Daigoro vs. Goliath (1971)

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H-Man
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Daigoro vs. Goliath (1971)

Postby H-Man » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:19 am

Daigoro vs. Goliath (1971)

Starring: Hiroshi Inuzuka, Akishi Kobayashi

Director: Toshihiro Iijima

Director of special FX: Teruyoshi Nakano

Gather ‘round kids, o ye lovers of the demented, the giant monster, the bizarre and the inexplicable. Come join your ol’ friend H-Man on a wacky journey through the underbelly of Japanese cinema, that strange place that exists only to bewilder the fans of cinematic crap. You all know the place. It’s the same demented wonderland that gave us female ninja (kunoichi if you will) that fired deadly energy bubbles out of their vulvas. It killed a giant reptilian space chicken via bukkake. It started an entire subgenre based around films like Machine Girl. Today we will take a look at this oddity of kaiju eiga, Daigoro vs. Goliath.

In an unspecified year, probably around 1969 or so, a giant monster attacked Japan. A rather peculiar beast, this creature had a vaguely reptilian or dinosaurian appearance, but its head was crowned with an afro of white hair, giving it a distinctly feminine appearance. Let us dub the creature “Hagosaurus.” Hagosaurus engages in the familiar ritual of knocking down building and blowing stuff up until the military takes action. However, instead of building a robotic replica of the rampaging ogress or developing an artificial black hole, they Japanese SDF actually does something sensible: they fire a BFM at it. I mean, that missile is larger than the monster’s head. The concussive force of the explosion is enough to kill the Hagosaurus dead. Subsequent investigations of ground zero reveal that the creature had recently given birth to another monster, which is dubbed Daigoro. The government resolves to save the creature and let it grow up in peace.

Fast forward to 1971, where Daigoro has gotten to be pretty large. It’s not quite Godzilla size yet, but it’ll probably get there in the next couple of years. Unfortunately, the monster’s growth is coupled by a proportional growth in the monster’s appetite, and it’s getting more and more expensive to feed Daigoro. Moreover, the fact that the food bill is being footed by the average Japanese taxpayer has made Daigoro rather unpopular to all but the country’s children and a few other individuals. We will spend most of the movie with three of them.

The first is a failed inventor (whom we shall dub Inventor) who lives with his father and is constantly berated by his niece because his reputation scares away all of her potential suitors. The inventor is constantly participating in a television program about weird inventions that promises to pay two million yen to any invention that is both creative and works. The inventor has the creative part down, but the latter criterion is forever beyond his grasp. His plans for the money are to use it to buy food for Daigoro, since the government is planning on not only cutting Daigoro’s feeding budget, but they’re also planning on giving him drugs that will stunt his growth as well.

Our second pro-Daigoro character is the Veterinarian who was tasked with raising the creature shortly after its discovery. The vet has grown to love the beast, despite the fact that his job requires him to live on the island that Daigoro has been assigned to and that the constant presence of the monster has rendered him a perpetual bachelor. The government’s plan to the stunt the monster’s growth is particularly distressing to him.

Our third and most colorful character is a fat, alcoholic carpenter who likes picking fights with complete strangers who don’t like Daigoro. Carpenter eventually pledges to donate his drinking money to the Daigoro food fund (started by the legions children who spend their time hanging around Inventor). Unfortunately, that plan doesn’t quite work, since Carpenter’s wife uses that money to buy herself clothes.

After a good 45 minutes of character-related nonsense, the story gets interesting, in whatever degree that’s possible. A meteor lands in the ocean off the coast of Daigoro’s island. After some time, a blue-skinned, horned, dinosaurian behemoth emerges from the ocean looking like an ersatz Yongary. The monster is dubbed Goliath and quickly challenges Daigoro to a duel. Unfortunately, Daigoro’s stunted growth and empty belly result in the hippo-esque beast getting done like a red-headed stepchild. Goliath then heads to Japan to wreak its customary destruction. Inventor, Carpenter and Veterinarian are able to revive Daigoro, who undergoes a training regimen in order to become a more imposing monster. Said regimen mainly consists of the monster practicing his roar and Daigoro learning that he has fire-breathing capabilities. By the time Goliath returns to the island to stomp a mudhole in Daigoro’s rear a second time, Daigoro is ready to rumble.

