edited by Chris N
[most of the supplementary info I added to this essay is in parentheses and/or blue text, depending on the degree of the addition...particularly long or significant additions by this editor are initialed]
When we speak of Dai Kaiju, we generally speak principally of Toho's roster of Monsters and Movies. If we feel generous, we include Daiei and its Gamera series. But despite this, there are a great many creatures who would fit any bill for kaiju. Some, like Yongary and Guilala, so resemble the creatures of (Showa) Toho continuity they're indistinguishable. Others, like Gorgo from the eponymous film or the Rhedosaurs of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms seem to anticipate developments in the Toho Kaiju canon. Others feature the same sorts of beasts, giant apes, dinosaurs, spiders, octopi, spiders, and mantises.
In fact, we might be able to count up as many as twenty four films featuring genuine Kaiju, which are neither Toho nor Daiei. These are definitely not Toho productions. So technically, it doesn't fit into any kind of Toho Showa Kaiju continuity. On the other hand, let's face it. Any Toho Showa continuity is pretty arbitrary at best. Most of the kaiju-films were never designed or contemplated as part of an overall continuity. Rather, the Showa continuity is more than a little accidental. Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra were originally one-offs, with no sequels anticipated. That's why Godzilla and the Rodans are dead at the end of their initial films. Godzilla was popular, so they brought him back, they needed things for Godzilla to fight, so Anguirus is created. A famous monster is a natural nemesis for Godzilla, so we get King Kong (visiting from the U.S. and an entirely different continuity), then Mothra and then Rodan.
Good costumes or props are expensive, so Mothra and Rodan return, and once established, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, and Gigan get recycled for Godzilla rematches. That's just sound business sense, recycling both the characters and their popularity. Gorosaurus is recycled from a King Kong movie (the only Toho solo Kong film), Baragon from a Frankenstein movie (Toho also once projected a series of giant Frankenstein monster films, but only produced two), Manda from Atragon. But no one contemplated when they created Gorosaurus, Baragon, and Manda that they'd be doing cameos in Godzilla movies.
At best, there's some deliberate conceptual continuity in three pairs of Showa Godzilla films: Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster & Godzilla vs. Monster Zero; Godzilla vs Gigan & Godzilla vs Megalon (more or less); and Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla & Terror Of Mechagodzilla. The other G-films can be seen as stand-alones with fairly diffuse connections or continuity between them. Some of them weren't even originally Godzilla films. Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster for instance, was originally scripted for King Kong. Not even the same costumes were used for all Godzilla films, and they're noticeably different (these suits took quite a beating during filming, and were frequently replaced or recycled).
The costumes for King Kong were different in King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes are different, as is the scale of the big ape's height. Scale is occasionally an issue. Baragon as he appears in Destroy All Monsters doesn't seem to be the same scale as he is in Frankenstein Conquers the World (and died in that film, but obviously, like so many other monsters, he gets better).
So, what does this prove? Well it proves that no one at Toho during the Showa Era was sitting down and thinking in terms of the Showa Kaiju Universe. They weren't working it out carefully. Once in a while, they'd think in terms of "hmmm we left Godzilla buried in ice at the end of Godzilla Raids Again, so we'll have him burst out of ice in King Kong vs. Godzilla." Or they'd think "hmm the Baragon costume is still usable..." But they didn't stop to worry for any length of time how Kong starts on Farou Island and winds up on Mondo Island, or how Godzilla winds up anywhere. And frankly, that's fair. They were having fun and collecting box office revenue in the process.
The best that anyone could come up with for the Toho Showa kaiju-films is a handful of internal direct sequels within a franchise, and then a sort of loose, blowsey interrelationship or crossover which was driven by circumstance and economics, rather than by any significant intrinsic worldview.
