Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, AKA GAPPA (1967)

A pair of giant prehistoric bird beast Godzilla knock-offs attack Japan while also ripping off the plot of Britain’s own giant monster movie, Gorgo. Fantastic, ain’t it?

An unscrupulous magazine owner who wishes he was printing pornography (his magazine is called Playmate…) tries to open an amusement park by sending reporters and scientists to a South Pacific island to kidnap the animals. They find a giant prehistoric bird baby, so of course they piss off the natives by smuggling it back to Japan. Then the baby’s parents show up to fuck up Japan. Meanwhile, a lady reporter argues with a male reporter about whether they should hook up, and a Japanese kid appears in blackface to represent that he is from the South Pacific.

Like all good (or bad) kaiju movies, the plot of this one features human beings being serious douche bags to the world around them. While so many of these movies focus on the unknown side effects of nuclear testing, this time it’s about separating baby animals from their parents, animal smuggling, and showcasing the absolute worst kind of capitalists. It figures the big bird monsters known as Gappa would be commie animal rights activists!

Honestly, this movie is pretty dull for the first 50 minutes or so. It’s all building up to giant monsters destroying cities, but it crawls on and on as we deal with bit-part actors doing bad impersonations of native peoples, poor attempts at humor and flirtatious banter, and jerks being jerks. Then you get to minute 50, when the Gappa show up in Japan. And then you hit minute 55. Minute 55 is where a 10-minute long combat scene starts up, with the Gappa whooping the asses of cities, tanks, jet fighters, and shrugging off artillery rounds like champs. Japan then tries sonic weapons, and you know what happens? The Gappa get all pissed off and kick more ass! This is all the giant monster action you watch these kinds of movies to see, folks, and once it finally gets going, this movie gets it right.

Meanwhile, the douche bag magazine owner refuses to give up the baby Gappa and save Japan, solely because he doesn’t want to get blamed or give up his stuff. Even his daughter insults him, and everyone agrees he’s nuts, so they pretty much stop listening to him. That’s actually refreshing. What’s even more refreshing? The Gappa keep fucking up Japan by walking through power plants and destroying them just because they’re there! It’s like when an adult crushes a sand castle; it’s fun as Hell, and we all like making children cry.

I’m not gonna lie, there are much better giant monster movies. This one takes way longer to get going than I would like, considering I’m pretty much only watching this to see stuff get blown up by mutant birds and don’t really care about the great ’emotional’ love story or the moral of “Don’t be a jerk, humanity.” Also, it ends with the woman journalist realizing that a woman’s place is at home in the kitchen. Haha, sexism! But hey, it’s still overall better than the dregs of kaiju cinema. Watch this once you’re out of Godzilla and Gamera flicks but before you get to the likes of Goliathon and the various King Kong rip-offs that came out in the 1970s. You know, like A*P*E

That said, this movie definitely doesn’t have the cult appeal of something like Frankenstein Conquers the World. Now THAT’S a kaiju movie.

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