Satsuma decided to, "Just swing my arms quickly when Godzilla came to me, or walk slow like crawling." Satsuma also tried to limit body movement to only one limb at one time. He would get advice from Nakajima, on and off film. However, Satsuma claimed that they were always adding pieces to the suit over time of filming. In an interview, Teruyoshi Nakano said that he remembered that there were two adult Hedorah suits made, one light and one heavy. This may have given Satsuma the impression that they were adding on parts to the suit. The heavier costume was used though in the scenes with Hedorah showing "rickety" movements. Eventually, Nakano and Satsuma became friends and would work on kaiju films together till 1984. An interesting scene cut out is when the second Hedorah, who traps the two main teenage characters in their car, is seen with matted in fleeing humans. The scene is actually a re-used shot from the finished film. Just with cropped in humans for the theatrical trailer.

Haruo Nakajima fares less well, in fact worse. Again, the Soshingeki suit was used. Only, this time the fans called it the Hedoro-Goji suit due to it's new darker coloring. The suit, being used for a third time in a four year period, was deteriorating badly. Accidents on set included the hand of the suit coming apart. Intentional damage to the suit was the appliance of acid and sludge substances to the suit to give off the effects of Hedorah's attacks. Further aging of the materials in the head region forced the head to be not replaced but "buffered" for the next film, "Godzilla vs. Gigan". However, precautions were taken, even for the bare minimum. The five year old Daisenso-Goji suit was used again for the sludge pit sequence when Hedorah excrements on Godzilla, with the excrement mainly being made out of natural mud. It was also used when Godzilla burned with his heat ray a bunch of floating pollution in a dream of Ken's and when Godzilla jumps into Tokyo Bay chasing Hedorah. But Godzilla is not always played by Haruo Nakajima. Regular Marmit vinyl come in as a sort of product placement - continued from "Godzilla's Revenge". One of the more noticeable figures is the Bullmark 1970 King Ghidorah, Bullmark 1970 Godzilla, and the Popy 18" Jumbosaurus Godzilla. All of these figures are worth more than $350 on the market today and are excruciatingly rare. On a strange note, Banno in an interview explained why he had Godzilla fly he said, "...he had to do something else to catch Hedorah." All of this was film with a crew of 50 over 35 days on a budget of $252,000.

Tanaka ended up seeing the finished film in the hospital. Banno has said that, "...he didn't have a good feeling. He said it was troublesome to change the character. He WAS NOT ANGRY but certainly was not content." "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" was released during the period of time referred to as the Godzilla Champion Festival, in which all Godzilla films from 1971 to 1973 were accompanied by a re-edited version of a 60's kaiju film with the editing done by a not-so content Ishiro Honda. The film opened on July 24th with Hedorah to gain only 1.7 million admissions (to be technical, 1,740,000 admissions). It was one of the better turn-outs of the 70's era films. The film would be shown only one more time in theaters on October 20, 2008 at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

The American version is a unique story. It was the last time that America International Pictures (AIP) handled the release of a Godzilla film in America. Ending a tradition which started seven years beforehand, Samuel Z. Arkoff produced this version of the film. Like many other AIP distributed films, a new dub is created to replace the Hong Kong dub by Toho. Like other AIP films, the film was renamed for American audiences. The film was released in February, 1972. The film's AIP dub, though, became officially lost. Bootlegs carry the dub, but the Orion VHS release and a questionable Simitar pre-1998 release are the only legal releases of the highly sought after dub. Something interesting to note is that for the AIP dub, it was Yoshimutsu Banno who wrote the English Lyrics for the song, "Save the Earth". The song would be recorded in Los Angeles, California with supervision from Guy Hemric. An AIP secretary, Adryan Russ, would be the one who would sing the song. In a 1998 interview, Russ would explain, "For a long time, I never told anyone that I did the Godzilla movie because I was embarrassed about it. Later on I learned that the movie has a kind of cult fallowing. Now I think it is cool and I'm glad to be associated with it."

AIP's marketing strategies were even stranger than the film itself in some ways. Many companies selling natural gas were asked to advertise the film, boy/girl scouts as well as health clubs were asked to make Godzilla into the Japanese version of "Smokey the Bear" and make him a prominent symbol of anti-pollution, and even use the film in school. The craziness would continue with AIP asking for people to cut out Godzilla and Hedorah out of the poster, mount them onto cardboard, and on the base mount all sorts of pollution products (empty cans, plastic bottles, unrecycled paper, ect.) and the selling of a "GodzillaCocktail" (all one word) with a tagline, "it clears the five o'clock smog from your brain"

Something not really covered is the Godzilla film's distribution in Europe, specifically Germany. Germany has a reputation to change the story line on a major scale when they dub their films. The main change is that Dr. Frankenstein usually has something to do with the kaiju. Thankfully, all plot points were kept with this specific film, from Hedorah's origin being from space to they're being for a short time two Hedorahs. However, what Hedorah was as an alien was changed. Hedorah is normally excepted as a form of space tadpole. He is, in the German dub, a giant jelly fish. This is absurd, but interesting as it is similar to one of the film's sequel ideas before Banno was booted from making another Godzilla film. In advertisements, the multiple Hedorahs angle was over exaggerated and in one photobistura from Italy, the inclusion of Korean kaiju extordinare Yongary. Also added were Gappa and Gamera, leading to die hard fans that the film could be one of the best battle royals to grace the screen - but European fans would be disappointed. However, some of the posters and lobby cards would offer color varriants of Hedorah so popular that he would become the basis of some Marmit/Marusan/M1 figures.

