There’s been a distinct lack of giant monster articles here at Rogue Cinema as of late and I’ve been sorely missing the chance to write about the gargantuan beasts of sci-fi cinema. This is due in part to the fact that I’ve been busy with other Rogue Cinema projects, plus the list of monsters to write about has dropped dramatically since 2004. But have no fear because I happen to be very resourceful, and I’ve managed to find three hitherto ignored daikaiju to discuss in this latest entry into my Kaiju One Hit Wonders series. While there’s no real theme to this particular group of monsters, it is important to note that they all appeared in the Showa era of kaiju films and were later overhauled and given new life in recent cinematic adventures with mixed results. I should also point out that all three monsters at one time were under alien control! Wow, these three kaiju have a lot more in common than I thought!
* * *
KING CAESAR (A.K.A. KING SEESAH)
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Mass: 30,000 metric tons (33,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: King Caesar can reflect beam attacks with his eyes, but generally resorts to fighting enemies with is formidable claws and teeth!
First Appearance: Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
King Caesar’s Other Film Credits: Terror of Mechagodzilla (Brief cameo appearance.)
Origin: King Caesar is the lion god & protector of Japan’s Azumi royal family. For centuries King Caesar slept in hibernation within a hidden cavern, but was awoken to aid Godzilla against the alien-made Mechagodzilla. Once the metallic menace was defeated, King Caesar went back into hibernation for another thirty years.
King Caesar is one of the most overlooked monsters in the Godzilla universe. This "lion god" (that looks more like a giant, mutant Pekinese dog) made is feature film debut in 1974 with Jun Fukuda’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. In that second-to-last Showa Godzilla film, aliens from the "8th planet from the Black Hole" (a.k.a. The Simians), have built a cyborg doppelganger to destroy Godzilla and turn Japan into a mega-sized parking lot. During the course of the film, an ancient prophecy begins to take shape and a race to awaken King Caesar, the protector of the Azumi tribe, begins to unfold. Spies that work for the Simians and the Japanese government continue a back and forth battle over a King Caesar statue that is the key to awakening the guardian monster.
As for Godzilla, the King of the Monsters is badly wounded in his first encounter with Mechagodzilla and sits out most of the movie. (Though during his healing time, Godzilla manages to learn how to magnetize himself! Hahaha!) With Godzilla temporarily out of the picture, the Earth must rely on the awakening of King Caesar. Despite the Simians’ hijinks, the King Caesar is unleashed upon the their mighty mechanical creation. King Caesar proves to be a match for Mechagodzilla at first, but soon the tide of the battle turns. King Caesar is reduced to hiding behind rocks and is nearly defeated by Mechagodzilla, but luckily Godzilla arrives on the scene and uses his newly found powers of magnetism to take down his robotic twin. With Mechagodzilla destroyed, King Caesar crawled back under the rock he came from in order to hibernate again until needed by humanity.
Height: 100 meters (328 feet)
Mass: 50,000 metric tons (55,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: The new incarnation of King Caesar is a real acrobat and a very accomplished kaiju soccer player!
First (and so far, Last) Appearance: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Origin: King Caesar is now twice as big as he was thirty years ago and is now under the control of the Xilians, a race of evil aliens that wish to conquer the Earth!
After helping Godzilla save the Earth from an alien invasion thirty years ago, it’s ironic that King Caesar would be under alien control in the most recent attack on our planet. In Godzilla: Final Wars the King Caesar is just one of many giant monsters that is sent on a worldwide rampage. King Caesar’s city-stomping is cut short after he, Anguirus, and Rodan triple-team the most powerful incarnation of Godzilla ever! Despite King Caesar’s amazing kaiju soccer skills (watch the movie to find out what I mean), he loses the battle against Godzilla, by way of knockout. Since his brief stint as a villain, King Caesar has been quietly licking his wounds and waiting by the phone for his kaiju agent to call with a new gig.
MOGUERA (A.K.A. MOGERA)
Height: 50 meters (162 feet)
Mass: 50,000 metric tons (55,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Moguera can fire laser beams from its eyes and emits intense amounts of radioactive heat from its body, making it a very hard monster to get close to.
