Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What are these "gargantuas" you speak of?

This past weekend the little lady and I visited Convergence, an annual sci-fi con held here scenic Bloomington, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis (a big thumbs down to the dealer room there. Truly lame). A friend of ours was hosting his annual "Cinema Apocalypse" there, where he shows genre films projected in a rather huge fashion on his hotel room wall from dusk-to-dawn, and convention-goers are free to wander and absorb some cinema.

One of the movies he unspooled (well, projected) was "War of the Gargantuas" a strange 1966 Kaiju film from the folks at Toho (the studio that unleashed Godzilla and his ilk). I don't know quite how to describe this film. I mean, it's super-simple in a way, depicting the combat between two giant humanoid creatures ( they look like building-sized, acne-ravaged Bigfoots) throughtout Tokyo and the surrounding countryside. But it's stranger than that. The creatures are actually descended from Frankenstein's monster somehow, and are referred to throughout as "Frankensteins." Interesting. I don't remember Frankenstein's monster being 100-feet tall and hair-covered, nor was I aware that Dr. Frankenstein was not German as we were all lead to believe, but was instead of Japanese descent. Thankfully, this movie cleared up all of these long-held misconceptions.

The concept of a Frankenstein-soaked Japanese culture is tossed around so much that at one point the films cuts to a scene at "The Department of Frankenstein Research." How cool would it be to work at a place like that? Someone get me an application! Anyway, one Gargantua is rather benign ("Sanda", the brown one) and the other is vicious and likes to eat people ("Gaira", the green one). It is from this difference in their worldviews that the titanic conflict of the title springs.

For whatever reason, this movie sticks in the head of every genre fan who sees it. Maybe it's the title, which is pretty close to perfect. I first saw it as a little kid and it was burned into my brain. Then I saw it once in the 80's, once in the 90's (where it held a roomfull of 7 or 8 drunk guys at a party, me included, spellbound for it's entirety), and now again in the aughts.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "You paint a pretty picture, senor Blogfoot, but what proof do I have? This movie is sadly unavailable on region 1 DVD." This is true. But, as is the custom of our times, someone has posted large chunks of clips of it on youtube! Huzzah!

Here's the english version of the trailer:

And here's a scene where an American songstress warbles a horrible tune before being interupted by the hideous Green Gargantua. Special Blogfoot Trivia: DEVO was fan of this film, and used to cover this song in concert:

There's plenty of fight scenes from this treasure posted on youtube as well, so enjoy. Me? I'm going to watch the bootleg DVD my buddy lent me over and over again. Thanks, dude!
I'll get this and your copy of the legendary "Cannibal Holocaust" back to you as soon as possible.

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