Monday, April 5, 2010

Gigantis The Fire Monster (Godzilla Raids Again)

Written By: Ken Hulsey (Barney Buckley)

Just about everybody, by now, knows that the upcoming movie "Godzilla 2012" is not Warner Bros first Godzilla related project.

Way back in 1959, the studio bought the rights to distribute the film "Godzilla Raids Again" (1955) in the United States.

For some unknown reason, Warner Bros, failed to secure the rights to the name "Godzilla", and the film was released under the name, "Gigantis the Fire Monster."

It is interesting to note that the review of "Gigantis" that I am including below was note taken from Classic Media's 2007 DVD release of "Godzilla Raids Again". Instead it was composed after watching the 2003 DVD release of the "Cinema Insomnia" episode "Gigantis the Fire Monster." Prior to 2007, the only way to get the movie on DVD, outside of Japan, was through this release.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the show "Cinema Insomnia", it is a nationally syndicated late-night television series hosted by Mr. Lobo, America's most popular Horror Host. The show is filmed in Sacramento, Ca, and has been airing since 2001. Just like the old "Elvira" series, Mr. Lobo performs comedy skits around movies.

I don't want to get into talking about "Cinema Insomnia" too much right now, because I intend on writing a separate article about the show in the near future.

After the success of the 1954 film, "Gojira", Toho studios would hurriedly begin production on a sequel, entitled "Godzilla Raids Again". This time the mighty Godzilla would be pitted against another titanic creature, Anguirus, whose origin is never truly explained in the film. This, as most fans know, would be the first of several Godzilla battle films.

Two spotter pilots, for a Japanese fish canning plant, crash-land on a deserted island where both Godzilla and Anguirus are already engaged in mortal combat. During the fight the two titans plunge into the sea and disappear leaving the two onlookers amazed at what they had both witnessed. Would anybody believe their amazing tale?

The Japanese scientific community could take no chances. The two pilots were questioned thoroughly and asked to identify the monsters from a pile of sketches of known prehistoric creatures. The scientist’s worst fears would become reality. One of the creatures was indeed another Godzilla and the other an equally horrifying beast, known as Anguirus. Tokyo was destroyed by just one of these monsters. How could Japan defend itself against two?

A ocean-wide search was immediately put into action to locate the two monsters. At first, it was believed that the two creatures had swam past Japan. A celebration would begin. People would relish in the fact that Japan had been spared another tragedy. Their celebration would be short lived.

Anguirus would soon appear off the coast of Osaka. Once ashore the monster would blaze a path of destruction through the city. If Anguirus was here could be long before Godzilla would follow?

The, "King of Monsters", would take little time in tracking down it’s foe. Despite all attempts by the Japanese military to keep the two monsters apart they would soon again be locked in deadly combat.

Godzilla and Anguirus would level Osaka.

Godzilla would become the victor of this titanic battle by ripping Anguirus’s throat open with a bit to the neck. Anguirus would lay dying while Godzilla would return to the sea.

Another search would be mounted to locate Godzilla. All of Japan's pilots would be enlisted to aid in the search effort and, as a matter of luck, one of them would locate the monster near the polar ice of the North Pacific.

After Godzilla had come ashore on a remote ice-covered island, a plan was put into action

to burry the monster under an avalanche of ice using missiles fired from Air Force planes.


The bombardment would indeed cause an avalanche that would encase Godzilla under tons of ice. Japan would once again be safe from Godzilla…….but for how long?

As I mentioned above, the film would be released in America in 1959 as 'Gigantis the Fire Monster". The distributor of the film, Warner Bros, was not able to secure the rights to use the name "Godzilla", so "Gigantis" would take it's place.

This would not be the first attempt to bring "Godzilla Raids Again" to US shores. In 1957 Hary Rybnick and Edward Barison of AB-PT Pictures had struck a deal with Toho to use footage from the film to make one of their own called "The Volcano Monsters". The story revolved around the bodies of both Godzilla and Anguirus being discovered in a lava flow in Japan. An American company would buy the two monsters and ship them to San Francisco. Of course the two monsters would end up being alive and break loose to wreck havoc in Chinatown. In the end Godzilla kills Anguirus and is lured to the North Pacific where he is frozen.

Could have been interesting, only one problem, the studio folded the next year and the film never got made.

As for "Gigantis", the film, itself, is a perfect example of how not to edit a motion picture. Warner Bros. did the worst job imaginable on this film. The dubbing is the worst of any Godzilla film. The voice actors even get the names of the monsters confused so many times that you soon have no idea which one they are talking about. The same monster is called Gigantis in one scene and Anguirusaurus in the next.

The sound department even mixed up the monsters roars. Godzilla is heard throughout most of the film with Anguirus's roar coming out of his mouth, and vice-versa.