Hedorah, the character itself, has become very popular. Concerning Marusan and M1, Hedorah is one of the most produced kaiju in figure form and is the most expensive. That is just one part of the testimony that this film is a very cult-status film. It's many negatives are, unlike films like Godzilla vs. Megalon, debatable and more opinionated than the other considerable "bad" Godzilla films. But I love the film and it's making can finally be read and seen.

Making of 2001 Yonggar/Reptilian

NOTE: The infamy of this film has been cause to have companies delete all internet history of them having anything to do with this film. What is presented here is the most information you will find anywhere on the making of Yonggary. Sources will be listed at the end of this document. Bibliography to be added when submitted to G-FAN in May 2009. (never was published)1999 was a big year for Kaiju. It was the year the highly acclaimed by critics and fans Gamera series was coming to an end with Gamera 3: Incomplete Struggle (which has been compared to the original Gojira numerous times). It was a year when GINO was erased as Godzilla 2000 was released. And it was the rebirth of the new wave of Korean Kaiju films which is still having an effect today. And it was one critically bad film which saved Korea's kaiju and has such bought classics like "Gwoemul" (The Host) and action packed flicks like D-WAR: Dragon Wars. The film is called Yonggary, or in America and some European countries Reptilian. The film has reached the 10 year mark, did not stand the test of time, and yet is talked about to this day. But how can a film do all of this? This is what the first English making of document on this film shall explain.Before 1999, there were only three essential kaiju films from Korea: The Great Monster Wangmagwi (1967), Pulgasari (1985) and last but not least the most respected of these films: Great Monster Yonggari (Yongary Monster from the Deep)(1967). And that is all we knew.

Little did we know that since Pulgasari (1985) that a company called ZeroNine Entertainment and it's sub-division Younggu-Art (Younggu-Art is now a fully separate corporation from ZeroNine, but still gets backing from them) was making monster films. And they were all made by Korean Comedian Actor Shim Hyung Rae (or Hyung Rae Shim, however you prefer) and his character Young-gu. And his character is a famous character, who has been subjects to parodies of Rambo, Dracula, and kaiju films/TV series. In the late 80's, Shim Hyung Rae decided to take his character into his own hands and make various films. All of them were low budget films usually spoofing Japan's Super Sentai (AKA Power Rangers), Yongary itself, and even Jurassic Park. But none of these films never came to be released into US soil and have not been upgraded to DVD legally. But these low-budget films gained Hyung Rae Shim a cult status and a very wealthy man. And in 1997, Shim Hyung Rae, still following his kid friendly formula, decided to do what Peter Jackson wanted to do with King Kong: remake his favorite giant monster film Yongary. This project, at face value, had a great deal of potential. Korea's cinema was monster starved and most of Korea's films were either thriller, comedy, or drama, therefore lacking a variety of genres for the audience to see. Second, it would be the first kaiju film to have all the monsters be rendered through CGI(computer generated imagery), a technique that helped make the dinosaur sequences in the "Jurassic Park" films look fairly realistic. It also would have been successful with it's English-speaking cast hence a supposed money earner for Korea's film industry. But most of all, it would help modernize Korea's film industry. And while most of this failed some of it was succeeded. This film started Korea's special effects usage. Filming on Yonggary started in 1997 at a school near Kimpo Airport, also where shooting started. The school building, which was abandoned, was two storied and adjacent to restaurants. What a start for Korean SFX! Instead of using foreign FX houses, the production team turned the school into that. The bottom level was used for SFX shooting and out of what technology they would buy, CGI effects on the second level.

As the first Korean studio to do it's own CGI SFX on it's own without help of foreign FX houses, this was a revolutionary and good thing to happen to Korea's film economy, regardless if the SFX came out bad or not. However, Shim Hyung Rae did say,"We knew how to do special effects in theory, but not in practice. There was no one to ask about special effects in Korea." This reflects the fact that ZeroNine Entertainment/Younggu-Art is in fact the first SFX/CGI studio in Korea. A common misconception was that Yonggary is all CGI. This is false. A shocking thing to know is that there were suits for the monsters. Now, the two major monsters in the film are Yonggary and Cykor. With each suit taking no less than 6 months to make (in an interview, Shim Hyung Rae stated that " The creation of the monster suit took 1 1/2 years and a lot of money, but due to suspicion that the translator meant "suits" and not the singular form of the word, I am going to go with 6 months a suit), two different Yonggary suits were made (one black, one green). The green one was the suit more used, however for a LG commercial used the black suit. Only one Cykor suit was made, but made it with Shim onto the cover of a Korean Magazine. The suits were filmed like a Godzilla film and then replaced with CGI images. This is how they did it before simply wearing a blue suit with white markers on it. While this was done, some short clips of the suits are kept (you got to look carefully though). All of this was accomplished by just 40 people. These 40 people split into 2 groups of 20 people each and worked 24 hours again, one for day work and one for night work to get the film done in five months. Equipment used for the SFX/CGI work was an Arriflex III, an Arriflex BL-4S, and a high-speed camera. HMI and Tungsten lights were used on set, as well as small lights for the miniature buildings during the suit filming. Post-production CGI covering of the suits were done using Avid Media Illusion and other digital equipment. Hee-Jung Ryu, the Visual Effects Supervisor, claimed that one more piece of equipment, the SFX 200T, was a big help during post-production. The SFX shooting was finished a week after the 1998 American Film Market. After that was the shooting of the army equipment, which was supplied by the Korean Government and let Shim look at some of the weaponry of the Korean Self Defense Force.