So are we. Humans have a natural tendency to try and organize things, to make connections. So, faced with a string of Godzilla movies, and films where other kaiju appear, and where kaiju are crossing over into each other's movies, then the temptation is to try and make it all coherent. So, it's perfectly permissible to put together or diagram a coherent Showa Kaiju Universe, to explain how Godzilla, Atragon, Mothra, and Frankenstein all co-exist in a single shared universe. This takes a slight amount of shading, costumes change for both Godzilla and Kong, there are occasional issues of scale and gaps in continuity, but these can be allowed for or overlooked.
So, how does Konga fit into this, particularly since Konga is not a Toho creature? Well, it strikes me that if we accept that the Toho Showa continuity is an imperfect retroactive thing, then it seems that we can, at times, integrate non-Toho Kaiju into the Showa Kaijuverse, provided they fit. In essence, if we go through the trouble of trying to work out a systematic Toho Showa Kaijuverse, then it should be possible to fit a great many of the other kaiju-films into it.
One of the reasons you'll get a fit, of course, is that the apples don't fall far from the tree. Godzilla was directly inspired by The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (which is why Ray Harryhausen always hated Godzilla). And the latter film was directly inspired by the re-issue of King Kong (1933). King Kong (albeit a far bigger Kong, but definitely trading on the original) reappears in King Kong vs. Godzilla, closing the circle. Konga likewise trades on the King Kong name.
Beyond that, after Godzilla, King Of The Monsters, Godzilla Raids Again, and Rodan most non-Toho kaiju-films took their leaf from Toho or were heavily influenced by Toho, even as Toho borrowed from western films. Hence, many of the cinematic kaiju of the '50's were ice bound dinosaurs (or more typically dinosaur mutations) or prehistoric monsters, or radiation mutated creatures. Both Toho and these other kaiju movies took their inspirations from King Kong, and from the concerns of the day, including the fear of nuclear devastation during the Cold War era.
Toho itself was influenced. The seminal kaiju-film of the '50's was actually the 1933 King Kong re-issued to theaters, which became a surprise hit (the original Kong film was frequently re-issued to the theaters at various times since 1933, the final time being in the early '70's). King Kong directly inspired The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, which used an identical promotional campaign. The Beast's promotional campaign and marketing became the model for It Came From Beneath the Sea, while The Giant Behemoth was a fairly naked remake.
But the Rhedosaurus from Beast also inspired Godzilla, which was such a towering movie in its own right that it immediately began to cast a shadow over other kaiju-films. The Rhedosaurus was just a dinosaur woken from arctic ice (albeit a mega-large and mega-powerful fictitious species and more likely a dinosaur mutation like Godzilla), but its direct offspring, the Behemoth, would turn out to be a radiation tainted beast with nuclear/electrical powers. In terms of musical scoring, effects, miniature work, and storyline, the initial G-film proved immensely influential in molding other companies' kaiju -films.
Mid-sixties non-Toho kaiju-films closely followed Toho in that they might feature strange growth hormones from exotic berries, meddlesome aliens, exotic science, and astronauts. Essentially, other companies' kaiju -films borrowed ideas and plot elements directly from Toho. This was quite consciously done in many cases; after all, Toho and Godzilla were the Gold Standards of kaiju-films. So someone intending to make a kaiju-film was motivated to make something as close to Toho as they could get away with and not be sued. Which meant that many kaiju-films tended to resemble and fit conceptually with Toho's. Imitation was pretty deliberate, more often than not.
Sometimes they did more than resemble. In The X From Outer Space, the monster Guilala's colouration, shape, and hide texture gives it a non-coincidental resemblance to a bloated Godzilla. South Korea produced Yongary, Monster From The Deep, a giant, bipedal, fire-breathing reptile with a ridged back...and it was marketed as a Godzilla movie in Germany (European releases of both G-films and non-Toho kaiju-films outside of the U.K. and Australia often played fast and loose with the theatrical titles they gave these movies, inappropriately inserting marquee-value enhancing names like "Frankenstein," "King Kong," or "Godzilla" into the titles of movies where these creatures didn't appear, so as to try and pass off a different monster as Godzilla or King Kong, or to imply, both in the title and the altered dialogue, that a scientist of the infamous Frankenstein clan was responsible for creating the beasts rather than nuclear energy or what-not).
