Keeping the Halloween season in mind, I decided to go with three of Godzilla’s lesser foes that are a bit on the horrific side. Granted, some of these beasties have made subsequent appearances after their one big starring role, but usually in recycled footage. To me they’re still one hit wonders (despite multiple short roles and cameos), highly underutilized, and worthy to become part of this ongoing series of articles. This time out we have one very large crustacean, one menacing mantis, and one colossal arachnid, all of which have a hankering for human flesh. Let’s meet the latest batch of kaiju one hit wonders, shall we?
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Mass: 23,000 metric tons (25,300 tons)
Weapons/Ablities: Claws and awesome volleyball skills.
First Appearance: Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster)
Ebirah’s Complete Filmography: Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Godzilla’s Revenge (in footage cribbed from "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster"), and Godzilla: Final Wars.
Origin: Ebirah’s true origin is unknown, but it is believed that a radioactive leak from a power plant on a remote island may have caused the creature to grow to enormous size, all thanks to the Communists!
Ebirah is probably one of Godzilla’s least powerful foes and lacks any special beam weapons. However, Ebirah makes up for that with its big claws and guerilla tactics during battles at sea. Ebirah’s first and most noteworthy appearance was in Toho’s 1966 kaiju mini-epic, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (henceforth known by its Americanized title, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster). This film was originally set to star Toho’s version of King Kong (which explains Godzilla’s emergence from a cavern after being re-energized by lightning, and Godzilla’s love interest in a cute island babe), but in the end, Godzilla seemed like a better choice. (And how!)
In Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, a young man named Ryota, two of his friends, and a bank robber end up sailing the Pacific in search of Ryota’s missing brother, Yata. Eventually they run afoul of a giant claw during a storm and awaken the next morning on a tropical island. Said island is the secret base for a group of ee-vil Communists with equally ee-vil plans, called the "Red Bamboo." The group grows a bit larger after they meet up with a native girl named Daiyo that was captured by the Red Bamboo soldiers to be a slave. Together they try and throw a monkey wrench into the operations of the mysterious Red Bamboo by awakening Godzilla and trying to free the other prisoners.
As is usually the case in these films, good triumphs over evil completely and utterly. Godzilla battles Ebirah twice during the course of the film: The first fight ends in a draw after a game of volleyball with a huge boulder but the second battles proves to be fatal for Ebirah. The mighty crustacean is broiled alive and has its major appendages plucked away by an overzealous Godzilla. As the film ends, the heroes escape the Red Bamboo’s island, along with all the once captive natives, via a huge woven basket. You may be wondering, how do they escape in the basket? Do they float out into the unforgiving (and now Ebirah free) ocean? Heck no! Mothra makes a cameo appearance and whisks everyone to safety while Godzilla leaps into the ocean just before the entire island is incinerated in a nuclear explosion.
Ebirah would show up again in the 1969 travesty that was Godzilla’s Revenge. However, this film role does not count because the footage of Ebirah and Godzilla was completely taken from Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster! Ebirah has since reared its shelled head only once more in the recent Godzilla: Final Wars. In this film, Ebirah is controlled by invading aliens called Xilians (a throwback to Godzilla vs. Monster Zero) and in one scene, wrestles briefly with Hedorah, the Smog Monster, moments before each of them are incinerated by Godzilla. Ebirah is actually easily beaten back by the Earth’s mutant defense forces in the film, further proving how poor a monster Ebirah truly is. And while we’re still on the subject, what the hell is Ebirah?! They call it a lobster in the film but Ebirah’s name comes from the Japanese word for shrimp ("ebi"). I guess we can classify this kaiju as a giant prawn?!
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Mass: 2,800 metric tons (3,080 tons)
Weapons/Ablities: Can fly over short distances and comes equipped with some pretty nasty looking claws and mandibles.
First Appearance: Son of Godzilla
Kamacuras’ Complete Filmography: Son of Godzilla, Godzilla’s Revenge (in footage cribbed from "Son of Godzilla"), Destroy All Monsters (cameo appearance), and Godzilla: Final Wars.
Origin: During a weather control test on Sollgel Island, a radioactive storm was accidentally created. Said storm laid a good chunk of the island to waste and contaminated much of the wildlife, including the local species of Praying Mantises.
