Welcome to Obelisk Island...10,056 days without a Gappa atta
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 09/13/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"`Is that an island spewing fire? Or is that a flying giant rock? It's the true mystery of the universe, The Triphibian monster Gappa!'
And that was the theme song that heralded my introduction to Gappa the Triphibian Monsters (1967) aka Monster from a Prehistoric Planet aka Daikyojû Gappa, a late entry into the Japanese giant monster craze of the mid to late 60s, and the only monster movie to be released by Nikkatsu Studios (according to the liner notes, the studio switched to the more profitable genre of softcore prior to going out of business). Directed by Haruyasu Noguchi, and special effects by Akira Watanabe (Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again, Rodan! The Flying Monster, Destroy All Monsters), the film features performances by Tamio Kawaji (The Weird Love Makers) and Yôko Yamamoto (Duel in the Storm), among others.
Now I'd like to include some additional lyrics, based on what I saw last night...
`Yawn if you will, yawn if you might, The Triphibian monsters are coming tonight, Giant chickens attack Japan, Run no further I have a plan, Set the table, invite the guests, With my culinary skills I shall impress, So little children don't you cry, Would you like breast, wing, or thigh?'
Okay, I may never get an offer for a recording contract, but at least my addition was on par with the original material. As the film begins we learn of a crew of scientists and journalists traveling on a cargo ship to Obelisk Island, located somewhere in South Seas. Seems they were hired by a wealthy, Japanese publisher to retrieve rare and exotic plant and animal samples, which will become part of a plan that includes opening an amusement park on one of these remote islands...a super fantastic Hello Kitty business venture, if you ask me...anyway, the ship arrives at the island, which is complete with erupting volcano, a small native village, and a really annoying native boy named Saki, and begin exploring, against the protests of the natives, as they fear the awakening of Gappa, whom the explorers assume is some local deity hokum. In a cave, under the volcano, they find not only a lake, but also a giant egg, which begins to hatch after some ground tremors (did I mention the volcano is spewing forth hot magma?). From within the egg something gooey this way comes, in the form of a mucus swathed lizard creature, which the explorers capture and take back with them to Japan...definitely not a good idea, as, after they've gone, something stirs in the underground lake...two somethings, to be exact. Seems the slimy, reptilian infant had parents, and they're none too please to see someone has since buggered off with their offspring. After a less than exciting rampage on the local village (thatch huts crush pretty easily), the terrible twosome use some sort of innate homing senses to locate junior, which leads them to Japan, which leads to much more satisfying things to crush, smash, and destroy (thankfully). It's collateral damage a go-go as Gappa squared unleash their angry fury proving yet again one shouldn't come between giant, fire breathing monster chickens and their children.
I'll tell you what, I'm no expert on the kaijû eiga (monster pictures) genre, but I have seen a few, and Gappa seems like a lesser entry. It's just so boring...we don't see any monsters until about a half hour in, and even then it's the wee one hatched from the egg. We then have to wait another half hour before we actually get some action, as that's when the adult creature rise from their watery respite in search of their baby. An hour is just too long to make the viewers for this kind of film to wait for any real carnage. As I said, I haven't seen a whole lot of these films, but others have said there's really nothing new within the story here, and I'd be inclined to believe them as I found myself oh so tempted to fast forward through the parts of the film that dragged (I didn't). The main strength for this viewer was in the technical aspects, provided by Akira Watanabe. Some of it was lacking, but then some of it was really well done. I thought the cities had quite a bit of detail, especially in terms of the monsters destroying buildings, which didn't fall apart like crummy, stacked blocks, but real, honest to goodness structures. I also thought some of the background sets and lighting aspects done really well. The destruction of the industrial sector was pretty cool, as was the brief, tidal wave sequence. As far as the rest, it was all disposable. The monsters were just goofy. They had beaks and wings like a bird, the body (and tail) of a lizard, walked on two legs, could fly, and tended to spend a lot of time underwater. Oh yeah, they also could breath fire. The story's simplistic, which I normally wouldn't have minded in this type of film, but it's simplicity loaded with sappy `touching moments', especially near the end (fire more rockets, damnit!). And then there's that little native boy...is it written in stone somewhere that every, single one of these film must include a really annoying child presence? If so, they certainly met the requirement here. And you really have to see the kid's appearance to believe it...in trying to pass him off as a South Seas native, the filmmakers took a Japanese boy, covered him in shoe polish, and made him wear a shaved Afro wig. The result is an oriental boy who looks like he's been in the oven an hour too long (I like mine medium rare). The other aspect that really annoyed me was how much time was spent by the characters discussing the virtues of their actions with respect to taking the monster baby. There were basically three groups, the greedy publisher bastich wanted to keep the little runt (it was to be the centerpiece of his theme park), the scientist were interested in research, and then those empathetic to the familial instincts apparently present within the creatures...whatever...SMASH! CRUSH! DESTROY! That's what we came to see...there was some of this, but not nearly enough.
