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Varan the Unbelievable (1962)

Unrated | | Horror, Sci-Fi | 7 December 1962 (USA)
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In an effort to find an economic means of purifying salt water, a joint U.S.-Japanese military command is set up on an isolated Japanese island where an unusual salt water lake is situated.... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Cmdr. James Bradley
Tsuruko Kobayashi ...
Anna
Clifford Kawada ...
Capt,. Kishi
Derick Shimatsu ...
Matsu, the boy
Kôzô Nomura ...
Paul Isoh
Ayumi Sonoda ...
Shidori Isoh
Fumindo Matsuo ...
Paul's Friend
Hiroshi Hisasume ...
Pvt. Seki
Yoneo Iguchi ...
Radio Operator
Hideo Inamura ...
Doomed Soldier
Roy K. Ogata ...
Extra
George Sasaki ...
Extra
Michael Sung ...
Extra
Yoshio Tsuchiya ...
Soldier
Akio Kusama ...
Soldier
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Storyline

In an effort to find an economic means of purifying salt water, a joint U.S.-Japanese military command is set up on an isolated Japanese island where an unusual salt water lake is situated. However, their purifying experiments arouse the prehistoric monster Obaki from hibernation at the lake's bottom, and it proceeds to attack Japan. Written by Jeremy Lunt <durlinlunt@acadia.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From a World Below, It Came to Terrorize - To Destroy - To Revenge!

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Unrated
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

7 December 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Varan el increible  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| (perspecta sound systems)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the Americanized version from 1962, even though the film is called "Varan the Unbelievable", the monster is called "Obake" throughout the film for some reason. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cinemassacre's Monster Madness: Godzilla Raids Again (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

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4 June 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

This is not a review, but I want to post this here to help stave off some confusion. The DVD called "Varan The Unbelievable", released by Tokyo Shock in May 2005, catalog number TSDVD-0511, is not the film listed on IMDb as "Varan the Unbelievable (1962)", or "The Monster Varan (1962)". It is instead the film listed on IMDb as "Daikaijû Baran (1958)". "Baran" is the Japanese word that has a transliteration in English as "Varan".

"Varan the Unbelievable" was an American-produced adaptation of the material, similar to the American adaptation of the original Godzilla (Gojira, 1954). Varan was originally to be a joint US/Japanese production, but that deal fell through. Toho, the Japanese production company, went ahead and did Varan anyway, and a few years later, the American version was produced, with a different title and with additional material directed by Jerry A. Baerwitz. It doesn't help the confusion that Tokyo Shock decided to release their DVD under the American title of "Varan the Unbelievable", but surely that was done because that's the title that Americans know the film under.

How do you know what version you watched? Well, the American version has an American actor, Myron Healey, and a plot about trying to desalinize water. It's also only 70 minutes long. The Japanese film is about 90 minutes long, has no American actors, and Varan (or "Baran") makes his first (offscreen) appearance when scientists from Tokyo make a trip to a remote, mountainous village to research the sighting of a butterfly previously only known to exist in Siberia. The Japanese version also has a different musical score, but since music is a bit difficult to describe well in words (other than technically), that's not a great way for most folks to tell which version they've watched.

To make matters even more confusing, the Tokyo Shock DVD has a truncated Japanese television version of Daikaijû Baran, clocking in at about 50 minutes, which dispenses with both the desalinization and the butterfly plots. Also, at least some people have reported seeing a color version of the film. I don't know which version that would be, but the Tokyo Shock DVD has the original, black & white widescreen Japanese version from 1958. I would have much preferred if Tokyo Shock would have put the American adaptation of Varan on the DVD as an extra, as the Japanese television version is just the same film with a bunch of edits for time and there are a few scenes rearranged to try to create something more coherent given the cuts. Tokyo Shock probably didn't put the American film as an extra because of some licensing or royalty issue. I can also imagine Toho objecting to it. Note that there's a good commentary track for the film with Murase Keizo, who was in charge of special effects models on the film (he's not credited on either IMDb listing).

We should reserve this listing for reviews of the American version, and review the Japanese original version at the listing for Daikaijû Baran (1958) instead.


23 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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