Hello and welcome to volume two of kaiju one hit wonders, featuring more of those loveable and mostly unused monsters that have only graced the silver screen once (or almost twice). Last time out the featured monsters were Battra, Biollante, and Jet Jaguar; long before that I did an article about three other one hit wonders in the kaiju universe, namely the Kaiju Triple Threat, which consisted of Destoroyah, Gabara, and Spacegodzilla. Now, here’s the latest batch of giant beasts from the orient that got the shaft over the last 50 years of Godzilla’s cinematic reign.
Length: 55 meters (180 feet)
Mass: 40,000 metric tons (44,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Lightning bolts from star-shaped horn on head, napalm bombs from mouth, drill hands, ability to burrow underground at Mach 3, and can “fly” in short distances of approximately 10 kilometers.
First and Last Appearance: Godzilla vs. Megalon
Origin: Megalon is the creation of the underground kingdom of Seatopia. Tired of the destruction caused by the testing of atomic weapons, the mighty underground empire sent Megalon to the surface to repay the favor. Lucky for us, Godzilla and his bionic sidekick Jet Jaguar were on hand to save the day.
Megalon is actually a rather cool creation in my book and is sorely in need of a comeback in my opinion. This one-time Godzilla foe starred in the aptly titled, Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973). In the film, the kingdom of Seaptopia has suffered extreme amounts of damage to their underground cities due to the atomic weapon testing of us surface dwellers. Enraged with the human race, the Seatopians sent two agents to first confiscate Jet Jaguar from an inventor in order to guide the underground nation’s mighty deity, Megalon. Megalon is an odd-looking kaiju; it resembles a gigantic bipedal beetle but is covered in scales and equipped with two potent drill hands. Upon it’s arrival, Megalon hops across the Japanese countryside, led by the Seatopian controlled Jet Jaguar. Luckily the only damage the mighty monster causes is to a hydroelectric dam.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces manage to carry out several failed attacks on Megalon before control of Jet Jaguar is wrested from the Seatopians. Jet then flies to Easter Island to get Godzilla’s aid, then flies back to Japan and grows to an enormous size and begins battling Megalon. Megalon proves to be a pretty lousy fighter and gets a good beating from Jet until Gigan arrives on the scene. The two menacing monsters then lay a major smackdown on Jet until Godzilla arrives to even the odds. During the battle with Godzilla, Megalon proves to have a rather sneaky and somewhat playful personality. The giant beetle-kaiju revels in the pain inflicted on his enemies and even tries to play possum at one point in order to fool Godzilla with a ill-timed napalm bomb.
In the end, Godzilla and Jet Jaguar are of course victorious and Gigan is sent screeching back to space, leaving poor Megalon at the mercy of his two aggressors. Megalon gets an extremely harsh flogging and retreats back underground from whence it came, never to return to the silver screen again. Since then, Megalon has only made a few minor appearances in Godzilla literature and gaming. In Marc Cerasini’s “Godzilla at World’s End,” Megalon burrows up from the underground in South America with a somewhat new origin. In the book, Megalon and nearly all the other featured kaiju that Godzilla battles, is a genetic creation by an evil alien entity that was hibernating in the arctic. Megalon turns out to be one of the least hardiest monsters and is chased into the Amazonian jungles by a combined military attack. (This is referenced in the final pages of the book in order to tie up that loose end.) Megalon is currently a playable character with some pretty cool moves in “Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee” and “Godzilla: Save the Earth.” Will this lesser kaiju be reborn when Godzilla makes his comeback in ten years? Only time will tell.
Height: 60 meters (197 feet)
Mass: 30,000 metric tons (33,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Can create cyclone force winds with its webbed tail and is also an adept hand-to-hand fighter.
First and Last Appearance: Terror of Mechagodzilla
Origin: Titanosaurus was a new species of dinosaur discovered by the late Dr. Mafune. He managed to develop a way to control the creature and used it to take out his deep-seated resentment against all those who laughed at his work.
Titanosaurus splashed up from the ocean depths in 1975 with the release of Toho’s Terror of Mechagodzilla. In this direct sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Godzilla went up against the tag-team of Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla in a last hurrah for the Showa Godzilla series. In this film, the aliens from The Third Planet From the Black Hole have rebuilt Mechagodzilla and plan on wiping out Japan. Along for the ride is Dr. Mafune, a scientist who was scoffed at after he declared a major find: A dinosaur living in the Sea of Japan! After he was shunned by colleagues, Doc Mafune somehow managed to team up with the alien invaders, mostly to show off his pet dinosaur. Things quickly look bleak for Japan as both monsters are set loose on the mainland. Luckily Godzilla arrives right on cue to start delivering his brand of justice. As the two against one kaiju battle progresses, Godzilla is beaten unconscious and buried alive.
