With all due respect to Elvis, he isn’t the King. Godzilla is.
Nothing can destroy him, not even a bad American “remake.”
And now, as Mothra did answer the praying natives of Infant Island,
the mighty Godzilla has heard the entreating lamentations
of his fans and thundered back onto the American screen.
In honor of this oh-so-great event, the humble members
of the B-Master’s Cabal have joined together to…
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This review is dedicated to reader Christian Andersen of Denmark, who
once properly chastised me for misidentifying Reptilicus as a Swedish film.
As I watched this film, I couldn’t help reflecting on the paucity of giant monster attacks on continental Europe. The Japanese classic Destroy All Monsters probably contains more such assaults (Rodan decimates Moscow; Gorosaurus – mistakenly referred to as Baragon – mauls Paris) than all homegrown continental giant monster movies put together. Which number, I believe, consists entirely of Reptilicus. Of European movies seen here in the States, or those that I can think of, anyway, not France or Germany or Russia or Poland or Italy or whatever has been plagued by irradiated dinosaurs, mutated insects or extraterrestrial anti-matter fowl.
But don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll be updated on this by Apostic, proprietor of the B-Notes site and the B-Master Cabal’s official Vice President in Charge of Obscure & Arcane Knowledge. Once he sends in an exhaustive list of all the European giant monster attacks, I’ll post it as an addendum to this article. (First let me say that I admit that Switzerland’s come close in The Crawling Eye, but I’d put that more in the Alien Invasion Category.)
Hey, no sooner said than done:
Giant Monster Attacks on Europe
|Nature of Monster||Comments|
|The Lost World||1925||Britain||Brontosaurus hatched from egg.||Nominated by Apostic|
|The Giant Claw||1957||None really.||Goofy anti-matter space bird.||Flies over stock footage of various countries.|
|Twenty Million Miles to Earth.||1957||Italy||The Ymir.||Nom. by Apostic, most in line with the Dai Kaiju thing.|
|Konga||1961||Britain||Monkey turned into giant ape by the jealous mistress of mad scientist. Also subject of soft-core Monarch paperback.||Hell hath no furyâ€¦|
|Cosmic Monsters||1957||Britain||Mutated giant bugs.||Stars Forrest Tucker.|
|Invasion of the Animal People||1959||Sweden||10-foot yeti types, released by aliens.||Not really what we’re talking about here.|
|The Giant Behemoth||1959||Britain||Irradiated amphibious dinosaur.||Redundant title.|
|Sound of Horror||1964||Greece
|Invisible dino-monsters||Haven’t seen.|
|Gorgo||1961||Britain||Mommy & Son amphibious dinosaurs.|
|Reptilicus||1961||Denmark||Regenerated amphibious whatsit.||See above|
|Destroy All Monsters||1968||USSR;
|Rodan in Moscow/Gorosaurus in Paris.||Well, if you’re going to attack 2 countriesâ€¦|
I guess this points to some difference in the national mindsets. Asia, including Korea (Yongary, Monster from the Deep; A*P*E) and even China (Mighty Peking Man), is quite regularly beset by leviathans of various sort. Of course, Japan remains the champion in this regard. I shudder to think about what their insurance rates are like over there. The US has had more than its share of such attacks, too. Of course, most of those occur in either New York or somewhere in California, but still. While I’m not sure about Canada, Mexico has suffered some, as seen in Black Scorpion and Beast from Hollow Mountain. Still, over in Europe only Britain has been subjected to periodic Giant Monster rampages. There big bugs, big monkeys and big dinosaurs, both radioactive and other, have made their presence known.
Before we start, let me say in Reptilicus’ defense that he is not anywhere near the silliest monster featured here at our site. Compared to such manifestly goofy marauders as The Giant Claw and The Sea Serpent, our current object of interest is a veritable Titan of Terror. Still, his marionette origins remain entirely too clear, his regenerative abilities and invulnerability seem rather fanciful, and he’s not exactly the most powerful behemoth on the block. Actually, if you remove his capacity for spitting up his glowing acidic venom, he’s really not that menacing. And, in fact, in the original versions of the film he’s didn’t possess this attribute. Instead he could fly, not an ability likely in itself to strike stark fear into our hearts. So, especially in the Danish version, Reptilicus remains one of those monsters who seems to cause rather less damage than the military forces arrayed against it.
We open on some engineers drilling for core samples somewhere in the “forbidding tundra mountains” of Lapland. (It’s a good thing I’ve gotten over my love of puns, or I’d tell you how boring this bit is.) We’re also informed that this locale is “high above the Arctic Circle.” The team is prospecting for copper. “But what they found is a story,” our Narrator continues. “A story that would terrorize the world.” I’m not sure what that story was, since we focus instead on the tale told here. The drill bit is brought up and upon handling it crew leader Svend Viltorft finds his hands covered with blood. Cue shock music and our title credit. “There’s blood on the drill!” someone exclaims, inadvertently suggesting a title for Bob Dylan’s next album.
Let’s get back to that “above the Arctic Circle” thing. Presumably this factoid is meant to suggest that it’s cold here, thus explaining why the imminently appearing plot device is still extant. However, since we’re in a summery forest with a work crew partially clad in short sleeves, I may be mistaken. In any case, an examination of the retrieved sample quickly reveals a hunk of bloody flesh. I’ll give the movie this, they’re certainly moving things along at this point.
The men peruse their findings. The flesh, one notes, feels like leather. Odder is an observation regarding a sample of bloody white bone. “Bones?” one guy exclaims. “Fossil bones!” Now, generally bone that looks and feels freshly removed from its host isn’t considered fossilized. I think. I’m not a scientist or anything, but that would be my guess.
Svend Viltorft ponders the mystery. “Henry,” he says, consulting a crewman, “as an American, you have drilled all over the world.” (?) “It can’t be a living thing,” Henry replies. “Let it be.” I’m not really sure what Henry’s first remark has to do with the second, but anyway. Thinking things over, Svend Viltorft sagely notes, “There’s got to be an explanation.” Yeah, thanks, Sherlock. With no answer apparent, he decides to contact the University of Copenhagen. He and Henry turn away, somehow not having noticed that the hunk of flesh is throbbing. I don’t know, this seems like the kind of thing that would jump out at you.
We cut to a campfire that night, as the Narrator reveals that “within hours, two Danish scientists have joined the mining engineers.” It’s a good thing that Denmark maintains crack teams of scientists who are ready to head out at a moment’s notice. These worthies are introduced as Prof. Martens and Dr. Dalby of the Danmarks Aquarium (?!) in Copenhagen. I’m not sure why staff scientists from an Aquarium were sent. Perhaps Svend Viltorft reported the incident as “something fishy,” but frankly, that’s the best I can think of. In any case, I’m pretty sure that there’s got to be an explanation. Also in attendance is “Hans Carlson, a newspaper reporter.” Presumably he’s here because he covers the prestigious Aquarium beat for one of the city’s newspapers.
