The War of the Gargantuas (1966)
The War of the Gargantuas (フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ is a Furankenshutain no Kaijū Sanda tai Gaira, lit. Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda Against Gaira)1966 tokusatsu kaiju film co-produced by Toho and UPA and a loose sequel to Frankenstein vs. Baragon. It was released to Japanese theaters on July 31, 1966.
One night, a fishing vessel in the waters off Japan found itself under attack by a Giant Octopus. The creature wrapped its tentacles around the ship and began to crush it until a giant green monster appeared from underwater and attacked it. The giant, Gaira, overpowered the Giant Octopus and threw the creature into the water, prompting it to retreat. Gaira then destroyed the ship himself and devoured the helpless crew. One sole survivor from the attack was found, and during questioning he claimed that the ship was attacked by "Frankenstein." Dr. Paul Stewart and his assistants Akemi Togawa and Yuzo Majida became concerned that the monster that attacked the ship might be none other than Sanda, the Frankenstein spawn they raised at their laboratory years ago before he escaped to the mountains. Akemi asserted that Sanda was not capable of committing such violence, and so the three scientists set out to find evidence.
Meanwhile, Gaira came ashore at Haneda Airport and terrorized the citizens there. Gaira smashed the airport terminals, stepped on planes, and devoured helpless people. However, when the sun appeared through the clouds, Gaira ran back into the ocean. The JSDF quickly developed a plan to stop the creature, a new space-age weapon dubbed the Maser Cannon. When Gaira appeared in the wilderness one night, the JSDF ambushed the beast with their Maser Cannons and blasted him with countless volts of concentrated electricity. Gaira was almost killed, but his brother Sanda appeared through the forest and came to his aid. Sanda waved the JSDF forces off and carried his brother off to his mountain home. After this, Dr. Stewart concluded that Gaira must be another Frankenstein spawn like Sanda, having regenerated from some of the giant Frankenstein monster's immortal cells. However, while Sanda was lovingly raised by humans, Gaira grew up underwater in a hostile environment and became a vicious man-eater.
While Gaira was recovering in the mountains, Sanda made a horrific discovery when he saw his brother attack and kill a group of hikers. Realizing his brother was an enemy to humanity, Sanda attacked Gaira, driving him out of the forest. When Gaira appeared in Tokyo, Sanda took it upon himself to stop him and went there as well. Akemi pleaded with Sanda, whom she had raised like a son, to not go to Tokyo and risk being killed by the JSDF or Gaira, but Sanda continued on. When Sanda found Gaira in Tokyo, he pleaded with his brother to simply leave and avoid fighting, but Gaira attacked him. The two Gargantuas battled across Tokyo and eventually their battle spilled out into Tokyo Bay. While the Gargantuas battled in the sea, an underwater volcano erupted, causing both Sanda and Gaira to be pulled into molten magma flows and disappear. Dr. Stewart sadly told Akemi that both monsters were likely killed and that the magma completely destroyed all of their cells so they could never regenerate. Sanda's sacrifice was not in vain however, as he ensured that humanity would forever be safe from Gaira's reign of terror.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Reuben Bercovitch, Kaoru Mabuchi, Ishiro Honda
- Produced by Reuben Bercovitch, Henry Saperstein, Tomoyuki Tanaka, Kenichiro Tsunoda
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Ryohei Fujii
- Production Design by Takeo Kita, Yasuyuki Inoue
- Assistant Directing by Koji Kajita
- Director of Special Effects Eiji Tsuburaya
- Assistant Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano
- Based on characters created by Mary Shelley
- "Feel in My Heart" performed by Kipp Hamilton
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Russ Tamblyn as Dr. Paul Stewart (Japanese voice actor: Goro Mutsumi)
- Kumi Mizuno as Akemi Togawa
- Kenji Sahara as Yuzo Majida
- Nobuo Nakamura as Kita
- Jun Tazaki as General
- Hisaya Ito as Police Chief
- Yoshibumi Tajima as Police Officer
