Japan Release: 1958
Running Time:
87 minutes


Japanese Title

[Daikaiju Baran]

Distributor: Production:


In the late 1950s, a rare species of butterfly is discovered living in a stretch of wilderness known infamously as the "Tibet of Japan". When two entomologists enter the rugged wilderness, they are later found dead, crushed in an apparent landslide. The local villagers, however, blame the disaster on their deity—a horrible being called Baradagi. Shortly afterwards, Baradagi reveals itself as a gigantic prehistoric reptile called Varan. After demolishing the nearby village and fending off a military attack, the monster climbs upon a mountain. Once reaching the top, the creature extends its arms and glides—via a pair of membranes connected between its limbs—toward the Pacific Ocean. The Self Defense Forces struggles to find a solution, as the giant monster sets its sights upon Tokyo...

Live Action Science Fiction Kaiju

Box Office - Stock Footage - DVDs - CDs - Pictures - Background - Concept Art - Cut Scenes - Reviews


International Title


Initial US Title

Varan the Unbelievable
US Distributor: Crown International (1962) / Time: 70 Minutes

Alternate Titles

Great Monster Varan
[Literal Translation]

Varan: The Monster from Prehistoric Times


Godzilla (stock footage mistake)

Aliens, SDF & Misc.

155mm Howitzer M1
155mm Howitzer M1 (stock footage)



Directed by Ishiro Honda
Writing credits Ken Kuronuma, Shinichi Sekizawa
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Music by Akira Ifukube
Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
Film Editing by Kazuji Taira
Production Design by Kiyoshi Shimizu, Akira Watanabe
Assistant Director Koji Kajita
Director of Special Effects Eiji Tsuburaya
Kenji Uozaki Kozo Nomura
Yuriko Shinjo Ayumi Sonoda
Horiguchi Fumito Matsuo
Sugimoto, Doctor Koreya Senda
Kusama, Military Officer Akio Kusama
Katsumoto, Military Officer Yoshio Tsuchiya
Fujimora, Special Dynamite Founder Akihiko Hirata
Secretary of Defense Minosuke Yamada
Majima, Sugimoto's Aide Fuyuki Murakami
Ken Takashi Ito
Ken's Mom Fumiko Honma
Village Priest Akira Sera
Ichiro, Yuriko's brother Hisaya Ito
Yutaka Wada Nadao Kirino
Issaku Akira Yamada
Jiro Yoshikazu Kawamata
Sankichi Yasuhiro Kasanobu
Uranami Captain Yoshifumi Tajima
Fishermen Shoichi Hirose, Toshitsugu Suzuki
- Soji Ubukata
- Toku Ihara
- Mitsuo Tsuda
- Takuzo Kumagai
- Masaki Shinohara
- Michiko Kawa


Toho Stock Footage

DVDs and Blu-rays

United States Region 1 Varan the Unbelievable Tokyo Shock (2005) Order
United States Region 1 Varan the Unbelievable Reel Vault(2015)  
Japan Region 2 Great Monster Varan Toho (2005)

CD Soundtracks

Great Monster Varan

Background and Trivia

  • Toho submitted the film to the US copyright office on December 27th, 1985 with the registration number of PA0000284227. The title used was its international title, Varan, along with its Romaji title, Daikaiju Baran, as an alternate.
  • The movie was originally going to be an American only release, not shown in Japan. It was to debut on TV in the county, through working with ABC (American Broadcasting Company), with the title: Varan (TV Version). While into production, Toho had a change of heart and wanted to screen the product in Japan as well. This decision came about after half of the live action footage was filmed and after a small portion of the special effects sequences were created as well. These segments were already done in full screen, while Toho wanted to distribute the movie in theaters via Tohoscope. As the schedule could not accommodate reshoots, these sequences were cropped and Toho billed the film as "Toho Pan-Scope". Noted in Age of the Gods (Self-Published).
  • Toho's planned release of the film to home video in 1987 was met with controversy due to a small sequence that showed some of the villagers as deformed. The pressure came from Ainu groups, representing the Ainu people who had long been persecuted in Japan. They saw this as a veiled representation of the incest-led deformities that the Ainu were stereotyped with. By 1988 Toho had barely negotiated a compromise to avoid the film being banned. This compromise saw Toho edit out the footage for its home video release. It is believed that this experience led to the self-ban of Half Human (1955), which strikes up a far more negative depiction of the villagers in that film. Discussed in Age of the Gods (Self-Published).
  • The movie features stock footage from the first two Godzilla movies. As a result, there are scenes of the bottom half of the King of the Monsters, often pushing through buildings, that are used as a substitue for Varan.


Anthony Romero Star Rating
July 20, 2003
Miles Imhoff [Crown] Star Rating
August 7, 2005
Patrick Galvan Star Rating
October 20, 2014