Filming with the actors was just as experimental as the SFX (which is why the SFX in Yonggary is "bad", because Korea never really dealt with CGI or even regular SFX at all before Yonggary). The opening cave scene is no doubt one of the redeeming scenes of the whole film (minus the soundtrack, unless you have seen the film in the original 1999 version). The beginning of the sequence was filmed in actual caves! Yes, two separate caves in Korea were used (but these caves are unknown). For the other parts of the scene, with the CGI, were shot in-studio. But instead of using a green screen, they used a white screen (but the monster sequences were shot with a mix of green screen and white screen shots). A scene by scene diagram of this scene can be found on the Korean-language version of the official Yonggary site (www.2001yonggary.com). For the in-cave scenes, Eastman EXR color negative 5245 film, Vision 500T 5279, and Kodak's new SFX 200T for the shoot. Cinematographer An-Hong Kim was very satisfied with all the stocks and with the suitability of the SFX 200T for the green screen and other special effects work (both cave and some Yonggary scenes).An-Hong Kim also said that for filming scenes of people and Yonggary at night, the Vision 500T was used to help expose the film properly, since the Vision 800T was not available (weather this is money wise or not is unknown).

Another point of the production of this film that is not talked about is the story and script. This overly-hyped film was sadly weak scripted with unnecessary comedy punchlines, which was most probably something that Shim wanted, taking into account as being a comedic entertainer. With the original story coming from Shim Hyung Rae, the script writer was a man named Marty Poole. A then obscure and still no-name screenplay-write Marty Pool was hired for Yonggary. A graduate from UTM with his degree coming in from communications, his involvement with the project was when film distributor Scott Vandiver introduced Marty to Yong Ho Lee and David Smites (both Yong Yo and David's IMDB accounts show no connection to Yonggary - but then again IMDB is not god nor is it perfect). Yong Ho and David were however partners in Media Films International (which no longer exists today), which was the company selling Yonggary internationally (and were for a time also going to distribute internationally Imoogi, which would later turn to Showbox and be retitled D-WAR: Dragon Wars). So, with being connected with Media Films, they offered Marty the job of scripting the film. Marty Poole would later comment on his experiences with Yonggary as "Two years of film school" that he was paid for.

Through this struggle, companies like Hyundai, Media Films, and Sambu Finance invested into the film, with the project gather over $9,000,000 (which was already three times the amount a normal Korean production costs). But only one company’s contribution really made a big stand out. On the site hari.co.kr, it documents along with photos that a ceremony took place for the contribution. Accordingly for press, the signing of the contracts between ZeroNine/Younggu-Art was held at the Korean Chamber of Commerce on February 3, 1999. With the money, Younggu-Art successfully bought Korea's first CGI processor. The Galaxian space ship was built and the inside with the aliens was built with everything else CGI, fallowing what was done with the monster suits. The sets were a job made harder than what it should have been. In a Hari internet report, they model buildings were made with the same materials that real buildings are made of: glass, cement, steel. This is a lot different from what Toho would use for their models, which would contain easily breakable substances. Pyrotechnics in the film were all real with the exception of both number's number one weapon: fireballs. But the impacts of the fireballs were real, showing some of the most stunning pyrotechnics in a monster film.

Advertising for Yonggary was a big influence on the public. American film magazines took up interest and Yonggary had a 10 minute promo reel at the Cannes Film Festival, which is a rare happening for any kaiju film. The film was impressive - since people usually expect promo reels to be pre-final product film (but this is not true). But pre-sale tickets were successful and retrieved a little over $10 million. Media Films International were successful into selling the film. Some of the countries slated to release the film were Germany, Poland, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, China, Taiwan and Latin America at the Cannes Film Festival alone. In the US the film was also promoted at the 1998 AFM, where Shim Hyung Rae was interviewed. Magazines like SFX, Fangoria, and Kodak published articles. Then, on July 17, 1999 the film premiered in Korea. It was a happy day. A parade in front of the Korean Cultural Center, which was where the film premiered, was marching with a life-size head to waist replica of Yonggary, with Shim Hyung Rae with the replica. The film was successful - till the critics came in. The film started breaking records and was looked internationally. But sadly when the critics hit it, the good-going Yonggary never finished the rest of it's right box office take to pay back all the companies which helped the production, who helped with advertisement, Sonokong for making wave after wave of Yonggary figures, not to mention foreign distributors in Pakistan and Taiwan who were the only countries to show the film other than South Korea, therefore needing to pay back the companies that originally bought the film in foreign domains, along with the need for profit. Out of this came the struggle to make the quasi-remake version of this film, also known as 2001 Yonggary, Upgrade Yonggary, or Reptilian.

Between the re-shoots, ZeroNine/Younggu-Art did another groundbreaking act: making the first theme park based on a Korean movie with a Korean-based character: Yonggary. The theme park opened on November 19th of 1999. A little later after the release of 2001 Yonggary (February 19, 2001), the parks were shut down. But in November 11, 2003 the park was opened again when Younggu-Art started early talk of D-WAR: Dragon Wars. But the park would be shut down again - permanently in May 2004 to make way for the D-WAR: Dragon Wars theme parks (which all they did was take down the Yonggary items and put up D-War Items). These Theme Parks were plentiful, with at least 30 in and around Seoul. The main attraction of the parks was a karaoke feature, which each theme park had 9 karaoke rooms. In the rooms, you would sing the song and then the walls would light up with a picture of an SD Yonggary character (green-overall wearing male Yonggary, pink dress wearing female Yonggary, blue overall wearing baby Yonggary, and just a SD Cykor) seeming to be singing along with the person. The person singing can have the karaoke session put onto CD for a cost. Other features included buying SD Yonggary dolls, experiencing space flight with a Galaxian space ship, and chatting with Yonggary statues.

