First time UNCUT Wide Screen Presentation! From The Creators of the GODZILLA Series! In an effort to find an economic means of purifying salt water, a joint U.S.-Japanese military command is set up on an isolated Japanese ... more »island where an unusual salt-water lake is situated. However, their purifying experiments arouse the flying prehistoric monster "Varan" (Destroy All Monsters) from hibernation at the lake?s bottom, and it proceeds to attack Japan. Extras Uncut and TV versions, New Eng. Dub and 5.1 mix, original Japanese language English Subtitles, Video lecture and Commentary by production Designer of "VARAN", Original Trailers and More!« less
"This DVD release is the original Japanese version and not the butchered American version with added scenes of Myron Healey as a US soldier investigating a salty island lake. This version is so different you wont believe it. The plot is completely different. It takes place in the mountains, not on an island. There is just no comparing the two versions. They are nothing alike. It would have been nice if they had included the american TV version on this disc for comparison, but alas. They don't even kill the monster in the american version. Come to think of it, They really didn't even use very much of the original footage in making the American version. Most confusing about this DVD is the decision to use the US title VARAN: THE UNBELIEVABLE, since that is a completely different version. A more correct translation of the title of this version would be VARAN: THE GIANT MONSTER or GIANT MONSTER VARAN. It contains two versions an earlier, incomplete work print for an abandoned TV version and the Japanese theatrical cut. Both are only subtitled. They should have dubbed it.
Its interesting to note that after I wrote this review, Amazon took down the name Myron Healey. Now it is back again. I dont get it."
Solid Japanese Monster Entertainment
Wayne A. | Belfast, Northern Ireland | 12/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not the best of all but definitely a good one and worth seeing. I didn't notice a lack of dubbing because I never watch these dubbed--Americans tend to see these films as camp and dub away with that in mind. Most dubs of Japanese flicks of this type I've encountered have been awful, worst of all was a recent Godzilla release that was dubbed and chopped up horribly by an arrogant American who actually brags about his butchery and lousy jokes on one of the tracks.
In the Fifties films like "Day the Earth Stood Still" or "The Thing" were not made as budget no-brainers and we shouldn't assume that the Japanese were always simply screwing around either. "Godzilla" in its original form is a serious and at times horrifying film; many later efforts have spectacular art direction, imaginative design, fine acting (you'll see many serious Japanese actors in these movies), and fascinating plots... along with some nice humor to break things up. Tokyo Shock is doing a terrific job here with this series--I'm buying every one--and if they need a PR man they should get in touch because I will rave as eloquently as possible. So far the releases have been wonderful; I never dreamed I'd see a conscientiously cleaned-up offering of "Mysterians" or "Matango" or "Dogora" in my lifetime. This is significant film, a lot of effort went into much of it (more so than in any American B-movie fare that it tends to be unfairly lumped with) and should be seen and appreciated as something more than mere goofy Friday night beer and pizza entertainment.
One extra note: About the constant "guy-in-the-rubber-suit" quips and jibes. I've worked on some hefty creative production so I kind of know what I'm talking about here--stop and think, you want a big monster trashing the hell out of a city. If you stop-motion the monster you either have to optically print the destruction (which means a loss of sense of immediacy in the way the monster interacts with its environment) or stop-motion animate the destruction, which, as Ray Harryhausen has many times told us, is insanely difficult and never looks right. Think of the buildings being demolished in "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers"--a little stiff and wooden. Pre-CGI (and frankly that has its limitations--everything looks like a video game for one, and it lacks guts and resonance) the best way to have a monster wreck a city and give it some real visceral heft is...yes, a guy in a rubber suit smashing away at superb miniatures. This was never a cheesy low-budget decision (although it incidentally translated to lower budget films well), it was a calculated design and aesthetic choice and in the best of the films it is not only effective but quite riveting--even though it's not precisely "realistic" whatever the hell that means in a fantasy/sci-fi offering. So all I'm saying is next time you feel like getting snide or uppity about the rubber suit shtick, the explosions, or any other tough details in these wonderful films, sit down with a budget, timetable, and pack of grouchy production experts and please try to come up with a better way to do it! Also, take a hard look at that miniature Tokyo or Osaka or Hokado the monster is trashing and ask hard questions about time and money. Those toy cities were works of art.
While I'm grouchy one more thing--with few exceptions, like "Team America," you're not going to see much real "fantasy" stuff on the screen anymore. It's all Green Screen or location shooting nowadays. I don't think many people have completely thought through what this means. What's more exciting, a chase involving 50 horsemen that you know are real or one involving 5000 horsemen that you know must be a computer generated image...or a real spaceship (albeit in miniature) blowing up or a hundred CGI images of spaceships doing same. Deep down, your brain can tell the difference. All those fantastic people who knew how to design and build miniatures and crazy sets (like you see in 50s and 60s films) and make real explosions and do great stunts are disappearing--fast. It's all artificial, like artificial flavoring, and something something that gets to your gut is missing. I can't watch modern films because I know I'm pretty much watching cartoons."
Oh no, there goes Tokyo, go go Godzi...er Baran!
