STARRING: Tamio Kawaji, Yôko Yamamoto, Yuji Okada, Koji Wada, Tatsuya Fuji

1967, 90 Minutes, Directed by: Haruyasu Noguchi

A Japanese magazine publisher with deep pockets sends what must be the world’s dumbest scientists to the South Pacific to collect strange fauna and flora to boost his publications’ sales. (Couldn’t he have just sent some paparazzi to stalk some celebrities instead? Much cheaper and better guaranteed to improve readership numbers!)

The scientists come across a remote tribe of Japanese actors with brown shoe polish smeared over their faces (I swear – I am not making this up!) who worship a god named Gappa (ditto). Soon the scientists come across a giant egg which contains what looks like a giant retarded reptilian bird (see the pic on this page).

Not having seen King Kong, they promptly take the “stupid lizard bird” (direct quote) back to Japan. Naturally, the baby reptile bird has parents which come looking for their hatchling and in true Godzilla style stomp Tokyo in the process.

Hokey-looking rubber monsters and “tribesmen” dancing beneath an active volcano – what’s not to like?

Well, a lot actually.

Monster from a Prehistoric Planet (a.k.a. Daikyoju Gappa/Gappa the Triphibian Monsters) takes about an hour of slogging through its senseless plot before it gets to what movies like these are really about – namely stunt men in rubber costumes destroying scale models of Tokyo. Even then the action is almost perfunctory and uninspired, as if the producers wanted to get it over with so that we can get back to the plot again.

Incidentally, even though the monsters have wings they must have some other means of propulsion to fly through the air like they do (the mind boggles as to what it may be). Also, despite being reptilian birds they also have amphibian qualities because they spend some time hanging around the bottom of a lake for clear purpose. Later, they shoot blue heat rays from their mouths to melt some toy tanks. Pretty versatile creatures despite their idiotic appearances . . .

Complaining about bad special effects (particularly bad here), bad acting and poor dialogue in a Japanese monster movie like this is pretty senseless. The problem with Monster from a Prehistoric Planet is that it is pretty tepid and lacks energy, and isn’t anywhere silly enough.

And besides, that Japanese kid smeared with the brown shoeshine polish so as to resemble a South Pacific “native” was just both too disconcerting and distracting at the same time . . .



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