- Kipp Hamilton as Club Singer
- Kozo Nomura as General's Aide
- Ren Yamamoto as Sailor
- Nadao Kirino as Soldier
- Shoichi Hirose as Soldier
- Tadashi Okabe as Reporter
- Koji Uno as Reporter
- Seishiro Kuno as Fisherman
- Ikio Sawamura as Fisherman
- Somesho Matsumoto as Official
- Haruo Nakajima as Gaira
- Hiroshi Sekita as Sanda
Weapons, Vehicles, and Races
Toho originally planned to produce a direct sequel to the 1965 film Frankenstein vs. Baragon, which was directed by Ishiro Honda. Honda, who was signed on to direct the follow-up, felt that the film would work better as a standalone independent story, and so it was decided to write the film as independent from the previous film. The film's story was rooted in the ancient Japanese myth Umihiko Yamahiko. While the Gargantuas are technically clones created from cell division, they are deliberately referred to as "brothers" and not father and son. In the script, neither of the Gargantuas are named, they are only referred to as "Mountain Frankenstein" and "Sea Frankenstein." The first draft of the script was titled The Frankenstein Brothers (フランケンシュタインの兄弟; Furankenshutain no Kyōdai) later titles included Strife of Frankenstein (フランケンシュタインの斗争 and Duel of the Frankensteins Furankenshutain no Tōsō) (フランケンシュタインの決闘. Furankenshutain no Kettō) The script did not include the Maser Cannons, but Honda decided to add them to the film as he felt they would add to the dramatic atmosphere. Tohl Narita, later famous for his work on Tsuburaya Productions' Ultra Series and Mighty Jack, was in charge of monster design for the film.
- Main article: The War of the Gargantuas/Gallery.
- Main article: The War of the Gargantuas (Soundtrack).
- Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira (Literal Japanese title)
- War of the Gargantuas (Alternate English title)
- Monster Giant Sanda (怪獣ジャイアント サンダ Kaijū Jaianto Sanda, Japanese 8mm title)
- Frankenstein: Duel of the Giants (Frankenstein - Zweikampf der Giganten; Germany)
- The War of the Monsters (La Guerre des monstres; France)
- Katango (Italy)
- Katango's War (Netherlands)
The War of the Gargantuas was released in the United States by Maron Films in 1970 as part of a double-bill with Monster Zero. Dialogue was dubbed to English. All mentions of "Frankenstein" were removed, and Sanda and Gaira were simply referred to as "Brown Gargantua" and "Green Gargantua," respectively. The U.S. version contains nearly ten minutes of alternative and extended footage filmed at Toho in agreement with UPA and Henry G. Saperstein, some of which serves to establish Russ Tamblyn's character earlier in the film's story. The film's music score was altered significantly, with all pieces containing Akira Ifukube's "Operation L" leitmotif replaced with a library track by American composer Philip Green entitled "Terror Hunt," or other pieces from the film. In addition, cues from Monster Zero were also supplemented.
Toho also commissioned an international English export dub for the film, recorded in Hong Kong. It remained obscure for decades, with its only known release being a Greek VHS, until Janus Films made it available to stream via STARZ and FilmStruck in 2017. The Greek VHS includes the English visuals created for the export dub, while the STARZ/FilmStruck stream is synchronized to the Japanese version of the film. While FilmStruck closed in 2018, it remains available on STARZ and The Criterion Channel.
Toho VHS (1983)
- Region: N/A
- Cassettes: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Special Features: None
- Notes: Reissued in 1996. 1996 release includes the "overseas" (UPA) version of the film.
Toho LaserDisc (1985)
- Region: NTSC
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Special Features: None
- Notes: A remastered version was released in 1992.
Toho DVD (2002)
- Region: 2
- Audio: Japanese
- Special Features: Preview for the UPA version of the film, images of Monster Giant Sanda 8mm sonosheet and picture book set, audio commentary by Kumi Mizuno moderated by Toshiaki Sato
Toho Blu-ray (2010)
- Region: A/1
- Audio: Japanese
Classic Media DVD (2008)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
- Special Features: Bringing Godzilla Down to Size documentary (69 minutes)
- Notes: Packaged with Rodan. Out of print.