And of course, sometimes there's just a limited number of creatures to get the 'Kaiju' treatment. In addition to Giant Apes and Giant Reptiles, Giant Octopi, Giant Squids, Giant Turtles, Giant Mantises, and Giant Spiders all appear in Toho's dai kaiju menagerie, and in non-Toho American or Japanese, or even European kaiju-type films.
Of course, except for the Gamera series (and Daiei's Dai Majin series), most non-Toho
kaiju-films were one-shots. Only two, arguably
borderline kaiju-films, The Blob and The Amazing
Colossal Man, ever had sequels (Beware! The Blob and War Of The Colossal Beast, respectively). For the most part,
the non-Toho kaiju-films never had the chance to
develop their own continuity beyond their single film.
This lack of background makes it easier to slot them into the Toho Showa Universe.
What is most remarkable is that, with the exception of the Gamera flicks, how easily they all fit. We should note that not every big creature is a kaiju in our view. They have to be truly out-sized monsters. American movies about out-sized scorpions (e.g., The Black Scorpion), grasshoppers (e.g., The Beginning Of The End), and ants (e.g., Them!), don't count, because as colossal as these creatures are in their own terms, they're still no larger than a pickup truck or a long hauler (though Toho sometimes featured "shrimpy" kaiju of this nature, such as the giant Meganulon insects from Rodan, who were expanded upon nearly four decades later in the Millennium Era G-film Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, so the jury is admittedly open on that). The kaiju are bigger. A regular dinosaur, no matter how colossal, is still merely a dinosaur (unless you count truly over-sized dinos like Toho's Gorosaurus, who rivaled the dinosaur mutations in size and strength). The true kaiju are big enough to pick up a conventional brontosaurs and carry it around.
The Lost World (original, 1925), is chiefly significant as the inspiration and template for King Kong nearly a decade later, which on its second turn around, became the inspiration of the dai kaiju eiga genre. It's got a dinosaur roaming the streets of London.
King Kong = Originally made in 1933, the film was
re-released in 1952 and became a surprise hit,
actually grossing more than it had made back in 1933.
Kong is arguably the grandfather of all dai kaiju,
directly inspiring the Rhedosaurus of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and many other American
giant monster films, as well as Godzilla himself.
However, while fairly big, the original Kong was only
about 10 or 12 meters tall, hardly on a kaiju scale (in their initial Toho film appearances, Frankenstein and Baragon were "only" 20 meters in height or length, making them rather small for dai kaiju; Baragon's size was later increased to 30 meters, thus making him somewhat more capable of battling larger kaiju, as he did with Godzilla in GMK, but he was still significantly smaller than the Big G).
Still, it's clear that Kong is to the scale of the dinosaurs on his atoll, Skull Island, and that these are about twice as large as regular dinosaurs. In addition to an illustrious history of kaiju descendants, the original Kong had a sequel hastily produced later than same year, Son of Kong, which featured an even smaller Kong successor, and by necessity, even smaller prehistoric animals for him to battle/interact with (such as a cave bear and a nondescript giant quadrapedal reptile).
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms = Rather than being a conceptual offspring of Godzilla, this may well be a conceptual father. Made in 1953, the titular Beast (Rhedosaurus) was directly inspired by the 1952 re-issue of King Kong, but it had many resemblances to the kaiju stories of Toho's soon-to-emerge Showa Film Era. Like Godzilla, the Rhedosaur's awakening from suspended animation occurs because of nuclear testing, and as in King Kong vs. Godzilla, the Rhedosaur is discovered in arctic ice. As with the aforementioned G-film, the Rhedosaur is drawn to ancestral grounds. Along the way, the Rhedosaur destroys a fishing boat, while Godzilla is known to be hard on shipping.
