Daikyoju Gappa (Great Giant Beast Gappa) is a 1967 tokusatsu kaiju film. The film was produced by Nikkatsu Corporation, and was their only film in the kaiju genre (produced during the first "Kaiju Boom").
An expedition from Tokyo heads to Obelisk Island, which a greedy entrepreneur (Mr. Funazu, the President of Playmate Magazine) wants to turn into an island resort. The natives of Obelisk welcome the expedition, but when two members, Hiroshi and Itoko, venture into the forbidden part of the land, they skeptically venture ahead, despite the pleas of a native boy named Saki. They enter a cavern (which was blocked by a statue that had collapsed) and find a giant egg, out of which hatches a baby monster, a "bird-lizard", referred to as a "Gappa" by the natives, who plea with the scientists not to take the baby away, lest they anger the baby's parents, to which the scientists react with skepticism. Sure enough, they take the baby away, and soon, inside the caverns, its two larger parents rise from the underground waters! They rise from beneath the island volcano, destroying everyone in its path, with Saki being the only survivor (rescued by an American navy fleet and brought back to Japan) . . . Meanwhile, back in Japan, the baby "bird-lizard" monster makes world headlines, not to mention getting being experimented on by scientists. But to the shock of the expedition members, they hear news of two giant flying creatures appearing over Sagami Bay! The Gappa parents ravage cities looking for their offspring, and are impervious to military weapons. Hiroshi, Itoko and Professor Tonooka (a scientist from the expedition) have figured that "Gappa" isn't a legend after all! They, and Saki, try to plead to the headstrong Mr. Funazu to let go of the baby and return it to its parents. Will they convince him before the Gappas destroy Japan and perhaps the world?
This film was intended as a lighthearted satire of the daikaiju films of the period. This is one of the reasons the film has come under criticism by many people and kaiju fans. But some of the satire is lost in translated overseas prints.
The film's special effects were provided by Akira Watanabe, who had worked as an art director on many tokusatsu films such as the 1957 Toho sci-fi classic, The Mysterians. Although his work is not up to the standards of his colleague Eiji Tsuburaya, he provides some very interesting visuals, such as:
* In the scene where the Gappas rise from the ocean into a city, one of the Gappas was carrying an octopus in its mouth, hoping to bring food to its missing offspring, assuming it was found (this scene was meant to be humorous).
* One of the Gappas stomps its feet right into the middle of a kabuki theater, with people inside panicking and running.
The international English title for the film was Gappa the Triphibian Monster. The international English print was reedited and retitled Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, for its original release in the United States.
In the Japanese version, the opening credits and ending were accompanied by a rock & roll theme song, "Great Giant Beast Gappa" (the first and second verses, respectively), and the touching reunion scene near the end had a ballad called "Keep Trying, Baby Gappa!". In all overseas prints, the opening and ending songs were replaced with standard orchestral music, and "Keep Trying, Baby Gappa!" was instrumental.
There was also an urban legend that Nikkatsu's international English prints originally had a racist line, "The monsters are attacking Tokyo. Fortunately they are attacking the Negro section of town." (and that the line was changed to "...attacking the poor section of town."). This was untrue. Some say this urban legend was allegedly conjured up by Michael Medved and Harry Medved, the authors of the book The Golden Turkey Awards.
The adult Gappas had a cameo scene in the British comedy/sci fi series Red Dwarf. In episode 6 of season 4, "Meltdown", Arnold Rimmer and Kryten arrive on a planet they will later discover is a giant Waxdroid theme park. After sending the teleporter they used to arrive back to pick up Lister and The Cat, they are forced to flee by the Gappas. Kryten later comments that he's seen more realistic dinosaurs in packets of Wheatie Flakes.