Archive for ishiro honda

Goregirl’s Dungeon on YouTube: The Words Get Stuck in my Throat from The War of the Gargantuas

Posted in Japan, movies with tags , , , , , , , on February 12, 2014 by goregirl

Music and images from Ishirô Honda’s The War of the Gargantuas (1966). This track was clipped right from the film; the actress who plays the lounge singer in The War of the Gargantuas is Kipp Hamilton and the film’s score was composed by Akira Ifukube.

Have a goretacular weekend!

THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Japan, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2014 by goregirl

There are dozens and dozens of films I love and adore that came out of Japan in the 1960s. It was the golden age of Japanese cinema; the Japanese new wave as it is sometimes called. Mikio Naruse, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Kaneto Shindô and Akira Kurosawa; just a few of the brilliant directors whose work I adore. For all of my admiration and the considerable artistic merits of the aforementioned there is no Japanese director whose work I have seen more of, or given more repeat viewings to then the work of Ishirô Honda. In fact, there may be no other director period, except for John Waters (ain’t NOBODY topping Mr. Waters) whose films I have re-watched more times than Ishirô Honda’s. There are a few terribly corny stories I like to share when I discuss Godzilla or Mr. Honda. I have shared these stories on this site and elsewhere but dammit I’m going to share them again. My parents took turns holding me as they watched Godzilla the day they brought me home from the hospital. I loved Godzilla even as a toddler and would make roaring-like noises and stomp on toys. In grade school I put up with being mocked by my little girlfriends for carrying a Godzilla lunchbox. I have always, and will always love the original 1954 Godzilla. I re-watch it regularly. It is not the only Ishiro Honda I have watched repeatedly. It is possible that I have seen Destroy All Monsters almost as many times as Godzilla over the years. These two films were the first DVD purchases I made. Other multiply watched Honda faves are Mothra, Mothra Vs. Godzilla, Rodan, Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster, The Terror of Mechagodzilla and today’s subject review The War of the Gargantuas. On a recent buying frenzy I finally replaced my VHS copies and bought all six of these Toho films for my collection. These films are tremendously entertaining and admittedly part of their charm is that they take me back to my childhood. As a grown up however I can appreciate these films on a new and different level. The tremendous and tedious work of putting together these epic adventures is pretty mind-blowing. They feature a tremendous amount of hand-made miniatures created only to be smashed to bits. The men who play the monsters which I covered briefly in a feature last week should be given the respect they deserve for performing in these hot heavy costumes for hours on end. Some of Japan’s most talented actors and actresses are featured in these films too. The wonderful Takashi Shimura (a huge favourite of mine), Ken Uehara, Minoru Chiaki and Kyôko Kagawa to name a few. Once in a while an American actor was brought in like Raymond Burr for the Americanized 1956 version of Godzilla (Godzilla, King of the Monsters!) and Russ Tamblyn for The War of the Gargantuas. I could recommend any of the Toho films I’ve mentioned here as I love them all; Godzilla (1954) and Destroy All Monsters are still my ultimate two favourites however but since I have reviewed them both I was forced to make a choice. It was a damn tough choice too! After much inner turmoil I thought The War of the Gargantuas was the most worthy of a review. The titular Gargantuas get more screen time than most of the monsters in the aforementioned titles. It has the most empathetic and human creatures, some of the best miniatures in the series and has one of the most epic monster battles in any of the Toho films I’ve seen. I love The War of the Gargantuas so much that the words get stuck in my throat.



“Captain, a giant octopus!” The giant octopus grabs the man and death is imminent. But Suddenly the Octopus disappears! He peeks cautiously through the window to see Gargantua attacking the giant octopus!


“That is…Frankenstein. I told you before, Gargantua looks like a Frankenstein!” The authorities are anxious to know what happened to the other four crew members of the lost vessel. They refuse to believe the lone survivors story that the other four men were attacked by a Gargantua. Come on now Japanese authorities! Do you, or do you not have a problem with giant monsters? By 1966 Japan was overrun with them!


They have recovered clothing belonging to the ship’s crew. “Why are they torn like that? They look like they’ve been chewed and spat out.” Suddenly lone survivor’s story ain’t sounding so crazy eh Cheif Izumida? Eh?


Cheif Izumida makes a call. “Make a long distance call to Kyoto. Office of Dr. Stewart, the expert on Frankenstein.” See what I mean? A “Frankenstein Expert”? The fact that there is a “Frankenstein Expert” should automatically legitimize any claims of such existing. Or at very least given some serious thought!


