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The War of the Gargantuas

The War of the Gargantuas
Directed by Ishirō Honda
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Henry G. Saperstein
Written by Ishirō Honda
Takeshi Kimura
Starring Russ Tamblyn
Kumi Mizuno
Kenji Sahara
Kipp Hamilton
Music by Akira Ifukube
Cinematography Hajime Koizumi
Edited by Ryohei Fujii
Frederic Knudtson (USA)
Distributed by Toho
Benedict Motion Picture Corp. (USA)
Release dates
  • July 31, 1966 (1966-07-31)
Running time 90 minutes (Japanese version)
92 minutes (U.S. version)
Language Japanese

The War of the Gargantuas, released in Japan as Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda versus Gaira (フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ Furankenshutain no Kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira), is a 1966 science fiction kaiju film. The film was co-produced between the Japanese company Toho, and Henry G. Saperstein's American company UPA. The film was a sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World, and was the second of two films featuring giant Frankenstein monsters that Sapertstein's company co-produced with Toho. Directed by Ishirō Honda, and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film starred Hollywood actor Russ Tamblyn, alongside Japanese actors Kenji Sahara and Kumi Mizuno.

The film tells the story of two giant, hairy humanoids called Frankensteins (Gargantuas in the American version) that were spawned from the discarded cells of Frankenstein's monster from the previous film. A green one raised in the sea named Gaira (ガイラ, from kai, "sea") is violent and savage, while a brown one who resides in the Japan Alps, named Sanda (サンダ, from san, "mountain") is friendly and docile. The film follows the investigation and military engagements of these creatures until their climactic confrontation in Tokyo.

The film was released theatrically in the United States in the summer of 1970 by Maron Films where it played nationwide on a double bill with Monster Zero.


  • Plot 1
  • Additional credits 2
  • Production 3
  • References and homages 4
  • English versions 5
  • DVD release 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


As the film opens, a small boat is seen chugging through stormy seas. A giant octopus appears from the ocean and seems bent on killing the sole crew member on deck. Suddenly, the octopus releases the man and retracts its tentacles from the boat. Relieved, the sailor peers out the porthole to see Gaira, a large green man-like creature, fighting the octopus. After easily defeating it, Gaira turns his attention to the boat and sinks it.

When the sailor is recovered from the ocean, he tells his tale of the large gargantua (Frankenstein in the Japanese version) to his doctors, who believe he is in shock and spouting nonsense. The press picks up on the story and interviews Dr. Paul Stewart (Russ Tamblyn) and his female assistant, Akemi (Kumi Mizuno), who once had a baby gargantua in their possession for study five years prior. Dr. Stewart and Akemi try to dispel the idea that the attack on the boat was caused by the gargantua they knew and studied because it was very gentle while in their care. Stewart postulates that the gargantua he studied wouldn't live in the ocean as it was found in the mountains and probably returned there when it escaped from his laboratory five years ago.

Another boat is attacked and the people of a fishing village see the gargantua off the coast at the same time that a mountain guide reports seeing the gargantua in the Japanese Alps. So, Dr. Stewart and Akemi go to visit the mountains and send their assistant, Dr. Majida (Kenji Sahara), to look at the evidence in the fishing village. Dr. Majida finds tissue stuck to the side of the fishing boat while Dr. Stewart and Akemi find giant footprints in the snow.

In the meantime, Gaira comes ashore and attacks an airport. As he munches on a woman he's pulled from inside a building, the sun appears from behind the clouds. Apparently, the gargantua doesn't like bright light and runs back to the sea. After Gaira attacks Tokyo at night, the residents are urged to turn on all of their lights and open their shades to drive him out of the city. He begins to retreat to the mountains and is met by the Japanese Self Defense Force, who use giant spotlights and bonfires to corral Gaira into a valley. Although conventional tanks, artillery, and machine guns have little effect on him, a newly constructed weapon — Maser Cannons — badly injures Gaira. Bloodied and bruised, Gaira falls into the river and appears defeated. Suddenly, a larger, brown gargantua comes to his aid. Sanda, as he is known, pulls Gaira from the river and away from the military.