First and Last Appearance: The Mysterians (1957)
Origin: In 1957, a race of aliens known as the Mysterians came to Earth in a peaceful manner. However it turned out that these beings from deep space were only interested in stealing our women for mating purposes! To give them an edge in their custody battle for Earth’s women, the Mysterians deployed Moguera to stomp out any military resistance. Fortunately for mankind, Moguera is dumb as a rock and rather easy to destroy.
1957’s Mysterians showcased one of Toho’s goofiest kaiju creations: Moguera. The giant robot was the main offensive tool against humanity, but proved to be a rather easy opponent to defeat. The Mysterians in the film are a race of aliens that have destroyed their home planet (and their sperm count) with nuclear weaponry. Though they claim that they are here on Earth to stop us from making the same mistake, they soon begin capturing women and conquering land from Japan! Moguera comes into play early in the film and manages to destroy a small village or two while shrugging off everything the Japanese Self-Defense Forces can muster. However, Moguera is defeated (not once, but twice) by an unfortunate series of events. The first Moguera takes a spill off a demolished bridge while the second is crushed beneath the machine it was sent to destroy! (DOH!) Had the Mysterians spent more time making their robot smarter and hardier, they might have succeeded in taking over Japan but in the end, poor Moguera ended up in the kaiju scrap heap. (Note: I’d feel guilty if I didn’t mention that this version of Moguera was featured in ye olde Nintendo game, Godzilla, Monster of Monsters. Moguera is one of the low rung kaiju in the game and is fairly easy to defeat. Just hit Moguera with your flame breath (always use Godzilla in battles) and then hit him with some tail swipes until your radioactive breath attack recharges.)
MOGUERA (A.K.A. M.O.G.U.E.R.A. – Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-Type)
Height: 120 meters (394 feet)
Mass: 160,000 metric tons (176,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Unlike the alien built Moguera from ’57, this man-made robot is armed to the teeth! Moguera can split into two vehicles: The "Star Falcon" aircraft, and the subterranean "Land Moguera" burrowing attack vehicle. In full robotic form, Moguera can fire plasma lasers from its eyes, fire blasts of plasma energy from the maser cannon in its chest, and fire spiral grenade missiles from its robotic claws! Moguera’s patented drill nose can be used as a weapon and the robots jet engines allow it to move at Mach 1 in Earth’s atmosphere or Mach 44 in outer space!
First and Last Appearance: Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla (1994)
Origin: In response to Godzilla’s continued attacks, the UN Godzilla Countermeasures Center in conjunction with the Japanese government, created Moguera. Though this piloted robot was meant to attack and ultimately destroy Godzilla, Moguera would end up teaming together with Godzilla against a greater, threat: Spacegodzilla!
Nearly forty years after the Mysterian invasion, the look and design of Moguera would carry over into one of mankind’s greatest anti-Godzilla weapons: the new Moguera! This robotic assassin is much more mobile than the clunky automaton that the Mysterians utilized and is piloted by several members of the UN’s Anti-Godzilla Countermeasures Task Force. The upgraded Moguera appeared in 1994’s Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla in which the Big-G battled it out with a powerful mutation of himself. (Caused by the merging of a crystalline alien entity with Godzilla cells in space.) Though Moguera is used against Godzilla at first, the brave crew of the mighty war-machine mutiny their crazed leader (who wasn’t a Godzilla fan for various reasons) and team up with Godzilla against the vastly more dangerous Spacegodzilla. Sadly, the massively expensive Moguera is destroyed during the battle and never rebuilt. Moguera has since appeared in Marc Cerasini’s Godzilla vs. the Robot Monsters in which Moguera sedates and captures Anguirus, and teams up with Godzilla and Mechagodzilla against a Mongol-controlled Mecha-King Ghidorah. (Pretty crazy storyline, no?) You can also play as Moguera in the latest Godzilla video game, Godzilla: Save the World though I would advise against it. That damned machine is frustratingly slow, so if you want to play as a robotic kaiju, take my advice and pick Jet Jaguar!
YONGARY (A.K.A. YONGGARY, YUNGKARI, and YONGAREE)
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Mass: 18,000 metric tons (20,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Yongary can breathe fire and emit a powerful "cutting laser" from the horn on its snout. Yongary thrives on fossil fuels and other energy sources. The monster’s only known weakness is ammonia, which if delivered in high doses, can kill this fire-breathing monstrosity!