Media Blasters/ Shock Tokyo provides a good-looking widescreen (2.35:1) print on this DVD, but it's not without flaws. The Dolby Digital mono audio comes through cleanly. There's a choice available on this DVD to watch the film with the original dialog with English subtitles, or the film with English dubbing. I preferred the former, but the inclusion of both was nice. There really isn't much in terms of special features, other than some informative liner notes. There are a couple different DVD releases of this film floating around, and Amazon like to mix all the reviews together, so be wary of which version you're getting if interested. Something odd...as I write this, Amazon lists the film at a running time of 60 minutes, but it was more like 90 minutes.
By the way, it wasn't entirely clear, but it seemed the theme park was meant to be constructed on Obelisk Island, near the spewing volcano...an excellent location, if you ask me. "
Gappa the Triphibian Monsters Review
Daniel J. Hamlow | 01/19/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This somewhat weak movie opens as a hoarde of reporters and scientists arrive in the south seas pleasure spot known as Obelisk Island. Their mission is to find exotic animals for their boss, a magazine magnate who is building a theme park. After a colorful arrival sequnce they are informed at regular intervals by some random native that "Gappa is angry!" Gappa is the native god, of course, word around their campfire is he's one unhappy camper. The outsiders do pretty much what you'd expect them too, and that's everything the natives say they shouldn't do, because Gappa is plenty pissed. The Japanese party despoil Gappa's lair, find a baby Gappa, and pinch it from the island. And as is standard procedure in these kinds of situations, it's the natives, who had the right idea in the first place, who end up paying for the mistakes of the outsiders. Unfortunately, the execution of the Gappa suits, and the rest of the special effects, are lacking. The breath weapon is poorly executed, and the suits look fake. The city models are undetailed. And when the Gappa stomp around the model cities, they are shot at normal speed, from regular camera angles, in full light. In the end, the Gappa end up looking like exactly what they are: people in suits. Back in the realm of the plot, there are the usual futile attempts at dispatching the monsters. The military option is tried, and fails. Later the monsters take up residence in a Japanese lake, and the military tries to drive them out of the lake by playing a really annoying sound into the water. What sound they use is never clear, but I found it to be well below par for the genre. Oh, and there is human drama involved here too, but it's pedantic at best. I frankly found myself not bothered to go back and figure it all out. Suffice it to say it has to do with a little native boy from Obelisk Island, the various reporters who went to the island, and a little Japanese girl who didn't. My favorite part of the human drama portion of Gappa is the final scene of the movie, where the female reporter, looking at all the destruction caused by human ambition, comes to the conclusion that ordinary women shouldn't work, but "stay home, marry an office worker, and wash diapers." I saw Gappa when I was very young, and I rembered it fondly. And from that perspective, it has a pleasant ring to it. But if you don't have fond childhood memories, or have a driving need to see every Japanese monster movie ever made, I feel the genre has much to offer, and I'm a sucker for this kind of movie, but generally I feel it falls short of the mark; there are better flicks out there..."
Or is it the son of Godzilla and Rodan?
