Throwing down the gauntlet here after a certain three-character website barfed up a list yesterday of “The Weirdest Giant Monster Movies Ever Made” that doesn’t seem to acknowledge anything made outside of Japan, the US, or Hong Kong, and even then, picks mainstream targets. As a well-versed traveler in the world of awesome giant monster films from across the globe, the list is bunk. So here is a much much better list of weird giant monster movies, in no particular order. And I’m sure people will drop by with films even I didn’t list. The point is there is a whole world of wonderful cinema to explore. You might think because I dismiss these films as weird, that I don’t like them or I think I’m better than them. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I love these films, and you should too!
(1976) – Aliens have invaded Hong Kong, and only one god can stand up to those crazy space cases – Guan Yu! Yes, suck on that science, as every attempt to bring down the aliens by using technology and innovation fails, an old guy who carved a Guan Yu idol saves the day when it comes to life, grows to gigantic size, and ruthlessly slaughters those aliens bastards. Hey, all those aliens are strangely milky white, while Guan Yu is pure 100% Chinese. Hm…. War God had a release long ago on VHS, and grew to legendary status as it was unavailable for years and years in the States until someone found one of the VHS tapes and soon copies multiplied like grey market rabbits. A DVD release was planned at some point, I know thanks to a handy lawsuit threat from the company responsible, who somehow thought I was the one spreading the tape around. Where the heck that DVD is has become a mystery as well. Until then, we’ll always have the memories of giant aliens getting beaten up.
Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century
(Yeti – Il gigante del 20° secolo, 1977) – This Italian ripoff of King Kong features a gigantic yeti that was frozen in ice, only to be revived and do a step-by-step recreation of the plot of the 1976 King Kong remake. Never fear, Yeti has his own theme song (by the Yetians!) and it’s funktastically crazy!
(1961) – This Danish-American coproduction is actually two different films, as the Danish version features musical numbers, a flying monster, and goofiness, while the American version cuts out the mirth in favor of more monster effects and a focus on damage and destruction. Both films end up crazy, for different reasons. But all you have to do is take a look at Reptilicus and realize there is no way this could possibly not be silly!
Yongary, Monster From the Deep
(1967) – Yongary holds a special place, because it’s the only giant monster movie I know of where the monster is killed by bleeding out of the butt! A shoddy Korean production that looks cheap and feels cheap, while avoiding all that charming stuff. That’s not to say it’s terrible, it’s just not good, and not so terrible it’s good. I am surprised MST3K never got a chance at it. Check out the take by WTF-Film! It was later remade by D-Wars director Shim Hyung-rae as Reptilian, but that bombed. Shim Hyung-rae also starred in a comedic farce version of Yongary in the 1990s, which is hard to find for some reason so I can’t make accurate snide remarks about it.
(1985) – No list of weird giant monster movies is complete without this entry from North Korea! Before Kim Jong-Il was a brutal dictator, he was the son of a brutal dictator who was obsessed with movies. Kim Jong-Il arranged for the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, actress Choi Eun-hee, and forced them to create films. One of the results of this debacle was the film Pulgasari, which involved a mythical creature that grew to gigantic proportions once it eats metal, and thus aides a peasant rebellion against a corrupt ruler. After his flight to freedom, Shin Sang-ok would later reuse the premise for the 1996 American film The Legend of Galgameth!
Daigoro vs Goliath
(1972) – The silliest Toho giant monster film doesn’t feature even feature Godzilla at all, but is about a weird cow hippo monster and how he learns to be brave and fight an evil monster from space. And also learns how to poo. I’m not making that up. There is triumphant toilet stall leaving action in Daigoro vs Goliath! Todd and I covered this movie quite well with an Infernal Brains Podcast!
The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit
(ギララの逆襲／洞爺湖サミット危機一発, 2008) – Minoru Kawasaki’s strange take on the Monster X film gives us a sequel that’s made up of stock footage, and a bunch of ridonkulous political satire that’s already totally dated (almost everyone lampooned is either out of office or dead!) and features a giant version of Takeshi Kitano taking a missile up the butt (ironic, considering his homophobic comments!) Guilala battles Take-Majin in the final minutes, but it takes far too long to get to the monster fight. Not recommended unless you want a blast from the past, almost every other Minoru Kawasaki film is better.