First and Last Appearance: Yongary, Monster of the Deep (1967).
Origin: Yongary was hibernating underground until awakened by a nuclear bomb test. Eventually, Yongary tunnels his way to South Korea and begins his rampage, until killed by an extremely huge dose of…. ammonia?!
Yongary, Monster of the Deep stomped across the silver screen in 1967 in response to Japan’s two greatest daikaiju stars, Godzilla and Gamera. Yongary is a rather interesting giant monster in that it derives nutrients from fossil fuels and other energy sources, and the massive Korean kaiju also has a small arsenal of ranged weapons, including fire-breath and a horn on its nose that fires laser beams! However, the first (and last) film starring Yongary is marred by the poor special effects and the amazingly slow pacing of the plot. And the fact that this seemingly indestructible monster is killed after being poisoned with Ammonia (a common chemical used in most household glass and surface cleaners), makes Yongary one of the least successful monsters in film history! Sheesh, couldn’t the screenwriters have at least threw in a "secret weapon" to take down their kaiju threat? It’s really embarrassing when your title creature succumbs to the power of Mr. Clean!
YONGARY (A.K.A. YONGGARY, YUNGKARI, and YONGAREE)
Height: 107 meters (350 feet)
Mass: 59,000 metric tons (65,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Yongary can emit a fire beam (or fire balls) from its mouth and is a lot faster and more intelligent than its previous incarnation.
First and Last Appearance: Yonggary (1999) (a.k.a. Reptilian).
Origin: During an archaeological dig, the remains of Yongary are discovered. Mere days after the discovery, alien beings resurrect the giant monster and force it to attack humanity. Luckily for us Earthlings, the aliens’ lose control over Yongary and the giant, fire-breathing monster suddenly becomes humanity’s protector!
Thirty-two years after Yongary bit the dust, the Korean film industry decided to revamp their country’s beloved homegrown kaiju in a new action-packed feature film, namely YONGARY (a.k.a. REPTILIAN to us Americans). The end result was pretty lackluster and as a result, the next two Yongary entries (for a proposed trilogy) were canceled. The tale for this new Yongary feature involves an alien invasion, in which evil beings from space awaken Yongary and use the monster to attack the Earth. Things quickly become dull and episodic until the aliens’ control over Yongary is broken. The large fire-breathing lizard soon shows his friendly side and ends up saving the Earth from the aliens’ other pet monster, Cyker. After a hard-fought battle, Yongary emerges as the victor, and later Yongary’s newest adventure ended up on video store shelves and eventually, discount DVD bins at Wal-Marts across the globe. (Some giant monsters just can’t catch a break….)
Though the movie pretty much failed (probably because those involved decided to make it as appealing to English-speaking audiences as possible) it was cool to see that the Korean film industry is keeping up pace with the rest of the world. Yongary’s new look is very sleek and powerful, but sadly, the CGI used to bring the mighty beast to life comes off as way too cartoonish, to the point where you’d prefer to see a man in a bulky and poorly made Yongary costume! Despite the fact that Yongary’s two cinematic adventures were not really well received by the kaiju fan community, this giant monster is still an important part of kaiju history. And who really knows if Yongary’s career is over! Perhaps in another decade or two, this giant, oil-guzzling, fire-breathing beastie will rise from the depths again. And maybe, just maybe, the movie will be worth watching! 😉
Well that’s all I’ve got for you in this edition of Kaiju One Hit Wonders. I think this may be the last part of the series for a while as I still have plenty of larger kaiju stars that I plan on writing about. I still have yet to tackle Japan’s second most popular kaiju, Gamera (the friend of children!) and America’s very own King Kong (who later had some adventures in Japan) and all the giant apes that he inspired. There’s also Mothra and Daimajin and Ultraman and…… yikes, guess I’ll never run out of kaiju-related material anytime soon, will I? When Kaiju One Hit Wonders returns in the near future, expect to see some
ery unique monsters including the likes of Pulgasari, Garuda, and more! So until next time kaiju fans, have a Happy Thanksgiving, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Classic Media’s next wave of Godzilla DVDs that will be arriving in stores early this month on November 7th!
Photos courtesy of Toho Kingdom and various Yongary-related websites across the web.