Having pondered the issue for presumably the many minutes since arriving here, Martens offers his thoughts. (An explanation! So Svend Viltorft was right!) He theorizes that some large animal’s remains were preserved in a layer of “icy muck,” which lies “close beneath the surface” here. I wouldn’t have thought that’s how it works, but what do I know? The friction from the bit warmed up the frozen flesh, resulting in the blood. “Not unusual, really,” Dalby concurs. I guess you see this sort of thing pretty regularly when you work at an aquarium. However, the fact that the samples apparently came from a large reptile intrigues them. Personally, I think that fact that the flesh throbs and moves of its own violation might also be considered interesting. In any case, they decide to take the samples back to the Aquarium, where they have facilities that will allow for further study. Boy, those scientists think of everything, don’t they?
Cut to some stock footage of an airplane before cutting to some stock footage of Copenhagen. We see Martens being dropped off at the Aquarium by his (comparatively) foxy daughter Lise. Reptilicus oddly inspired an infamous paperback adaptation replete with inserted soft-core sex scenes. I’d presume Lise to figure in on some of these. As the Professor walks to his office, he raps on the glass of a tank holding two sea turtles. Yep, that’s a guy who works in an Aquarium, all right. He next enters a large room containing staff workspace and the inevitable fluid-filled beakers adorning a metal scaffold. He drops off his hat and walks over to Dalby’s desk.
Here the two engage in a slightly disjointed conversation. Martens asks Dalby if he’s still attempting a “reconstruction” of the creature from the samples. “It’s got to be done!” Dalby huffily replies. (Since they mention “bones” here, I’m assuming that they’ve dug up more of the body.) Anyway, Martens isn’t sure that all the bones belong to the same animal. “It would be unlike any other fossil creature ever found.” Yeah, how could that happen? Hmm. Well, I’m sure there must be an explanation.
Enter Martens’ foxy younger daughter Karen, again presumably a more prominent character in the novelization. In the film’s idea of comic relief, she excitedly informs him that he’s got a telegram, all while wildly waving it around so that he can’t get a hold of it. Sadly, this will actually represent the acme of the movie’s humor. Once secured, the telegram reveals that the estimable Svend Viltorft has found some more bones. As he’s due to arrive at the airport shortly, Karen is sent to pick him up.
Soon Martens is marveling over the new bone fragments. Svend Viltorft asks what’s so unusual about them. (Doesn’t this guy have any, you know, work to do? I thought he was supposed to be searching for copper deposits.) “They are resilient,” Martens replies, “but very strong.” What, all at the same time? Furthermore, they “are almost like the cartilaginous bones of a shark!” I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds very scientific. Then Svend Viltorft is shown to a door with a window in it. Through this can be seen a recovered segment of the creature’s tail, frozen but largely intact.
Working from these remains, they theorize that the animal was the size of “the largest of prehistoric creatures. Ninety feet or more!” Since the showcased tail section looks like it might have come from an abnormally large alligator, this conclusion seems a bit premature. Karen, of course, is bored by all this men-talk. Besides, there’s an eligible male in the room. (What, you thought our engineer would be married?) “Father,” she preens. “Now that you’re certain that Svend [Viltorft] knows about frozen matters, can I thaw him a little and show him around?” Hmm, it seems that Reptilicus isn’t going to be the only bit of tail that our heroic engineer will become acquainted with.
Suddenly older sister Lise rushes in, followed by the film’s horrific monstrosity. No, not Reptilicus. I mean Petersen, the wacky comedy relief janitor. This fellow is played in excruciatingly Jerry Lewis-esque fashion by Danish comic actor Dirch Passer. (Insert your own “Something’s rottenâ€¦” joke here.) Karen, who’s apparently a bit of a minx, tries to protect her prize, but Lise horns in. Thus, with a horny chick on each arm (and sisters at that!), the stalwart Svend Viltorft makes his exit. Watching the girls depart, Dalby jocularly informs Martens that “I envy that young man!” Rather than punch the smirking coot in the face, their father laughs in agreement. “Yes,” he chuckles, “he [Svend Viltorft] will be busy now.” Well, that’s Europe for you.
Unfortunately, this exodus allows Petersen to take center stage. In case we somehow failed to perceive his function here, his mussed-up hair, dopey expression, booming voice, flannel shirt and denim coveralls all conspire to announce ‘Comedy Relief Yokel.’ He’ll live on the premises, Martens explains, setting him up to witness the inevitable late-night monster emergency. Again, in case we’ve never seen a movie before, Dalby carefully explains that his main duty will be to make sure that the “freezing room” containing the tail segment stays cold. Three guesses where we go from here. If you need a hint, it’s explicitly stated that the room “run[s] electrically.”
Petersen leaves, allowing Martens and Dalby to chuckle over their evident mental superiority to their fellow man. Out in the hall Petersen notices a fish tank. This, although adorned with lightning bolt-inscribed warning signs, has been left uncovered. Does the Danish equivalent of OSHA know about this? Fearing we won’t ‘get’ it, Petersen phonetically reads out a placard marked ‘electric eel,’ which is oddly in English rather than Dutch. “Yep,” he grunts, “everything around here runs on electricity!” See. That’s the punch line. I mean, remember the freezing room? How he was told it ran electrically? By the way, if you’re awarding the film points for Petersen not shoving his hand into the tank and being comically shocked, well, I wouldn’t be precipitous.
We cut to a really bad model of the Aquarium (uh oh), presumably later that night. Inside we watch the patrolling janitor tour the lab, accompanied by the type of comedy music scorned by Bozo the Clown as being too obvious. Dalby, however, intends on working through most of the night, and tells Petersen that he’ll watch over things here. Then Petersen exits the room, taking his comedy music with him. See, in many films comedy music is used to punctuate, well, something comic. Not so here. Perhaps Petersen’s considered to be so inherently wacky that he requires comedy music even if he’s just walking around. I have to admit, he’s just as funny during this scene as he is anywhere else in the movie.
In a rather clever bit used to indicate the passage of time, we cut to a clock. Initially it reads 11:24, but then the face blurs and next it shows 2:50. Perhaps later we’ll see an innovative “leaves flying from a day calendar” shot. Cut to some stock footage roiling cloud footage, with a lightning bolt and thunder sounds matted in to presage a big storm brewing. (Uh oh!) Then back to the lab, where a weary Dalby is rubbing his eyes. Stretching, he enters the Freezing Room and slices a bit of flesh off the tail segment. (Although the tail is supposedly “frozen,” the meat cuts quite readily.) Either he’s intent on conducting a late night experiment or he’s just a tad peckish.
As he examines the sample under a microscope, he continues to rub his eyes. Soon he nods off, which is unfortunate as he’s managed to leave the Freezing Room door ajar. Apparently built on an angle, the door manages to swing entirely open. Damn socialized labor forces! As it opens it creaks rather loudly, indicating that it hasn’t been properly oiled. Presumably this is why Petersen was introduced as the “new” janitor, to establish that little maintenance has been performed lately. (Wow!) Yet despite the din, Dalby continues to doze. Of course, if he didn’t our movie would never get going.
Now, we could probably just cut away to the following morning. I mean, I think we all get the significance of the prior chain of events. Still, I guess, you can’t too sure. So we get a montage of the ticking clock, Dalby slumped over the lab table, and the temperature gage ticking upward. All accompanied, needless to say, by “boy, this isn’t good” music. Soon light is streaming through the windows. Inside the open Freezing Room, blood is puddled on the floor while the melting ice loudly drips onto the tile. Still Dalby snoozes away. (Also, since the lab isn’t all that much larger than the Freezing Room itself, wouldn’t it be rather cold in there?)