[Note: Chris N speculates that the Rhedosaur is actually an Atlantean kaiju, while Godzilla and his ilk are Lemurian/Muan kaiju. He suggests that an Atlantis that existed as a rival to Lemuria created its own kaiju, and that dai kaiju were generally created by both super-civilizations largely for the purpose of serving as powerful bio-weapons. Therefore the kaiju that plagued Europe and the Eastern Seaboard of North America were likely Atlantean in origin, while those found on the Pacific rim were Lemurian born. This is an acceptable theory. Certainly in the 'lost civilization' movies of Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Warlords of Atlantis, we see evidence for a lost Atlantean civilization. But were the kaiju theirs? An alternative theory might hold that the Atlantic kaiju are actually Lemurian kaiju (or the descendants of Lemurian kaiju) once used to attack Atlantis. We can see in Warlords of Atlantis that the Atlantean survivors, unlike the Lemurian survivors in Nova Mu and Seatopia, have no control over the kaiju that menace them, and that kaiju infest the ruins of extinct Atlantean remnants. I am inclined to posit a war between Lemuria and Atlantis, in which one of the Lemurians' battle strategies was a massive attack of kaiju. The Atlanteans, overwhelmed, went for the 'nuclear' option and sank Lemuria, and were in turn, sunk by the Lemurian counterattack, leaving only relic societies, ruins, and straggling kaiju and their descendants floating around all over the place.]
The Giant Gila Monster = Apart from being gigantic and
reptilian, there aren't a lot of overlaps between the
Gila Monster and the Toho Showa kaiju. But then again, the
Gila Monster fits into a long tradition of "G" Kaiju
names: Godzilla, Gigantis (the American moniker for the Atomic Titan in the stateside release of the second G-film), Ghidorah, Gigan,
Gorosaurus, Gargantua(s), Gamera, Gyaos, Guiron,
Gappa, Guilala, Gorgo...
For once, this kaiju is realized onscreen using a live animal, as opposed to the Rhedosaurus, It, and the Behemoth, who are stop motion creatures, and the rest, who are either suitmation or puppet animatronic monsters (unless you count the real lizards used to simulate "dinosaurs" in the 1960 film version of The Lost World and sometimes elsewhere, like the first 'dinosaur' encountered in Hammer's One Million Years B.C.). As a point of interest, the Gila Monster appeared in 1959, the same year that Godzilla Raids Again (as "Gigantis, The Fire Monster") was released in America.
"It" the Giant Octopus = It Came From Beneath the Sea, released in 1955, featured a giant six tentacled octopus that menaced San Francisco. This Pacific Coast kaiju was a stop motion monster animated by Harryhausen (as was the Rhedosaurs and the Behemoth). Like Godzilla and the Behemoth, this Octopus was driven by radiation. It's notable that at least four Toho movies featured or planned giant cephalopods: A Giant Octopus ("daidako," in Japanese) meets defeat by the titular giant ape in King Kong vs. Godzilla, battled and apparently defeated the giant Frankenstein monster via deleted scenes in Frankenstein Conquers the World (these deleted scenes can be viewed in the Japanese laser disc version or the versions available from Video Daikaiju), and was recycled for an attack on a ship in War of the Gargantuas, where the giant cuttlefish meets defeat at the enormous hands of Gaila. A giant land-walking Squid called Gezora appears in Yog, Monster From Space. Additionally, a comparatively giant octopus attacks (but is quickly devoured by) the titular kaiju in Gappa, the Triphibian Monster.
Tarantula = Also from 1955, another Pacific rim kaiju stalked the California deserts. The origins of the spider are uncertain, but we're lead to believe that it started as a tiny spider injected with growth serum. But it may simply have been a dormant giant. In any event, it is reminiscent of the later giant spider creature Spiega (Kumonga, in Japanese), which appears in Son of Godzilla and Destroy All Monsters (as well as appearing in Godzilla's Revenge via an extended stock footage battle with Godzilla and Minya). It may well have been the inspiration for Spiega, though to be fair, the idea of a giant spider is hardly rocket science.
