Agon, the Atomic Dragon (1968)
Article 5500 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Noria Mine and Fuminori Ohashi
Featuring Shinji Hirota, Asao Matsumoto, Nobuhiko Shima
What it is: Small screen kaiju
A dinosaur mutated by radiation emerges from the sea around Japan and terrorizes the country.
From what I gather, this was filmed in 1964, but finally popped up as a TV miniseries of four episodes in 1968, and was eventually edited into a movie during the 1990s; I have no exact year for the latter. Granted, the movie looks pretty much like they did little more than edit the episodes together and remove some credit sequences. As a TV series, it must have looked a bit like “Ultra Q” with the same monster every time. The monster resembled Godzilla just enough that Japan Radio Pictures was almost sued by Toho until it came to light that the designer of the Agon suit was one of the designers of the original Godzilla suit, so they let it go. There’s very little in the first half of the movie (or the first two episodes, if you parse it that way) to set it apart from your average kaiju, but the last half (or two episodes) weave it into a subplot about two criminals holding a boy hostage to make a diver retrieve for them a suitcase that has fallen to the bottom of the sea. This complication leads to some of the sillier moments here, such as having the monster walk around for about thirty minutes with a boat in his mouth as well as a truly bizarre plan to kill the monster. It’s enjoyable enough for kaiju fans, but it’s hardly one of the better ones out there.