The War of the Gargantuas (1966)

war of the gargantuas poster 1966 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Darker than a Godzilla film

Pacing isn't very consistent

Movie Info

Movie Name: The War of the Gargantuas

Studio: Toho

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):  July 31, 1966 (Japan)/July 29, 1970 (US)

MPAA Rating: G

war of the gargantuas singer kipp hamilton

Listen, lady. Maybe he’s going to eat you not because you are appetizing but because your song was God-awful.

The sinking of a ship at sea and reports of a monster being responsible puts fear that the escaped monster Frankenstein has returned to kill.  Dr. Paul Stewart (Russ Tamblyn) and Dr. Akemi Togawa (Kumi Mizuno) don’t believe their creation is evil, and discover that the new Frankenstein is an entirely new beast.  Naming the creature Gaira, the only hope in defeating the monster could be the original Frankenstein Sanda.  A battle is beginning and defeat could mean a planet populated by beasts.

Directed by Ishirō Honda, 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 or Furankenshutain no Kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira aka Frankenstein’s Monsters Sanda vs. Gaira) is a Japanese kaiju movie.  A sequel to Frankenstein vs. Baragon from 1965, the film was released in the United States in 1970 with Monster Zero.

Godzilla films were always on TV, Rodan was an occasional airing, Mothra might have aired once…but I can’t ever remember The War of the Gargantuas airing when I was growing up.  With a love of kaiju films, I always wanted to see it and figured it would pretty much be in line with most Godzilla movies…but the movie in general feels a lot different.

war of the gargantuas russ tamblyn kumi mizuno

Hey…I don’t want to be in this movie and I don’t care about the crap you are showing me.

The first thing you notice from The War of the Gargantuas is that it is a lot darker.  The Frankenstein Gaira is a man-eater and chows down on people.  Being smaller than Godzilla and humanoid, Gaira is faster and somehow feels more menacing.  Like many Godzilla films, there is a subplot involving humans which largely ties to experiment that created the original Frankenstein monster Sanda.  The fact that Sanda and Gaira can spawn new clones of themselves poses a problem, but the eruption of the volcano to “solve” that problem almost seems a bit deus ex machine and a bit too simple.

Unlike most monster movies from the period, the movie has an American star with Russ Tamblyn.  Tamblyn allegedly wasn’t happy during the filming and disliked the movie.  He also had to redub all his lines when the original audio was lost (and since he adlibbed a lot, matching it is even worse).  The disinterest of Tamblyn doesn’t help the odd maybe-maybe not relationship with Akemi Togawa.  She is his assistant and the status of their relationship seems a little undefined (race could have played a role in this at the time it was made).

war of the gargantuas gaira sanda frankenstin

When you go out on a bender and your older brother has to come and take you home

I actually rather like the Frankensteins (the term Gargantuas really isn’t used in the film).  The size difference between them and Godzilla gives them a bit more personality and allows actual interaction between humans and them (even if they are just food).  I also find them kind of creepy.  While most Godzilla films I would just consider “monster movies” there feels like there is more of a horror aspect to this film.

If you like Godzilla, you definitely need to seek out The War of the Gargantuas.  I was pleasantly surprised by the film and felt that instead of just being a “clone” of Godzilla that these Frankenstein clones were something different.  The movie has a cult following and fans including Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt and maybe with the return of the MonsterVerse and Godzilla, the Gargantuas will rise again!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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