Earth vs. the Spider (1958 version) = Three years after Tarantula, another giant spider is found hibernating in the caverns just outside a small California town.
The Deadly Mantis = Like Godzilla in King Kong vs. Godzilla, and like the Rhedosaurus of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, this 1957 menace is an ancient creature thawed out from the arctic ice. An Atlantic Coast Kaiju, its depradations bring it down to Washington, D.C. and Manhattan. Giant Mantises called Kamakiras, who are similar in many ways to the Giant Mantis (though they differ in certain features, and are larger) also appear in Godzilla's adventures, specifically Son Of Godzilla and (mostly via stock footage) in Godzilla's Revenge.
The Giant Claw = Like Mothra, Rodan, and Gyaos, who seem respectively inspired by Insects, Pterodactyls, and Bats, this is another unlikely flying kaiju. This one is a most ridiculous looking vulture-like creature. It appears to be menacing the American Atlantic Coast. Like Godzilla, it is radioactive, and in fact, its sustained by an "antimatter" force field. Pre-figuring King Ghidorah and Gigan, this creature evidently descends from outer space.
Other candidates: The Blob and its early '70's sequel, Beware! The Blob (a.k.a., The Son Of The Blob). The Amazing Colossal Man and its sequel, War Of The Colossal Beast. Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman. The alien rock-eating giant Ymir from 20 Million Miles To Earth.
The Euro-Kaiju consist of three British and one Danish monster, appearing from 1959 through 1962. Animated with techniques ranging from stop motion to puppets to suits, these creatures were primarily reptilians. While clearly inspired by Godzilla, they stuck very close to the traditional stories, without forays into super science, astronauts, or aliens. Some of them may have inspired Asian Kaiju stories. It's tempting to see Konga as the bridge between the original King Kong and King Kong vs. Godzilla. Gorgo's story, for its part, seems reminiscent of both Mothra and Gappa.
The Giant Behemoth = This 1959 film was pretty much a direct and deliberate remake of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (Eugene Lourie, the director of The Beast, also wrote and directed this one). But this new beast, the Behemoth (actually a Paleosaur, but 'Behemoth' sounds better), shows evidence that Godzilla's genes are in its lineage (To me, the Behemoth appeared to be a mutated brontosaur/apatosaur, which is rather interesting since Toho never utilized such a phenotype for one of their dinosaur mutations, preferring to stick to bipedal beasts, with rare exceptions like Anguirus, Baragon, and Kamoebos--CN). Unlike the Rhedosaurus, the Behemoth does not come from icy suspended animation, so like Godzilla, its ultimate origins are obscure (though one can imagine that atomic radiation was the culprit from the available evidence--CN). And like Godzilla, the Behemoth is highly radioactive. Like Godzilla, the Behemoth's radioactivity is used as a weapon, discharged in electrical bolts (it's also highly electrically charged), a peculiar variation on Godzilla's fiery atomic breath. Like the Rhedosaurus and Godzilla, the Behemoth is returning to ancestral habitats. Like the Rhedosaurus and Godzilla, the Behemoth is hard on shipping. And as another point of interest, the Behemoth appeared in the same year that Godzilla Raids Again (as "Gigantis, The Fire Monster") was released in America.
Konga = From 1960, this flick was obviously and deliberately inspired by its namesake, King Kong, though scaled up almost to Godzilla size (though less than that of Toho's King Kong). Konga's debut actually preceded King Kong vs. Godzilla, which was released in Japan two years later, and appeared on American shores in 1963. As in King Kong vs. Godzilla, Konga's size is attributed to the strange properties of a mysterious plant, though in Konga's case, it's temporary.
Gorgo = In 1961, this kaiju menace arose out of the North Sea. Like Godzilla, this was a bipedal reptilian monster who rose from the sea to menace a great city, in this case, London. The director, Eugene Lourie, had previously directed both The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and The Giant Behemoth, but this time used a man in a monster suit rather than stop motion, the suitmation technique then recently popularized by the Toho kaiju-films. Gorgo also featured a giant monster, Ogra, looking after a baby member of the species (who was actually Gorgo), a trait that would be copied by both Godzilla in Son Of Godzilla and Gappa and his equally powerful mate in Gappa, The Triphibian Monster.