Martens and Lise enter the room. They wake Dalby up, somehow not immediately noticing that the Freezer Room door, loud dripping noises still issuing from it, is lying open. Lise does eventually spot this – good thing for these two trained observers that she’s on hand – and they quickly perceive that the tail has thawed out. Here Martens chastises Dalby, though rather mildly, I thought, given that his gross incompetence has resulted in the apparent destruction of a once-in-a-lifetime scientific find. Again, though, Lise’s sharp eyes have spotted something. Indicating a previously damaged section of tail, she points out that the wound looks different. Another quick examination leads an amazed Martens to proclaim that the tail, rather than rotting away, is instead regenerating. And well he might be amazed, as there’s no apparent sign of what exactly the tail is converting into all this extra mass.
Cut to Martens interviewing a handsome woman, one Connie Miller. (Whoever wrote the book was certainly given plenty to work with.) In a line I’d pay five bucks to see Liz from the And You Call Yourself a Scientist? site listen to, he suavely remarks that “We’re not accustomed to seeing such a beautiful woman connected with Science.” She assures him that she is in fact “quite capable in my field,” as she stiltedly puts it. He explains that he meant no insult. “As an old man,” he chuckles, “I feel free to accept beauty without apology.” At this Connie smiles. “I guess I’m a little sensitive,” she replies. Ah, the old days, before hostile work environment laws.
She thanks him for inviting her to join their team. “If all that your report detailed can be verified,” she excitedly notes, “it certainly opens up dangerous avenues of exploration.” Which, as we know, is but the finest catnip to your average movie scientist. Martens reveals that another United Nations representative is due to arrive soon as well. He’s an American, Martens explains, as is Connie. (Which was my only clue that she wasn’t supposed to be Danish.) Here the fellow, Brigadier General Mark Grayson, introduces himself from the lab’s doorway. Lise, who’s been watching the interview, nearly swoons at the sight of this manly figure in uniform. Of course, the daughters Martens appear ever ready to swoon at the sight of pretty much anything in pants. Although considering some of the looks Lise had been giving Connie, I might be being too restrictive.
The fellows who play Grayson — Danish actor Carl Ottosen physically, J. Edward McKinley providing the voice in the American version – afford us what is easily the funniest composite acting amongst the various leads. (Although Marlies Behrens and Athena Lorde, respectively, make for an awfully stiff Connie.) Together they supply Grayson with the booming voice and squinty, one-dimensional seriousness meant to connote a career military man. Thus Grayson comes off as a bit of a dope, ever wrinkling his brow in frustration when simply blowing something up won’t solve the problem. He will also, of course, be the hero of the piece. Meanwhile, it’s obvious that producer/director Sidney Pink had the American market in mind when making this film. The inclusion of American characters here calls to mind Toho’s casting of Yankee actors such as Russ Tamblyn and Nick Adams in films like War of the Gargantuas and Monster Zero. The difference being that here the characters are American, not the actors playing them.
As for the General, I’m not saying that a better actor or actors could have made much of the part. Grayson’s fate is assured when he’s introduced with the lines, “I don’t know why I’m here, Professor. I assume you’ll let me know.” That a Brigadier General, even an American one serving with the UN, would be sent off without a clue as to his assignment seems a tad unlikely. Unless, of course, the fellow who assigned him was some snotty Frenchman. Damn Frogs, you can’t trust farther than you can throw them. Well, at least with an American at the helm they won’t be waving a white flag the first time Reptilicus shoves his snout into view.
Martens promises that answers will be provided at a press conference scheduled to begin shortly. He then awkwardly walks Grayson around his desk to introduce him to Connie and Lise. You know you’re watching a Bad Movie when poor blocking grabs your attention. Still thinking that a military man should be played in an exaggeratedly brusque manner, Grayson reacts oddly when introduced to Connie. “American, Miss Miller?” he asks with apparent suspicion. He then replies rather rudely to Lise’s polite remarks. Ah, the Ugly American in action.
We cut to the *ahem* press conference. About a dozen people who look like they were pulled off the street and asked if they wanted to be in a movie attend this. Especially out of place are a young man and woman in back, who look like they mistakenly wandered off the set of a college drama. Meanwhile, Dalby introduces Grayson to his liaison, Captain Brandt of the Royal Danish Guard. Grayson treats him rudely, too. Apparently “rudely frustrated at being assigned here,” is meant to sum up Grayson as a ‘character.’
Martens is explaining to the *cough* reporters that the tail segment is alive. They react with the inevitable excited ‘watermelon, watermelon’ noises. Meanwhile, Grayson is so shocked that he actually changes expression. Sort of. Well, OK, he squints a little harder than usual. And he moves his head a quarter turn. Still, for him this is an explosion of raw emotion. The tail, moreover, is actually growing, fed by a “controlled” stream of nutrient fluids. Martens then uses the word ‘regeneration.’ A reporter, presumably meant to represent the denser members of the audience, asks for a definition of that word. Unsurprisingly, the old “a lizard can grow back a lost tail” saw is trotted out. Oh. Now I get it. Still, just in case it remains a bit vague, further examples using starfish and flatworms are utilized.
Martens explains that the creature has yet to be named, and is only known to be a reptile. “How about Reptilicus Martenius?” one wag suggests. Chuckling, Martens replies that “Reptilicus will do.” (Hey, he said the title!) He then leads them down the hall to a window overlooking the tank wherein the tail is currently residing. As the reporters stare in amazement at a clump of something obscured under some reddish water, newspaper headlines flash by. The *cough* Washington Gazette screams “PREHISTORIC MONSTER GROWING IN HUGE TANK”. Meanwhile, the il Popolo di Roma reports that “Bestia preistorica nel acquario in Danimarca”. Papers representing France, Germany and England continue to whip by. “REPTILICUS EST REGENERATEUR!” “REPTILICUS UNGEHEUER LEBT UND WACHST!” “INCUBATOR TANK FEEDS MONSTER FROM PAST!” Given the amount of attendees present at the ‘press conference,’ I’d have to hazard that only one reporter from each country was invited.
We cut to Grayson reading an article. Ranting aloud to himself, he comes off as the most stable American military officer since General Jack D. Ripper. “General Mark Grayson,” he sarcastically quotes, “well known for his exploits at the Battle of the Bulge, has been put in command of the protective forces.” Here he sneers, tossing down the newspaper. “General Mark Grayson!” he repeats. “In command of two captains, three office boys and a dead lizard!” Is it just me, or does it seem strangely proactive that the Danes would request the UN to provide a military commander in case something went wrong here. Wouldn’t they have been better off installing an emergency generator at the Aquarium? Of course, then we wouldn’t have a movie. In any case, Grayson’s bellyaching at this presumably useless desk job is meant both to provide comic relief — I think — while also establishing his Man-o-Action credentials for when the crap hits the fan.
