Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Burnt Lizard Blues


____"Monster From a Prehistoric Planet"(1967)____

Directed by:
Haruyasu Noguchi
(Hiroshi Kurosaki)Tamio Kawaji
(Itoko Koyanagi)YĆ“ko Yamamoto
Tag Lines:
"Even mightier than 'King Kong'!"


Yes, Kappa reviews the Gappa. Finally getting to my first Japanese giant monster film, and its a weird one. Now giant monster films have always been around, the most well known being King Kong and Godzilla. While the first one, as far as I know is the film "The Lost World", based on the novel of the same name by Arthur Conan Doyle. The movie was made in 1935 and used stop motion effects by Willis O'Brien, who also did the effects for King Kong. Before these films no one has ever used stop motion for film, and it was an amazing effect for the time. King Kong, if you dont know is the film about a group of film makers who go to a strange native island to shoot a movie. They then find out about the god of the island, a giant ape, named Kong by the natives. They take Kong to the city where he goes loose and on a rampage ultimately falling off the empire state building to his death. Its the most famous and well known monster movie and is a great epic film with some great effects and acting. Japan then tried to duplicate the film; the company Shochiku made "Wasei Kingu Kongu". This film was made in 1933 and is currently a lost film. Later on the famous Japanese film company Toho, the people behind Godzilla pit King Kong against Godzilla in one movie. The difference is pretty big, Kong being much bigger then the one in the original version. The Japanese also couldn't duplicate the effects done by O'Brien and saving money, and time used a suit instead. This technique then became a staple in giant monster movies, most notably in japan and is called Tokusatsu Kaiju films. Kaiju is a Japanese word that means "strange beast", but is mostly known for meaning Monster; and Tokusatsu meaning live-action film. Now lets talk about Toho, Toho is responsible for many of the giant monsters you love. They also made the grand daddy of all giant monster films, and the film that started it all in japan. Godzilla.

Now as the years went, more and more giant monster films were created in Japan and even in other places. Movies like Rodan(also by Toho), Gamera(Japanese), and Gorgo(UK). While Rodan and Gamera went on in their own films and along side Godzilla, Gorgo and The Gappa died off at one film. Now before anything lets try and dissect the creature of this film, The Gappa. Throughout the film it is described, mainly as a burnt lizard. But looking at it in the movie, it looks more like a fucked up Chicken. Its got a beak, wings, and a big horn on its head. The monster is pretty cool, but the movie doesn't do it any justice. The effects also, are pretty bad, and its mainly when the Gappa jumps and talks. Saying that though, it is much better looking then Gorgo. I would actually like to see a film where the Gappa fights Gorgo, get on that movie Japan! Now the name, Gappa is also pretty strange, to me, it sounds like Kappa. Now a Kappa is a water creature that resembles a humanoid turtle monster. Now, Gappa doesn't really look to much like Kappas, aside from maybe the beak. Alright, enough about the Burnt Lizard, lets get to the Nitty Gritty.
Now the film centers on a group of scientists, hired by a greedy entrepreneur; Mr. Funazu, the President of Playmate Magazine. Now, Playmate Magazine is a science magazine...Why in hell did they name the magazine Playmate Magazine!? That's the most ridiculous name for a SCIENCE magazine, Ive ever heard. The whole movie is fucked up like that, and the dubbing doesn't help, its almost a comedy. The scientists, which have to be some of the dullest, and stupidest scientists I've ever seen; are off to Obelisk Island. The natives of the island, and by natives, I mean Japanese people painted brown in plant clothes. I'm not sure if their trying to make them black or tan, I'm not sure, but its ridiculous. The Natives, who somehow speak their language perfectly, help the scientists out. The movie goes the way of King Kong as two of the scientists, Hiroshi and Itoko go into the forbidden area of the island and enter a cave. Inside the cave a giant egg hatches and in it a "burnt lizard". The "Burnt Lizard" is actually the baby of the god of the island, The Gappa. The Natives protest the scientists as they take the baby Gappa away, but when does that ever stop people in movies?
The Parents awake to find their baby gone, and go on a rampage on the island destroying everything. One of the natives of the island, Saki, gets away and is taken by the navy to Japan. Back in Japan, the baby Gappa astounds the people who read the newest issue of Playmate Magazine, which has a pretty hilarious cover picture. The Gappa's parents then fly into Japan and go on a rampage in search of their baby. Now, this is where the film could get better, but the quality, and the fact it takes so long, and nothing really impacts you when watching them destroy the cities. Though they do destroy Tokyo Tower. The scientists and the annoying Saki try and give the baby Gappa back to their parents, but Mr. Funazu is not having it. Mr. Funazu has to be the most ridiculous character in the film, hes loud and always yells "BURNT LIZARD". Well eventually they do reunite and have a dramatic..Well sorta, you cant really make a emotional scene with giant monsters. The Gappa family take flight and fly off into the air. Ive heard that the film's original music was actually some rock themes, which in the dub, were replaced. If anyone has a link to the original music of the film, post it in the comments, because I'm really curious on hearing it. Another thing I'm wondering about is the alternate West Germany title "Gappa - Frankensteins fliegende Monster". Why does the title have Frankenstein in it? I know that Toho made a Frankenstein movie, but this is a by a different company. I just think its weird that its in the title.
Now the film is not a good monster movie, its long, has some horrible dialog, and the version I saw had really horrible quality. The movie could have been cool, but has nothing that really makes it stand out. Its just a bad giant monster film, and barley a "So bad, its good!" movie. I really would recommend you to skip it, your not gonna miss anything.

Best Scene: Probably the ending or whenever Mr. Funazu yelling burnt lizard.

2 Out Of 5


Alternate Titles:

The Triphibian Monster(Philippines)
The Giant Beast Gappa
Monster from a Prehistoric Planet(USA)
Gappa, the Triphibian Monster
Gappa the Triphibian Monsters(USA)
Gappa - Frankensteins fliegende Monster(West Germany)

1 comment:

  1. You've got a really cool blog. I think this is my first time here. I really like it. Happy Halloween!