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 boat in the waters just off Japan finds itself under attack by a Giant Octopus. Just before it can strangle one of the crewmembers to death with its tentacles, the monstrous cephalopod is attacked by a gigantic humanoid creature. After dispatching the Octopus, the giant begins violently attacking the boat and attempting to sink it. Sometime later, one surviving crewmember is being held in a hospital. Representatives try to get the story of how the ship sank from him, but he says in terror that the ship was sunk by Frankenstein. The mamritime authority is hesitant to believe that the ship was sunk by this "Gargantua," and dispatches divers to investigate the shipwreck. They uncover the clothes of all of the other four crew members, which are soaked in blood and look as though they were chewed up and spit out. Another boat soon falls victim to the Gargantua and a group of civilians finally witnesses the creature emerge from the water as they try and bring in a fishing net. The maritime authority contacts Frankenstein expert Dr. Paul Stewart in Kyoto to ask him if it is possible the Gargantua is the Frankenstein he raised at his institute. He dismisses the notion, stating Frankenstein died at Mount Fuji and would never live in the sea nor eat humans. Furthermore, reports of huge humanoid footprints in the Japanese Alps have led Stewart to investigate along with his assistant Akemi Togawa, while their collegue Dr. Yuzo Majida travels to investigate a salvaged shipwreck believed to be attacked by the Gargantua. Stewart and Akemi find the footprints in the mountains and accept the possibility they were left behind by Frankenstein, while MMajida finds a mucous membrane left behind on the shipwreck. Analysis of the membrane shows that the creature's cells are almost identical to Frankenstein's, and the JSDF determines that Frankenstein must be behind the attacks. On a cloudy day, the Gargantua comes ashore at Haneda Aiport and terrorizes the fleeing civilians. When the sun peeks through the clouds, the Gargantua immediately runs back to the sea, which Majida determines must mean the monster is averse to bright lights. The three scientists attend a conference in Tokyo to discuss countermeasures, but Stewart is still of the belief that the Gargantua in the sea and Frankenstein are different individuals.
That night, the Gargantua comes ashore in Tokyo and menaces a lounge singer before making his way into the countryside. The JSDF approves Operation L, a plan to use electromagnetic weapons including the newly-developed Type 66 Maser Cannon to kill the Gargantua. The plan is carried out, with electrical tripwires firing at the monster's legs before the Masers unleash their electromagnetic rays on the Gargantua. The beast tries to retreat to a river, but finds the water electrified. Just as the JSDF has the Gargantua at their mercy, a brown Gargantua emerges from the forest and helps the other up. The brown Gargantua waves off the JSDF and helps his green counterpart to safety. Stewart and Akemi conclude that the brown Gargantua, designated "Sanda" by the JSDF, is the kindly Frankenstein they raised. Analysis of tissue recovered from the green Gargantua, Gaira, shows his cells are identical to Sanda's. Majida proposes that the two Gargantuas are brothers, with Stewart saying the analogy is not far off. He proposes that when Sanda escaped their lab and went to Lake Biwa, some of his flesh tore off on a rock and grew into Gaira. While the kindly Sanda grew up in the mountains and was raised lovingly by Akemi, Gaira grew up in the dark depths of the ocean and became a hateful, violent beast. Stewart says the Gargantuas are more like clones than brothers, and determines that any attack against them runs the risk of spreading their cells which could then regenerate into more Gargantuas.
Sanda has taken his brother to the mountains around Mt. Fuji where he helps tend to his wounds. Akemi and Stewart head to the area to look for the Gargantuas, but come face-to-face with Gaira as he menaces a group of hikers. As Akemi and Stewart flee, Akemi falls over the side of a cliff and hangs on a tree branch for dear life. Before she falls into the rocky rapids below, Sanda hears her screams and rescues her, breaking his leg in the process. Akemi is overjoyed that Sanda recognizes her, and watches as he limps away. When Sanda returns to Gaira, he finds his brother sleeping next to the bloody clothes of the hikers he attacked. Sanda is horrified at the revelation his brother preys upon innocent humans and strikes him with a tree in rage. Gaira awakens and the two Gargantuas battle, with Gaira running away and Sanda unable to give chase on account of his broken leg. Gaira storms through the Fuji area and retreats to the sea before the JSDF can carry out its plan to destroy the Gargantuas. Most troubling is that Gaira seems to have lost his aversion to light, meaning he could attack Tokyo again. This comes to pass as Gaira enters the city once again, with Sanda converging on his location. The JSDF approves plans to attack both Gargantuas despite Stewarts protests. Akemi runs into the city streets to find Sanda and warn him to leave, with Stewart accompanying her. The two are soon menaced by Gaira, who grabs Akemi in his clutches. Fortunately, Sanda arrives and prompts Gaira to drop Akemi. Sanda tries to reason with his brother to end this senseless violence, but Gaira retaliates like a cornored animal and attacks his brother. Sanda continues fruitlessly pleading with Gaira, who continues lashing out. finally, Sanda accepts that his brother cannot be saved and fights back. The JSDF opens fire on Gaira as the war of the Gargantuas moves toward the port, their Maser Cannons sustaining fire on the green Gargantua. Both monsters fall into Tokyo Bay and continue their duel, gradually moving into the open sea. Planes drop bombs on the battling Gargantuas, but this activates an undersea volcano which begins to erupt. Both Sanda and Gaira continue to fight as they vanish amid the massive eruption. Mmajida finds Stewart with Akemi at a hospital and reports that both Sanda and Gaira appear to have perished in the eruption, though neither's death could be confirmed. Akemi is heartbroken at the loss of Sanda, who gave his life to defend humanity.
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) In a July 28, 1965 publication of Variety, the film was announced under the working title The Two Frankensteins. 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)
- Duel of monsters (Pojedynek potworów; Poland)
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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