Daigoro vs. Goliath is indeed a bizarre oddity in the history of kaiju eiga. It was conceived as a commemoration of Tsuburaya Productions’ (re: the company started by FX guru Eiji Tsuburaya which was best known for creating Ultraman) 10th anniversary and ended up being co-produced by Toho Studios, as their logo shows up at the beginning of the film. The movie is the sort of kiddie fare that one might associate with any Gamera movie made after Gamera vs. Barugon, and yet surpasses those films in a number of ways, which we’ll get to in a moment. It should be noted that the movie was surprisingly well-received at the local box office. It was successful enough that a follow-up of sorts was planned by Tsuburaya Productions and Toho, in which Hagosaurus and Goliath would lay waste to Japan following the death of their son, presumably played by Daigoro. Their righteous city smashing would come to an end once Godzilla entered the picture. Unfortunately, some things were not meant to be and the film, to be known as Godzilla vs. Redmoon, was never produced.

The human story is mainly made of kiddie komedy and all sorts of bizarre non-sequiturs that would stand out like a sore thumb in an American film. Most of the randomness stems from Carpenter’s character. When we first meet him, we’re at the hospital following the malfunction of a flying bike that Inventor had showed off on the aforementioned TV program. As soon as Carpenter enters the room, he starts manhandling Inventor, who’s lying in a bed covered from head to toe in bandages, saying that his feeling pain means that he’s OK. After a few seconds of this, it’s revealed that the man Carpenter came to visit was in the next bed(!). There’s a bizarre daydream sequence in which Inventor imagines a pair of magic shoes that can make a person walk at dazzling speeds, without the person having to be in shape.

Nonetheless, while not exactly compelling, it’s interesting that all the main character in this kids movie are all adults. There are kids, to be sure, but they have little bearing on the actual plot itself. Unlike Gamera films, the kids aren’t smarter than adults and do NOT have unlimited access to all levels of the government. They mainly show up in scenes involving the inventor (he has a nephew and I *think* a niece), especially whenever he’s participating in the TV program. But that’s really it. It’s not like Gamera vs. Zigra, where you really hope that the Zigra –woman-in-a-bikini feeds the little bastards to the dolphins (and that the dolphins, for the film’s purposes, just happen to be anthropophagi). In this movie, the kids’ cinematic damage is a lot more limited.

The monster scenes were directed by Teruyoshi Nakano, who helmed the FX on the 70s Godzilla flicks and Godzilla 1985. While obviously working on a low budget, he had the benefit of working with three original monsters, so that he wouldn’t have the option of culling stock footage from other movies for the monsters themselves. I’m sure that Tsuburaya’s involvement meant that Nakano had a little more money with which to work, so the city destruction sequences are all original, if not exactly convincing. Said scenes don’t compare with, say, those in the two Mechagodzilla movies, but compared to the Gamera films, which hadn’t given us any decent city stomping since Gamera vs. Gyaos, they’re satisfying enough.

Where the FX really falter are the monster suits, which are pretty sorry. The designs themselves are simplistic and appropriate for a film geared mainly at little tykes. Daigoro looks something like a brown hippopotamus by way of Barney, which is appropriate for the target demographic. The devil is in the details…of the suits that is. The sculpting on the suits is extremely crude and undetailed. The suits lack those little quirks like Ghidorah’s golden scales, the grooves in Godzilla’s hide, the knobs in Titanosaurus’s skin, etc. The monsters in this film are fairly bland compared to Toho’s and Daiei’s counterparts, even the more threadbare ones.

However, one thing this movie has in its favor is monster-human interaction. Moreso than most Gamera and Godzilla movies, the monsters interact meaningfully with their human counterparts. The only other films of this vintage that match this are the Daimajin movies. These scenes give us a far better sense of scale of the monsters than even the best Godzilla movies do, since the monster sequences in the latter films are treated like separate entities. The matte shots are often solid, especially those scenes with Daigoro and the Veterinarian. We also have a precursor to the Godzilla surfing sequence from Godzilla X Megaguirus, in which the Carpenter and his friend ride Goliath across the sea.

Finally, every time I watch an obscure kaiju flick, I’m rewarded with a dumbfounding ending. You know, the sort of ending that makes you think, “What the heck is wrong with the Japanese.” This gives us a triple-whammy: the movie ends with Goliath being tied to a rocket and shot into space a la Gamera, the unironic celebration of a man’s return to alcoholism (I remind you that this is a children’s film), and a scene in which a giant monster sits on an equally-giant toilet. Only the Japanese, folks.

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Re: Daigoro vs. Goliath (1971)

Postby LegendZilla » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:04 pm

The movie is actually from 1972.
Formerly Kaijucole in 2006.

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Re: Daigoro vs. Goliath (1971)

Postby H-Man » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:11 pm

The IMDB says 1971, and the Wikipedia says both 1971 and 1972.


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