The War of the Gargantuas (フランケンシュタインの怪獣 サンダ対ガイラ, Furankenshutain no Kaijū: Sanda tai Gaira, lit. Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira) is a 1966 Japanese kaiju film produced by Toho. The film is a pseudo-sequel to the 1965 film Frankenstein Conquers the World and is directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and stars Russ Tamblyn, Kumi Mizuno, and Kenji Sahara.
The film tells the story of two giant, hairy humanoids called Frankensteins (Gargantuas in the American version) that were spawned from the discarded cells of Frankenstein's monster from the previous film. A green one raised in the sea named Gaira (ガイラ, from kai, "sea") is violent and savage, while a brown one who resides in the Japanese Alps, named Sanda (サンダ, from san, "mountain") is friendly and docile. The film follows the investigation and military engagements of these creatures until their climactic confrontation in Tokyo.
The film was released theatrically in the United States in the summer of 1970 by Maron Films where it played nationwide on a double bill with Monster Zero.
As the film opens, a small boat is seen chugging through stormy seas. A giant octopus appears from the ocean and seems bent on killing the sole crew member on deck. Suddenly, the octopus releases the man and retracts its tentacles from the boat. Relieved, the sailor peers out the porthole, only to see Gaira, a large green man-like creature, fighting the octopus. After easily defeating it, Gaira turns his attention to the boat and sinks it.
When the sailor is recovered from the ocean, he tells his tale of the large gargantua (Frankenstein in the Japanese version) to his doctors, who believe he is in shock and spouting nonsense. The press picks up on the story and interviews Dr. Paul Stewart (Russ Tamblyn) and his female assistant, Akemi Togawa (Kumi Mizuno), who once had a baby gargantua in their possession for study five years prior. Dr. Stewart and Akemi try to dispel the idea that the attack on the boat was caused by the gargantua they knew and studied because it was very gentle while in their care. Stewart postulates that the gargantua he studied wouldn't live in the ocean as it was found in the mountains and probably returned there when it escaped from his laboratory five years ago.
Another boat is attacked and the people of a fishing village see the gargantua off the coast at the same time that a mountain guide reports seeing the gargantua in the Japanese Alps. So, Dr. Stewart and Akemi go to visit the mountains and send their assistant, Dr. Majida (Kenji Sahara), to look at the evidence in the fishing village. Dr. Majida finds tissue stuck to the side of the fishing boat while Dr. Stewart and Akemi find giant footprints in the snow.
In the meantime, Gaira comes ashore and attacks an airport. As he munches on a woman he's pulled from inside a building, the sun appears from behind the clouds. Apparently, the gargantua doesn't like bright light and runs back to the sea. After Gaira attacks Tokyo at night, the residents are urged to turn on all of their lights and open their shades to drive him out of the city. He begins to retreat to the mountains and is met by the Japanese Self Defense Force, who use giant spotlights and bonfires to corral Gaira into a valley. Although conventional tanks, artillery, and machine guns have little effect on him, a newly constructed weapon — Maser Cannons — badly injures Gaira. Bloodied and bruised, Gaira falls into the river and appears defeated. Suddenly, a larger, brown gargantua comes to his aid. Sanda, as he is known, pulls Gaira from the river and away from the military.
It turns out that Sanda is the gentle gargantua that Dr. Stewart and Akemi have studied years ago. This is confirmed when the scientists encounter Sanda in the mountains and he rescues Akemi from falling to her death, risking his own life and breaking his leg in the process. However, he has become leery of humans after seeing Gaira's horrific injuries and quickly vanishes once again. Later, he catches Gaira feasting on some boaters and attempts to kill him to stop the carnage. Unfortunately, he is hesitant about harming his brother and this, along with his broken leg, allows Gaira to overpower him before escaping to the sea. Dr. Stewart attempts to convince the military of Sanda's innocence and that blowing them up would simply scatter their cells all over the place, leading to the possibility of thousands of gargantuas, as the monsters can regenerate from even a tiny piece of tissue. The press and military remain skeptical.
Gaira reappears in Tokyo, no longer afraid of the city lights, and corners Dr. Stewart and Akemi. Sanda arrives to save them once again and attempts to placate his brother, but Gaira is beyond reason and the confrontation escalates to a violent brawl, causing great destruction in the process. The battle eventually leads out to sea, where the military begins an aerial bombardment. Unfortunately, the bombs disturb a giant underwater volcano, and the two monsters are engulfed in smoke and fire. By the time the volcanic cloud dissipates, both monsters have disappeared without a trace.Russ Tamblyn - Dr. Paul Stewart
Kumi Mizuno - Akemi Togawa
Kenji Sahara - Dr. Yuzo Majida
Nobuo Nakamura - Dr. Kita
Jun Tazaki - General
Hisaya Ito - Police Chief
Yoshifumi Tajima - Police Officer
Ren Yamamoto - Sailor
Kipp Hamilton - Herself
Kozo Nomura - General's Aide
Nadao Kirino - Soldier
Shoichi Hirose - Soldier
Tadashi Okabe - Defiant Reporter
Hideo Shibuya - Skeptical Reporter
Yû Sekida - Sanda, the main protagonist
Haruo Nakajima - Gaira, the main antagonist
The War of the Gargantuas was released theatrically in Japan on 31 July 1966 where it was distributed by Toho. Tamblyn's voice is dubbed for the Japanese version. Toho produced an English-dubbed version of the title. Its release is undetermined.
The film received a theatrical release in the United States on 29 July 1970 where it was double billed with Monster Zero. The film was distributed by Maron Films. The film is significantly altered on its United States release. In the United Kingdom, the film was titled Duel of the Gargantuas.
The film made its debut on DVD as a double feature with Rodan which was released by Classic Media on September 9, 2008.