Each location cost around $75 million won to make, with $18 million won used for the karaoke machinery alone. At the theme park in Seoul was the life-sized from head to waist model of Yonggary from the premiere parade, which you could take your picture with. The usage of the SD Yonggary character was successful enough to start merchandising with stickers and a still-lasting-to-today line of food products, mostly chicken nuggets. The other attracting was that people could take a picture in front of one of the three Yonggary statues. An interesting tale is the three Yonggary statues. Apparently modeled after Yonggary's appearance on the 2001 Upgrade poster, one was made to be in front of a theater in Seijong Cultural Centre in Seoul, where the film premiered. This statue was colored. The second, made of concrete, stands in the Younggu-Art Studio's parking lot. The third one was made for the Japanese promotion at the 2000 Tokyo International Film Festival. The third statue, with the colors on it now faded, is now somewhere in Tokyo, with a white base that says Yonggary in gray letters.

Re-shoots started in December of 1999, while plans for Imoogi (alter called D-WAR Dragon Wars) were still in production. The whole of the original Yonggary was changed, in fact more than 60% of the original film was changed into what we get to see now. The original score by Sung Woo Cho was replaced by a rather cheesy (that in a bad way) score by Chris Desmond, a no name composer. We also get major re-shoots. The re-shoots, again, starting on December 1999, were split into two units - the 40 SFX artists and Shim Hyung Rae stayed back in Korea at the ZeroNine/Younggu-Art home base while the screenplay writer Marty Poole directed the human scenes (you would think of this as a WTF moment). The CGI was remixed into not-much-more realistic looking images. With Marty Pool, an old bowling alley in California was striped and made into an army base. The making of the army base is a major turning point from the original Yonggary. The original was black/green and looked like a usual army base from a usual flick (GINO anyone?). The new one, built out of the aforementioned bowling alley was made into the silvery/white futuristic looking base. And with this change come more change: a new character was added to the film by the name of Mr. Mills, who is remembered as the government agent that was always on Harrison Young's butt. But some people did stay for the re-shoots, like Harrison Young, Donna Phillipson, and other actors. Marty Poole did, in a newspaper interview from his hometown, said some stuff about his experience re-shooting scenes stateside; "Harrison Young is a great guy - wonderful." The interview also mentions that bad monsoons attacked the sets at the beginning of re-shoots, making the re-shoots very uncomfortable and going off to a bad start due to a waterlogged set. But the monsoons were soon resolved and the rest of the eight-day re-shoot rolled along. Poole also said this, "They surrounded me by competent people. Overall, it has been a fantastic experience." This must have been an insane thing so say, since the last evening of the re-shoots was used filming 30 scenes for the 2001 Upgrade version of Yonggary.2001 Yonggary's promotion was bad. Media Films International were to set up an office in America for distribution, but due to money problems did not and altogether disappeared. Advertising was sparse. Little to none news paper ads were printed, barley any posters which are mostly exclusives, no "chirashi". He showed a video of the new footage at Cannes again, and had the same positive reaction that had intended. Internet promotion was used with a new Yonggary site in November 2000, which was not as widespread as hoped (but strangely had production photos from the original shoot). A little known fact about 2001 Yonggary is that Japan was the first country to to see the new Yonggary.

The film was shown at the Tokyo International Film Festival, going up against the film that people may like better than Yonggary, Godzilla X Megaguirus. Ponycanyon took up distribution for the Japanese release and roadshow. And Yonggary, for a little bit, was a success. In an on-screen interview talking about the making of D-WAR: Dragon Wars on the television show SCREEN FLASH, Shin Hyung Rae said, "After making Yonggary, I got a lot of fan letters from Japan." And yes he did. Ponycanyon, who erased their records of having the film, made posters and chirashi and a DVD for the film, including the option of getting the DVD with a small SD/HG hybrid Yonggary figure, which is believed to have come from either Sonokong or Bandai. Along with that, some regular Yonggary figures were shipped from Korea to Japan where they sold fast.

But then the film had to show to the promotion-starved home country of South Korea. Slated to be shown to the public on January 20, 2001; an exclusive pre-screening was done on the 14th (6 days before). The viewers: press, especially selected fans, and 100 elementary school children. The film was shown at the Jung Dong A&C Center in Seoul, which is located by the city hall and the popular tourist attraction Duk-Su Gung. After an autograph session with writing his name on the back of hundreds of fan's Yonggary 2001 posters, the movie began at 3:30 pm. But before the film began, Shim Hyung Rae came on state to address the crowd about the making of Yonggary since 1997, which ended with a loud applause from everyone in the audience. Then the film premiered on January 20th. All major theaters were unavailable except for one: the Megabox complex in the south part of Seoul. And even that did nothing. All theaters playing Yonggary played the film for only 3-4 times a day before switching to another film. But some has said this was because of the holidays in Korea, concerning the Lunar New Year Holidays of January 22-25. The film was for the first five days in Seoul, Yonggary was number 10 at the box office. Then it dropped out for good.

Profit was unheard of, and this time it haunted ZeroNine and Younggu-Art with a vengeance. The sad part about it all is that Yonggary was finally going to be released onto VHS/DVD. But this was the beginning of the short lived HK VCD era, where Hong Kong bootleggers sold films, mostly Godzilla film from the late entries of the Showa, some of the first Heisei entries, and two Millennium films: Godzilla 2000 and Godzilla X Megaguirus. A Yonggary VCD was produced. And while it matched with the Korean OST very well, it crushed everyone, Korea and America. Ebay was the threshold of these VCDs, and most of the first reviews of Yonggary on the internet came from people who bought and watched these VCDs, which soon went extinct when ebay kicked in. But the VCDs made a killing, leading for Korea to only have a VHS of a Korean-dubbed Yonggary and in the States, a limited VHS and regular DVD release (which this VCD interference may be another reason why Sony changed the name of Yonggary to Reptilian). So Younggu-Art/ZeroNine Entertainment were cheated out of money.

