Sunday, July 21, 2013

The parent trap: GAPPA(1967)

With the giant robots vs giant monsters movie Pacific Rim(2013) currently playing in theaters and the Legendary Pictures produced movie Godzilla(2014) scheduled to open in theaters in May, 2014 my interest in watching films featuring giant monsters has been on an uptick lately. Over the past few weeks I've watched nearly all the 1960's "Gamera" films and then followed these up by watching GAPPA, a Nikkatsu Corporation produced kaiju film originally released theatrically in 1967. It is Nikkatsu's only venture into the "kaiju"(translation: giant mysterious beast) movie genre. This film is also known by its international title of "Monster From A Prehistoric Planet". As a kid I first saw this film in its Americanized, English dubbed version. I wouldn't watch it again until 1995 when I managed to obtain this movie on VHS in its uncut, widescreen and original version.

In GAPPA(1967) an expedition of scientists visit remote "Obelisk" Island, discover and confiscate an unusual looking creature that has just hatched from its egg and subsequently bring the baby creature back to civilization on the orders of their greedy, self aggrandizing boss and business entrepreneur, a self described showman who ultimately plans to showcase the small monster to the public in his theme park for profit.

After the small creature is taken from Obelisk island, its 200 foot tall parents come looking for it. Not finding their "baby" the two winged, gryphon like leviathan monsters thunder about the island and take off into the skies. The two parent monsters eventually make landfall and begin their destructive, methodical search for their offspring, demolishing cities and engaging the Japanese Self Defense Forces. (no other spoilers)

I like the design of the winged monsters: they're definitely birdlike(possessing beaks) but also possess a reptilian like quality as well. The roar of the creatures also befits their appearance quite well. The special effects overall are very uneven and are, in my opinion, slightly inferior to those seen in many of the 1960's "Godzilla" movies. Still, the overall effects in GAPPA are serviceable enough to make this movie worth a look for any fan of kaiju and giant monster movies.

I own the Mediablasters(Tokyo Shock) DVD of this movie, this DVD released back in December, 2000. This release presents the film in it's original widescreen aspect ratio with English subtitles.

Alpha Video has also released this movie under its American title of MONSTER FROM A PREHISTORIC PLANET, this cheapie release doing the movie no favors as the print looks grainy and awful, the film cropped to a 1:33.1 full frame format. I would avoid this particular DVD like the plague.

A trailer:

To see the Mediablasters DVD for GAPPA(1967) on sale at Amazon click on the DVD cover art image above, the title of this blog entry or this link: GAPPA Tokyo Shock DVD