- During the film, several ambiguous references are made to the film Frankenstein vs. Baragon, but the only direct link between the films is the term "Frankenstein," which appears in the Japanese title and is used to refer to the Gargantuas ("Frankensteins") in the original Japanese dialogue. Allusions and flashbacks to the events of the previous film seem to recast and rename the main characters and move their laboratory from Hiroshima to Kyoto, while inserting Sanda into Frankenstein's role. Due to dialogue referring to the monsters as "Frankensteins," Russ Tamblyn had to re-dub his dialogue for the American version of the film, which removed all references to Frankenstein.
- According to the 2014 book Godzilla Dictionary [New Edition], both The War of the Gargantuas and its predecessor Frankenstein vs. Baragon take place in the same timeline as the Godzilla films of the Showa series.
- The War of the Gargantuas is referenced in the beginning of the 2002 Godzilla film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, and stock footage of Gaira from the film is shown. Supplementary materials for the sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. reveal that The War of the Gargantuas is part of the continuity of the two films, along with the events of several other non-Godzilla films from the Showa era.
- The War of the Gargantuas is the final co-production between Toho and UPA, following Frankenstein vs. Baragon and Invasion of Astro-Monster. It was however, not UPA's last involvement in Toho's kaiju films, as the company aired Terror of Mechagodzilla on television in the United States in 1978.
- This film marks the first appearance of the Maser Cannon in a Toho film. The Maser Cannons would go on to become famous recurring military weapons in Toho's Godzilla films over the next several decades.
- The American producer of the film, Henry G. Saperstein, had reportedly planned to make a collaborative Japanese-American Godzilla film. It has long been speculated that this film would pit Godzilla against one or both of the Gargantuas, but there is no concrete evidence supporting this. However, author Patrick Macias mentions in his 2006 book Otaku in USA - Love & Misunderstanding! The History of adopted Anime in America! that Saperstein allegedly planned to produce a sequel to The War of the Gargantuas featuring Godzilla battling against one of the Gargantuas as a cyborg, though this idea was never realized.
- The original ending of the film was to not only have Sanda and Gaira swallowed up by the underwater volcano, but the lava was to have spread to Tokyo where it was to destroy the city as well as the remaining cells of the monsters; cited in an interview with director Honda in Guy Tucker's Age of the Gods: A History of the Japanese Fantasy Film.
- Sanda and Gaira re-appeared in Go! Godman Episodes 16 "Godman vs. Sanda" and 17 "Godman vs. Gaira" as well as in Go! Greenman Episodes 31 "Greenman vs. Sanda" and 4 "Greenman vs. Gaira." Gaira later made an appearance in the 2008 Go! Godman movie.
- The song "Feel in My Heart," also called "The Words Get Stuck in My Throat," performed by Kipp Hamilton in this film was later covered by the American rock band DEVO.
- Quentin Tarantino based the fight between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill Vol. 2 on the final battle from The War of the Gargantuas. He showed his copy of the film to both actresses and told them he wanted it to be "The War of the Blonde Gargantuas."
- During the 2012 Oscars there was a segment called "First Movie Moments" where famous actors describe the first movie they remember seeing. Actor Brad Pit stated that the first movie he ever saw was none other than The War of the Gargantuas.
- Hajime Isayama happened to see The War of the Gargantuas on television as a child, and has said that it served as an influence when he created Attack on Titan. Isayama's manga was later adapted into two live-action tokusatsu kaiju films by Toho in 2015.
- The Chinese poster for the 2018 film The Predator was inspired by the poster for The War of the Gargantuas.
- In the trailer for the movie, Sanda and Gaira have roars which differ from those in actual movie. One roar is a higher pitched Rodan roar and the other is Varan's roar mixed with King Kong's. These roars would go on to be used for the Ultra kaiju Antlar and Chandora, respectively.
- While they have never appeared in a Godzilla film outside of stock footage, the Gargantuas have appeared in officially-licensed Godzilla media such as video games, manga, and comics.
- Renji Oki, author of the novels GODZILLA: Monster Apocalypse and GODZILLA: Project Mechagodzilla, stated in an interview that he considered including the Gargantuas in one of the novels, but the novels' setting supervisor Seichi Shirato didn't feel right using them without Frankenstein being involved in their backstory.
- Comparison of the film's two English dubs
- Detailed comparison of the Japanese and U.S. versions of the film
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