In the United States, promotion was bad. The only promotion was that Damn Foster of Oriental Cinema showing some tapes of Mr. Shim at G-Fest and some have reported bootleg VHS tapes of the 2001 version. Meanwhile, Columbia and Tristar bought the rights to the film. But fearing that people may remember the failure of Yonggary, they renamed the film Reptilian and made it look like a GINO rip-off. The film was released onto DVD and VHS, where for a week was the number one rental in the states. And like always, the film got a cult fallowing, before fading away forever, setting aside for the new film D-WAR: Dragon Wars to be made, giving Shim Hyung Rae success...

Some people rate films critically. Some people rate films personally. Other people rate films for what they are. As a no name, beginning studio that caused a revolution which is still growing in Korea, Yonggary is a good film. Because it was the first Korean film to have special effects and CGI made by Koreans. ZeroNine/Younggu-Art did not have as much money as Toho Studios or Paramount, so they had to side with bad actors and a bad playwright, but what really matters here is that for what the film is, and taking into consideration the film's history, it is a classic. There is nothing else to say. Yonggary was a film. It was released. It was hated by critics and people and it became a classic and a benchmark for future Korean SFX films. The film broke ground. One of Korea's first international pictures. Korea's first CGI film. Not to mention that without this film that there would be no D-WAR and most probably no Gwoemul (The Host). And if this paper gets published, I hope that it gets published a little before July 17th. It would be my 16th birthday and it would be the 10th Anniversary of the original 1999 Yonggary. I wish Shim Hyung Rae and Yonggary a very happy 10th Anniversary.

The Making of "Sanda vs. Gaira"

One of the most influential of the Showa series films, "War of the Gargantuas" is a legendary picture. Some 44 years after it’s theatrical release, here is what I hope will be the most complete offering of what happened behind the scenes of this film.

1966 was the year of the most kaiju films ever made. Toho's role in this was that other than Godzilla, they were making science fiction films off the bat. "Rodan", "Mothra", "The Last War", and "Atragon" were all part of this. Whether based on a book (Mothra) to a loose remake of Gojira with the only real aspect kept is the anti-nuclear theme (Rodan), these films took the world's box office by storm year after year. Most of this was because these films showcased the best special effects the world ever saw (till Star Wars was made). After the success of the latest out-going of the sci-fi film craze "Frankenstein vs. Subterranean Beast Baragon" (better known as Frankenstein Conquers the World), continuity was going to be added for the first time to this string of unrelated, critically good sci-fi films. For Toho, an original Sci-fi film and a Godzilla film had never been made in the same year. The one exception was 1965's "Frankenstein Conquers the World" and "Invasion of The Astro Monsters". This theme, which would have been great, marked the beginning of Ishiro Honda's pull out of the Godzilla franchise along with Akira Ifukube. Other than Tomoyuki Tanaka, Eiji Tsuburaya was the only one to stay with both productions of the same year in 1966. This change with Ishiro Honda especially could have been caused by one of two factors: too much work or the amount of change the "Godzilla, Ebirah, and Mothra: Big Duel in the South Seas" was too much for him since the script got so many edits at one time, including the fact that the Ebirah script was originally a film adaptation of the animated "King Kong" series of the time and then a Ebirah vs. Kong thing to Godzilla ultimately replacing King Kong (I can go on about the changes of this script). Another theory I have read was that the higher-ups in Toho thought that with the Godzilla series, Honda was losing originality, with no original monsters being shown in Monster Zero and with the exception of Ghidorah, all other kaiju Godzilla battled were from a stand alone sci-fi film already and the theme of space invaders, while popular, became tiresome.

The idea for this film and it's script came from 1965 by Takeshi Kimura under the title "Frankenstein's Sons". As with the Ebirah script, "War of the Gargantuas" had the same burden with it's script: numerous changes. One thing that was for certain was that since it was a sequel to "Frankenstein vs. Baragon", it has to reference the original film. After some editing of the original Kimura script, the first official draft of the script called "Frankenstein's Brothers", submitted on January 26, 1966, was turned in with the omages to the previous film. The plot of the draft was ever so similar to the first draft, with the only major difference being the cast, which was originally having the same characters from the first film. But for unknown reasons, names and cast listings were changed into what we have today: Russ Tamblyn replacing Nick Adams (for the record, they were close friends in America), Kenji Sahara replacing Mr. Takashima and Kumi Mizuno was kept under a different character.

Controlling this script and making sure the same thing did not happen as with the Ebirah script, Ishiro Honda started taking up the pen and paper for the script. A second draft was written called "Clash of the Frankensteins". No real details about the differences with the second draft were reported, but a third draft was written called, "Duel of the Frankensteins". Unlike the other titles from the other drafts, "Duel of the Frankensteins" was a title that almost stuck to the project, until a last minute change was made to call the film "Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira". Something that these scripts had in common was the slow watering down of the number of connections between this film and the first film along with mention of the original film. However, the biggest change was something not even related to the continuity between "War of the Gargantuas" and "Frankenstein vs. Baragon": the finale. While the finale was much like the present one, it was to be much bigger than the one we got. While the military attacks the Gargantuas at sea, the military are the ones which start the volcano in Tokyo Bay and while just a coincidence, the volcano doesn't stop with devouring the Gargantuas but also killing the rest of the Frankenstein cells which were scattered through out Tokyo due to military engagement. Tomoyuki Tanaka was the one who ordered this change since he feared it would eat up and expand the budget more than what he, as a producer, could afford. It was rejected even after Honda suggested that they mix the finale with stock footage from a previous Toho film, "The Last War".