(1963) – Smart movie fans will know that India has produced their fair share of films that have giant monsters in theme, even if the majority only feature the monster in tiny roles. Shikari is a bit different, because it’s a mix of King Kong and those boring jungle adventure films. Which means we get more giant gorilla action than you’d think! FourDK gave Shikari a once-over. Until someone finds a surviving print of Gogola (the rumored Indian Godzilla film), this is probably the Indian film with the most kaiju bang for your buck.
Banglar King Kong
(2010) – Of all the King Kong ripoffs on this list, Banglar King Kong is not only the most recent, but also the most cheap! Bangladeshi cinema produced this amazing take on the King Kong mythos, produced just in time to be years too late to cash in on Peter Jackson’s remake. Banglar King Kong follows a simplified version of the plot of the original film, with plenty of musical numbers thrown in. King Kong is a guy in a cheap costume, he’s discovered and falls in love with one of the hottest stars of Banglar cinema. Eventually, King Kong rampages in the city (literally made out of cardboard) until he’s gunned down by footage stolen from the 1976 King Kong. Twas editing killed the beast! We sunk our claws into Banglar King Kong here at TarsTarkas.NET!
(Godzilla il re dei mostri, 1977) – The only Godzilla film I’ll dare put on this list (though the unnamed site did correctly point out Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster was weird, Cozzilla is a special case. It’s an Italian edited version of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, which is the American edited version of Gojira. And like the American version, it has lots of added scenes that change large portions of the tone. But unlike the American version, it’s colorized in a format called Spectrorama 70, developed by Armando Valcauda. Spectrorama 70 involved using colored gels to tint the footage, giving it a surreal, otherworld quality. Much footage of actual wars scenes and even the Enola Gay have been added in, and the entire film comes off as a bleak and depressing tale. Luigi Cozzi is the madman responsible, you might remember him for bringing a certain film called Starcrash to life. The only copies to make it to the US are Nth generation VHS dubs, and for the longest time we didn’t even have the ending on tape! Will we ever see a true release of this amazing legendary edited version? Good breakdowns of Cozzilla exist here and at WTF-Film.
Taiwan’s Flying Children Films
(various) – One of the worst genres of Taiwanese cinema is the Annoying Flying Children genre, which features kids of various annoyance running around with magical super fighting powers and usually flying around like idiots. The kids somehow come across giant monsters all the freaking time, which leads to plenty of sequences where these invincible children defeat humongous creatures. The flying kids are almost as bad as the legions of Japanese children who wear short shorts. Almost. Young Flying Hero has a giant frog and dragon battling it out for a few minutes. Dwarf Sorcerer is the youngest and most annoying, he fights gorilla men and dragons. Flyer of Young Prodigalis a cheaper version of the same story, but with dinosaur stabbing and dragon fights. The Boy and the Magic Box has the most creative monsters, a bearded triceratops and a flame-shooting tyrannosaur that uses weapons. But the coolest monster is the three-headed creature that battles the hero for reasons unknown.
(2005) – This sequel to Creepies not only exceeds the original, but it’s a pretty fun b-level monster flick where a giant spider destroys Las Vegas, and a giant robot must defend the city. Made on a budget of whatever the director found in his couch cushions, it looks like they had a pretty big couch, because it’s awesome! The most fun you will have with a giant rampaging spider movie that never got a real US release! Discount Puppet Explosion dealt with the Creepies menace!
The Super Inframan
(1975) – Okay, the other films on this list are just very good suggestions for you to watch. The Super Inframan is the film that if you haven’t watched, you need to track down immediately and watch. I mean, don’t even finish this paragraph, find the freaking film and enjoy! One of the classics of cult cinema, The Super Inframan delivers nonstop entertainment as monsters and mayhem invade the planet, hundreds of people are killed, and a super hero rises to destroy the threats. I mean, how can you watch this and not want to find this film just this instant?:
The Ginseng King
(三頭魔王, 1988) – Taiwan is no stranger to giant monster mayhem, and they feature all over this weird kiddie tale of a 1000 year old ginseng and all the evil people who want to eat him. Also lots of giant things are met along the way. Being a Taiwanese childrens’ film, it gets dark at times. It’s some of the funnest fun you will ever have watching a film about a 1000 year old ginseng man.