Kamacuras is yet another somewhat of a weakling in the kaiju universe, but is ultimately cooler than Ebirah. In 1967’s Son of Godzilla, scientists on Sollgel Island are trying to create technology to actually control climate and weather. During their first major test, the scientists’ test goes horribly wrong and the island is bathed in a radioactive rainstorm. Over the course of the film, the giant mantids uncover a giant egg and crack it open, only to release one of the most hated creatures in kaiju fandom: Minya (a.k.a. Minilla), the "son" of Godzilla (and the Pillsbury Dough Boy). The voracious Kamacuras (or is it Kamacurases…. or Kamacari?) descend upon the small, flailing rubber creature and prepare to eat it. Unfortunately Godzilla hears the cries of the mini-kaiju and comes to the rescue (and what the hell is up with Godzilla’s face? It looks like someone or something punched him in the face so hard that it blunted his snout!). Godzilla makes short work of two of the giant mantises, but the third escapes and is eventually killed by the film’s other resident kaiju, Kumonga. (Read more about Kumonga below.)
The design of the Kamakuras from the Showa Godzilla series was, and still is, fairly incredible. The creatures were nothing more than complicated marionettes and look extremely impressive to this day. In the all new Godzilla: Final Wars, Kamakuras gets to trash Paris, France, but eventually butts heads with the King of the Monsters. Sadly, Kamacuras doesn’t put up much of a fight and gets impaled on a high tension tower. If you want more Kamakuras action, read Marc Cerasini’s Godzilla 2000, in which the giant mantises are wiped out by the U.S. military in a huge battle. Also read Cerasini’s Godzilla at World’s End in which an evil alien presence creates a variation of Kamacuras called Kamacarites. Just imagine a bipedal, humanoid mantis that’s around nine feet tall and armed with a crystal spear. Pretty cool eh?!
Height: 45 meters (148 feet)
Mass: 8,000 metric tons (8,800 tons)
Weapons/Ablities: Can spin extremely strong webbing that can only be "cut" with fire; can deliver a poisonous sting.
First Appearance: Son of Godzilla
Ebirah’s Complete Filmography: Son of Godzilla, Godzilla’s Revenge (cameo appearance), Destroy All Monsters, and Godzilla: Final Wars.
Origin: No one knows where this horrific kaiju came from, but apparently it was a longtime resident of Sollgel Island and was in hibernation until it was awakened during a battle between Minya and a Kamacuras.
Kumonga is yet another impressive marionette creation by those ingenious Japanese special effects artists. First seen in Son of Godzilla, Kumonga threatened all the inhabitants of Sollgel Island, human and monster alike. This massive arachnid killed the final Kamacuras on the island and nearly made a meal of both Minya and even Godzilla himself. If not for the combined might of Godzilla and his… ahm…. offspring, Kumonga would’ve definitely finished off the island’s human residents. Kumonga would be seen again (in footage from Son of Godzilla) in Godzilla’s Revenge, but would see some new action in 1968’s Destroy All Monsters, in which the giant spider aids a larval Mothra in ensnaring King Ghidorah. After that, Kumonga wouldn’t see any action whatsoever until 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars.
In Ryuhei Kitamura’s "Love it or Hate it" Godzilla opus, Kumonga apparently terrorizes a series of trailer parks in the Arizona desert. (Gee… Thanks for the stereotype Japan! At least we’re not stacked on top of one another!!! Whoa! Sorry, got a little carried away there… I apologize for my outburst… it’s late and I’ve been typing for a very long time.) Kumonga later faces off against Godzilla in New Guinea and attempts to trap the mighty King of the Monsters in its webbing. Kumonga’s attack backfires when Godzilla grabs a strand of web and swings his eight-legged foe around in circles, eventually letting go and sending Kumonga sailing toward the horizon. Kumonga’s current fate is unknown, but for its sake, I hope the giant critter can swim!
Well that’s it for Volume III of the Kaiju (sort of) One Hit Wonders! There’s still plenty of monsters to go through so check back and maybe you’ll see your favorite (or not so favorite) monster get the credit it deserves right here at Rogue Cinema! What’s in store for the next entry of Kaiju One Hit Wonders? Well you’ll just have to wait and see, but any one of the following could end up on the Kaiju One Hit Wonder roster; here’s some hints: Leapin’ Lizards, Gargantuan Apes, Shaggy Dogs, Scaly Snakes, and maybe even some clunky Mechanized Monsters. Stay tuned and Happy Halloween fellow monster lovers!