As mentioned, Nick Adams was not in the film due to reasons of other shows and movies he was doing back in America (we was quite busy, according to IMDb) so we got the new cast of Russ Tamblyn, Kenji Sahara, and the keeping of Kumi Mizuno. All the cast got along great, but it was Russ Tamblyn who was the biggest case. Even though good friends with "Frankenstein vs. Baragon" star Nick Adams, Russ did not speak a word of Japanese. This was just a small matter that played into a big dilemma which plagued the film's development. A good actor in his own right, Russ Tamblyn was not active into acting around the time, more interested into art. That was until he got the script when he was referred to by Henry Saperstein, a producer of "War of the Gargantuas". Russ found the script not to his liking. This was likely because when the script was translated, the translation was bad with not having everything be correct grammar-wise and not sounding the same as we would say every day-to-day things. Thinking that this was a good way to get a quick buck and a good chance to see Japan, Russ accepted. Along with shooting two films, he acted the role. Without knowing Japanese, he had to hire a translator, Heihachiro "Henry" Okawa. With this being a burden, there were no real rehearsals with Russ, he just had to learn his cues. One day he saw a set where the Gargantuas were duking it out. The thing he thought was "Oh my god, I am in trouble."

Thinking that this film would never reach the states, he went back to the US without seeing the film in any form. But the film which was not to his liking had since received a very large following, enough to make one US TV station show the film at the same time one a day for a week, shocking him especially since he did not even know the film got theatrical distribution in the US ("Monster Zero" was double billed with "War of the Gargantuas" and was almost double billed again with "Godzilla's Revenge"). Another incident of "War of the Gargantuas" popularity was when Russ was doing a film, "Human Highway". In the film was the band Devo. The main singer of Devo, Mark Mothersbaughm, came up to Russ and said, "Oh my God, you did one of my favorite films of all time." Then Matt when on dropping the name "War of the Gargantuas" along with other things about the film, including having a tape of the song in the film, "Feel in My Heart" which Devo has covered. Years later at Godzillafest 2004, Russ Tamblyn with his family sat together and made kaiju history as the first time the film played in theaters and the first time Russ saw it and finally started appreciating the film. It was also around this time that Russ found out that Nick actually went out with Kumi Mizuno. So that was the story of what started Toho's craze to start adding American stars to their pictures, such as "King Kong Escapes" and even "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" (1993).

Without interference from the Ebirah production, this film got the best of almost everything. So let's talk about the best thing about this film: it's special effects! Duking it out with a Godzilla film, three Daimajin films, a Gamera film and a newly developed Ultraman series, it was going to be hard for Eiji to keep up a high standard, but he did that. With Eiji Tsuburaya at the helm of four projects of the year (The Ebirah project, Ultraman, King Kong Escapes, and this), you could say that he was against himself. I can say that he did his best here in WOTG for the year of 1966. With all three aforementioned projects done at different times (all mostly guesses - WOTG in early 1966, Ultraman mostly the May 1996-February 1967 - my guess, and the Ebirah project being done from August - November 1996), Eiji Tsuburaya at least did have enough time to do one project and not three projects at once. As I mentioned, he did the best out of all three here. The most noticeable thing that can be said that was new with Tsuburaya with this production was the Gargantuas being only half the size of Godzilla at the time, (Godzilla was 50 meters and Sanda, the tallest Gargantua, was only 30 meters tall) the call for bigger sets and models was called for. The sets have been reported to have been enlarged to 1/10 scale. This really called for serious budget and serious detail. Quite suitably, Eiji Tsuburaya along with colleagues Yasuyuki Inoue and Mutsumi Toyoshima really outdid themselves here. The buildings are set perfectly and when the Gargantuas crash into them, it looks very realistic. With bigger sets, you have to have bigger military defense vehicles, and just vehicles in general. One example of vehicles in general is when Gaira is walking down a street in the finale of the film, we get a close up of Gaira's foot (Nakajima's bare, green painted foot!) walking on top of a car. The car is crushed. The effect still holds up today. In fact, there is a similar shot in Godzilla 2000 that has Godzilla stomping on top of cars and it pales in comparison.

When it comes to more important vehicles, which are usually the Japanese Self Defense Force vehicles, we get a real treat here. One of which no matter how overrated it becomes has to be talked about: the birth of the iconic Maser Cannon. The person most related to creation of the Maser Cannon is most probably it's designer: Mutsumi Toyoshima. Remote controlled, this little machine was one of the most difficult vehicles to make and use. One reason concerned the iodine lamp bulb which was used to illuminate the necessary parts of the maser cannon. The iodine bulb was a pain in the neck because unless it was perfectly parallel to the ground, it would not light up. That was the most important part of it all, since the laser itself would be animated. The iodine lamp bulb is physically an elongated glass bulb in a phallus shape. So half was exposed outside and the other side was in the tube which connects the saucer part of the cannon with the main body, acting like the neck joint of the cannon. Thankfully, it was a success. An interesting note about the maser cannon was that while the whole conception was Mutsumi Toyoshima's, the base of the cannon was recycled from "Monster Zero's" A-CYCLE Cannon, which was Shigueru Komatsuzaki's design. The Maser Cannon has since become an iconic weapon, from having it's beam color change from blue (most films) to red (Godzilla 1985) to Gold (Godzilla: Tokyo SOS), to having so many names that it isn't even called a maser anymore, but more like names like Hyper Maser (Kiryu's chest weapon in Godzilla: Tokyo SOS) to names like MBT-92 (Heisei films).

