DAIKAIJU BARAN (1958)
Article 3188 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-7-2010
Posting Date: 5-7-2010
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Kozo Nomura, Ayumi Sonoda, Fumio Matsuo
What it is: Japanese giant monster epic
Two students hunting for a rare butterfly disappear mysteriously, and a second expedition to investigate the cause discovers they were killed by a giant monster living in a nearby lake. An attempt to destroy the monster backfires when they discover that the monster is nearly indestructible, and it goes on a rampage.
It’s nice to finally see the Japanese version of this movie; the awful American release, called VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE, threw out most of the original footage and grafted on an extremely dull plot involving the removal of salt from water. Still, though this version is superior, it’s still no great shakes. The plot in this one is coherent, but it’s unoriginal and predictable. It’s biggest problems consist of the fact that the monster itself is rather forgettable; it’s basically just a Godzilla knockoff. The movie also spends far too long on the sequence with the monster in the ocean; it’s just not as much fun watching the head and shoulders of a monster battling a few planes and boats in the middle of an ocean than it is to see him loose in a city. In the end, the monster just doesn’t leave much of an impression. And as for the scenes of him flying (which were excised from the American version), he only really does this during one scene, and outside of letting the monster escape at one point, it has no impact on the story. This is one of the few giant monsters from Toho in this period that did not inspire any sequels, except for its cameo appearance in DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.