“Professor, it’s a call from Yokosuka Maritime Safety Agency.” Dr. Stewart “frankenstein expert” and his team.


Akemi (love interest), Dr. Stewart’s assistant working with the baby Gargantua. Dr. Stewart refuses to believe that the Gargantua/Frankenstein they raised in their facility would ever harm a human being, never mind eat one.


More Gargantua related terror! Disaster at Uraga Strait!



“It’s a Gargantua! Run! Run!” Yet another headline and sighting of a Gargantua! “Is it Frankenstein? Terror at Miura Peninsula”


Dr. Stewart and Akemi hike up the mountain with a team to investigate a Gargantua sighting.




“Haneda Airport is in an emergency situation!”





Folks enjoying a lounge act on a lovely summer evening. The rousing version of The Words Get Stuck in My Throat ends with a visit from Gargantua. The delicious looking songstress is just about to be dinner when the place is set aglow with light. It turns out that Gargantua has a fear of light; he drops the songstress and makes for the water.


Time to bust out the military.



They do some damage to the Gargantua.


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A larger brown Gargantua shows up to save it! What? Two Gargantuas?! SHIT!



“From now on sea Frankenstein will be called Gailah and mountain Frankenstein Sanda.”


Sanda peeking through the trees.


Gailah emerging from the water.


Dr. Stewart’s team finds some skin and wonders if it is Gailah’s. “It looks like his tissues.”



Sanda’s and Gailah’s cells are identical “This proves that these two Frankensteins are brothers.”




“Hold on Tight!” Akemi slips and falls and Sanda comes to her rescue. “You remember me!” Sanda does seem to remember his time in the lab with Akemi.


“If we attack them Sanda and Gailah will be blown to pieces. Their cells would be scattered not only over Tokyo but all of Japan! Than countless Sandas and Galiahs would emerge!” Not good.


The menace Galiah attacks another part of the city.


Dr. Stewart and Akemi are attacked by Galiah.

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First Dr. Stewart tells Akemi she is the most important person and then he admits that her theory was correct about Sanda. Someone is definitely getting laid tonight.


Sanda. Ready!


Galiah. Ready!



Lasers are employed to kill the creatures.


Sanda picks up a boat like it is a toy and attacks Galiah.


Underwater volcanoes erupt around the giant creatures.



War of the Gargantuas opens with a giant octopus and Gargantua fight and never lets up. This is one of the liveliest of the monster movies and has very little chatter between creature sightings. The monster mayhem is evenly scattered throughout. The first half of the film focuses specifically on Galiah who is a giant wrecking ball! I loved the scene when the military is attacking him and and he is picking up tanks one by one and smashing houses with them! The Gargantuas are the most human-like of any of the Kaiju; sort of a cross between a man and ape with a Frankenstein twist and a wee bit of yeti vibe. There are not too many creatures in the world of giant monsters that elicit empathy but Sanda is definitely one that does. Sanda was raised by humans and still feels a connection to them where his counterpart sees them as the enemy and a snack. Sanda comes down from his mountain home to save Gailah; a home where he managed to safely avoid human beings. Sanda puts his life in peril not once but twice. Once to save Galiah from the humans and again to save the humans from Galiah. It is a bittersweet story; very much like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The minatures are amazing and very realistic; the airport is particularly impressive. Almost all of these Kaiju flicks seem to have a love interest bit but the connection between Dr. Stewart and Akemi is very low-key and not at all unpleasant. Kumi Mizuno who plays Akemi is a lovely, likable and talented actress who fits her role perfectly. Russ Tamblym is dubbed in Japanese but is nonetheless a handsome and beguilling presence as Dr. Stewart. Dr Stewart and Akemi are really the only two human characters that get focus, everyone else comes and goes with little impact. The real highlight here of course are the Gargantuas Sanda and Gailah. I recently did a feature on suit acting where I focus on Toho’s most prolific performer; Haruo Nakajima. Besides the original Godzilla, Nakajima considers his role as Sanda to be his best creature performance. Part of the effectiveness comes from Nakajima’s ability to emote with his eyes. Sanda is the only creature suit he donned that exposed an actual part of his face. Yû Sekida is also outstanding as Gailah. The two men worked extremely well together. The battle between them in the film’s finale; mutually coordinated by the men is one of the best in any creature feature! My only complaint is not about the film itself but rather the quality of the DVD. This was a Toho Masters Collection DVD and the images were not clear and the night shots were very dark. If you click on any of the pictures to make them larger you will see what I mean. The War of the Gargantuas has everything you could ask for in a giant monster movie. A solid story, an energetic pace, monster sightings at regular intervals, copious chaos and destruction, great effects, a groovy soundtrack and an epic monster battle to end it all. The War of the Gargantuas gets my highest of recommendations; a perfect score.