Cut to *ugh* Petersen the Wacky Janitor, eating his lunch and monkeying around with a microscope. First he examines the magnified bristles of his paint brush, then he sticks a piece of his sandwich under the lens. To a *sigh* whimsical blurt of music, we see the microscopic bugs infesting his sandwich. Looking nauseated (I know the feeling!) he drops his sandwich back to the table and rewraps it back up. Then he looks at the bugs again, resulting in a sickly belch. Comedy! Cue a succession of harp chords and cut…
…to Petersen walking down a hallway. (Please, kill me now.) Stopping again by the eel tank, he glances around to make sure the coast is clear. Sticking his finger into the water, he begins to grimace and make ‘comedy’ yelling noises. Soon he’s ‘humorously’ swinging his free arm and kicking his leg up and down, like he’s doing the Charleston. I got to tell you, folks, at this point the whole giant monster thing’s a lost cause. Reptilicus couldn’t possibly inspire the kind of horrified audience reactions that Petersen is provoking here.
Said zany farce is cut short when Petersen hears something moving — finally! — in the nutrient tank. Yelling “Mama!” (because, you know, it’s funny), he yanks his hand from the fish tank and activates the fire alarm. This brings in Grayson and Brandt, who were conveniently lounging around outside the building. “Something’s happened!” Grayson astutely notes upon hearing the wildly ringing bell. In fact, as we return to the hallway, we see that pretty much everyone is present. Martens. Dalby. Connie. Karen. Even Svend Viltorft. Hearing Petersen’s report of noise, Martens laughs it off. “Reptilicus has no conscious life,” he explains. (I know the feeling!) “What you heard was merely an involuntary embryonic movement.” Sorry, doc, but if that was the case, how do you explain the loud blare of suspense music that ends this scene?
We cut to some time in the future. The camera pans the partial organism, now larger and adorned with scales. We hear Martens’ thoughts on the matter, allowing us to segue to a tape recorder in the lab room. From this dissertation we learn that the creature’s “huge bony scales” are “incredibly thick,” and that the body has glands that secrete a venom that has “a burning, corrosive effect.” (What, both at the same time?!) Dalby wants to increase the nutrient flow, while Martens notes that the growing Reptilicus will soon need a larger tank.
Meanwhile, Brandt is checking in with Grayson. He asks if there’s anything the General would like him to do, leading to the inevitable, “Yeah, get me transferred out of this damn place!” (Well, at least he didn’t say ‘chickensh*t outfit.’) Brandt suggests that Grayson might alleviate his boredom if he toured the city. I guess he arrived at the Aquarium some weeks ago and then just stayed there. Immediately following Brandt’s line, we cut to some travelogue footage of Copenhagen. “I decided to take Brandt’s advice,” Grayson narrates. This is followed by a charmingly inept front projection shot of Grayson and Connie touring the city in a convertible. How bad is the effect? We half expect the couple to exit the car and reveal that they were in an arcade ride of some sort.
Yep, there’s nothing like stock footage to pad out the old running time. “Look!” Connie says, reacting to a stock footage statue. “It’s the Little Mermaid!” Grayson earns his money from the tourist board as well. “There’s the King’s Castle!” he exclaims. “And the Royal Guard!” “What a beautiful fountain,” she returns. This goes on at some length, with my favorite line being an awed, “So many bicycles!” By this point I was expecting to see five minutes of elephant-knocking-over-a-tree footage.
Brandt joins them as they tour Tivoli, apparently some sort of big tourist attraction. Forgive my provincial ignorance. Finally, after two solid, agonizing minutes of picaresque stock footage, we cut to our threesome having dinner at a fancy nightclub called NIMB. (And yes, I did wonder what its secret was.) Here we, uh, enjoy the film’s infamous “Tivoli Night” song, warbled by none other than Birthe Wilke. (See IMMORTAL DIALOG.) OK, I really don’t know who that is. Still, she’s given an “as herself” credit at the end of the movie, so maybe she’s the Danish Madonna or Tina Turner. Again indicating that the film was made with export to the States in mind, the tune is sung in English, which, sadly, doesn’t really enhance our enjoyment of it. Nor, apparently, does it help the customers on hand. Perhaps reacting to the presence of the camera, the audience stonily watches Ms. Wilke’s performance with nary a smile in evidence. Still, watch for the guy sitting right behind her, the one who keeps looking directly into the camera. When Ms. Wilke blocks him, he tilts his head over to get back into shot!
We cut to a storm over the Baltic. Then waves crashing on the shore. Then to the obvious model of the Aquarium. Hmm, what could happen next? Inside, Dalby is working late again, illumed only by a desk lamp. Either this is meant to be atmospheric or else the Danes are really big on energy conservation. Lightning flashes and ominous musical cues play as we intercut to the nutrient tank. We see a claw reach up out of the liquid. The lights go out and Dalby grabs a flashlight to investigate the strange noises coming from the tank. Seeing the shadow of something moving around, he tries the phone, but that’s out too. Petersen is roused and sent to fetch the police. (And what exactly are they supposed to do?) Dalby arms himself with a pistol andâ€¦
Cut to the police station. The constables are playing chess as Petersen arrives. He engages in a ‘comic’ exchange (see IMMORTAL DIALOG) with one officer, who’s played by Kjeld Petersen. Petersen and the guy playing the Janitor Petersen, Dirch Passer, were apparently quite a famous comedy team in Denmark, although this is their only scene together here. Meanwhile, a puppet of Reptilicus’ head appears behind the model of the Aquarium. Oddly, even though the monster apparently escapes well after Petersen departed for the station, he informs them it’s gone, leaving only “a big hole.” Given Petersen’s reputation as a moron, however, the constables don’t take him seriously until they learn that Dalby sent him.
Cut to a crushed miniature of the nutrient tank. A close-up of Dalby’s shattered eyeglasses informs us of his fate. Soon Brandt appears, reporting that tracks were found leading down to the water. “We’ve got a fight on our hands,” Grayson exclaims, perhaps a bit prematurely. He asks where in the city they should set up their headquarters. “The barracks of the Royal Guard,” Brandt suggests. Cue a fanfare and stock travelogue footage of this edifice. We then cut to the War Room, consisting of a desk with three phones for Grayson, three guys on radios and a table bearing a large map. This is surrounded by various military bigwigs who push around those little markers that represent battalions and battleships and the monster and stuff.
Grayson’s on the phone. Svend Viltorft is also in attendance (??), one foot up on a chair, leaning forward as if tensed to spring into action at a moment’s notice. Grayson hangs up and calls the meeting to order. He explains who everyone is and tells them to start doing stuff, issuing various orders meant to connote intense but rigidly ordered activity. Then the phone rings: Reptilicus has been sighted. “Stay out of its way,” Grayson barks. Yep, he’s on top of things, alright. Cut to footage of many soldiers hitting their jeeps and driving off. As mentioned in the BACKGROUND section below, the film had an astonishing level of cooperation from the Danish military branches. None of the shots involving the armed forces are stock here, they were all shot directly for the film.
The convoy soon arrives at a pasture. Here a superior farmer looks upon the gory skull of one of his steer. (How do I know the farmer’s so great? He’s ‘out standing in his field’! Ha! I love that gag!) Grayson and Svend Viltorft (??) charge over and learn that Reptilicus attacked the guy’s farm and headed over a nearby hill. “Has that area been sectored?” Grayson asks a subordinate, whatever that means. Upon being assured that it has been, he orders the search to commence. Various units drive around and radio each other, all looking very military and stuff. Suddenly, Svend Viltorft, who’s driving Grayson’s jeep (??), points to some crushed trees. “He turned this way!” Grayson exclaims, perhaps fearing to appear slow on the uptake.