It turns out that Sanda is the gentle gargantua that Dr. Stewart and Akemi have studied years ago. This is confirmed when the scientists encounter Sanda in the mountains and he rescues Akemi from falling to her death, risking his own life and breaking his leg in the process. However, he has become leery of humans after seeing Gaira's horrific injuries and quickly vanishes once again. Later, he catches Gaira feasting on some boaters and attempts to kill him to stop the carnage. Unfortunately, he is hesitant about harming his brother and this, along with his broken leg, allows Gaira to overpower him before escaping to the sea. Dr. Stewart attempts to convince the military of Sanda's innocence and that blowing them up would simply scatter their cells all over the place, leading to the possibility of thousands of gargantuas. The press and military remain skeptical.

Gaira reappears in Tokyo, no longer afraid of the city lights, and corners Dr. Stewart and Akemi. Sanda arrives to save them once again and attempts to placate his brother, but Gaira is beyond reason and the confrontation escalates to a violent brawl, causing great destruction in the process. The battle eventually leads out to sea, where the military begins an aerial bombardment. Unfortunately, the bombs disturb a giant underwater volcano, and the two monsters are engulfed in smoke and fire. By the time the volcanic cloud dissipates, both monsters have disappeared without a trace.

Additional credits

  • Teruyoshi Nakano – Assistant Director of Special Effects
  • Yasuyuki Inoue – Special Effects Art Director
  • Fumio Nakadai – Director of Wireworks
  • Teisho Arikawa – Director of Special Effects Cinematography
  • Sokei Tomioka – Cameraman


Several ambiguous references are made to Frankenstein vs. Baragon, such as the mention of a severed hand, but the only direct link between the films is the term "Frankenstein", which appears in the title and is used to refer to the Gargantuas ("Frankensteins") in the original Japanese dialogue. Like the previous film, which starred Nick Adams, War of the Gargantuas features a Hollywood actor (Russ Tamblyn) in the lead as a scientist, Kumi Mizuno as his colleague, and another Japanese scientist (previously Tadao Takashima, here Kenji Sahara). The similar casting has led to speculation that the film was intended to feature recurring characters. Eiji Tsuburaya helmed the special effects crew with monster suit actor Haruo Nakajima portraying the antagonistic Gaira. (Yū Sekida played Sanda.)

The original ending of the film was to not only have Sanda and Gaira swallowed up by the new volcano, but the lava was to have spread to Tokyo where it was to destroy the city as well as the remaining cells of the monsters; cited in an interview with director Honda in Guy Tucker's Age of the Gods: A History of the Japanese Fantasy Film.

US producer Henry G. Saperstein had planned to make a sequel where either Sanda, Gaira or a similar, new creature were pitted against Godzilla. It was called Godzilla vs. the Gargantuas. The project never came to fruition.

References and homages

Eiji Tsuburaya gives instructions to Yû Sekida (Sanda) and Haruo Nakajima (Gaira) during their fight scene.

Besides its cast and crew, The War of the Gargantuas makes several homages and vocal references to Frankenstein vs. Baragon, though none conclusively tie the two films together:

