Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gigantis - The Fire Monster (1955)

Godzilla Raids Again (ゴジラの逆襲 Gojira no Gyakushū?, lit. "Godzilla's Counterattack"), is a 1955 Japanese Science fiction Kaiju film produced by Toho. Directed byMotoyoshi Oda, and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film starred Hiroshi Koizumi, Setsuko Wakayama, and Minoru Chiaki. The second film in theGodzilla series, this was a direct sequel quickly put into production to capitalize on the box office success of Godzilla the previous year. This was the first film in the series to feature a "monster vs. monster" scenario, as it introduced Godzilla's first foe, the quadruped monster Anguirus. This scenario of Godzilla battling other giant monsters would become a staple for the rest of the series.

The film was released theatrically in the United States in the Summer of 1959 by Warner Brothers as Gigantis, the Fire Monster. This American version of the film was heavily edited as it not only gives Godzilla a modified roar and a new origin, but also changes his name from "Godzilla" to "Gigantis", trying to pass the monster off as a completely new character. This move was considered a failure, and all subsequent American cuts of Godzilla films would use the character's proper name.

The Plot
Two pilots named Shoichi Tsukioka and Koji Kobayashi are hunting for schools of fish for a tuna cannery company in Osaka. Kobayashi's plane malfunctions and is forced to land near Iwato Island, an uninhabited strip of rocks formed by volcanic eruptions. Tsukioka then looks for Kobayashi and finds him safe, with only a wrist sprain. While talking, the two men hear some strange sounds and find two monsters fighting. Tsukioka immediately recognizes one of the monsters to be Godzilla. The two monsters then fall off a cliff, into the ocean. Tsukioka and Kobayashi report to the authorities in Osaka, and find out that the other monster Godzilla was fighting is Anguirus. A group of scientists with the two pilots research Anguirus in a book written by a Polish scientist. Godzilla and Anguirus lived around the same time millions of years ago, and there was an intense rivalry between the two monsters.
Archaeologist Kyohei Yamane, who experienced Godzilla's attack in 1954, is also present at the meeting, and shows a film (composed of clips from the 1954 film) of the original Godzilla attacking Tokyo. He confirms that this Godzilla is a second member of the same species, and that it and Anguirus were probably brought back to life by the same hydrogen bomb tests that awoke the original Godzilla. Yamane states that there is no way to kill Godzilla, and that Daisuke Serizawa, the inventor of the Oxygen Destroyer, had died and burned the formula. Yamane, though, suggests that the military should use flares on Godzilla to attract the monster away from the shore. Godzilla becomes angry when he sees lights because the hydrogen bomb's bright explosion had awakened and mutated him. Godzilla arrives on the shore of Osaka. While a blackout of all city lights is enforced, jets are sent to shoot flares from their planes to lead Godzilla away from the shore. Godzilla sees the flames, and, as Yamane predicted, starts to leave.

Meanwhile, a prison truck transports dangerous criminals to another part of the country. All of the criminals, using body language, convey to each other that the cover of darkness caused by the city's blackout provides a great opportunity to escape from prison. The prisoners beat up the two policemen guarding them inside the truck, and run away. A few of them find a gasoline truck, and use it to escape. The truck crashes into an industrial building and starts a massive fire.

The fire, much brighter than the planes' flares, attracts Godzilla back to the shore of Osaka. A few minutes later, Anguirus swims to shore and attacks Godzilla. The two creatures fight an intense battle, while destroying several buildings, including the tuna cannery that Tsukioka and Kobayashi work for. In the course of the battle, the criminals are drowned in the subway when it is flooded by the thrashing of the two monsters. Godzilla finally bites Anguirus's neck, and throws him upside down into a moat near Osaka Castle. Godzilla then fires his atomic ray at Anguirus, burning him to death in the ruins of the famed castle.

Tsukioka and Kobayashi are transferred to a Hokkaido plant. During a company party, Tsukioka and Kobayashi are notified that Godzilla destroyed one of the company fishing boats. The military and Tsukioka begin a massive search for Godzilla. Tsukioka spots Godzilla swimming to the shore of a small, icy island. He notifies the cannery, and Kobayashi takes off in his plane to switch shifts with Tsukioka. Kobayashi dives his plane towards Godzilla to distract him from walking back into the ocean. Tsukioka, who has transferred to the air force,travels on a jet with an old college friend. They drop bombs on Godzilla but are unsuccessful. Godzilla then wades towards shore. Kobayashi dives towards Godzilla again but Godzilla fires his atomic ray on Kobayashi's plane. The plane then crashes on an icy mountain, killing Kobayashi. Tsukioka is devastated but realizes that the military can shoot missiles at the mountain, and bury Godzilla in an avalanche, thereby freezing him to death. The jets fire their missiles, and bury Godzilla in snow and ice up to his waist.

The jets return to base to reload, and Tsukioka is authorized to fly in his own jet. The jets return to the icy island, only to find that Godzilla is digging his way out of the previous avalanche. They fire a fresh round of missiles at the mountain, triggering a new avalanche, burying Godzilla up to his neck. Tsukioka then fires his own missiles, burying Godzilla completely, thereby finishing the job. The men return home and receive the homage of a grateful nation, and Tsukioka and the woman he loves are at last able to go forward with their lives in peace.

Instead of merely re-dubbing the film, Henry Rybnick and Edward Barrison planned on a radically altered Americanized version called The Volcano Monsters which was planned for a 1957 release. All scenes with Japanese actors would be cut, saving just special effects scenes, and these would be altered to reduce the apparent size of the monsters to a more dinosaur like scale. In addition, all scenes with Godzilla breathing fire were to be cut. A totally new script was written by SF screenwriter Ib Melchior, and Ed Watson to be shot with American actors. New special effects footage was to be shot as well, and to that end Toho sent the suits for Godzilla and Anguirus to the United States.

The Volcano Monsters never went into production because the studio that was supposed to produce it, AB-PT Productions, closed its doors in 1957. In 1958, producers Paul Schreibman, Edmund Goldman and Newton P. Jacobs bought the rights to Godzilla Raids Again and planned to dub the film since The Volcano Monsters fell through. While the finished product was much closer to the Japanese original thanThe Volcano Monsters would have been, it still differed greatly from Toho's original movie. Instead of marketing the film as a sequel to the original Godzilla movie, Schriebman decided to rename the monster "Gigantis" and change his trademark roar to Anguirus' roar to convince the audience that they were seeing an entirely new monster. This act of changing Godzilla's name and roar was greatly criticized by fans and critics, but contemporary publications and articles made in the following years did not acknowledge its existence as a sequel.

Schreibman, Goldman and Jacobs hired Hugo Grimaldi to dub and edit the film. George Takei, who would later play as Lt. Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek television series, was among the voice-actor cast, in addition to Keye Luke, Paul Frees, Marvin Miller, and James Yagi (who would later appear as Yutaka Omura in the U.S. version of King Kong vs. Godzilla). The film was dubbed at Ryder Sound Services in New York. ~ From Wikipedia

82 MIN

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