Search - Varan the Unbelievable on DVD

Varan the Unbelievable
Varan the Unbelievable
Actors: Myron Healey, Tsuruko Kobayashi, Clifford Kawada, Derick Shimatsu, K˘z˘ Nomura
Directors: Ishir˘ Honda, Jerry A. Baerwitz
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
UR     2005     1hr 10min

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 »


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Movie Details

Actors: Myron Healey, Tsuruko Kobayashi, Clifford Kawada, Derick Shimatsu, K˘z˘ Nomura
Directors: Ishir˘ Honda, Jerry A. Baerwitz
Creators: Hajime Koizumi, Jacques R. Marquette, Jerry A. Baerwitz, Ken Kuronuma, Shinichi Sekizawa, Sid Harris
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Anime & Manga, Animation
Studio: Tokyo Shock
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen - Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/10/2005
Original Release Date: 12/07/1962
Theatrical Release Date: 12/07/1962
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 10min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese, English
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Definitely NOT the Myron Healey version!!
A. C. Cronvich | Planet Zeist | 05/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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
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 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...

While I did enjoy certain elements of this film a lot like the effects, the music, various shots, overall it just felt kinda...boring...a very cut and dry Japanese monster that's very well done, but still lacks zing. The way I see it, the story is a perfect example of a situation where everyone's interests might have been best served by leaving well enough alone. Here we've got a creature in a highly remote area, content to live at the bottom of a relatively isolated lake, prayed to by idiotic local villagers...until the army learns of its existence, to which not only do they book up there with all kinds of weapons, but they actually use chemicals to drive the creature from the lake and soon find out they bit off more than they could chew. Were the Japanese really so eager to instigate a giant creature to thrash and trash their cities, especially on the heels of Gojira aka Godzilla? As I said, the movie is really well done, and I think my favorite aspect was the music, provided by legendary composer Akira Ifukube. One thing I felt while watching the movie was a sense that a whole lot of effort was put forth in nearly every area of the film, right down to the highly detailed miniatures. The film does move slowly at times, lurching forward on the heels of predictability. During the film I questioned Dr. Sugimoto credentials, as he seemed to offer little in terms of useful information and/or assistance, but his unwillingness towards speculation appears to be something written in as a desirable, inherent quality of the character...but I didn't see it that way. Sure, I could sit on the sidelines keeping a tight lip while others try to mitigate a dangerous situation, learning from their mistakes enough to finally propose a solution and looking like a hero, but that equates to just taking credit for the work of others. I think my favorite scene had to be the one where Baran took to the sea, and came across a small fishing boat occupied by three men despondent about the lack of fish...that is until Baran sticks his head out of the water, and the men go wacky-do-nuts...the confrontation in the sea was also pretty cool, especially when the ships were dropping depth charges try to force Baran to the surface. I also thought the creature looked decent, about as good a man in a rubber suit can...

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."