Tomorrow…music from The War of the Gargantuas!!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Ishirô Honda

Starring: Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Nobuo Nakamura, Jun Tazaki, Hisaya Itô, Yoshifumi Tajima, Ren Yamamoto, Kipp Hamilton, Kôzô Nomura, Nadao Kirino, Haruo Nakajima, Yû Sekida

DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #15 – #11

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on August 5, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #15 – #11

My dungeon director project will be coming to its thrilling conclusion this week! Check in on Wednesday and Friday to see who made the top 10!

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*


#15. Sergio Martino

What I’ve Seen: The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971), The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971), All the Colors of the Dark (1972), Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972), Torso (1973), Gambling City (1975), A Man Called Blade (1977), The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978), Screamers (1979), The Great Alligator (1979), 2019: After the Fall of New York (1983)

I have seen a mere 11 of Sergio Martino’s 42 full length feature films. Martino has directed a number of comedies, the one genre of Italian film I haven’t explored much. Martino makes this list thanks to his seriously outstanding Giallo entries which are absolutely among the best of their breed! I gave four of Martino’s films a perfect mark; The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, All the Colors of the Dark and Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key. I also loved Torso, Gambling City and A Man Called Blade; actually I have enjoyed all 11 of the Martino films I’ve seen. Martino’s Giallo have all the important elements that make the sub-genre so bloody brilliant and beloved by me! The twists and red herrings, glove-wearing killers, beautiful women, amazing cinematography and sex and violence! Martino is also a big fan of Edwige Fenech and Anita Strindberg and so am I!! These two beautiful talented ladies are just another compliment to Martino’s great flicks! His thrilling puzzles are constructed by the great Ernesto Gastaldi who penned all my aforementioned faves. Seriously, you gotta check out Gastaldi’s resume; the man has written some seriously awesome shit! I’m ashamed I only discovered Sergio Martino’s films relatively recently. Martino is a Giallo master!


#14. Roman Polanski

What I’ve Seen: Knife in the Water (1962), Repulsion (1965), Cul-de-sac (1966), Dance of the Vampires (1967), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Chinatown (1974), The Tenant (1976), Tess (1979), Frantic (1988), Bitter Moon (1992), Death and the Maiden (1994), The Ninth Gate (1999), The Pianist (2002), The Ghost Writer (2010), Carnage (2011)

I have seen 15 of Roman Polanski’s 20 full length feature films (he also has a film in pre-production called D). I love several films on this list but Polanski has lifelong membership in the favourite’s club due to his “Apartment Trilogy”; Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant. These are three of the best films I have ever seen in my life! Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby have been on my top 100 favourite horror film list since I started keeping one! Although Repulsion is masterfully filmed I think Catherine Deneuve probably deserves equal credit. Deneuve’s performance as Carol in Repulsion was a freaking revelation! The woman is positively alarming! Mia Farrow’s performance in Rosemary’s Baby is also pretty bloody fantastic. And I do love my satanic-oriented shenanigans! The Tenant is more of a dramatic thriller and it is a wonderfully quirky and mysterious one! It stars Polanski who is not only a great director he is an actor and writer (along with Gérard Brach who collaborated on the writing of several of Polanski’s films). It also features the lovely Isabelle Adjani. I also love and adore Knife in the Water, Dance of the Vampires, Cul-de-sac and Chinatown. While I don’t actually dislike any of Polanski’s Post 70s films they don’t move me the same way as his earlier work. Beautifully-filmed, well-written, character-intensive and with a ribbon of black humour running through them; Roman Polanski’s films mesmerize me and fill me with wonderment.


