Monster of the Day #30

“New York is like a city besieged. A state of emergency has been declared… and the entire police force put on 24-hour duty. Civilian defense is fully mobilized… and shelters have been opened in an effort to stop the mounting hysteria. All traffic has been halted. And Times Square, the heart of New York, has stopped beating. The National Guard has been called out, fully armed. to repel the invader. This is full-scale war against a terrible enemy… such as modern man has never before faced. Ordinary bullets have no effect… and a method of destroying the awesome creature… has not yet been formulated. But the battle field has been cleared. Herald Square. 34th Street. Broadway. Every section of the city is guarded. No one knows where the monster will strike next. It was last seen on Wall Street, close to where it came ashore. But lower Manhattan has become no man’s land.…”

The crab sequence from Mysterious Island is my favorite Harryhausen scene, but this is my favorite Harryhausen monster.  Although obviously referencing 1933’s King Kong, this was the first of the myriad of ’50s giant monsters.

  • Ah yes, the Rhedosaurus. One of my favorite Harryhausen monsters as well. I haven’t seen the movie since I was a kid. I’m almost afraid to in case it turns out to be less cool than I remember it.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    Ah, the Rhedosaurus. I think I like him even better than the Ymir. The way he plays with that car he stomps on, and his casual gulping down of the cop…he’s got personality, which is always a good thing.

    One of the best giant monster movies, and one of the best giant monsters.

  • David Lee — Have no fears. Like Them!, it completely holds up.

  • Gamera

    Yes, the Rhedosaurus was and is monster cool.

    If I may ask a question of the experts assembled here? Can the Rhedosaurus and Kong be considered Kaiju or does the term only apply to Japanese men in suits films?

  • TongoRad

    Yeah- it’s got a wonderful climax with the iconic monster fighting at an iconic roller-coaster; this one definitely holds up and makes you go “now THAT’s a monster movie”.

  • Gamera — Well, to me they’re just giant monster movies, but that’s probably a generational thing. I imagine if I were younger and grew up discussing them on the Internet, that I’d be calling them all Kaiju, including the American examples.

  • Rock Baker

    Love the Rhedosaurus, great stuff! One of the best moments in Planet of Dinosaurs was this guy’s all too brief visit. Godzilla owes much more to this film than King Kong, I’d think. It’s practically a remake, as was Godzilla 1998 really.

    If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to find the trailer for The Black Scorpion over on YouTube for a glimpse of Rhedosaurus test animation!

    I’d have to side with those who place Kaiju and Giant Monster Movies into two camps. Kaiju movies can be (and are) Giant Monster Movies (hence the popular American term for them; Japanese Giant Monster Movies), but not every Giant Monster Movie is a Kaiju. I think (and this is only my opinion) Kaiju as an unofficial genre claims only Asian giant monsters brought to life by physical effects, and/or those films that intentionally immitate them. Otherwise Zarkorr! The Invader wouldn’t have been touted as America’s first Kaiju movie (tho that claim is open to debate as well). It’s a gray area, but that’s how I understand the issue.

    Kong is a little toughter to pin down since he’s actually been in Kaiju movies. You could argue both ways on that one.

  • BeckoningChasm

    I dunno if they’re Kaiju or not, though I suppose it really doesn’t matter. I suppose if a Japanese person watches The SuperFriends, he probably calls it anime.

    BTW, Ken, what happened to the site earlier? It was down for quite a while.

  • This beats the Roland Emmerich ‘Godzilla’ all to hell.

  • Gamera

    Thanks guys. I can’t argue with using the general term ‘giant monster’ for all such films and ‘kaiju’ as a subdivision for Asian films with practical effects.

  • Actually, to me, it’s even more specialized. A Kaiju movie is one in which the monster primarily fights other monsters, whereas a “normal” giant monster movie is one in which the monster is pitted against the forces of humanity.

    Thus, to me, the original Godzilla, Gamera, and Rodan films are all monster movies, not true kaiju.

    I don’t expect anyone else to share my analysis.

  • Rock Baker

    Actually, you may be onto something. Solo monster rampages do fall more in line with the American mold, where as we tend to think of the Japanese when we think of monster vs monster action.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    Technically, kaiju means “strange beast” or “monster.” So really, you could really call just about any monster a kaiju. Giant monsters are more properly called daikaiju, or “giant strange beast/monster.” This would be more what we think of as kaiju in general here in America, eg. Godzilla.

    I tend to think of any unusual monster of a certain size, that preferably romps around a city at some point, as what we think of as kaiju. Godzilla, Gamera and friends all fit, as do The Giant Behemoth, Tarantula, the Deadly Mantis, the Sea Serpent, and, yes, the Rhedosaurus. King Kong is about as small a monster as I would consider a kaiju, mostly because he does indeed rampage through a city., although I could certainly see an argument against him (except for the titanic Japanese version, of course). Them!, the Ymir, and most dinosaurs I would not (although I want to call that Brontosaurus from The Lost World one). It’s not perfect, but that’s my take on things.

    Sorry for the length, but it’s giant monsters. It’s my thing.

  • Tork_110

    This thing wants me to change my auto insurance, doesn’t it?

  • Rock Baker

    I got out my laserdisc and watched this one again last night, it still delivers! Just about the perfect monster movie, and still a really fresh concept when it was released.