Movie Week: Toho’s cephalopod daikaiju
July 2, 2009
Toho Company Ltd. is a Japanese independent film studio founded in 1932. It has produced the films of legendary director Akira Kurosawa and the animated features of Studio Ghibli, but it is best known for daikaiju eiga (giant monster movies) like Godzilla (1954), Rodan (1956), Mothra (1961), and Destroy All Monsters (1968). Toho monster movies are full of mutant dinosaurs, giant insects, aliens, robots, dragons, and, of course, the occasional cephalopod.
King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)
This is the third movie appearance for each of the title monsters and the first time that either appeared in color. At the time, King Kong was considered the more popular monster, and so the giant ape is the primary focus of the film. The plot centers around a Japanese pharmaceutical company that hatches the clearly awesome idea of sending an expedition to Faro Island to capture King Kong so they can use the monster in an advertising campaign. At the same time, an American submarine accidentally releases Godzilla from an iceberg, and the atomic dinosaur proceeds to go on his customary rampage.
Back on Faro Island, a native village is attacked by Oodako, the giant octopus. Interestingly, Toho used a live octopus for these scenes, an oddity in daikaiju movies where models and rubber suits are the norm. Kong fights and defeats the octopus, and then proceeds to get drunk on berry juice. As you do.
Long story short, the intoxicated ape gets captured and transported to Japan. He escapes, fights Godzilla (who sets his crotch on fire), and gets captured again after the military hits him with a missile filled with the same narcotic berry juice. Stoned and unconscious, King Kong is then tied to a bunch of balloons and dropped by the military on the top of Mt. Fuji so he can fight Godzilla again. Their battle ends in the ocean, and Kong appears to be victorious. He is last seen swimming back to his island.
King Kong vs Oodako
Oodako the octopus would later have cameo appearances in Frankenstein Conquerors the World (1965) and War of the Gargantuas (1966).
Space Amoeba (1970) — a.k.a. Yog-Monster From Space
Yog is an alien energy being that invades a space probe on its return trip to Earth. When the ship crashes down in the South Pacific, the alien enters the body of a cuttlefish, transforming it into the giant Gezora. Gezora can walk on the land and emit extreme cold from its tentacles. It is vulnerable to fire, a fact discovered and utilized by inhabitants of the island that the giant cephalopod was terrorizing. After suffering a fiery defeat, Yog leaves to possess two other sea creatures (seemingly simultaneously): Ganime, a monstrous crab, and Kamoebas, a giant turtle. Through the use of bat sonar (which Yog seems hate), the two monsters are made to fight. They end up falling in a volcano, and Yog is destroyed.
Gezora the cuttlefish is a classic example of Toho “suitmation” (in other words, the monster was played buy a guy in a rubber squid suit). It’s only other appearance was in stock footage used in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).