One of the most interesting parts of this film's special effects is the sets. Unlike most kaiju films of the early Showa era, a film with a 75% forest settling was mostly unseen until this film's prequel was made: "Frankenstein Conquers The World". The reason for this was because of the troublesome work that goes into this - more troublesome than the metropolis models. You see, the Toho staff had to make sure that every tree on the set had legit-looking roots and even roots at all since they did not know which trees the kaiju were going to pull up! For the branches, they used a small pine tree called Himuro Sugi and trimmed it, mostly trimming off the natural roots. For the new roots, they use the roots of giant golden rods and connect the two usually with wire. The plants lasted three days, meaning that for these hundreds of trees they had to plant, they had to replant. That is also taking into account that weather or not the lot at Toho studios in which these plants just happened to grow would run out and buy additional supplies of these plants.

The two best instances of this effects was one in this film, where Sanda pulls a tree in which he smites Gaira with. The second was in the often condemned film "Godzilla vs. Megalon" when Godzilla uses a tree's roots to choke Megalon and smack the other rival kaiju around. Often times though, the tree that would be used for the offensive would not be specified. Then you have to ask about where and in what are these mini-trees planted in. First, the ground which they were on were usually 1-2 feet off the ground just so that they can get ground shots and stomping shots easier. But the trees in WOTG were more on the mountains than on the ground, which the actor's bare feet (more on this latter) would have to walk on. With the sets being 1/10 scale, the mountains were huge. The mountains were underneath a gigantic metal frame with the top of the frame being in the desirable pose. As for the top soil, a canvas of rough hemp cloth, which is just laid on top of the sturdy metal frame. On top of that is the application of FRP (Fiber-reinforced Plastic) and/or plaster. Some dirt was used and put on top and around the tree which would be used to hit an opponent with. Considering the materials used, it seems like the trees were put in place with the plaster or FRP sprayed around it to make it keep it's balance. The FRP and plaster was strong enough that in a making of clip on the Japanese DVD, a mask-less Haruo Nakajima is standing on a cliff. These mountain structure were known to me moved around.

The most interesting part of the special effects would be Sanda and Gaira themselves. Mostly because of how humanoid the Gargantuas were compared to other kaiju. Playing Gaira, the green Gargantua, is the ever so famous Haruo Nakajima. In interview, Nakajima mentioned that out of all his kaiju suit acting outings this was his favorite (many people may question this, but in many other interviews people ask for favorite Godzilla suit acting and not general kaiju). He liked it because he based the choreography, which he was in charge of in the Tsuburaya years, on professional wrestlers, which he thought it turned out well. Playing the role of Sanda is Hiroshi Sekida. Mr. Sekida was not always originally going to play Sanda. Showa King Ghidorah suit actor Shoichi "Solomon" Hirose was to be the original Sanda. This never came to pass as Hirose and Tsuburaya developing some bad blood. Apparently when Tsuburaya asked Shoichi to play the role, he turned it down since he simultaneously got an offer for a film in which Shoichi could, "act while showing his face". This angered Tsuburaya who went on to cast Hiroshi Sekida for Sanda. Turns out in the film Shoichi was in, he did not show his face at all since he had to wear a kendo mask, making it seem as if karma had gotten back at Shoichi. If one takes into consideration "what if" Shoichi was to have taken the offer, then Gaira would become taller than Sanda. That would be against what the script called for, meaning that either the actors would have to switch roles or Shoichi would have to be in prosthetics to make him taller. If they switched roles, Gaira's character would not be as vivid as what was given to us in the film. The Gargantua's human-like appearance was attributed by two characteristics: one was that except for glue-on nail's and some colored make up, the actor's feet and hands were bare. This is most noticeable when there are close up parts of Gaira's attacks. Another thing of humanity which attributes to the Gargantua's human-esque appearance is the eyes - the actor's eyes are totally exposed. The eyes are the windows to the soul. They can enlarge, turn red, look tired, look angry, squint, cry, look confused, just a whole closet full of emotions. That is what give's the suit actor's something award-deserving. But how were the eyes get exposed? Simply put green or brown colored make up on the eyelid and around the eye socket. Nakajima and Sekida would just walk around the set without the masks on but still have the make up on. Once the make up was applied, the masks were applied.

Post production went like normal. However, one abnormality was that the dialogue track was lost. This was one this that irritated Russ Tamblyn, since he had to do ADR for lines which he for a fraction of the film ad-libbed (although that was said by Russ, Japanese cinema historian August Ragone claimed that it was to make sure that the word "Frankenstein" was not uttered for the American print). The most famous part of the whole film production happened though publicity photos. Publicity photos seem to be something which makes the viewer of the film feel like the film needed more. There are millions of publicity photos. Gaira jumping onto Sanda in the forest, Sanda stomping on Gaira's stomach, vice versa, Gaira on the ground about to get his face kicked in my Sanda, Gaira jumping onto Sanda in the city with masers from even a helicopter shooting. A lot of action. While no actual shot was filmed, they are photos which has led to the legendary status of this film, especially this picture: Sanda and Gaira holding hands. One hand above their heads and one hand below the belt line. This has become a photo synonymous with this film and has been imitated by millions, including Fuyuki Shinada on a Scifi Japan article on Gaira's appearance on a specially made episode of "Go! Godman!" and famous kaiju journalist Norman England on his blog "Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira" was released in July 31, 1966 in Japan. It is safe to assume that it was as successful as any other Toho scifi film, not unlike the Godzilla films of the time were gaining box office draws of an average of $2-3 million dollars on distribution earnings alone.

