Director: Ishiro Honda
Writers: Kaoru Mabuchi and Ishiro Honda
Cast: Kenji Sahara, Kumi Mizuno, Russ Tamblyn, Jun Tazaki, Kipp Hamilton, Yoshifumi Tajima, Nobuo Nakamura, Hisaya Ito, Nadao Kirino, Yasuhisa Tsutsumi, Henry Okawa, Masakazu Hirose, Akiji Nomura, Ikio Sawamura, Ren Yamamoto, Noriaki Inoue, Yasuhiko Saijyo, Yasuhiro Komiya, Haruya Sakamoto, Mitsuo Tsuda, Wataru Omae, Kyoko Mori, Hiroko Minami, Tadashi Okabe, Yoshio Katsube, Minoru Ito, Shiro Tsuchiya, Takuzou Kumagai, Toku Ihara, Kuniyoshi Kashima, Masaaki Tachibana, Hideo Shibuya, Yutaka Oka, Haruo Nakajima, Hiroshi Sekita, Goro Mutsu, and Kasei Kinoshita
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Release Date: 7/31/1966
MPAA Rating: G
Created from the flesh of Frankenstein, a giant monster known as Gaira emerges from the sea and wreaks havoc upon the city of Tokyo. Thereafter, Sanda—a peaceful gargantua raised by Dr. Paul Stewart (Russ Tamblyn) and his colleague, Akemi Togawa (Kumi Mizuno)—collides with his “brother” near the Japanese shoreline.
The War of the Gargantuas is an entertaining sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World. Especially rousing are the kaiju battles contained in this film, which, though a tad overlong, exemplify the eternal struggle between the good and evil tendencies of man.
Aside from green skin, Gaira fails to possess many of the grotesque physical attributes (e.g. surgical scars) typically associated with the Frankenstein monster. Nevertheless, the distorted, menacing features of Gaira effectively convey his sinister intentions to the audience—an aspect that distinguishes Gaira, a flesh-eating kaiju with destructive inclinations, from his benevolent brother Sanda.
Also praiseworthy is Akira Ifukube’s composition, the dark, haunting quality of which serves to accentuate the underlying message (i.e. that good and evil forces remain in a perpetual state of conflict with each other) of Ishiro Honda’s narrative.
Lacking the charisma of a strong male protagonist, Russ Tamblyn (known for his portrayal of Riff, leader of the Jets in West Side Story) should be criticized for his languid portrayal of Dr. Stewart—much in contrast to American actor Nick Adams, whom kaiju fans appreciate for his captivating performances in Frankenstein Conquers the World and Invasion of Astro-Monster.
Though initially riveting, the monster action in The War of the Gargantuas borders on excessive. As a result, the (already somewhat bland) human characters remain virtually undeveloped throughout this film.
Despite forgoing the central themes of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The War of the Gargantuas includes a thought-provoking commentary on the dual nature of man. Specifically, Sanda and Gaira (two opposing offshoots of the same creature) represent the good and evil sides of humanity, with neither kaiju managing to overpower the other—a subtle statement on the inability to cast aside, at least not completely, the so-called negative characteristics that exist within the human soul.
For combining the moody atmosphere of Gojira with a compelling study on the human condition, The War of the Gargantuas will satisfy enthusiasts of the kaiju eiga genre. Casual viewers may, however, wish to avoid this film for its awkward pacing, dated special effects, and cringe-inducing musical number.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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