However, by the time that happens, humanity has found a way to combat Titanosaurus with the use of supersonic waves. A supersonic wave gun is developed and is successfully utilized against Titanosaurus, allowing Godzilla time to get back on his feet. Once he does, the King of the Monsters defeats Mechagodzilla and ultimately destroys the alien creation. Then the Big-G focuses his next barrage of attacks on the now crippled and badly wounded Titanosaurus. Eventually a somewhat comatose Titanosaurus falls into the sea, never to return again. Titanosaurus isn’t one of the best designed kaiju I’ve ever seen, but he surely had a lot of spunk. During its fight with Godzilla, Titanosaurus delivers a series of amazing hand-to-hand combat moves, including head butts, jump kicks, and an extremely impressive uppercut. Sadly, Titanosaurus has never been utilized since, making it a true Kaiju One Hit Wonder.
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Mass: 15,000 metric tons (16,500 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Gliding flight, claws, and spines.
First and Last Appearance: Varan the Unbelievable (Note: Varan can also be seen for approximately five seconds in Destroy All Monsters.)
Origin: Worshiped by the cult of Obake, Varan is a tri-phibian monster that was driven from its underwater lair by pollution. Or, if you’re watching the Americanized version, Varan’s arrival is caused by chemical tests on a lake, conducted by the United States military.
Varan is definitely one of the most mysterious and overlooked kaiju in the Toho universe. Varan was first seen in 1958’s Varan the Unbelievable. In the original release, Varan was awakened due to increased levels of pollution in a sacred lake. The creature goes on a short rampage and destroys a village before being defeated by the Japanese military. The creature’s armor made it nearly impervious to the military’s attacks until a powerful explosion was set off beneath Varan’s soft underbelly. The badly wounded monster painfully retreated to the sea, only to be seen once more and very, very briefly in Toho’s Destroy All Monsters. Since then, Varan has only made minor appearances in two of Marc Cerasini’s Godzilla novels, namely “Godzilla 2000” and “Godzilla and the Lost Continent.” But Varan’s tale doesn’t end there folks. This monster was almost used twice since its final five-second onscreen appearance.
1972 marked a huge surge in unused ideas for new Godzilla films including a sequel to Godzilla vs. Hedorah and even matchups with newly created monsters like “Redmoon.” One of the proposed film ideas that came out of this chaotic time was for a film called “The Return of King Ghidorah.” The film was going to have a three-on-three kaiju battle with Godzilla, Anguirus, and Varan on the home team against the combined might of King Ghidorah, Gigan, and a new kaiju named Mogu. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint) the idea was changed. Both Mogu and Varan were tossed out, and Megalon and a new creature called Majin Tuol were added in (with other major changes as well). This project was originally entitled “Godzilla vs. The Space Monsters: Earth Defensive Directive,” but this project was scrapped as well and eventually became “Godzilla vs. Gigan.” (Side Note: Megalon would go on to star in Godzilla vs. Megalon after Godzilla vs. Gigan was completed.)
This however would not be the last time Varan was tossed out of a film during pre-production. In 2001, Shusuke Kaneko was working on a little project originally entitled, “Godzilla, Anguirus, Varan: Giant Monsters All Out Attack.” In the film, Godzilla would’ve gone up against Anguirus, Baragon, and Varan in a battle to the death for the sake of Japan. However, due to poor box office returns on the previous film, Godzilla X Megaguirus (gee, I wonder why that movie didn’t fare too well), Toho execs told Kaneko to replace Varan and Anguirus with the usual fan favorites of Mothra and King Ghidorah. The result? Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack! The film turned out to be a financial success, but in the end, Varan still got shafted and has yet to get another chance on the big screen. Why not give Varan a solo adventure or team him up with some other kaiju in a new project? If done right, it could definitely be awesome!
Well that about does it for this edition of the Kaiju One Hit Wonders. The list of underutilized monsters is still pretty big, but it seems that Toho has dusted quite a few off over the past decade or so. Ebirah (a.k.a. The Sea Monster), Hedorah (a.k.a. The Smog Monster), King Caesar (a.k.a. King Seesar), and a slew of others have gotten some well deserved screen time thanks to Ryuhei Kitmura’s Godzilla: Final Wars. Fan reaction to this film has been mixed to say the least, and if you’re curious about it, keep your eyes and ears open. I’ve heard rumors that the film will get a DVD release this September so stay tuned, and be sure to visit Rogue Cinema every month for more kaiju related articles from yours truly!
Pictures courtesy of Toho Kingdom.