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 04/09/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When the two Gappa creatures are attacking the industrial part of Tokyo towards the latter end of Gappa-The Triphibian monster, one of them rears back its head and roars. That brief excerpt ended up being used in the Red Dwarf 4th season episode Meltdown, on a planet that featured some fake-looking dinosaurs.OK, so much for where I first saw these beasties. But what is a Gappa? Well, if Godzilla and Rodan mated and had a baby, it'd probably look like Gappa. It's inherited Rodan's head and wings, and Godzilla's gray-green scaled body, blue flame, and a resonant roar more like the sound of a flushing toilet played backwards, it doesn't give a rapid constipated bark like Rodan, but durned if I know whose eyes it got.The story too is derivative, coming from Mothra. Basically, Mr. Funatsu, publisher of Playmate Magazine, finances and sends a team that includes reporter Kurosaki, female photographer Koyanagi, and scientist Tonaka to Obelisk Island in the Pacific to collect bird and animal specimens, as well as native women. His plan is to open a holiday theme park so that Japanese do not have to go all the way to the Pacific to get that exotic Polynesian atmosphere. The expedition is greeted by the dark-skinned islanders, led by a white-haired patriarch (same as in Mothra). However, despite warnings from the young boy Saki not to enter a cave, Kurosaki and Koyanagi do so and find an egg which hatches into a prehistoric-looking reptile. The expedition take it back with them to Japan, against the wishes of the natives. "Gappa angry," they keep repeating. And that's true, as the parents of the abducted baby head over to Japan to recover their child (q.v. Mothra coming to Japan to rescue the twin fairies). But Funatsu's profit-motivated greed gets the better of him, like Nelson in Mothra, and he refuses to give the baby up, even despite the pleading of his young daughter.The scenes of destruction are nothing much to shout home about, as they are the usual retreads of people in rubber suits stomping on model Tokyos, trampling on buildings, melting model tanks, blasting airplanes out of the sky, and convoys of military vehicles.Apart from this being widescreen and in original Japanese, something not available in any of the Toho monster pics over here, there are some interesting issues explored. One is the examination of empathic understanding. In one scene, Saki and Funatsu's young daughter go up to the captured baby, who quiets down and looks at them sadly, showing a link between animal and human kindness.Another is the role of women in 1960's Japan. In the dark cave, Koyanagi becomes a bit hesitant. Kurosaki then taunts her, "[fine], go back marry an office worker, have babies and change diapers" a la the traditional role of women in the modern world. One phrase that isn't translated in the subtitles is "tamanegi o kitte," meaning cutting onions. In other words, stay in the kitchen.So what does that title mean, "triphibian"? Well, given its Greek etymology, amphibian means able to live a double life, in water and in land, as frogs and salamanders. Triphibian thus means water, land, and air.Despite some serious issues explored, material cribbed from Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra by Kaiju Productions, (kaiju meaning Japanese for monster) and unconvincing monsters overshadow what could've been a good story."
This Proves that Rodan has a a brother and sister!!!!!!!!!!!
Daniel J. Hamlow | 06/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gappa is a classic Sc-Fi monster entry that belongs in many Japanese Monster Fans collection. I first bought the Alpha Video Dvd and was disgusted by the condition of the Print. I bought last january the Retromedia double feature, But still I was not satasifed. I fianlly bought the Tokyo Shock version and loved the film more than before. If you are a fan of this film skip Alpha Video's version and Retromedia's and buy this. Also I also tried to by Diamond Entairment's version, But I was unable. My frenid thankfully had it. next to Alpha Video's version it was terrible. So basically skip all other versions and buy this version !!!!!!!!!"
GAPPAS ARE ANGRY
M. Meyer | A volcanic island off Japan | 04/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My family name is Gappa - We are truly an angry people and you DO NOT want to tick us off! I felt sorry for them (though I am biased for my family) being harrassed and shot at for just trying to get what is rightly theirs - their baby.
I now know where my goofy nose comes from! I only wish that I could fly or have that laser beam thing come from my mouth - I did get the inherited ability to destruct things while just walking around, though.
All in all, it is a good story. Someone mentioned a rubber man suit - I couldn't tell because the family resemblance was uncanny."