Flickchart Comment #25: The War of the Gargantuas (1966) vs. Don't Go in the Woods (1980)

To put it mildy, The War of the Gargantuas [Japanese title: Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira], a daikaiju eiga from Toho Studios in 1966, is a largely ridiculous flick.  Giant, furry goofball twins -- one green, one brown; one evil, one gentle -- are brought to life from the cells of the giant Frankenstein's monster from an earlier film [Frankenstein vs. Baragon] and then battle each other to the death, laying waste along the way to the surrounding countryside and then the city. There is gratuitous American actor placement (the then already washed up Russ Tamblyn), there is a giant octopus battle, the usual King Kong swiping-the-girl homage/rip, and lots of people getting eaten by the green Gargantua. It's basically a Godzilla film (much of the same crew and actors; likewise, the director, Ishirō Honda) except that the lead monsters are different, and it is a lot of very psychotronic fun.

The immediate reaction many will have to The War of the Gargantuas is "It sounds like a really terrible film!" Understood, but have you seen Don't Go in the Woods, a slash-by-numbers flick from 1980? Well, please don't... there is really nothing to see here. A lot of blood, not particularly well-filmed and absolutely without real fright or even mild suspense. It brings up the age-long battle when faced with two films that seem on the surface to both be terrible. Neither film in this match-up is actually anywhere near the "good film" territory, but there is a world of difference between a film like Woods, which does nothing so much as make pot-watching a much preferred mode of torture, and Gargantuas, which entertains in a very childlike manner, but entertains nonetheless.

My argument against Plan 9 from Outer Space being the Worst Film of All Time is that the one thing Plan 9 is not is boring; it is consistently so insanely bad that it becomes compelling. Gargantuas is nowhere near as badly made as Plan 9 -- it is competently filmed by actual professionals for a major studio -- but it is one of those films that makes you feel as though someone slipped something in your economy sized soda pop, so odd are the visuals (combined with the score) that assault you throughout the film. Woods has nothing going for it. The battle goes to both Gargantuas, whether brown or green!


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