#13. Ishirô Honda

What I’ve Seen: Godzilla (1977), Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), Mirâman (1973), Space Amoeba (1970), Destroy All Monsters (1968), The War of the Gargantuas (1968), King Kong Escapes (1967), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965), Monster of Monsters: Ghidorah (1964), Dagora, the Space Monster (1964), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), Atoragon: Flying Supersub (1963), Matango (Attack of the Mushroom People) (1963), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Mothra (1961), The Human Vapor (1960), Varan the Unbelievable (1958), Rodan (1956), Godzilla (1954)

20 is a significant number of titles to see from one director, but it is just a drop in the bucket of Ishirô Honda’s 52 full length feature films! Japanese director Ishirô Honda is maestro of the monsters and the undisputed king of the wildly fun sub-genre! I have enjoyed every single title on this list! Godzilla was the first film I ever seen and I have seen it countless times since! The film was a pretty monumental achievement for its time! His collaborations with special effects guru Eiji Tsuburaya are particularly grand! 100s of miniature structures smashed to bits for my entertainment! I am also a huge fan of Honda’s Destroy all Monsters, The War of the Gargantuas, Mothra Vs. Godzilla, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Matango, Mothra and Rodan!! A friend said “You can’t put Ishirô Honda in between Polanski and P.T. Anderson” and I said “To hell I can’t!” Seriously! For the pure joy Honda’s films have brought me over the years he really deserves to be in my top 10! Damn rankings! Ishirô Honda holds the key to my heart!


#12. Paul Thomas Anderson

What I’ve Seen: There Will Be Blood (2007), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Magnolia (1999), Boogie Nights (1997), Hard Eight (1996)

Paul Thomas Anderson has the teeniest resume in my entire list of 50 directors with just five full length feature films! I have seen every single one of his films in the theatre and gave four out of five of his films a perfect score! His deeply flawed characters and dysfunctional families appeal to me on a variety of levels. I was slightly horrified by the news that Adam Sandler was to star in Anderson’s follow up to Magnolia. I really am not fond of Adam Sandler but his turn here is magnificent! Anderson creates one of the most unlikeable-likable characters I have ever stumbled upon! Who the hell wouldn’t be a little “off” being the only male among a family of overbearing sisters constantly intruding in your life? Punch-Drunk Love has become one of my favourite love stories of all time! Generally speaking, Anderson employs many of my favourite actors and actresses; John C Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emily Watson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jason Robards among others. It can’t hurt your film having some of the most talented actors/actresses working today! All of Anderson’s projects feel like a new experience; Boogie Nights and Magnolia are these brilliant massive ensemble pieces with multiple key characters where Punch-Drunk Love and There will be Blood are more intimate looks at a central male character. In any case, the one thing all Anderson’s films have is intriguing wonderfully written characters! Anderson’s sad, lonely, angry, broken characters are a breath of fresh air in a sea of happy-ending sappy drivel. I would be hard pressed to choose which of Anderson’s films my favourite is; I like each one for different reasons. Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most talented and intriguing directors working today and I am beside myself with excitement to check out The Master coming out soon.


#11. Joel & Ethan Coen

What I’ve Seen: True Grit (2010), A Serious Man (2009), Burn After Reading (2008), No Country for Old Men (2007), The Ladykillers (2004), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Barton Fink (1991), Miller’s Crossing (1990), Raising Arizona (1987), Blood Simple (1984)

I have seen all 15 full length feature films from the Coen brothers. I really struggled with Joel and Ethan Coens placing on this list! I have loved the Coens since seeing Raising Arizona in the theatre in the 80s. Up until recent years the Coens never ever disappointed. While I feel no less strongly about the films I love from the duo they have had a few “oopsies”; The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty, and True Grit. The mighty Coens have five films I gave a perfect rating to; Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo and The Big Lebowski; Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men and Brother Where Art Thou? would not be far behind. From Crime to comedy Coen’s films have highly entertaining stories, characters and seriously fucking talented actors and actresses! Some of my all time favourite actors and actresses have appeared in the Coen’s films; William H. Macy, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Peter Stormare, and Albert Finney among others! I have seen just about every single one of the Coen’s film on the big screen and actually went to see Barton Fink at the theatre three times! The extraordinarily talented writing, production and directing team of Joel and Ethan Coen have already left their unique signature on cinematic history but I think they just might have a few more tricks up their collective sleeves. I look forward to checking out Inside Llewyn Davis which is in post-production. Despite a few broken eggs I look forward to the potential omelette of awesomeness these amazing multi-talented men might concoct next!