Meanwhile, Brandt’s jeep spots a giant, puppety tail moving along a tabletop rural landscape. Awed by the size of the beast, he radios in to Grayson. Soon the troops have positioned their heavy machine guns and the tanks are lined up in formation. Then we get our first shot of the title monster, shown in slow motion for cool emphasis. Whether this is wise, given our subsequent ability to study the less than utterly realistic creature at some length, is another question. Grayson orders his forces to open fire, and we cut from shots of weapons being used to Reptilicus writhing on his little diorama. The close-ups in particular are rather nice, since we can easily spot the strings holding the beast up. One can only thrill to what this will look like when the film eventually comes out on DVD.
Showing little sign of ill effect, Reptilicus slinks away and Grayson calls the attack off. “We didn’t even dent him!” Grayson notes, a line that I think I’ve heard in quite a number of these things. Now, the idea that ‘thick, bony scales’ could protect one from heavy machine gun fire and bombardment by the main guns of battle tanks seems a tad unlikely. Of course, if dinosaurs weren’t portrayed as being bulletproof, movies featuring them would be over rather quickly. Cinematic sauropods that are credibly vulnerable tend to exist in areas sporting many of them or to instead rampage through the Old West, where weapons were less powerful. See King Kong and The Land that Time Forgot for the former, Beast of Hollow Mountain and Valley of the Gwangi for the latter.
Grayson has a Light bulb Moment and orders Svend Viltorft to get to the beach before Reptilicus makes it there. Cut to shots of tanks and transports on the move. Then we see Reptilicus appearing above a farmhouse, setting up the most memorably bad special effect I’ve ever seen. (Which, if I may say so, is a rather bold statement.) The family inside the home cowers in terror as it crashes down around them; meanwhile the father runs outside. There he quickly becomes an extremely silly cartoon and is gulped down by the Danish Destroyer. This has the look and feel of an exceedingly poor Terry Gilliam animation, perhaps one he did as a child of five or six. It’s easily the funniest moment in a film well supplied with them.
Meanwhile, since bullets and shells proved ineffective, Grayson orders the use of a flamethrower on the beast. In keeping with the goofy spirit that typifies the film, Grayson himself mans the weapon, driven in close by a tank. To be fair, this is probably the best ‘monster’ sequence of the film. As the puppet is sprayed with flames, a fairly decent portrayal of a creature in genuine torment is achieved. Looking rather the worse for wear, Reptilicus scurries down into the nearby water.
This is the film I always think of to illustrate one of my favorite monster movie tropes, defined in our glossary as follows:
Monster Death Trap Proviso (n): This stipulates that any stratagem to destroy a monster, once it has failed, may not be attempted again, even if it only failed because of some bizarre fluke. Nor can the same plan be refined and tried again. Instead, a completely other plan must be formulated.
Sure enough, flamethrowers will not be employed again. Given the effectiveness of one such weapon here, the obvious strategy would be to wait until Reptilicus is further from the sanctuary of the sea and blast him with four or five or, heck, two of the devices. Or, for that matter, simply have a plane drop a firebomb on it. Instead, Grayson will continuously fulminate about the lack of effective weaponry that can be used against the beast. (More on this later.) Brandt proffers the hope that Reptilicus is fatally wounded. Not so, Lise bitterly proclaims. His regenerative abilities are too great.
Back to headquarters, where the general staff is being briefed by Professor Martens. “Then Reptilicus,” Grayson clarifies, looking at a picture of a diplodocus, “is a cross between one of these and an amphibious reptile.” Uh, time to get another scientific ‘expert,’ I’m thinking. Meanwhile, the attendees are wondering how to locate Reptilicus if he stays underwater. Martens explains that this won’t be a problem. “He is not essentially a sea creature,” he proclaims. “He must come up to breathe occasionally.” Which left me wondering how Martens came by this knowledge. Perhaps he consulted a Magic Eight Ball or the Psychic’s Hotline, as no other explanation seems to suggest itself. Grayson, meanwhile, orders an underwater camera system attached to a naval ship. Martens suggests staying close offshore, as he believes that the creature will be drawn there by a sense of territoriality.
A week later and the search continues. An impatient Grayson is yakking in his office with Svend Viltorft (??). Grayson tells him to go home, presumably wondering, as we are, what the hell he’s doing there anyway. The Diligent Dane refuses, though, responding “I’ll stay with you.” “You’re a stubborn guy,” Grayson laughs. “Other people are stubborn,” Svend Viltorft replies, “I’m firm.” This innuendo-laced dialog would seem to set up a whole other dynamic for the author of the Monarch paperback, but I’m assuming it went unexplored. Grayson then gets an urgent report: Reptilicus has been sighted on the underwater camera.
A naval destroyer is soon depth bombing the area. The charges detonate close to the still-recuperating beastie, wracking it with concussive waves. This is apparently occurring in the waters directly off the Aquarium, as Martens hears the din from his desk. Looking rather disturbed, he sprints outside for a look. This is something no one else does, which seems rather strange under the circumstances. Imagine hearing similar noises at work, but choosing to remain at your desk. Anyway, upon getting an eyeful of the attack, the Professor hies himself to the beach for a closer look. At this point a phone call to Grayson might be in order, but whatever.
Connie is already at headquarters, though, and taps the General on the shoulder. “They’re not bombing, are they?” she asks incredulously. “Not now, Connie,” he replies, because there’s, you know, guy stuff to do. Now, think about this. We know that it’s been over a week since Reptilicus burst out of the Aquarium. Yet, in all this time, no one thought to make sure that Grayson understood the rather important fact that Reptilicus regenerates. Admittedly, only an idiot could have failed to realize this, but it still seems the kind of thing you’d bring up at one of the war councils: “By the way, everyone gets that if we blow a piece off of Reptilicus it’ll grow into a whole other creature? Right? I know it’s insulting even to mention it, but I really think we want to be on the same page here. We should probably stick with that flamethrower thing. That worked pretty well, and if we burn the monster up there won’t be anything left for it to regenerate from again. In any case, we all agree that explosives are right out. Right?“
Cut to the beach. Martens, perhaps realizing that as science advisor he’s likely to get his ass sued off once the subsequent property damage suits are filed, suffers a heart attack. Meanwhile, Connie has finally gotten Grayson’s attention and is explaining the facts of life to him: The monster they’re currently blowing to bits itself grew out of a small segment of tissue. So every piece they blow it intoâ€¦ Here’s perhaps my favorite shot of the film. As she spells this out we cut to an extreme close-up of Grayson’s suddenly sweating visage. Licking his lips as comprehension finally begins, he looks like a hillbilly abruptly understanding why you shouldn’t smoke out by the still. After standing around for a second or two as all this soaks in, he spins around to the radio and calls off the attack. Unfortunately it’s too late, as the last charge has blown off one of the creature’s claws. Trailing blood, this drifts to the seafloor in a manner humorously similar to a shot of a bit-off leg in Jaws. I’m going to let Spielberg off the hook, though, and assume that this is just a coincidence.