Darna and the Giants
(1974) – Darna is the classic Filipino super heroine who has battled her share of evil-doers, from evil trees to evil space ladies. But battling evil giants was her finest hour. Because it meant she could be listed in this article! You did it, Darna! Seriously, the Darna films are some of the funnest things from the Philippines, and the Vilma Santos Darna films are the classics all other versions are held up to. So do yourself a favor and track some down, and be sure to watch this entry for lots of stomping action! Darna expert Todd gives us a guide via FourDK!
Phra Rot Meri
(1981) – The films of Sompote Sands could make their own list of weird giant monster films (or their own series, like FourDK did!), but Phra Rot Meri is by far the weirdest. While Sompote Sands often pilfered Ultraman or Kamen Rider for his films, his original films dealt with aspects of Thai mythology, and the translation get a little lost without the benefit of subtitles. Thus, I couldn’t exactly explain why the giant monster guy in Phra Rot Meri has gigantic boobs, but he does and there they are. And yes, lactation fetishists, he does milk himself. There’s some plot about a prince fighting against evil, but seriously, who cares when we got giant monsters spraying their milk all over the place? Give Phra Rot Meri a prize, any prize, all the prizes! Make Phra Rot Meri captain of the USS Enterprise on the next reboot! Get ready to be confused! (NSFW for giant fake monster boobs!)
If you enjoy giant monsters and want to see more weird ones, but ones that aren’t the focus of the film, or films that just weren’t weird enough to include, you can also check out:
A Field Guide to Cantonese Fantasy Monsters and Creatures – a list of the fabulous creatures discovered so far in old black and white Cantonese wuxia classics. A MUST SEE!
The Mighty Gorga – Cheap as heck US King Kong ripoff with the most hilarious gorilla vs dinosaur fight on film!
Little Hero – big octopi show up on the beach to toss their children at Polly Shang Kuan!
Kinky Kong – King Kong fucks the Statue of Liberty. Also softcore sex happens or something.
The Legend of Mother Goddess has dragons, big eared dudes, and lessons to learn about piety.
Merciful Buddha – yet another giant monkey, though it barely appears. There is a weird horse man and some other goofy effects. Cool for being weird, but not monster enough to satisfy much of anyone.
Hanuman and the 7 Ultramen – Sompote Sands made a career out of stealing intellectual property, and here is one of his most famous examples!
Mars Men – an Italian edit of a Thai giant monster film made by Sompote Sands!
Thunder of Gigantic Serpent and King of Snake – A girl befriends a snake, which soon grows to enormous size and must be mercilessly slaughtered! The original King of Snake version was chopped up and dubbed into Thunder of Gigantic Serpent, the version most famous in the west.
Giant Taiwanese Monsters were discussed on these two Infernal Brains Podcasts (our firsts, so please excuse the quality!)
And there’s plenty more where this came from. But if you don’t have a healthy start by now, you aren’t paying attention… Thanks to Exploder Button and Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill for help with ideas and having covered films I haven’t gotten around to writing about yet!
The Legend of Mother Goddess
aka 天后 aka Tian Hou Chuan aka 天后傅 aka 媽祖收妖
Written and directed by Hou Cheng
The Legend of Mother Goddess is a biopic of the religious figure Mazu (aka Matsu/妈祖), known as the Goddess of the Sea. To make things more interesting, the producers threw in a bunch of giant monsters and fantasy elements, thus giving the film legs in the Western cult movie circuit. Worship of Mazu began over 1000 years ago and there are temples all over the world. Find one today! Legend of Mother Goddess even tells the tale of how Mazu got her two guardian guys.
The first tape I got had Korean subs written over the Chinese/English subs, and thanks to a second generation vhs transfer, the English subs were hard to read. Thus…the names might not be right. Who to blame? Obviously, the person to blame is President Taft. That fat bastard! Luckily I later got a better copy with good subtitles, so although it looks way better, I can’t use my cool “We don’t need no stinking subs” tag. Woe is me…
If you wish to learn more about Taiwanese Kaiju, there is a two part Infernal Brains podcast on the subject, here and here.
When Hell Broke Loose
Directed by ???
When Hell Broke Loose is a crazy mess of a film involving all sorts of demons and goofy things and at some point a guy fights a giant puppet tiger and even flies out of the tiger’s butt. The story is steeped in religious philosophy and involves forgiveness, but as one of the main characters does some pretty despicable things, it is hard to have any sort of empathy for the character.