Henry Saperstein was one of the main producers of this picture. With being an American and having ties with UPA, he was the ideal person to distribute the film throughout the states. Something which has always puzzled fans of the films as to why some Toho films have to wait a full decade or over just to get theatrical showings here. It is because not only was this film’s American print edited and made in Japan, but they also have to ship all of the different materials like original negatives and soundtracks for example. The changes in the film were all improvised by Saperstein, who has also impacted such productions as "Monster Zero" with having the monsters appear earlier in the film to help American audiences not get bored. Doing the same with the film, the beginning credits were moved to after Gaira attacks the ship at the beginning of the film. Most other changes were more adding and no deleting. In fact, the American print of the film is longer than the Japanese print by two to four minutes longer. This was by adding footage, including Sanda walking to Gaira for his first scene, Gaira spitting out a woman's blouse, extra building destruction clips, extra military vehicle shots, among other scenes. It all sounds good till we get to the soundtrack. Ifukube's soundtrack for this film is, while well known, was edited. Changes included having Gaira's theme being played repeatedly instead of the dark theme which is played during the beginning credits. A good example of this is the scene where Gaira was running from the mountain and he runs through the village with the fire burning to keep the Gargantuas away. In the Japanese print, Ifukube's dark theme is played. In the American, the Gaira theme. Other Ifukube music was replaced with Ifukube's themes from "Monster Zero" and some odd choices of music from the film, "Blood Waters of Dr. Z."

Distribution of the film though has more problems than the late timing. Most people know that the film was double-billed with "Monster Zero", but that is not the full story. A question which is not often asked is, "how did the title get changed from 'Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira' to 'War of the Gargantuas'"? Gargantua originated as the name of a French book about a father named Gargantua and a son named Pantagruel. The name was soon given to a gorilla in the Ringling Brothers circus. Saperstein must have known of this circus and called this film "War of the Gargantuas" since Sanda and Gaira do resemble only slightly a gorilla-like animal (in fact, Russ Tamblyn called baby Sanda a gorilla). The finished film was made and was shipped to America to UPA in 1970. But another problem came up: Saperstein also owned the distribution rights to "Godzilla's Revenge". "Godzilla's Revenge's" distribution is also along one. Other than having to cancel calling "Godzilla's Revenge" "Minya: Son of Godzilla" due to Son of Godzilla already been released, early posters for Godzilla's Revenge showed Godzilla's Revenge being double billed with War of the Gargantuas. These posters, while they exist, are rare. After "War of the Gargantuas" was put with "Monster Zero" permanently, the posters advertising War of the Gargantuas with "Godzilla's Revenge" were changed to "Godzilla's Revenge" with a film called "Island of the Burning Damned". "War of the Gargantuas" was released double billed with "Monster Zero" in July 29, 1970 with a box office earning of $3 million, with the film being shown mostly at grindhouse cinemas and drive-ins.

In Japan, the film built a following, like any other film. But American viewers provided the biggest following for the film. With no Laser Disc or VHS or even Beta release till 1992, War of the Gargantuas became a classic on such specialty channels such as Channel 7's "4:30" movie and KTVU-Creature Features with Bob Wilkins. One reason why I can see this film becoming a cult classic on television is that in full screen, you can see Nakajima's and Sakida's eyes better due to full screen being nothing but really a close up on the faces of the characters. In fact, the film's biggest fan was it's producer Henry Saperstein. In 1978, same year Terror of Mechagodzilla was released in America, Henry Saperstein decided to want to make a Godzilla vs. Gargantua film. Originally, it was to be the first American Godzilla film. Being a production between Saperstein and UPA with an American-written script fallowing the American version of the film, it was to have a budget of $6 million, a gargantuan budget for the time. But the project evaporated with Toho giving it a no. It is unknown how the gargantuas would be put into the film, weather if Sanda or Gaira survived or if the cells blasted off of the Gargantuas during the army attacks. "War of the Gargantuas" would not get a valid sequel till 2002 with the release of "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla".

In the years that followed, "War of the Gargantuas" became more and more popular. The gargantuas has become a pop culture icon. In 2004, the film Kill Bill Vol. 2 was released in which The Bride (Uma Thurman) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hanna) fought, with the main inspiration of the fight being the film War of the Gargantuas. Before doing the scene, Quientin Tarantino showed both actresses his print of the film and said that he want the fight to be like "...War of the Blonde Gargantuas", making Kill Bill Vol. 2 a collector's piece in someone's Gargantua collection. Japanese director Kazuo Komizu often lists himself the pseudonym of Gaira. Gaira, Sanda, and 1965 Frankenstein were parodied in the 2008 edition of The Simpson's "Bart Simpson's Treehouse Horror". An in 1972 and 1973, Toho-made shows like "Go! Godman!" and "Go! Greenman!" has Gaira and Sanda appear to do battle with Ultraman-like rip offs. It is unmistakable that " War of the Gargantuas" is a pop culture icon. While not up there with the ranks of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and even Ghidorah, the Gargantuas have enjoyed a rather long prosperity period and have affected society and history of film as a whole and is a cult classic. But one thing makes me sad: Guy Tucker (RIP) interviewed Ishiro Honda (RIP) and Honda said this, "Actually, I find [the film] a little boring. I'm glad it's popular, but [I feel that it] doesn't really have much heart." I do not share Mr. Honda's judgment on the film. I agree that it is, "...one of Director Honda's masterpieces of monster mayhem."

This paper is a tribute to a late friend.