Gappa: The Triphibian Monster, originally released in the U.S. as Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, is pretty much Gorgo with monsters taken from Japanese legend. That’s totally fine with me, because this movie is absolutely gorgeous.
It’s crazy that this was the only giant monster movie that the Nikkatsu studio made. After this, it’s all Roman Porno and pinky violence.
An expedition from Tokyo heads to Obelisk Island — you know, just like Skull Island — where the president of Playmate Magazine, Mr. Funazu, wants to make a resort. The natives welcome them warmly until the forbidden zone is breached and the expedition takes a gappa egg with them. They plead that the egg’s parents will do anything to get it and you know how humans act in Japanese kaiju films. That means that before you know it, we have two giant bird/turtle/lizard monsters going wild all over Japan to get their baby back.
This is a movie that could never be made today, because all of the natives of Obelisk Island are basically Japanese actors painted in blackface. Plus, the actions of the civilized people cause the Gappas to ignite a volcano and destroy every single villager except Saki, a young boy painted brown.
Speaking of racism, there was an urban legend that Nikkatsu’s international English translation had the line, “The monsters are attacking Tokyo. Fortunately they are attacking the Negro section of town.” This is not true.
Akira Watanabe left Toho to work on the special effects for this movie. He’s known for finishing the designs of Baragon and King Ghidora. There must not have been any bad blood, because he came back to be the art director for movies like King Kong Escapes, Son of Godzilla and Prophecies of Nostradamus.