Besides the puppet tiger, the main attraction of When Hell Broke Loose is the visits to Chinese Hell. As you may already know, the concept of Hell in China is complicated, with a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, and a lot of local beliefs. Exactly what parts make up hell depends on which mixture you are using. Hell is called Diyu (地狱) and is basically a place where you go to get punished/tortured for your various sins until you achieve atonement and get reincarnated to the next life. The most common depictions of Diyu have 10 courts ruled by the 10 Yama kings, but there are also depictions of 4 or 18 levels. When Hell Broke Loose seems to follow the 18 level route, but as 18 is a simplification of the 134 levels in the Buddhist text Wen Diyu Jing (問地獄經), you can see how this is complicated. Here is an interesting article about a place called Haw Par Villa, sort of a museum/amusement park with statues of the various demons and tortures of the 10 levels of hell. Some of the creatures and tortures depicted show up in this film.
When Hell Broke Loose has a lot of random scenes of people being tortured in Chinese Hell. Not so many it can be sold as a torture porn film, but at least 10-15 minutes of scenes added just to spice up the Monk wandering around Diyu. A few scenes fit in with the movie’s story of redemption and atonement for past sins, but the bulk were just added as gonzo exploitation fare. That gets really nuts when the secret ending of When Hell Broke Loose is revealed! What is the secret ending? You’ll have to read it below!
There is precious little information about When Hell Broke Loose, I can’t find it on any database, nor the director, and the only actors IDed anywhere are Yu Tien Lung and Wen Chiang Lung.
The film opens with like 9000 words onscreen as the camera zooms into the faces of golden Buddhas, but as the words are in Chinese I can only read like 10 of them. So: Something, something, something, something, something, something, 18 gates, something something person, something, many somethings. And now you know the prologue to When Hell Broke Loose! Tell your friends! Call your enemies! Email the guy stuck in traffic next to you on the freeway!
aka Calamity aka Guan Yu
Directed by Chen Hung Min
Dink dink, dink dink dink dink dink!
War God is a movie that was missing for a long long time. It sort of became a legend among the growing Asian film community on the internet as a lost kaiju film. Little was known about it except some posters and promo images, and the knowledge that it was broadcast on Taiwanese TV at some point recently, meaning a copy existed somewhere. But beyond that, it was unavailable. Then someone found a VHS and it leaked all over the internet, so here we are! Because FourDK and TarsTarkas.NET both cover many of the same paths of film watchership, we’re timing our reviews to drop on the same day. Why compete when you can turn it into something special? This way it is sort of an event. A War God Event. A Calamity, if you will. The real calamity is if you don’t read both of our reviews. You have a responsibility to yourself to read them both, don’t let yourself down again!
Naughty, naughty, naughty! You filthy old soomka!
The best way to describe War God to new viewers is to think of it as a long episode of Ultraman, except instead of the Science Patrol, War God is backed by the Religious Patrol. This is a film not afraid to tell you that when aliens come to Earth with superior technology, don’t try to research ways to defeat them with technology, call on the power of a guy deified. Between that message, the constant moaning and whining of Uncle Chao as he carves the Guan Yu idol, and the subsequent major plot point of painting on Guan Yu’s eyes, the parts of War God that don’t feature giant things beating the tar out of each other can get pretty annoying. Luckily, we have a LOT of scenes of giant things beating the tar out of each other. Finally, a lost film with giant monsters that doesn’t skimp on the giant monsters!
Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit?
Thanks to duriandave at softfilm for help in IDing some of the actors:
This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.
No time for the old in-out, love, I’ve just come to read the meter.
Obama’s new campaign posters looked a little off…
And now we have Part 2 of the joint podcast from TarsTarkas.NET and 4DK about Taiwanese giant monster films. Join Tars from TarsTarkas.NET and Todd from Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! as we discuss how annoying flying Taiwanese children are a threat to the very existence of giant monsters in Taiwan, as well as Taiwanese films that don’t fit into neat categories. Only one of the films mentioned this time are impossible for you to see at the moment, the rest are just highly difficult to locate!
You can download the mp3 here (right-click, save-as) or just watch the flash version where I threw together some images to go along with what is discussed and even remembered to have an opening title card!
Movies discussed include:
Flyer of Young Prodigal
Young Flying Hero
Boy and a Magic Box
Thrilling Sword – Tars Review – 4DK Review
Phantom Magic Peach Blossom
Legend of Mother Goddess
The joint podcast will continue soon! It will definitely be better technically with less random noises and clearer microphones. We might even have a title for it by next time…