Svend Viltorft answers the phone. A moment later he’s informing Lise that her father has been taken to the hospital. She breaks out in tears, and Grayson offers to take her to see him. (In the Danish version of the film, Lise is Grayson’s Significant Other, not Connie. More on this in the Background section.) However, now that he’s had to, you know, think something through, he decides to try it again. Coming to the conclusion that perhaps he should stay at headquarters, given the whole monster thing, he instead asks Connie to take her. After all, a guy who has three phones at his desk – even Svend Viltorft only has two – just can’t run off willy-nilly.
Mark is next shown slaving away in the nearly deserted HQ when Connie comes in. She tells him he should knock off, as it’s late. It must be, because even the intrepid Svend Viltorft is shown dozing off at his desk. (Given how many Danes we see in this film slumped across their desks while working late, we can only assume that they’re rather contemptuous of those lazy, goldbricking Japanese.) The couple engages in your standard timesaving expository exchange. It’s two weeks since the last attack, lookout posts are ringing the Baltic, the Professor is feeling better and is predicting that Reptilicus may appear any day now. Personally, I’d have kept watch of it via that underwater camera, but what do I know? Now that we’re up to speed, Brandt runs in with the news that Reptilicus has attacked a freighter. Cue stock footage of a capsized ship, then of various sea disasters. “We never saw him,” we’re informed, “but we saw the trail of death and destruction he left behind.” Call me cynical, but I’m assuming that they never saw him because the budget wouldn’t support an attack on a ship.
Quite a horrendous rampage is described, all of which frugally occurs offscreen. Eventually, though, Reptilicus returns to local waters, as the Professor had foreseen. As Grayson and Brandt draw up their plans, Karen attempts to comfort the Melancholy Dane. Not Hamlet, Svend Viltorft. “I had the blood of Reptilicus on my hands,” he explains. “Sometimes I feel that perhaps also the blood of all those people.” Personally, I think he’s just pretending to brood so as to get Karen’s mothering instinct going, if you know what I mean. “Any man would have done what you did,” she replies. A woman, however, would probably have just baked a cake or done her nails or something.
Cut to a crowded beach, which seem a little odd under the circumstances. By which I mean the whole ‘sea monster on a death-dealing rampage’ thing. Meanwhile, and accidentally, I’m sure, there’s a girl in a bikini prominent in the foreground. Hubba hubba. You know, looking at this scene I’m beginning to wonder if Spielberg didn’t rip off this film for Jaws after all. All we need here is Roy Scheider up in a lookout tower. Anyway, we start getting suspicious when we see two youngsters bussing on the beach. Then when we cut to another couple standing in front of an obvious bluescreen of the seafront, we get the idea that something’s about to happen. Sure enough, Reptilicus rises from the water, and sure enough, said extras don’t react even well after they would have seen it. Because of their inattentiveness they’re quickly enveloped by the beast’s green venomous spittle. That’ll learn ’em. Cue the obligatory panic.
Back to headquarters. The gang is standing over the tabletop map and, sure enough, moving little props around to indicate their forces. Cut to soldiers and armor setting up a defensive line. Meanwhile, a reporter urges the populace not to panic. After all, there’s just a near-invulnerable giant monster romping through their town. Personally, I’d have appealed to their pride. “You don’t see folks in Osaka freaking out every time Godzilla or Baragon shows up, do you?” OK, and what’s the deal with all the tanks and field cannons and such? Aren’t they not supposed to blow hunks of Reptilicus all over the place? Why is Grayson such a moron? Hellooo. Flamethrowers. What, do I have to draw you a map?
We pan over various forces holding their breath, waiting for something to happen. Good luck, my friends, because I’ve been waiting over an hour now for the same thing. Finally a soldier points offscreen. “Look,” he cries, “a bad tabletop model!” Oops, my mistake, he shouts “Look, there he is!” And sure enough, Reptilicus pops his head up over the side of said model. Hearing the news, Grayson gives the order to open fire. We see panicking crowds of citizen running, er, somewhere. In one such shot I’m particularly drawn to the woman trotting her two big poodles in front of her on a leash. All this cuts back and forth for a while. Soldiers are firing their weapons. Citizen rush about. Reptilicus smashes into less than perfectly realized miniatures of blocks of flats. Meanwhile, a pretty funny continuity error occurs, at least in our version. Reptilicus only has the ability to spit glowing green venom here in the States. Said effects were matted onto the film by the American distributors. However, here’s a clue: If the monster is going to wipe out a machine gun crew with its venom, we shouldn’t see the same crew still firing at him a few minutes later.
Back at HQ, Grayson is complaining about Reptilicus having reached the outskirts of the city. “The armaments we can bring into action against him is
Let’s get back to that flamethrower idea. First, the beast seems to be wiping out plenty of soldiers and civilians with his venom as it is, so I don’t see what the difference is. Besides, it’s traipsing through a narrowly separated block of buildings, each containing zillions of windows. So just sneak into a room somewhat behind the monster, lean out of a window and let loose. Even assuming Reptilicus around can turn in the narrow space afforded it, if it spits you could just lean back in and hide behind a wall. Also, and I guess we aren’t supposed to think of this, but Grayson earlier got close enough, and on an open field yet, to spray the creature with flames for a good minute or so without suffering any retaliation.
Reptilicus is soon heading towards the city’s canal. Cut to stock footage of some oddly ordinary traffic driving around. We then cut to the operator of the Langebro Bridge, which spans the canal. I will say this for the film: The amount of cooperation Pink got from the Danish Government and people is nothing short of extraordinary. Real naval ships and tanks and soldiers were supplied. Meanwhile, hundreds or even thousands of citizens appear to have presented themselves for the panicking crowd sequences. The Langebro Bridge was also handed over to the production. Even more amazingly is the bit where Reptilicus is chasing people and the operator freaks out and raises the bridge (?!). As he stares immobile with horror, segments of the crowd, including some on bicycles, fall over the edge before they can stop themselves. What’s simply incredible is the number of people willing to run or ride their bikes off the bridge and plummet into the canal below, all for the sake of a giant monster movie. Imagine the lawsuits were this allowed to happen today. Unfortunately, the effect of their heroics is somewhat diminished as we’re all sitting there thinking, ‘Why the heck did he raise the bridge?!’
Hearing the news, Grayson shouts, “Let’s go,” and abandons the command center with Svend Viltorft. Which doesn’t seem like an optimum strategy, but what do I know? Anyway, seeing the raised bridge and its various ill effects, Grayson and Svend Viltorft suddenly materialize in the bridge’s control chamber. Pushing the petrified operator aside, Svend Viltorft turns some switches and closes the bridge. Jeepers, is there anything this guy can’t do? No wonder Grayson kept him around. Mission accomplished, Grayson has Svend Viltorft order Captain Brandt to assume command while they return to Headquarters. I guess now that the bridge is back down, that’s the best place for them to be.
Anyway, and I will give the film this, the rampage continues for a good while. Say what you will, they deliver solid servings of monster mayhem here. However, if Reptilicus is moving deeper into the city, how come we keep seeing it amongst the same set of buildings? Here follows a scene reminiscent to The Giant Claw. Back at HQ, the command staff, along with Lise and Connie, listen over the radio to the horrible death screams of some of the troops. Finally, however, the soldiers achieve their objective and manage to drive Retilicus from the city. Cue to some Oh, the Humanity!-esque stock footage. This consists of bombed-out building footage, presumably of damage sustained during World War II. Am I the only one uncomfortable with using footage of such real-life tragedies in these things?
