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Daikaijû Baran (1958)

5.6
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When a rare species of butterfly is found in a mysterious valley in Japan, a pair of entomologists go to investigate and find more. However, when they get there they find an uncharted lake ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kôzô Nomura ...
Kenji Uozaki
Ayumi Sonoda ...
Yuriko Shinjô
Koreya Senda ...
Dr. Sugimoto
Akihiko Hirata ...
Dr. Fujimora, bomb expert
Fuyuki Murakami ...
Dr. Majima, Sugimoto's aide
Yoshio Tsuchiya ...
Military Officer Katsumoto
Minosuke Yamada ...
Secretary of Defense
Hisaya Itô ...
Ichiro, Yuriko's brother
Yoshifumi Tajima ...
Captain of Uranami
Nadao Kirino ...
Yutaka Wada
Akira Sera ...
Village High Priest
Akio Kusama ...
Military Officer Kusama
Noriko Honma ...
Ken's Mom
Akira Yamada ...
Issaku
Fumindo Matsuo ...
Horiguchi
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Storyline

When a rare species of butterfly is found in a mysterious valley in Japan, a pair of entomologists go to investigate and find more. However, when they get there they find an uncharted lake and as they are observing it they are caught in a landslide and killed. A reporter named Yuriko, the sister of one of the men decides to go to the area to find out what exactly happened. She is accompanied by another entomologist named Kenji and a reporter named Horiguchi. When they get to the village where the men were last seen alive they find out about a legend regarding a giant monster. They soon find out that it is not a legend and the monster named Varan is very much alive. Soon Varan leaves the valley where he has lived for millions of years and is heading for Tokyo. Written by Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

monster | japan | butterfly | giant | 1950s | See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

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Details

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Release Date:

14 October 1958 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Varan the Unbelievable  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the success of Godzilla (1954) in the USA, ABC-TV commissioned this new monster movie from Toho Studios. The studio intially believed it would only be shown on American TV, and thus ordered the movie shot in black and white at a standard aspect ratio. Almost halfway through shooting, the studios changed their mind and decided the film would indeed be shown in Japanese theaters. This meant that the rest of the movie had to be shot in the anamorphic format of Tohoscope, while the footage that was already shot had its tops and bottoms cropped in order to resemble Tohoscope. See more »

Goofs

The wires holding the jet fighters up are visible. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Destroy All Monsters (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"We've tried everything and nothing can stop it!"
30 March 2008 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

In its original Japanese version, 1958's Varan the Unbelievable is an enjoyable kaiju flick that's pared down to bare essentials: where in most kaiju films the monsters take the backseat to the humans, here it's the humans who are left on the sidelines as once the scene-setting opening half hour is out of the way it's just one long prolonged battle of the "We've tried everything and nothing can stop it!" variety. When a couple of butterfly hunters are fund crushed in a remote region ("The Tibet of Japan"), a couple of reporters and a scientist find out that the local god Badagi worshipped by the primitive local villagers is really a rather large prehistoric critter of some description. So, naturally, they decide to kill him by throwing all the modern military hardware they have at their disposal at him and then act vaguely surprised when it doesn't work and he heads for Tokyo (they always head for Tokyo: maybe there's a monster convention center there?).

Reuniting the behind-the-camera team from Godzilla (Akira Ifukube's score even uses the army theme from his Godzilla scores), you could see this black and white TohoPanScope entry in the kaiju cycle as having a subtext about the conflict between the old Japan that still knows about ancient mysteries beyond the power of science and the modern Japan: while the visitors scoff at their religion – "This is the20th century!" – they do indeed stir the ancient beast. Having established that the god Badagi is flesh and blood, rather than apologise, they naturally rename him Varan (or Baran in the original Japanese), pollute his lake and feed him flares. But that's probably giving it too much credit: the villagers are more of a plot device to introduce the beastie while we're waiting for the toy tanks to turn up (at the 35-minute mark if you're counting) and soon forgotten in the rush to kill it, and Varan lacks any motivation beyond crushing stuff – it's purely an animal. Exactly what kind of animal is open to question. Varan is certainly one of the more loosely defined monsters, and not just because he lacks any personality. His weapon of choice for stomping villages is his tail, he's amphibious, looks a bit like a spiny backed terrapin, walks both on all fours in the first half of the film and on his hind legs in the latter and soars through the air like a flying squirrel (some people even argue he is a prehistoric squirrel), albeit with the sound of a jet taking off. But whatever he is, he destroys enough stuff to keep kaiju fans happy even if his rampage isn't especially memorable afterwards – indeed, the ,most memorable moment remains the model soldier suddenly popping up in a crashed model truck like a slightly rusty jack-in-the-box. And remember, that photographer isn't running away – he just wants to take a photograph from a distance! Tokyo Shock's DVD includes only the 87-minute Japanese version and a 54-minuteJapanese TV edit, but not the 70-minute re-edited US version. The 5.1 Japanese stereo track is occasionally misaligned giving it a slight distorted echo affecting some scenes, though the other stereo and mono tracks are fine. Alongside the two Japanese trailers (unsubtitled, sadly) there's also a neat 28-minute lecture on creature sculpting from a modern Japanese educational problem – maybe it's on the syllabus over there?


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