Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2018 December 05 • Wednesday

After two books that explore sixty years of Japanese giant monster movies, what do you do? If you're John Le May, the author of those books, you turn your attention from films that were made to films that were never made—or might have been made but were lost or banned or never commercially screened except maybe one time at a convention or something. That kind of thing! It's The Big Book of Japanese Giant Monster Movies: The Lost Films.

The most interesting reading in this book is in the first part, "Unproduced Scripts", where you can try to imagine what a Toho-Hammer Loch Ness monster co-production might have looked like, or Batman Meets Godzilla...

That last title gets a very detailed synopsis in the bok's first appendix, "Short Treatments for Unmade Films". There are nine appendices in total, each one narrower in range than the one before.

Part Two of the book is "Proto-versions of Finished Films", which is less of a revelation but still has interesting information for the fans.

Part Three, "Banned, Unreleased & Lost Films" is all over the place, with tantalizing glimpses of two Japanese King Kong movies made in the 1930s (probably lost forever) as well as exciting titles such as Legendary Giant Beast Wolfman vs. Godzilla.

One of the most intriguing pieces of information was that the first Gamera movie started out as Giant Horde Beast Nezura, a movie about giant rats invading Tokyo. The miniature city built for them would end up being given to Gamera.

The production began to fall apart once the real rats arrived on set and containing them proved to be a nightmare. Soon, the set was plagued with fleas, ticks, and lice. Ironically, another of the problems with the rats was cannibalism, an element ironically scripted for the film's climax. As pesticides were sprayed across the studio, the crew had to begin wearing gas masks. Eventually the neighboring businesses began to complain about the runaway rats.

You might have noticed that the author uses the word "ironically" twice in the same sentence there. It's one of his favorite words and is rarely used to indicate something actually ironic. While this book is a terrific achievement and labor of love that should be on every Godzilla fan's bookshelf, it would have been improved by editing, copy editing and proofreading.