Grayson is next standing over the table map, which now sports a semi-circle of little toy tanks and such. He gives some orders that don’t make a whole lot of sense, but which, we’re repeatedly told, hinge on all forces opening fire at the exact same instant. Needless to say, seconds later a machine gun crew spots the beast and, contrary to orders, opens fire. They inevitably pay the ultimate price for their incompetence, but their fire has distracted Reptilicus, who’s now heading back into the city. Just when Grayson is contemplating using heavy bombs, despite the inevitable thousands of civilian casualties (flamethrowers), the sickly Professor Martens shows up with Karen. Good thing, too, because he’s the only one keeping track of the whole “It’s bad to blow up Reptilicus” idea. His lecture, humorously, brings about the same pained, sweaty facial expression from Grayson as before. Under the force of Martens’ (rather elementary) logic, the General is forced to back down.
Unsurprisingly, the solution is suggested by a stray remark by Svend Viltorft. After Martens is sedated, he jokes that it’s “too bad we can’t give Reptilicus a shot.” This leads to one of those ‘of course!’ moments from Grayson. “Is there a drug powerful enough to knock out a reptile big as he is?” he asks. (Wouldn’t that depend on the quantity of the drug, rather than the type?) “Yes, there is,” Connie reveals. “But you’d need at least a gallon of it.” Huh? How would she know all this? Anyway. Guess you can’t have Svend Viltorft do everything. Meanwhile, everyone wants to know how Grayson expects to administer the drug. “I’ll tell you on the way to the University,” he replies, saving the big surprise. Here’s a hint, though: If you’ve seen The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, you probably know where he’s going with this.
Cut to more shots of fleeing civilians and of Reptilicus meandering around his set. Good gosh, things are so bad that people are even running from Tivoli! Meanwhile, Lise is manufacturing the required dosage at the University labs. Grayson pours this into a bazooka shell. When Brandt objects that the shell will never penetrate Reptilicus’ scaly hide, Grayson reveals that the shell must be aimed for the creature’s mouth. (Of course, they only have enough drug for one shot.) Brandt is aghast. “You’ll have to fire point-blank,” he exclaims. Then, perhaps recalling the General’s difficultly understanding abstract concepts, he clarifies that statement. “At very close range!” Still, the General plans to go forward with his scheme and even, needless to say, intends to fire the bazooka himself. At least in Beast from 20,000 Fathoms they got a sharpshooter for this task, providing an early cameo for Lee Van Cleef.
Hopping into a jeep, the General and entourage soon arrive at the beast’s location in Raadhuspladsen, Copenhagen’s town square. In a rather comical moment, somebody — nobody’s actually moving their lips, making the line even funnier — yells “There he is!” Then we cut to, supposedly, the other side of the square. (I should point out that the matching of the actual location shots to the model work isn’t exactly seamless.) Sure enough, there’s the behemoth in plain view mere hundreds of feet away. Good thing that ventriloquist alerted everyone to this fact or they might have walking right into its mouth without realizing it. Reptilicus appears to be represented here by a second and much inferior puppet, which is saying something. After sizing up the situation, Grayson orders Brandt, but not Svend Viltorft (??), to fall back. If Grayson buys it the Captain is to assume command. Meanwhile, an ambulance drives by and the siren distracts the creature, causing it to move away. Deciding that his role in the picture hasn’t amounted to much, Brandt decides to increase his importance by becoming the film’s Designated Tragic Heroâ„¢. Following the example of the ambulance, Brandt hops in his jeep and drives it to a spot in line with Grayson’s position. Sure enough, Reptilicus turns back in their direction, but squishes Brandt to death while it’s at it. Taking his shot, Grayson fires into the beast’s mouth, as indicated with a little cartoon effect. The drug (very) quickly takes effect and Reptilicus falls into a silent slumber. At this point the Professor is supposed to deal with it, as he vaguely indicated he could earlier. Still, why they didn’t just poison the beast rather than sedating it is left to our imaginations.
Cut to more WWII stock footage to indicate the massive cost of subduing the creature. However, after a bit of this we cut back to the square’s fountain, which suddenly begins shooting water again. See, it’s symbolic of life returning to normal. Neat. As a cheery tune begins to play, Connie, in the English version anyway, comes to stand close by Grayson. Looking philosophical, the General remarks “It’s a good thing there are no more like him.” Pan up to the sky as the joyful melody plays louder. Then, in a shock cut, we jump back to that claw of Reptilicus that was blown off in the Baltic earlier in the film. This, needless to say, is accompanied by an ominous blare of music. The End. OR IS IT??!!!
(Uh, I don’t want to undermine the power of the finale, but now that the drug-in-the-bazooka-shell thing’s been shown to work, the idea of another Reptilicus popping up doesn’t seem quite so dread.)
For a comparatively obscure giant monster flick, Reptilicus inspired an impressive number of offshoots. The most notorious was the aforementioned soft-core paperback adaptation put out by Monarch Publishing. Written under the house name of Dean Owen, films such as Konga, Brides of Dracula and Journey To the 7th Planet were also subjected to this treatment.
These were surprisingly racy. For instance, during the naval bombardment, Svend Viltorft “was remembering Karen’s wanton seduction of him.” His boss meanwhile, “looked at the girl beside him, wondering if he would live to enjoy Connie’s warm, vibrant flesh again.” And that’s just what was printed on the back cover. Inside, the contents included stuff like: “She stood still momentarily, letting him look at her perfect breasts…in a matter of seconds his clothes were strewn all over the room…” Let’s just say that in the film itself this sort of stuff remained, uh, more of a subtext. Although the Danish version was somewhat more frank, featuring footage, for instance, of Lise in her bra as she gets ready for a date with Grayson.
The fine fellows at Stomp Tokyo, who are princes among men, by the way, despite their secret agenda of destroying anyone who has a site remotely like their own, have procured this novelization and promised to distribute copies. Once I receive mine I’ll post my thoughts on it either attached to this review or as a separate Nugget piece. Meanwhile, the guys over at Teleport City are sending out copies of the Danish cut of the film, wherein Reptilicus flies. As soon as I get this I’ll add stills to the review. And while I’m mentioning my comrades, check out the background info on the film posted at the Bad Movie Report site.
Next there was a short-lived comic book series by publisher Charlton Comics. A lawsuit by producer/director Sid Pink against American distributor AIP delayed the film’s release in this country for roughly a year and a half. Therefore the comic came out before the movie did. However, presumably due to the lawsuit, the comic changed its title after two issues to Reptisaurus the Terrible. Except for losing his fangs and changing to a red hue, the title creature remained roughly the same.
Meanwhile, let’s not forget the numerous cameo appearances Reptilicus made on The Monkees TV show. Whenever one of the boys opened a closet in a haunted house we were likely to spot the beastie trashing his familiar tabletop diorama of Copenhagen. Given the popularity of the show over the years, it’s possible that more people were introduced to Reptilicus via The Monkees than through the film itself. According to the estimable Christian Andersen, the beast also made his presence known on Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Meanwhile, our own Apostic calls to mind an appearance in an old Gulf commercial, in which a gas station attendant watches our title feature via the drive-in theater next door.
