I'm watching Varan The Unbelievable this morning and unlike the movie's highly educated guy from Tokyo I believe in the unbelievable in Toho movies. He believes once Varan comes stomping into his life. Seeing the unbelievable in movies is always preferable to seeing the unbelievable on your street, especially if the unbelievable is a giant monster that could crush your car or turn you into a snack. The movie is called 大怪獣バラン Daikaijū Baran or Giant Monster Varan in Japan. The people in the mountain village near where Varan, or Baran, lives call him Baradagi-Sanjin and worship him as a god. I'm sticking to Varan for the rest of the post. A couple of guys are looking for butterflies when they hear a mighty roar. They are killed by a landslide. A second group of people, including the sister of one of the first men, come to the area for a look around.
The villager elder tells them "don't go in the forest" but they do and sure enough they see Varan rising majestically out of his lake in all his black and white glory. It's 1958 and Toho was doing monster movies in color but this movie was originally supposed to be made for mostly B&W American TV. The US producers, ABC, bailed before the movie got completed. What dicks, huh. Toho finished the 86 minute movie and released it in Japanese theaters. It's this version that is on the Tokyo Shock dvd even though they use the US title. There isn't an English dub track but there are subtitles. They don't include the 70 minute 1962 US theatrical release, which like the US Godzilla was created from new scenes with Americans and clips of Varan. I don't have a copy of that movie but you can see it at the link above. The Tokyo Shock dvd has a weird 54 minute version of the film that played on Japanese TV. It's oddly cropped and has annoying title cards for the many sound only scenes. There's a commentary by the guy that made the Varan suit and a nice video visit with him at his effects studio. They show you how they made the suit back in the old days. I haven't read the subtitled commentary by I did watch the making of program and enjoyed that.
The full length movie looks pretty good, clearer than the Video Dakaiju tape I had first. I had transfered that to DVDR ages ago so I wouldn't have to play the tape. I'm keeping it for the different subtitles. After the second group of visitors to the village get scared away by Varan the military is called in and they work with the scientists to figure out what to do. Mostly they want to kill it so it's trucks and guns and bullets and bombs. SOP. They poison the creature's lake home and blast him with he pops up for a look at who crapped in his lake. The village gets trashed and Varan heads for Tokyo where it smashes some larger buildings. They feed the poor guy some bombs and blow him up from the inside. It's a harsh life for a Toho monster, especially one that wasn't doing much of anything but hanging out in his lake. Varan is not the best of the Toho monsters but he's ok and his movie is worth checking out. You can still get it in a three pack with The Mysterians and Matango. Those two are better movies and the three pack is a nice addition the SF dvd shelf. I watched The Mysterians last week and I'll be watching Matango in a couple of weeks.
Next up The H-Man which came out the same year as Varan The Unbelievable. It's in color and you can see the trailer up above. Both of the movies today were directed by Isihro Honda with Eiji Tsuburaya doing the special effects. The H-Man isn't a giant monster movie, the monsters are, or were, human. The movie opens with a criminal and a bag of loot. He's about to toss it into the trunk of the getaway car when something attacks his feet. We don't see it. He fires a couple of shots and his pal disappears with the car. A poor bus driver hits the crook but by the time he gets out of the cab to look all that's left is the guys clothes. The cops get the money and look for the crook. His pals are looking for him too. There's a scientist investigating some sailors that saw men melt on their ship. He ties it in with radiation from Bomb tests and that should puts him in the case but the cops just don't believe his ideas until near the end. The crook's girlfriend is a singer in a nightclub and the crooks & cops think she can lead them to the missing boyfriend. Mostly the movie is a cop show with the occasional murder. We don't see the monster much until the last third of the movie. Bullets won't stop the stream of slime that kills by absorption. It gets rid of everything but the clothes on the victim's body.
The killings continue and the cops and criminals chase about. The cops try to stop the creature with fire and the city burns pretty well. It's a pretty entertaining movie that comes in a three dvd pack with the 1961 Mothra and 1959 Battle In Outer Space. It's a good set to have and last I looked it was under 12 bucks at Amazon. All entertaining and a good variety. Well worth having for the SF or Monster fan. The DVD has both the 87 minute Japanese movie and the 78 minute US version. The dialog is changed a lot on the US release. Still, it's nice to have and it's what a lot of people grew up on.