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 07/11/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, someone screwed up here, and it wasn't me (for once)...the film is listed here as Varan the Unbelievable (1962) but what is actually on the DVD is a different film titled Daikaijû Baran (1958), also known as Baran: Monster from the East or The Great Monster Baran...the plots for the two films are very similar (giant monster running amok...gee, that's plot for most any of these films), but the film with the creature Varan features the American actor Myron Healey while the film actually on this DVD does not...directed by Ishirô Honda (Godzilla, Rodan! The Flying Monster), the film stars Kôzô Nomura, Ayumi Sonoda, and Koreya Senda, all of whom, along with much of the supporting cast, also appearing in Varan the Unbelievable, further adding to the confusion...I wouldn't doubt if footage from Daikaijû Baran was spliced together with footage shot at a later date to create Varan the Unbelievable, as this practice was not an unusual one, hacking up Japanese films of the time to make them more palatable to American audiences.
All right, now that is cleared up, I can proceed...the film begins with Japanese text scrolling across the screen, none of which I can read, so I'm wondering how much of the story I just missed...this goes on for about a minute and a half and then we see scenes of a rocket taking off from Earth (I'm not sure why, as this seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the film). After this we cut to a university where Dr. Sugimoto (Senda) is teaching a class, talking about butterflies...apparently some especially rare ones have been found in a remote area, so they sent a couple of researchers to find more. The researchers have arrived in a village near the area, but the locals don't seem all that friendly...weird, but not friendly...after a brief search of the area the do find one of the butterflies (conveniently attached to a string), but they also find something else, something that causes an avalanche, killing the two men. A second team is sent, a trio of individuals including Yuriko (Sonoda), a reporter whose brother was one of the two original researchers killed (is she going for the scoop, or her dead brother?), Kenji (Nomura), a university representative who's got the hots for Yuriko, and some portly, bespeckled psuedo comic relief type you hope (and pray) dies quickly but never does...anyway, the trio arrive at the village and find the locals praying to a god named Baradagi, hoping to avoid his divine wraith (which is coming soon, or so my gut tells me). Kenji mocks their belief system and there's a boring bit about a lost boy and his dog (the boy is so amazingly annoying I would have left him lost) which all equates to an awakening of a prehistoric beast living at the bottom of a nearby lake. Well, I guess the Japanese aren't partial to giant beasts, so they send the army in and there is a confrontation, but the creature escapes and its learned conventional weapons are pretty much useless...oh yeah, this seemingly land/sea based creature also has wings and can fly...a monster of all seasons, if you will. Anyway, from Anti-Varan Headquarters (no foolin') we learn, after a few skirmishes with stock footage and miniature ships, the creature is seriously honked off headed directly for Tokyo (oh no!) and probably not in an effort to make friendly nice nice...
The wide screen (2.35:1) picture on this Media Blasters DVD release looks very clear and sharp to me, and the audio come through cleanly, available in Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital stereo, Japanese 3.0 Dolby Digital mono, and Japanese mono. There is no English dub, but there are English subtitles, which I prefer over English dubbing as its usually done so poorly it distract from the film, but to each his/her own...special features include a restored Japanese television broadcast version, trailers for the film, a lecture from monster suit sculptor Keizo Murase, along with providing an audio commentary for the film. There are also some previews for other releases including One Missed Call (2003), The Mysterians (1957), Mantango aka Attack of the Mushroom People (1963), and Sky High (2003).
By the way, did you know that when rocket-launching vehicles are inadvertently tipped over (especially the miniature ones), they explode spectacularly? They do...and they do a heck of a lot more damage than that of the rockets they actually fire... "
What you should know about this DVD release for Varan.
Shokara | New Jersey, USA | 03/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is not the American version titled "Varan the Unbelievable" that was released in the USA in 1961. This will be the original 1958 Japanese version "Daikaiju Varan" (Giant Monster Varan), so none of the edited footage and story involving the American naval officer on the "island of Kunish Hiroshima" will be present in this. Also, for those that're only familiar with "Varan the Unbelievable", since this will be the original Japanese version there will be lots of footage you've never seen such as Varan's flying sequence, and you will also get to hear Akira Ifukube's original musical score. And just so you know, this DVD will more than likely be bilingual so there will likely be a dub, though it's possible it'll be a brand new English dub recorded in LA by studios and actors that most often dub anime (Japanese animation) as was the case with the recent DVD of The Mysterians. There'll also likely be a few nice extras on this like Media Blasters'/Tokyo Shock's impressive DVDs for The Mysterians and Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People."
More "Unbelievable" Than The Original US Cut
Ryan Clark | Missouri | 10/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd seen the US cut of Varan several years ago, and it was terrible. Thankfully, Media Blasters brings us the original uncut version, over four decades later. Varan is back in all his glory, last seen in a brief clip in "Destroy All Monsters" in 1968. Extras include original Japanese trailers, a restored Japanese TV broadcast version, and a featurette on the creation of the Varan suit, all of which are worth a look. I might add, this DVD lacks an English dub, so those who watch dub-only versions may want to avoid this."