The Films of Ishirô Honda

Posted in Japan, movies with tags , , , on March 1, 2012 by goregirl

Fans of Japanese monster flicks already know the name Ishirô Honda. For those of you not familiar with Honda’s work I have included his impressive fifty strong list of directorial efforts. To the best of my knowledge, Honda worked with Toho his entire film career. So many of my favourite Toho flicks are on this list; Godzilla, Matango, Mothra, Rodan, and Destroy All Monsters. In fact, Destroy all Monsters will be my first film review for this feature. Not coincidentally, all of my aforementioned favourites were collaborations with special effects guru Eiji Tsuburaya. Fellow Toho director Akira Kurosawa also collaborated with Honda, who was chief assistant director on Kurosawa’s Stray Dog and Ran. Apparently the two were close friends; Kurosawa delivered the Eulogy at Ishirô Honda’s funeral in 1993. Honda died at the age of 81. Ishirô Honda was responsible for some of Toho’s best and most successful creature features and is a director worth celebrating!

The Films of Ishirô Honda

1990 Dreams (The Tunnel, Mount Fuji in Red, prologue & epilogue of The Weeping Demon – uncredited)
1977 Godzilla
1975 Terror of Mechagodzilla (Mekagojira no gyakushu)
1973 Mirâman
1970 Space Amoeba (Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no daikaijû)
1969 Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Oru kaijû daishingeki
1969 Atragon II (Ido zero daisakusen)

1968 Destroy All Monsters (Kaijû sôshingeki)
1968 The War of the Gargantuas (Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira)
1967 Come Marry Me (Oyome ni oide)
1967 King Kong Escapes (Kingu Kongu no gyakushû) (english language version)
1965 Invasion of Astro-Monster
1965 Frankenstein vs. Baragon
1964 Monster of Monsters: Ghidorah (San daikaijû: Chikyû saidai no kessen)
1964 Dagora, the Space Monster (Uchû daikaijû Dogora)
1964 Mothra vs. Godzilla
1963 Atoragon: Flying Supersub (Kaitei gunkan)

1963 Matango (Attack of the Mushroom People)
1962 Varan the Unbelievable (Japanese scenes – uncredited)
1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla (Kingu Kongu tai Gojira)
1962 Astronaut 1980 (Yôsei Gorasu)
1961 The Scarlet Man (Shinku no otoko)

1961 Mothra (Mosura)
1960 The Human Vapor (Gasu ningen dai ichigo)
1959 Battle in Outer Space (Uchû daisensô)
1959 Seniors, Juniors, Co-Workers (Uwayaku, shitayaku, godôyaku)
1959 Inao: Story of an Iron Arm (Tetsuwan toshu inao monogatari)
1959 An Echo Calls You (Kodama wa yonde iru)

1958 Varan the Unbelievable (Daikaijû Baran)
1958 Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (Japanese scenes)
1958 Beauty and the Liquidman (Bijo to Ekitainingen)
1958 Song for a Bride (Hanayome sanjûsô)
1957 Defence Force of the Earth (Chikyû Bôeigun)
1957 A Farewell to the Woman Called My Sister (Wakare no chatsumi-uta shimai-hen: Oneesan to yonda hito)
1957 A Teapicker’s Song of Goodbye (Wakare no chatsumi-uta)
1957 A Rainbow Plays in My Heart (Waga mune ni niji wa kiezu)
1957 Be Happy, These Two Lovers (Kono futari ni sachi are)
1956 Rodan (Sora no daikaijû Radon)
1956 People of Tokyo, Goodbye (Tôkyô no hito sayônara)
1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (Kaijû-ô Gojira)
1956 Yakan chûgaku
1956 Young Tree (Wakai ki)
1955 Beast Man Snow Man (Jû jin yuki otoko)
1955 Cry-Baby (Oen-san)
1955 Love Makeup (Koi-gesho)
1954 Godzilla (Gojira)

1954 Farewell Rabaul (Saraba Rabauru)
1953 Eagle of the Pacific (Taiheiyô no washi)
1953 Adolescence Part II (Zoku shishunki)
1952 The Man Who Came to Port (Minato e kita otoko)
1952 The Skin of the South
1951 The Blue Pearl (Aoi shinju)

Ishirô Honda

Toho March has arrived!

Posted in Japan, movies with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2012 by goregirl

Toho March has arrived! I am celebrating Japanese studio Toho’s contributions to cinema all month long! I will not only be reviewing horror films either. In the queue are the films of Ishiro Honda, Mikio Naruse, Takashi Tsuboshima and Akira Kurosawa. Speaking of Ishiro Honda, he will be the subject of my first post, which I will be following up with a review of his monster extravaganza Destroy All Monsters! I will have my first post up shortly! TOHO RULES!

Now this is my kind of Christmas Tree!