When gigantic primordial beasts like Godzilla and King Kong emerge from the depths of the ocean of the mists of Skull Island, they cause incredible amounts of destruction. As an audience member, I can’t help but lose my damn mind and applaud these mammoth monsters destroying everything we hold dear. However, not every giant movie monster was created equal. While some have managed to rise to the top, others have been relegated to the dustbin of history. So while I’m obviously excited to see King Kong make his triumphant return in Kong: Skull Island on March 10, I am also deeply curious about those lesser known movie monsters who lack the kong-gevity of their cooler colleagues. That’s why today’s episode of The Dan Cave is dedicated to the best worst giant movie monsters that time forgot.
Marketed as “even mightier than King Kong,” Gappa the Colossal Beast is what it would look like if Godzilla had a birth defect. The triphibian monster–whatever the heck that means–is like a weird chimera of fish, bird, and lizard. To be fair, the film was intended to be a parody of the kaiju genre, with a plot revolving around Papa Gappa and Mama Gappa trying to find their lost Baby Gappa. Naturally, in the search for their titanic tot, they destroy Tokyo in the process. The true moral of the story? Don’t live in Tokyo.
THE GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS
Did you ever put on an itchy sweater and think to yourself, “God, what monster made this garment?” No? Well, the intrepid filmmakers behind 1973’s The Godmonster of Indian Flats did, so they made a movie about a sheep that turns into an eight-foot-tall murdermonster after huffing fumes from a nearby mine. Is it scary? No. Is it a worthy match for Kong? No. Does it even belong in this episode? Probably not. But is it worth it to show this ridiculous footage to Internet strangers? You’d better believe it.
Image: Anglo Amalgamated
What if King Kong was categorically worse, took place in London, and revolved around a scorned botanist who brought a chimp back from the dead with a special serum that caused it to grow to gigantic sizes, then sent said chimp to murder his scientific rivals in the big city? Well, then you’d get Konga, the rampaging ape at the center of the 1961 film of the same name. One poster for the film read “Not since King Kong has the screen exploded with such mighty fury and spectacle.” I suspect that was referring to angry theatergoers hurling their shoes and sodas at the screen rather than anything that actually happened in the movie.
Image: Korean Film Studio
Between blowing their intercontinental ballistic load and occasionally making Dennis Rodman relevant again, North Korea is always up to something weird. In 1985, future North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il (and then son of acting dictator Kim Il-sung) was up to something even weirder: he had kidnapped two of South Korea’s most prominent filmmakers and taken them to North Korea where they were forced to make movies for him, including a kaiju film called Pulgasari. The film revolves around a metal-eating monster that helps a bunch of peasant farmers overthrow an evil ruler… probably the conquering hero that most North Korean citizens are still waiting for.
ATTACKING PRIMATE MONSTER (A*P*E)
Image: Worldwide Entertainment
That’s the name for the mean monkey at the heart of 1976’s A*P*E, a film that is accepted as so universally crappy that it adorns the cover of The Official Razzie Movie Guide. This 36-foot-tall primate isn’t the poor man’s Kong; he is the rock bottom man’s Kong. Shot in 14 days with a budget of just $23,000, A*P*E was a shameless cashgrab intended to piggyback off the hype around Dino De Laurentis’ then-upcoming King Kong film. The movie was so deeply unoriginal that it was forced to bear the tagline “Not to be confused with King Kong.” Now that’s some serious monkey business!
Image: Toho Pictures
Holy smokes, where do we even begin with the kaiju version of Frankenstein? (Yes, I know, it’s “Frankenstein’s monster.” Shut up.) Basically, Frankenstein’s heart gets taken by Nazi forces and brought to Japan during World War II where it is exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima. Fifteen years later, the heart is put into the chest of a vagrant child by a couple of country doctors, and the kid begins growing to astronomical proportions. The result looks like the 300-ton bastard child of Bruce Lee, Luis Guzman, and Gilbert Gottfried.
JAPANESE KING KONG
In the legendary words of Omar from The Wire, “If you come at the king, you best not miss.” But the filmmakers behind Wasei Kingu Kongu definitely missed. In 1933, a Japanese film company made their own version of King Kong titled King Kong Appears in Edo… except they made it without the express permission of RKO Pictures. It envisioned a version of Kong that looked a lot more like that beef jerky Sasquatch than the eighth wonder of the world. Unfortunately, all that exists of the film today is a single still; the film itself was mysteriously destroyed during World War II. But hey, if they can find all those copies of E.T. for the Atari in the landfills of New Mexico, then fingers crossed that someone comes across an old film canister in the countryside of Japan in the near future too.
Which of these movie monsters is your favorite? What other forgotten monstrosities would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Special thanks to Kong: Skull Island for sponsoring today’s episode. You can experience the mystery and danger of the primordial island Kong calls home when Kong: Skull Island hits theater on March 10, 2017.