Friday, April 2, 2010

Godzilla, Anguirus, And The Case Of The Missing Monster Suits

Before Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros start designing a new Godzilla costume, they may want to look around. There's one already in Hollywood.....someplace.

Written By: Ken Hulsey

Yes, it's true! Somewhere out there, presumably still in Hollywood, are a Godzilla and an Anguirus costume waiting to be found.

The story of how these two Toho made monster suits came to reside on

American shores is very interesting, and also filled with a bit of mystery.

Back in 1957 Toho was almost to the point of desperation, trying everything that they could to get their movie, "Godzilla Raids Again" released in the United States. A year earlier, the Americanized version of "Gojira", called "Godzilla: King of the Monsters", had done very well at the box office, and the studio wanted to act fast to get it's sequel in front of western eyes.

At about this same time, Hary Rybnick and Edward Barison of AB-PT Pictures, were working on a monster movie of their own, called "The Volcano Monsters." When the two film makers learned about "Godzilla Raids Again", and Toho's desire to get it released in the states, they decided to approach the studio about melding the two films together.

As was the case, there was very little interest coming from any of the other US studios, or distributors, so Toho agreed to let Rybnick and Barison cannibalise their film, for the special effects shots. AB-PT would then shoot scenes with American actors to go around the existing footage.

As it was, Rybnick and Barison, really weren't interested in giant monsters for their movie, well, not monsters as big as Godzilla and Anguirus. What they were looking for were dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus rex (female) and an Anklyosaurus.

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 very much alive and, after being struck by lightning, would break loose to wreck havoc in Chinatown. In the end Godzilla kills Anguirus and is lured to the North Pacific where he is frozen.

The two Japanese creations, would fill in very nicely as these two Jurassic reptiles, brought back to life.

As you may have guessed, all the scenes which showed the titanic size of the monsters were to be scrapped, along with any scenes that showed Godzilla breathing fire.

After reviewing the footage, the two American film makers realized that there wasn't as much usable stock effects left as they had hoped.

It was at this point that they contacted Toho about using the two original monster suits from "Godzilla Raids Again" to film new scenes on larger scale sets to make the monsters look more like standard dinosaurs.

Toho agreed, and shipped the two suits to Hollywood for the filming of "The Volcano Monsters".

While all of this was transpiring, AB-PT Pictures was facing a financial crisis. When Rybnick and Barison had put together everything they needed to begin filming, the money had evaporated.

With no funds, the two film makers were forced to put "The Volcano Monsters" on hold. As things ended up, the studio produced one last film in 1958, "Girl in the Woods" with Forrest Tucker and Margaret Hayes, which didn't fair well at the box office, then went bankrupt.

Rybnick and Barison abandoned their movie, and as we all know, Warner Bros stepped in and acquired the rights to release, "Godzilla Raids Again", but oddly not the rights to use the name "Godzilla", dubbed it, poorly, into English and released it as "Gigantis the Fire Monster" in 1959.

So what happened to the Godzilla and Anguirus suits that AB-PT had in their possession? Well, that has been a matter of great debate for decades. Toho never received the two costumes back from the studio, so, unless someone deposited them in the waste, they are still locked away someplace.

A few years ago I looked into the matter some and discovered that the old AB-PT studio property and structures became part of Desilu Studios, which then became part of the Paramount lot.

I have no way of knowing whether or not any of these original AB-PT structures are still in existence today.

I can only assume that the two suits were not thrown away, and I say that because most of the monster costumes from that era, that were trashed, were rescued by employees of the studios, and ended up in the hands of collectors.

So, it can only be assumed that Godzilla and Anguirus are locked away someplace, collecting dust, waiting to be discovered.

It should be noted that, "The Volcano Monsters" was not AB-PT's only deal with Toho. After "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" aired on US TV, the studio approached the Japanese film makers about producing a giant monster series for the US. The studios money troubles prevented that series from ever getting produced.

I should also mention that AB-PT only notable film was the 1957 giant grasshopper horror, "Beginning of the End". In fact, the studio only produced four films in total, none of them big money makers.

No comments:

Post a Comment


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.