War of the Monsters (1966)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Creature Film, Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - Apr 17, 1966 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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When the casual monster movie enthusiast thinks about the Gamera series, light kiddie-matinee fare is generally what comes to mind. However, War Of The Monsters (known in its native Japan as Gamera Vs. Barugon) is an exception to that rule. The plot stands in stark contrast to the usual Gamera story in many ways: it has a dark, adult tone, focuses more on the humans than the monsters and soft-pedals the giant monster battles until its slam-bang finale. Shigeo Tanaka's direction is appropriately moody and he handles the crime-story plot that drives the film in a noir-ish fashion that gives the film an unusual frisson. The acting is also pretty strong, with series regular Kojiro Hongo getting his best role in these films as the film's relucant-crook-turned-hero and Koji Fujiyama offering a suitably nasty turn as the film's human villain. That said, monster movie fans will be happy to know that War Of The Monsters delivers the goods when the time comes via an explosive smash-'em-up finale that is handled with gusto by special effects director Noriaki Yuasa (who directed most of the films in the original Gamera series). In short, War Of The Monsters is a fun change of pace from the kiddie monster-mash norm and might interest cult film types who don't normally go in for kaiju eiga.