Hey there kaiju fans! First off, my apologies for the lack of kaiju in last month’s Rogue Cinema. If any of you may recall, us folks in Northeastern Pennsylvania got hit hard with some heavy rains that resulted in a lot of flooding. This affected my life in two major ways: For the first time ever, I couldn’t contribute anything to Rogue Cinema (because I couldn’t get home to my computer), and secondly, I became (and may still be) unemployed since my workplace took a dip in the hazardous flood waters. But now the flood waters have receded, the clean up is almost over, and I’m thankfully back to work at Rogue Cinema. So, to get the summer off on the right foot, here’s volume nine of Kaiju One Hit Wonders. This time I’ve chosen some better known and still highly underutilized Japanese monsters.
Height: 35 meters (115 feet)
Mass: 8,000 metric tons (8,800 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Gorosaurus has a unique attack method referred to as most as a "kangaroo kick" along with sharp teeth and claws. This prehistoric monster has also been seen burrowing underground on at least one occasion!
First Appearance: King Kong Escapes (1967)
Gorosaurus’ Other Film Credits: Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla’s Revenge (cameo appearance), and Godzilla vs. Gigan (cameo appearance).
Origin: Gorosaurus is a prehistoric reptile that was discovered on Mondo Island and subsequently moved to "Monsterland" (later known as Monster Island) and nursed back to health after battling King Kong. At this time it is still unknown as to why this prehistoric monster has survived extinction and if there are any others of its kind still living on Mondo Island.
Five years after King Kong battled Godzilla, the giant ape was rediscovered at his new home on Mondo Island, but Kong was not alone. Among the islands inhabitants were a variety of prehistoric reptiles, including Gorosaurus. Discovered by Lieutenant Susan Watson, Gorosaurus’ first appearance nearly became its last. Before the gigantic dinosaur could make a meal of Ms. Watson, King Kong intervened and the two titans battled it out. Though Gorosaurus utilized its devastating "kangaroo kick," the mighty beast was quickly felled by Kong and left for dead. While Kong went on to have his own adventure and battle his mechanical double (Mechani-Kong), Gorosaurus would disappear for nearly a full year. In 1968, Gorosaurus was safely nestled at "Monsterland" on the Ogasawara Islands, fully recovered from the severe beating it took. Unfortunately for poor Gorosaurus, rest and relaxation was not in the cards. Alien beings called Kilaaks secretly assaulted the confines of Monsterland and put control devices in all the giant beasts, including Gorosaurus.
With the monsters under their complete control, the Kilaaks loosed the mighty kaiju across the globe. Gorosaurus gets the pleasure of pummeling Paris, France and can be seen in a brief scene as it burrows up from the ground and takes out the Arc de Triomphe. (Sadly, Baragon gets the blame for this attack, pushing Gorosaurus out of the lime light. This dinosaur just can’t catch a break!) Luckily for Earth’s monsters, Japan’s top scientists manage to break the Kilaak’s control and soon a battle royale begins at the base of mount Fuji between most of Earth’s monsters (some were content to just sit on the sidelines and cheer on their friends) and King Ghidorah. Amazingly, Gorosaurus plays a huge role in the battle and delivers several kangaroo kicks into the back of his three-headed opponent. Once Ghidorah is down for the count, Gorosaurus joins his fellow kaiju in a celebratory roar! With the Kilaaks defeated, Gorosaurus was returned to his home at Monsterland and has been living peacefully with his daikaiju neighbors ever since. Does this mean that Gorosaurus is officially retired from city-stomping and monster fighting? Only time will tell.
Length: 150 meters (492 feet)
Mass: 30,000 metric tons (33,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Manda is built like a python which allows this snake-like kaiju to wrap around its foes and crush them with its constricting body.
First Appearance: Atragon (1963)
Manda’s Other Film Credits: Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla’s Revenge (cameo appearance), Terror of Mechagodzilla (cameo appearance), and Godzilla: Final Wars.
Origin: Worshiped as a god by the underwater civilization of Mu, Manda defended her "subjects" from the flying-submarine/battleship known as the Atragon. Though Manda was frozen solid and left in the depths of the Pacific, the giant serpent later turned up as a denizen of Monsterland.