Reptilicus = A lost serpent-like monster that menaced
Denmark in 1962, Reptilicus was particularly difficult
to destroy because of its capacity to regenerate and
its habit of flinging radioactive snot.
This kaiju also had small wings that enabled him to become airborne, until they were burned off by the Danish military to deprive the creature of his flying ability; all scenes of the monster flying were excised from the American print, allegedly due to their horrendous execution, though if this is the case, one can hardly imagine why the monster's snot-firing was left in, since the sfx utilized to portray this weapon onscreen were, to put it diplomatically, embarrassing.
Reptilicus is originally found as a section of monster's tail recovered by oil explorers. Once excavated, it quickly grows into a new monster. Its regenerative qualities are shared by Frankenstein and the Gargantuas.
With only two exceptions, all of the known rival Asian kaiju-films (non-Daiei and non-Toho) date from 1967, the height of the Kaiju Era for both the Showa Godzilla and the Showa Gamera series, and copied the Toho look and background closely. This included marked resemblances to Godzilla, death ray attacks, aliens, astronauts, and super-science. In short, not only did they absorb the monsters, but they also tended to absorb and reproduce the monsters' science fictional world. As such, I'd argue that these fit quite well within Toho's Showa Kaijuverse.
Gappa the Triphibian Monster, appeared in 1967, from Japanese film company Nikkatsu. This saga borrowed liberally from Gorgo, in that there is a baby Gappa, and a pair of even more gigantic parents who raid Japan to rescue it (though Gorgo's mother, Ogra, tore London apart to rescue him sans a mate). The baby Gappa is abducted from its home island to be a tourist attraction, a fate intended for both King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla, and the diminutive faerie twins in Mothra. The Gappa's are depicted as reminiscent of both Godzilla and Gorgo. One interesting aspect of this film is the use of giant ooctopus scenes either borrowed from or imitating those in War Of the Gargantuas.
Yongary, Monster From Beneath The Sea, appears in 1967 in South Korea. Like
Godzilla, Yongary is released or awakened by a nuclear
test. The same issue has brought us the Behemoth,
the Seatopians' assault on the surface world in Godzilla vs. Megalon, and the
giant octopus from It Came From Beneath the Sea.
Like Godzilla, Yongary is a bipedal reptile (realized onscreen by a man in a
suit), with a row of dorsal spines down its back, and a
fiery breath attack. In order to distinguish itself
from Godzilla, Yongary has a Baragon-like horn on its
Yongary's world, like Toho's, features a remarkably advanced space program...Korea sports astronauts who fly regular missions, making observations of China and the Middle East. By this time, in the Toho Showa Universe, space travel is well advanced, with special missions to the moon and "Planet X," which exists in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. As a side note, Yongary may well have masqueraded as Godzilla in some jurisdictions, a German film poster depicts the creature's movie title as "Godzilla and the Giant Claw".
And Yongary has also had a life beyond its single movie...a poster for another Korean film, "Young-Goo and Dinosaur Zu-Zu" appears to depict Yongary, suggesting that this movie may have been an official or unofficial sequel. Or, at least recycled the costume.
Finally, Yongary was the only other Showa Era kaiju, outside of the Godzilla and Gamera series, to have a Heisei Era edition (different editions of Yongary's Heisei film were released in America as Yongarry 2000 and Reptilian).
Giant Monster Wangmagwi was another South Korean monster from 1967; however, this film is extremely obscure and difficult to come by, as it's never been released to video or played TV in North America or outside of Asia, and even locating a single still of the monster online can be a herculean task. Wangmagwi was a bipedal, simian-like giant, we are told, with flapping ears, giant claws, a death ray to call its own, and a face reminiscent of the alien creature from the American sci-fi flick It Conquered the World. This monster is delivered to Earth by flying saucers under the control of a fascistic alien race, much as King Ghidorah and Gigan are in Godzilla vs. Gigan.