  • An alternate ending of Frankenstein vs. Baragon featured a battle between Frankenstein and the Giant Octopus; War of the Gargantuas begins with a battle between Gaira and the Giant Octopus.
  • The young Frankenstein loses a hand during his escape in Frankenstein vs. Baragon; in the English version of War of the Gargantuas, Dr. Stewart refers to a "desiccated" hand belonging to no "known creature".
  • Akemi flashes back to her experience with the young sanda in the laboratory, scenes reminiscent of those of Sueko with the young Frankenstein in Frankenstein vs. Baragon.
  • Frankenstein fled to the mountains after his escape in Frankenstein vs. Baragon; Sanda is discovered in the mountains in War of the Gargantuas.
  • The theatrical cut of Frankenstein vs. Baragon ends when a sudden earthquake envelops Frankenstein after his bout with Baragon; another natural disaster destroys the Gargantuas when their battle takes them to sea.
  • In the late 1970s the American band Devo often performed a song called "The Words Get Stuck in my Throat" during encores, sung by their character Booji Boy and based on the song of the same name in the film, though heavily rewritten.
  • In Crank 2 (2009) there is a fight scene which is an homage to the final battle scene in The War of the Gargantuas—it takes place in a transformer plant and utilizes many of the cinematic cues from the Gargantuas film.
  • The Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Battle of the Humungonauts" is a parody/homage to this film, going so far as to reference the song "Feel in My Heart (The Words Get Stuck in my Throat)" which appeared in the film.
  • Actor Brad Pitt cited the movie as his inspiration to go into acting at the 84th Academy Awards.[1]
  • Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has said in an interview that War of The Gargantuas is one of his favorite Kaiju films.[2]
  • In IDW's comic Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth both brothers appear and fight Godzilla.
  • In 2013, Phil Anselmo & The Illegals and Warbeast released a split EP called War of the Gargantuas.[3]

English versions

Maron Films theatrical poster for the 1970 U.S double bill release of War of the Gargantuas and Monster Zero.

Two English versions of The War of the Gargantuas exist. Following the film's initial release, Toho commissioned an international version from a Hong Kong studio. This version is a straight dub of the Japanese version with new English titles. Russ Tamblyn is dubbed by another actor, despite having spoken English on the set of the film.

For its American release in 1970, the film was redubbed by Glen Glenn Sound in Los Angeles. All references to Frankenstein and the monsters' names were removed, which required Russ Tamblyn to loop himself. Since the record of what he had originally said was not handy, for some dialogue Tamblyn ad-libbed lines (such as when asked why the Brown Gargantua had disappeared years ago, Tamblyn just said "I don't know. Maybe he went chasing a whale," which remains in that cut of the film. In the redubbed version, the Green Gargantua's howl clearly sounds like the word "shirt". Also inserted in this version were several "new" scenes with Russ Tamblyn. During production, director Ishiro Honda filmed several scenes twice: once with Dr. Stewart (Tamblyn's character) and once without. The scenes without Tamblyn were used for the Japanese and international versions while the scenes with Tamblyn appear only in the US cut of the film. Several other changes were made to the picture, including the removal of Akira Ifukube's "Operation L March". In its place was a stock cue by composer Philip Green called "Terror Hunt". Additionally, several Ifukube tracks from Monster Zero were inserted into the film.

In 1992, Paramount and Gateway Home Video released the American version of The War of the Gargantuas on VHS and Laserdisc. A widescreen transfer of this version was released on DVD by Classic Media in 2008. The Classic Media DVD (a double feature with Toho's Rodan) also marked the debut of the original Japanese version in the United States. Author and kaiju-fan Steve Ryfle reportedly pushed for the inclusion of the international dub on the DVD release, although this didn't come to pass. At present, the only known official release of the international version on home video is an out-of-print, heavily edited, Dutch-subtitled VHS.

DVD release

Classic Media[4]

  • Released: September 9, 2008
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)
  • Language(s): Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Extras: Bringing Godzilla Down to Size (69 Minutes)
  • Notes: Contains both Rodan and War of the Gargantuas (2-disc set)

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Video on YouTube
  3. ^
  4. ^


  • Galbraith, Stuart IV. Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, McFarland, 1994. ISBN 0-89950-853-7
  • Pusateri, Richard (1998). "A G-Fan Retrospective: War of the Gargantuas". G-Fan 32: 28–33.
  • "フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ (Furankenshutain no Kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira)" (in Japanese).  

External links

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