Monday, July 3, 2017


With G-Fest just a little over a week away, I have now finished my assigned reading and viewing for the Gorgo/Konga/Reptilicus panel I’ll be doing at that most glorious of American events celebrating Godzilla and his fellow kaiju.

Reptilicus [1961] was a Danish-American film featuring an enormous dragon-like monster that has always looked like a pissed-off sock puppet to me. Wikipedia says the movie was produced by American International Pictures and Saga Studio, and separate versions were released in Denmark and in the United States. I have no idea which version I’ve been watching all these years. That’s right. Despite my disdain for this movie, I watch it every now and then. I can’t explain why. Here’s the Internet Movie Database summary:

After copper miners discover part of the frozen tail of a prehistoric monster in Lapland, scientists inadvertently bring it back to life.

Reptilicus was released in the United States in January of 1963. As was the case with Gorgo and Konga, the novelization and the comic book came out long before the movie. The novelization by the quite prolific Dean Owen was published in June of 1961. The first issue of the comic book is dated August of 1961. From here on in, we’re letting you know there are


The novelization adds a whole lot of hanky-panky to the movie, even more so than in the Gorgo and Konga novelizations. Svend Viltorft, the miner who discovers the tail of Reptilicus, has had an affair with the wife of his boss. Which he breaks off when he realizes her true identity. Neither the wife nor her husband are in the movie.

As in the movie, Professor Otto Martens had two gorgeous daughters. Outside of being very lovely, neither character is notable in the movie. In the book, older sister Lise is coming off a love affair that ended badly and is also being tormented by her younger sister Karen. Because of lies told to her when she was growing up, Karen thinks she is the child of her mother and an illicit lover. She competes with Lise for the affections of Svend. Karen boasts that she’s done the deed with Svend first and, later, that she had another round of sex with the hunky miner on Lise’s bed. However, by the end of the novel, the professor sets Karen straight. On Lise’s part, she gets inexplicably rescued from a trio of would-be rapists by the lover who left her. Turns out said lover wasn’t the married man he’d claimed to be. He just got cold feet.

In other salacious goings-on, grumpy American General Mark Grayson gets it on with UN scientist Connie Miller in the office of his makeshift command center. In the movie, all Mark and Connie get to do is have a night out in Tivoli, chaperoned by Captain Brandt of the Danish military. In one unforgettable cinematic scene - I know it’s unforgettable because I’ve tried to forget it. Lord knows I’ve tried to forget it - the trio are serenaded by a perky chanteuse in a nightclub. Once you’ve heard “Tivoli Nights”...

Enough with the sex. The novelization makes the monster stuff much more chilling and exciting than the movie. In the book, Reptilicus actually flies before his wings are destroyed and is much scarier all around. In the American version of the movie, hapless victims die horribly as they are covered over by the monster’s sickly green phlegm. It’s an incredibly hokey special effect.

In the novel, when characters we know die, the impact of the deaths is far greater than in the movie. The same holds true for the fear that almost overwhelms Grayson, Martens and the other Reptilicus-fighting forces. The novel also lacks the comedy stylings of the custodian Petersen, who comes off like a member of a really awful Three Stooges tribute band.


Owen’s novelization follows the plot of the movie closely, adding the sex scenes and spending more time developing Grayson, Martens and the other characters. It’s far better than the movie and even better than the comic book.

The comic book only ran two issues before Charlton Comics changed the name to Reptisaurus a full year before Reptilicus was released in the United States. Reptisaurus was canceled before the film was released in the U.S., though, decades later, in 2009, a Reptisaurus movie was made by monster master Christopher Ray. The movie, never released in this country, bears no resemblance to either Reptilicus or the Charlton comic book on which it claims to be based. You can read my review of Reptisaurus here.


Within days of watching Reptilicus for the umpteenth time, I also watched Yongary: Monster from the Deep [1967] for the first time. It’s a South Korean kaiju film whose original version was lost when its negatives were shipped to American International Pictures to be edited for distribution in the United States. Perhaps someday that original version will surface. If it does, I’ll do my best to watch it and write about it in a future bloggy thing.

Here’s the quick Yongary summary from the IMDb:

Earthquakes in central Korea turn out to be the work of Yongary, a prehistoric gasoline-eating reptile that soon goes on a rampage through Seoul.


The film is so forgettable that, just a few days after watching it, I have trouble remembering details. It opens with a small wedding. Driving off, the couple begins to itch painfully because Icho, one of those typical-for-monster-movies mischievous boys, is firing an “itch ray” at them. The ray was invented by Icho’s brilliant if shy with women uncle.

It takes a good twenty minutes before we get the vaguest glimpse of Yongary. Maybe the intent there was to build suspense, maybe it was to delay showing the audience the full Yongary suit. Said suit is well below the quality of Toho Studios kaiju movies, even though it was built by the same guy who built Godzilla and Kong suits for earlier movies.

Politicians, scientists and military men are all familiar with the legend of Yongary. They take learning the creature really exists in stride. Not so much their failure to stop him. In an explicable scene, Icho uses the itch ray on Yongary and the two of them dance to generic pop music. 

Icho stumbles on a way to incapacitate the monster. His uncle takes it from there. In the end, Yongary is destroyed.

Icho is sad but philosophical. He knows Yongary had to be killed, but wishes the adults could’ve seen the monster dancing so happily. Icho’s uncle gets the remaining single girl.


The movie’s human characters are likeable, even the annoying Icho. There are scenes of the politicians, scientists and military folks discussing possible courses of action in a manner done much better in 2016's Shin Godzilla.

Yongary was kind of sort of remade in 1999 as Yonggary, released in the U.S. as Reptilian. The remake is a decent giant monster film that casts the title monster as a Godzilla-like hero-villain. It’s a real stretch to seriously consider it a remake of the original.

The bottom line is Yongary: Monster from the Deep is simply not a very good film. The only reason I’d ever watch it again would be if the original uncut version surfaced, giving me a chance to compare the two. I’d recommend the existing version only to those monster movie fans who have to see every giant monster movie.

That’s all for today’s bloggy, my friends. Come back tomorrow for a recap of the things that made me happy in June.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Both of these movies have played on TCM, which is where I first saw them. They have been made much more palatable for me by being among the experiments on the first season of the revived MST3K on Netflix. I know you're not a MSTie, Tony, but they do make some lame movies much easier to take for me. The only other movie with a monster in the title for this season one is The Beast of Hollow Mountain. It's hard to believe how bad a monster suit or model can be until you see some of these.