Manda, like so many other monsters in the Toho universe, was worshiped as god and protector of the Mu civilization. The people of Mu, jealous of us landlubbers, decide to wage war against Japan to establish a nation of their own above the waters of the Pacific. Things seem to be going their way until a secret weapon is unleashed upon Japan’s assailants: The Atragon! (Also known as the Gotengo.) The Atragon and its crew of brave men and women take the fight to the people of Mu but are temporarily captured. They soon manage to escape and are besieged by Manda while leaving the underwater nation behind. Manda wraps its body around the ship and begins to squeeze. Running out of time, the crew manage to electrify the hull of the ship, forcing Manda to retreat. Not willing to let sleeping gods lie, the Atragon follows after the sea-beast and blasts it with a freeze cannon, turning the former god to ice.
Since then, Manda had been rounded up and placed in Monsterland alongside Gorosaurus, Godzilla, Anguirus, and many other giant monsters. In the year 1999, the Kilaaks arrived and took control of all the monsters (see above) including Manda who crawled and climbed its way throughout Tokyo. Once the aliens’ control of Manda and company was broken, the slithering serpent made its way to Mt. Fuji to watch King Ghidorah get beaten like a red-headed stepchild. Since then Manda has appeared twice more in the Toho universe, first making a newly formed continent its home in Marc Cerasini’s Godzilla and the Lost Continent (which I still have yet to track down and read), and later making a short appearance in Godzilla: Final Wars. In that film, Manda was twice its original size and once again battled its arch-nemesis, the Gotengo (a.k.a. the Atragon). Despite the kaiju’s increased size, Manda is no match for the all new Gotengo and is completely obliterated by the flying battleship in the film’s opening moments.
Length: 300 meters (164 feet)
Mass: 9,100 metric tons (10,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: This eight-headed mythological beast uses its multiple necks to constrict its foes.
First and Last Appearance: The Three Treasures (1959)
Admittedly, I haven’t seen The Three Treasures so I can’t really give you much information on the original Orochi. I do know that the film is a fictional epic about the creation of Japan and Orochi shows up briefly at the end, only to be defeated by Yamato Takeru (Toshiro Mifune), a young warrior that is favored by the gods. However, I did see a more modern film about the tale called Yamato Takeru (a.k.a. Orochi: The Eight-Headed Dragon) so lets move on to that, shall we?
Height: 22 meters (72 feet)
Length: 66 meters (217 feet)
Mass: 5,000 metric tons (5,500 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: This version of the eight-headed mythological dragon breathes fire, shoots lightning from its eyes and mouths, and can form evil, human-like minions from lost teeth.
First and Last Appearance: Yamato Takera (1994).
Origin: An evil god known as Tsukiyomi returns to Earth after centuries to destroy what his fellow gods have created. Toward the end of the film, Tsukiyomi pulls out all the stops and transforms himself into a giant eight-headed beast: The legendary Orochi!
In 1994, director Takao Okawara (who would go on to direct the last film of Godzilla’s Heisei series and the first of the Millennium series) brought Japan’s best known legend to the big screen with flashy effects and nifty-looking monsters, with Yamato Takeru. The tale revolves around a young prince that is favored by the gods of creation. An evil god named Tsukiyomi is returning to Earth with plans to destroy everything on its surface, so the young prince must go out and find several items that will aid him in his quest. After battling a vicious warlord and various monsters, Prince Yamato Takeru eventually comes face to face with his nemesis. Their first battle ends in a draw so Tsukiyomi ups the ante by transforming himself into Orochi. The eight-headed monstrosity begins destroying everything in his path, forcing Yamato Takeru to transform into a giant power-ranger robot ninja! Once he’s in giant ninja-bot mode, Yamato begins lopping off each one of Orochi’s heads and ultimately defeats the multi-headed dragon. Tsukiyomi returns to his human form after the defeat and is once again imprisoned and jettisoned into outer space by the other gods, in hopes that when he eventually returns, he’ll be a kinder and gentler deity. Man, did someone whack these gods with a stupid-stick or something?! They should’ve killed Tsukiyomi when they had the chance! Sheesh!
Well that’s it for this dose of kaiju lovin’! Be sure to come back this September for more monster madness. I’m still not sure what kaiju will make the cut next time, but I may be able to make a decision easier if I hear back from some of you readers. Either post about what giant monsters you’d like me to write about in the Rogue Cinema forums, or just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what kaiju you’d like to see in this web-mag! Personally I’m thinking of delving into the Gamera or Daimajin universes, but my decision isn’t final yet, so let me know what you want! See you next month…. unless some freak force of nature suddenly seperates me from my computer again that is.
Photos courtesy of Toho Kingdom.