The film itself is in fairly pour condition but still very watchable. There are a couple of scenes that get so dark that it is hard to make things out. Despite the films condition this is still a film that has rarely been seen, mostly forgotten, so this is probably as good it will ever be.

(Note this is in regards to the quality of the print aired on "Cinema Insomnia.")

Acting/Dialogue: Gigantis the Fire Monster – Awful. This may be the worst dubbed film ever. None of the original dialogue would make it into the American cut. What you end up with are lines like “Horrors in the world of science are part of nature’s plan”. Even more amazing is the fact that Warner Bros. isn’t to blame for this. Toho actually provided the English script.

Gore: Very little. There is some blood when Godzilla bites Anguirus’s neck.

Good Points: The film itself (American cut) is a mess. Yet, it is still entertaining to watch. The monster fighting although shot at the wrong speed, faster instead of slowed down to produce the effect of mass size, is more like two animals fighting in real life. The film still has value due to it’s rarity and the fact that it is direct sequel to "Gojira". Fans should see it at least once for these facts alone. I myself, love the film for it’s camp value.

Bad Points: The film itself (Gigantis) should be shown to all film students as part of a, “what not to do to a foreign film”, lecture. Everything is done wrong. The dialogue doesn’t match. The monsters sounds are switched. The monsters are called by the wrong names. The original score was replaced. The list goes on-and-on. It just makes me wonder why so little care went into this?

Outside Review: Barney Buckley - Godzilla Shrine ( closed)

Summary or Synopsis: Kobayashi and Tsukioka are part of a small fishing fleet , they are pilots for this company. While Kobayashi's plane has problems. Kobayashi is forced to landed on Iwato island. He is found by Tsukioka, there they stumble onto two great beasts clashing with each other. The Monsters known as Godzilla to some and the name given to him is by Warner Brothers upon distribution is called Gigantis and the other monster is called Anguirus. The two monsters fight until they fall into the ocean where they end up in Osaka, Japan. Gigantis eventually gets the better of Anguirus and kills the monster. Gigantis is now traveling to an off island where he is eventually trapped in ice by jet fighters bombing the hill side that is packed full of ice and snow..

Acting/Dialogue: The acting and dialogue and dubbing is pretty accurate for its time. The acting is a lot better to me then most of the newer movies they make. Sometimes the simpler the situation the easier it is to control.

Gore:The only gore I have seen here is when Gigantis takes a bite of Anguirus. He chomped down on his neck like a vampire hungry for blood.

Good Points: Now the good points to this movie is unlike Godzilla 1954 where he plundered and destroyed Tokyo at a very calm and deliberate pace, Gigantis is the opposite , the monsters are very swift and agile, reason for this is they (Toho Company) filmed the fight scenes at a slower speed and the rest of the movie at the regular speed giving the monsters the impression of being very fast. Tsuburaya who was the effects director for the film studied the movies from three different cameras all being the same speed except camera C. Tsuburaya actual liked it and left in this film and future films to come. Another thing I liked about this film

was the actual design of Gigantis suits, I am partial to the spines of this suit.

Bad Points: The one thing that sets in everyone's mind is why the different name , well being that Warner Brothers purchased the rights to the movie , they just did not want to fork out that extra penny for the name, and the roars are another thing in Warner Brothers Version Gigantis sounds like Anguirus at times what's up with that. One thing I mentioned early was the design of the suit it also has its flaws like some scenes it shows Anguirus's carapace separate and Godzilla seems at times in the bay coming ashore he looks like he is a on Slim fast diet.

Overall Rating: This movie is a good one to watch like the original is has a dark and eerie feel about it. But it has its weak points too. Though it is the very movie that had Godzilla or Gigantis in this case gets his first enemy a foe who later becomes Godzilla's friend in later movies.I will give this movie 3 zillers

Gigantis The Fire Monster (1959)
Warner Bros. (Toho)
AKA: Gojira no gyakushu (1955), Counterattack of the Monsters (1959), Gigantis (1955), Godzilla Raids Again (1959), Godzilla's Counter Attack (1955), Gojira Strikes Again (1955), Gojira's Counterattack (1955), The Return of Godzilla (1955), The Volcano Monster (1955)

Directed By: Motoyoshi Oda
Written By: Shigeaki Hidaka and Shigeru Kayama

Hiroshi Koizumi as Shoichi Tsukioka
Setsuko Wakayama as Hidemi Yamaji
Minoru Chiaki as Koji Kobayashi
Takashi Shimura as Dr. Kyohei Yamane
Masao Shimura as Dr. Tadokoro

Runtime: 82 Minutes Japan / 78 Minutes USA
Color: Black and White
Sound: Mono
Released: April 24, 1955 (Japan)(Godzilla Raids Again)

See Also: Godzilla, Anguirus, And The Case Of The Missing Monster Suites

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Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.