The X-From Outer Space (a.k.a., "Giant Monster Guilala"), was released in 1967, courtesy of the Toho rival Shochiku in Japan, who gave us yet another glimpse of the aliens and astronauts who had become a feature of Toho's kaiju sagas, this time slapping them together. An earth spaceship stops off at a moonbase on the way to Mars, while en route, it is buzzed by a flying saucer. Unbeknownst to anyone, a mysterious cell or substance sticks to the spacecraft and then upon reaching Earth, begins to grow. The resulting creature, Guilala, has the same colouration, general proportions, and skin texture of Godzilla, looking only a little more bloated. The big difference is in its head, which sports horns, antenna, and a peculiar beak. It's energy-devouring trait and peculiar genesis (if certainly not its appearance) is reminiscent of Dagora (Dogora in Japanese), the flying jellyfish-like kaiju from the 1962 Toho kaiju-film Dagora, The Space Monster.
A*P*E, the third and last known Showa Korean film, from 1976 was a fairly blatant attempt to capitalize on Dino De Laurentis's King Kong remake, released late that same year. Not much goes on here. The Ape is no Kong, but it does fight a giant shark and a giant snake, as well as flirt with a beautiful blonde woman.
The Mighty Peking Man (released to American TV in the past as "Goliathon"), also from 1976/77, was another Showa period kaiju-film made as a rip-off of the King Kong remake. This one was chiefly unique in that its creature resembled Toho's Gargantuas far more than it resembled an ape, and it is the only known Hong Kong kaiju, or perhaps the only one that received wide distribution (from what I can see, the Peking Man is actually a giant sasquatch/wild man, rather than a giant simian, despite obviously being based upon the 1976 King Kong remake--CN).
King Kong, the 1976 remake. This turned out to be a fairly dry and worthless film (and it has the credentials as a massive box office failure to prove it). But it briefly boosted the dai kaiju eiga genre, influencing the posters for Godzilla vs. Megalon, and inspiring direct rip-offs in the form of A*P*E, The Mighty Peking Man, and lesser known productions such as the ultra-bizarre Italian-made Yeti: Giant Of The 20th Century.
A decade later, it should be noted, De Laurentis produced a sequel and definitive end to his version of King Kong with the goofy but interesting King Kong Lives. This film gave Kong a plausible love interest this time around (and she wasn't blonde!), a giant female bipedal ape located in the jungles of Borneo, and named Lady Kong. The two giant apes managed to produce a Kong Jr. before daddy Kong met his maker in battle with a military unit--CN
These are a small group of films depicting encounters with lost worlds, conveniently located underground or underwater. These American and British films are interesting in featuring both lost and extinct ancient civilizations and relic kaiju-sized monsters. They're reminiscent of Atragon and Godzilla vs Megalon, where lost underwater Muan and Seatopian civilizations have their own kaiju.
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth = This 1959 production isn't what anyone might think of as a kaiju-film. But nevertheless, it does sport a couple of kaiju-sized lizards, and the underground ruins of a lost civilization identified as Atlantis.
The Lost World, 1960 remake = A 1960 production which provides us with the same sort of kaiju-sized lizards seen in Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, along with a giant web-spinning spider-like creature. Like its 1925 predecessor and subsequent direct-to-video remake (and a short-lived TV series), this movie was based on the novella by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.
At the Earth's Core, 1977, is a period film set in the late 19th century to early decades of the 20th century about a journey to the underground realm of Pellucidar inhabited by various monsters and degenerate humans, including kaiju-sized creatures. This movie was based on the first of the Pellucidar novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.
Warlords Of Atlantis, 1978, another period film set in the 19th century, about a journey to a lost undersea and underground Atlantis, which considers itself a lost colony of Mars and is threatened by the kaiju-like giants it shares its world with, a notion which oddly recalls the transplanted Martians of Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster.
Return To Guest Section