Monster From A Prehistoric Planet (aka Daikyojû Gappa – 1967)
Here’s a unique entry in the Japanese giant creature genre. Not so much unique in content (we’ll get to that) but more so in production. This oddity was Nikkatsu studios first, and only, attempt at a giant monster film (unlike fellow Japanese studio Toho, the studio behind Godzilla, the clear inspiration for this attempt at box-office glory). Watching Monster from a Prehistoric Planet would lead you to believe that Nikkatsu had stollen away a veteran Toho filmmaker, such is the competency of Haruyasu Noguchi’s direction. Yet, like the studio, this was the director’s only stab at a large-scale monster movie, which, is rather remarkable when you see just how well some of the set-piece action sequences are done, as well as the multiple effects shots. It’s actually quiet the achievement for a filmmaker of limited experience in 1967 – this could very well be a Toho movie (and they’ve made worse than this).
Anyway, onto the movie. First up don’t be fooled by the English title; the more observant viewer (and by that I mean the viewer with eyesight) will soon dissect that a more fitting name would be The Monsters (plural – there are three) from a Prehistoric (this is a historic stretch, but we’ll give them this one) Island (there is no ‘planet’ or space travel to speak of) Where The Islanders are Japanese People in Black-Face (oh yes, they go there). By the way, the Japanese title roughly translates to The Giant Monster Gappa which makes far more fucking sense. The movie is very much a rip on Godzilla, King Kong, and Gorgo. Some scientists visit a tropical island and find a huge egg belonging to a creature named Gappa that the natives see as their god, and proceed to take this god-fetus back to Japan (King Kong). As it turns out the newly hatched whats’it has two very pissed off, very large, Gigan-looking parents, who go on the hunt for junior (Gorgo). On reaching the Japanese coast, these flying, fire breathing parents kick the shit out of the military and level various Japanese cities (Godzilla).
If this isn’t enough to entice you to watch The Monsters from a Prehistoric Island where the Islanders are Japanese People in Black-Face, than perhaps the horrible race-slur of Japanese child actors in the aforementioned black-face is enough to spark your cinematic intrigue. You can tell that Nikkatsu executives had Haruyasu Noguchi watch every giant creature feature ever made, with the simple directive of “Hey you, make us this”. And he basically achieved it. It is a super-sized rip-off yes, but, it is rather effective and you can really see the effort put in by the creative team.
So.., Who out there has seen this one.., Deadly Movies 20th Movie you’ve Probably never Heard of? Own up god damn you!
You can see the other 19 Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard of here