Godzilla. Rodan. Mothra. King Ghidorah. These legendary Kaiju laid cities to waste during decades of movie appearances up to the modern MonsterVerse. Yet, for all their power and violent tendencies towards urban development, there were not terrifying. This honor belongs to a monster last seen on the big screen in 1966. His name was Gaira but he was more commonly known as Green Gargantua from the feature film, War of the Gargantuas. Gaira was not a force of destruction like Godzilla. His terror factor derived from an appetite for human flesh.
War of the Gargantuas is a Japanese-American joint production, and roundabout sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World. The plot of the movie is a giant man-eating green monster, Gaira, terrorizes coastal Japanese communities. Japanese and American scientists discover Gaira is a mutated clone of another Gargantua named Sanda, but unlike Gaira, Sanda is a brown, peaceful, vegetarian monster who first appeared in Frankenstein Conquers the World. Growing in deep water gave Gaira an aversion to sun and bright lights, and the tactic of lighting up communities to keep him away was successful until he equated lights with food.
Gaira scared the hell out of me because he did not eat people while running other monster errands, it was his sole motivation to devour us. He was large enough to toss tanks and pull people from buildings, and small enough to hide amid forest trees and in thick fog. When he spotted prey, he pursued them to their gristly end. I imagined seeing him in the neighbor’s yard, watching me, take out the garbage at night. I dreaded going outside after nightfall for weeks.
Gaira’s design is absolutely horrific. Aside from his hideous dark green matted fur, his face iss a distorted mockery of humanity, with dark sunken eyes and gruesome twisted lips, revealing stained jagged teeth. There is no nobility in his form or function. No possible act of redemption open to him. He is the worst nightmare made real.
Sanda, Brown Gargantua, initially saved his “brother” from a military attack, but when he realized Gaira’s atrocities is when the real war began in earnest. Their fight to the death is one of the best giant monster battles, spanning mountains, to city, to sea.
War of the Gargantuas is available to stream free on several services. If you have not seen this classic, open an app, pop some popcorn, and prepare to be entertained. The movie holds up surprisingly well after all these years.