Saturday Afternoon Kaiju: Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (1967)
This week I decided to look at a movie that, on paper, might seem really ridiculous but it works. Okay, okay, yes, all Kaiju movies looks silly on paper but you know what I mean.
A group of writers/scientists, sent by their boss Mr. Funazu, president of Playmate (?!) magazine, are on an expedition to check out Obelisk Island. The island, somewhere in the South Pacific, is to be home to Mr. Funazu’s new theme park/resort. The group find there are inhabitants of the island, “primitives” as they are called. The people of the island seem to welcome the (what I call) invaders. Apparently, the plan is just to take the island from the people and ship them back to Tokyo so they can live there (oh, the 1960s). Two of the group decide to go exploring where they shouldn’t. One of the island boys, Saki (who is, unfortunately, in varying degrees of black face during the movie), warns the two men to stay out of area but, of course, they don’t listen to him.
As soon as the two men enter the forbidden cave (which was blocked by a giant statue that looks nothing like the Easter Island statues they keep saying it does), the island experiences a violent earthquake. You’d think that would give them a clue to get the fuck out of the cave but, no, they keep on looking. They find a giant egg. Now, let’s stop there. What do we know about finding a giant egg in a dark cave no one has been in for ages? Right, don’t touch it and get the hell out of there. These guys don't have a clue. The egg begins to hatch. The group goes looking for the two men and they notice the giant statue guarding the cave opening has toppled over. They find the men and the hatchling. It’s a baby lizard/bird. They hurry the baby into their ship and head back to Tokyo to show Mr. Funazu their discovery. Of course, they don’t care that stealing the baby has caused the island’s volcano to erupt, killing everyone on the island. Everyone except one person. You got it, Saki.
They take the baby back and tell the world of their discovery. They start to experiment on the poor bird/lizard, too. They decide to call the baby Gappa. They figured the egg was millions of years old and the earthquake shook up the embryo inside, making it hatch. Uhm, wut? Anyway, what nobody counted on was that Momma and Poppa Gappa exist and that they are super angry at having their baby stolen. They can fly and are headed straight for Tokyo.
Mom and Pop Gappa are essentially pterodactyls but really huge. They can fly and swim. They also have really long tails. They have some other tricks up their non-existent sleeves. They get to Tokyo and start tearing things up. Like most Kaiju, they mainly just walk on land and step on buildings, occasionally knocking things over with their tails. Still, they are pissed their baby was stolen so I’d be knocking down everything in sight, too. Mr. Funazu is reluctant to hand over Baby Gappa. He wants his moneymaker and doesn’t seem bothered that the city is being destroyed. The military comes out to attack Mom and Dad Gappa but, as usual, their weapons are useless. Will Baby Gappa be reunited with its parents? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (or Monster from a Prehistoric Planet as it was called on my copy) is super fun and very kid friendly. What I especially liked about it was it didn’t have an unnecessary subplot. The movie takes about 15 minutes to set things up and then it’s off and running. If you’ve seen Gorgo, well, you’ve pretty much seen Gappa then, too. The plot is a direct rip-off of Gorgo. That’s okay, though. The effects and direction are pretty good here. The Gappa themselves are silly to be sure but, holy hell, I love them so. Whenever I saw one on screen, I kept thinking of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”:
"I'm an alligator, I'm a mama-papa coming for you
I'm the space invader, I'll be a rock 'n' rollin' bitch for you
Keep your mouth shut,
you're squawking like a pink monkey bird
And I'm busting up my brains for the words"
I mean, they aren’t pink and they certainly aren’t monkeys but, I dunno, it somehow fits in my head, anyway. Somewhere there is a Gappa figurine that I can add to my collection; I know what I’m asking Santa for this year for Christmas.
The copy of the movie I saw was really poor. My husband found it in one of the box of 50 Sci-Fi movies for $5. I don’t mind the inferior quality, though, for movies like this. It kinda adds to the charm. You can also find the movie for sale cheap on Amazon. It’s available for streaming on YouTube, too.