May 05, 2008


(1977, Japan, Kyôryuu: Kaichô no densetsu)

More like... the legend of one dinosaur and one monster bird…

I'm really impressed with DVDs from Media Blasters - spectacular presentations of classic Japanese fantasy films. They’ve released many classic giant monster movies… but this isn't one of them. Instead, this is a perplexingly bad riff on Jaws, with a dinosaur instead of a shark.

Worse still, it seems to have been influenced by other Jaws rip-offs, like Tentacles (as a victim is lifted clean out of the water screaming her lungs out). Jaws also prompts the use of a little more blood and gore than is usual with Japanese monsters.

The premise is that a sort of Loch Ness monster has been found in one of the lakes round Mount Fuji, and it’s killing local people and holiday-makers. Unfortunately Toei Studios isn't known for its giant monster movies and the resulting special effects, despite the use of some full-size props, are totally laughable. The rhamphorynchus is even stiffer than the pterodactyl in The Land That Time Forgot (1975), the plesiosaurus is inexpressive and less frightening than the puppet 'Space Monster' in the children’s series Fireball XL5 (1962), which it closely resembles.

Add to this a completely inept explanation as to why it’s all happening, plus the worst use of music I can recall (using only a few tracks, none suitable for monster action, though the disco track sort of works) and you've got one of the worst ever Japanese monster movies.

By the end of the film, the producers seem to have given up on anything approaching convincing - the wire work, back projection and editing all get even worse. However, for fans of bad movies that are so consistently bad they become enjoyable, this could be for you.

Like Media Blasters' other Japanese movies, this has both the original Japanese and English language options. The few extras include trailers and posters that amusingly promised a worldwide release (in 40 countries) and boast it was Toei Studios' most expensive film to date. Yikes. I prefer it when they stuck to a low budget. Having seen it, I now know why this movie was so rare.

For a selection of other, better movies about giant monsters, see the 'Giant Monsters' links in the sidebar...

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