Perhaps the rarest tribute was the recent publication of Reptilicus the Screenplay, as compiled by Kip Doto. Mr. Doto, who kindly gave me permission to discuss the contents of his book, has assembled the entire English language screenplay, the contents of the film’s pressbook, color reproductions of both the American and Danish posters as well as the American set of lobby cards, the covers of the Monarch paperback and the comics and even the ‘humorous’ Monster Laffs bubble gum cards featuring our subject. Other materials include behind the scene photographs of the various cast members, some in color, as well as photos of the actors who dubbed the film for AIP. We additionally get the lyrics for “Tivoli Nights,” as well as the translated lyrics for Dirch Passer’s comic tune “Tilicus,” which he sings to children in the Danish version.
The most amusing item is the section of the Pressbook containing suggestions on how to market the film. Pressbooks supply theaters with ads and press releases to be placed in local newspapers. Also included in many older kits were way-out and frequently hilarious promotional suggestions. For instance, if you had booked Konga, they might propose hiring a guy in an ape suit to walk around town with a sign noting, “Konga is coming!” Other suggestions might be getting an ape from a local zoo to appear in the lobby, or perhaps the creation of a giant banana prop sporting a sign warning “Konga has been here!” Admittedly I made these up, but I’ll bet at least one of the above appeared in the Konga Pressbook.
Here some unlikely suggestions include setting up reciprocal promotional deals with stores selling the paperback novel. (That must have been an eye-opener for the kiddies!) Meanwhile, ‘street stencils’ are suggested to create ads on “sidewalks, electrical poles [and] abandoned buildings.” (!!) Contests requesting the longest list of English words that can be assembled from the letters in ‘Reptilicus’ are another option. I have to admit, it doesn’t sound like they worked very hard on this. How about a giant papier-m’chÃˆ scale or fang? Or a vat supposedly containing some of his glowing green venom?
The most interesting section of the book is an eight-page production history of the film, assembled from Mr. Doto’s personal research. Aside from knowing Sid Pink, Doto has traveled to Denmark to research the film. (!) He notes that there were in fact three versions. Two were shot by Pink in Denmark – one version in English, one in Danish. The casts were also different in a couple of cases. Meanwhile, Pink enjoyed extraordinary cooperation from the Danish military. Those scenes on a destroyer attempting to depth charge Reptilicus aren’t stock footage, They were shot for the film on an actual warship.
Unfortunately, Pink’s English edition failed to make the cut with AIP. While his Danish actors did speak English, they did so in a singsong fashion reportedly humorous to the American ear. AIP, in the person of legendary schlockmeister Sam Z. Arkoff, demanded that the film’s dialog be re-looped, resulting in Pink’s lawsuit. Other changes were made, too. Reptilicus flew in the original version, as mentioned above. Apparently, the sight was so risible – even compared to the rest of the film – that these scenes were edited out. AIP balanced this by giving the monster his ability to spit green poisonous slime. Basically, this ‘effect’ was just matted onto the film. AIP was also responsible for the hideously bad ‘guy getting eaten’ effect. To make room for this they excised a shot of Reptilicus’ enormous claw crashing down on the family’s house. Left unexplained is why including the one meant removing the other.
There are other interesting tidbits. Dirch Passer, the comic actor who played Petersen the Janitor, was apparently a hugely famous comic actor there. Doto reproduces recent Danish video box art that features a cartoonish caricature of Passer and which makes the film out to be a comedy. Not, admittedly, that this is much of a stretch. Meanwhile, while fellow ‘American’ Connie was Grayson’s squeeze on our shores, in Denmark it was older sister Lise. Connie also was played by different actresses in the two original versions. Trivia addicts will enjoy knowing that actress Janet Waldo, who dubbed both Lise and Karen in the AIP version, also supplied the voice of Judy Jetson in the popular television series. In addition, Professor Martens was voiced by Robert Cornthwaite, memorable to sci-fi fans as the misguided cold-fish scientist in Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World.
All this and more can be found in Mr. Doto’s astounding book. (Astounding mostly, perhaps, because it even exists.) Interested persons can purchase copies of this perfect-bound paperback edition directly from Mr. Doto for $25.49 ($21.99 plus $3.50 postage) at:
P.O. Box 8050
Coral Springs, FL 33075
Mr. Doto also has autographed 8 x 10 photos of Sid Pink standing against an image of Reptilicus. He additionally offers VHS copies of the Orion video release of the film, with the boxes also autographed by Mr. Pink. The photos are $10. The videos sell for $23.50, including postage.
On a last note, with a (comparatively) high-tech remake of Korea’s Yongary appearing in 1999, can a CGI update of Reptilicus be far behind? Let’s hope not.IMMORTAL DIALOG:
Prof.. Martens sends the precocious Karen to pick up Svend Viltorft:
Karen, excitedly: “Is he handsome, father?”
Martens: “No. He’s got three eyes and a false mustache! Hurry now, I don’t want him to wait.”
Karen: “But how will I know him?”
Martens, archly: “Since when must I tell you how to find a man?!”
Ladies and Gentlemen, the song stylings of the lovely and talented Ms. Birthe Wilke:
“Tivoli Night! Oh, what a sight! All of Copenhagen is danc-ing!
Laughter and light! Come hold me tight! This is a place for romanc-ing!
Down by the lake, lovers dream to a song, like they were doing when Grandma was young!
Tivoli night! Tivoli light! Life is entrancing, when we’re romancing, dancing in Tivoli!
[Changes to a speaking voice]
You’re all dressed up with a smile on your face. You look as gay as can be!
Soon you’ll be going to a wonderful place. You’ve got a date there, my honey, with meee!
[Back to singing, but in a jazzier fashion]
Tivoli night! Oh, what a sight! All of Copenhagen is danc-ing!
Laugher and light! Come hold me tight! This is a place for romanc-ing!
Down by the lake, lovers dream to a song, like they were doing when Grandma was young!
Tivoli night! Life is so bright! Lanterns are gleaming,
when we are dreaming, dancing in Ti-vo-li!
[Sings scat fashion for a line]
Dancing in Tii-voo-lii!!”
The bumbling Petersen tries to warn the cops about Reptilicus. K¯medy!: Constable: “What’s all this about, Petersen?”
Petersen: “The electricity went out. All over!”
Constable: “All over.”
Petersen: “Yah! Even the electric eel!”
Constable: “Then what?”
Petersen: “Then it was so dark I couldn’t see my own face in front of me!”
Constable: “I wish I could be that lucky!”
For more info on Reptilicus, check out this informative article by Jack Stevenson.
Meanwhile, my colleagues make their thoughts known at:
And read the rest of Review All Monsters! at the following sites:
The Bad Movie Report Mighty Peking Man And You Call Yourself A Scientist! The Giant Claw B-Notes Dogora B-Mania.com Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah Badmovies.org The X from Outer Space Stomp Tokyo War of the Gargantuas Oh the Humanity! Godzilla vs. Mothra Teleport City Godzilla’s Revenge