If you’re like me, you’ve probably been thinking, “Man, I sure wish there was some good wizard media for me to enjoy in this, February of 2023. It sure is a shame there’s nothing wizard-related coming out right now for me to enjoy and indulge this urge to consume a fun story with wizards! I’d especially like it if said media took place in some sort of school for wizards, so there could be a convenient reason for a bunch of wizards to hang out, and maybe they could have a sort of coming of age journey set alongside the act of solving a magical mystery! If only such a piece of media existed!”
Well, fret no more! There is a brand-spanking-new piece of wizard content, set in a wizard school, with mysteries galore and coming of age drama for your perusal, all available to you now in early February of 2023! That’s right, the second book in my wildly popular Wizard School Mysteries series, Wizard School Mysteries 2: Tournament of Death, is now available for purchase! Continue the adventures of my bespectacled wizard boy, James Chaucer, and his ragtag group of misfit friends as they uncover a sinister plot at the Academy of Applied Arcana and Magic! Wizards! Magic! Young Love! Drama! Death! It’s got it all! Here, read the synopsis:
After foiling a kidnapping plot in their first semester, the Meddlesome Youths thought they had surely faced the worst peril the Academy of Applied Arcana and Magic could throw at them. After all, it can’t get much more perilous than fighting off a fairy prince and his army of elves, goblins, and orks, right?
Plus it seems the school itself is set for reverie, as the second semester brings with it the Ultimate Wizard Battle Tournament, a vast test of skill where wizards are invited to test their mettle and spell-casting prowess in a series of one-on-one duels. It’s the wizard equivalent of a joust, with a fabulous prize and all the glory one could hope for.
Yet what should be a friendly competition takes a deadly turn as it becomes clear that one of the competitors has decided fair play isn’t enough, rigging the matches without a care for the safety of the other students. Can our heroes find out who the saboteur is – and, more importantly, will they make it out of the tournament unscathed?
And if you don’t want to support the evil empire of the Dark Lord Jeff Bezos, shoot me a DM and we can work out getting you a signed copy – i.e. a copy of the book that I order from Amazon at the cost of production (as in “amazon doesn’t make a profit”), autograph, and then send to you for the price of the book ($15) plus whatever shipping ends up being.
There you go, fam! Now you don’t have to worry about dying of wizard famine. I have fed you the good wizard content you crave, and indeed, the only wizard content you’ll need this month.
This ATOM Bonus Kaiju File was created by Dragonzilla for the the ATOM Create a Kaiju Contest 3-D! The illustration and profile here is based on their work, and I highly recommend you check out their other work!
Aliases: The Soldier Crab
Date Unveiled/Discovered: July 9, 1960 (Scuttlebutt)
Biology (Scuttlebutt): Resembling a bizarre cross between a hermit crab and a mollusk, Scuttlebutt isn’t all that impressive as kaiju go. She’s small, slow, and for the most part squishy. She’s stronger than her size would suggest, but her claws are so small that they can’t effectively harm other kaiju. However, her bio-electric nature allows her to integrate with the TALOS mecha, which she wears like a suit of armor, moving the arms and legs as if they were natural extensions of her own body.
Scuttlebutt sports the following special abilities:
An enhanced healing factor
Immunity to radiation
Bio-electric communication with machinery
Promelion Artificial Pilot Intelligence, or P.A.P.I.
Mechanical strength on par with a Kaiju of equal size
Gravity Manipulation Cannons in limbs
Personalities: TALOS’s revolutionary AI puts it on par with a human in terms of intelligence and problem-solving, though if one were to actually talk to it, they might think it’s a stiff or more generously a consummate professional. It’s fortunate then that its occupation is preserving life. It genuinely cares about it mission, even if its single-mindedness still comes across as robotic. Initially its partnership with Scuttlebutt was done out of pragmatism, but it has since come to respect the kaiju’s willingness to face her fears and stand up for others.
When Scuttlebutt first crawled out of the ocean, she was timid and confused. Thrust into a world of giants at a severe disadvantage, her first encounter with another kaiju was unfortunately with Pandemonium, a bully and a brute. She would have liked nothing better than to crawl into a nice, dark, safe hole. Yet TALOS’s words, and seeing the misery left in Pandemonium’s wake, awoke something in Scuttlebutt: a desire to look out for the little guy.
Though initially a partnership of convenience – TALOS had been left hobbled while fighting against an opponent neither it nor Scuttlebutt could defeat on their own – the unlikely duo has proven to be an effective team, with Scuttlebutt content to remain inside her mechanical friend, and TALOS glad to have the crab looking out for him on the field of battle.
This ICHF was written by AkityMH, who did not write a bio.
Mimic is the only horror movie that features cockroaches that I am aware of and without digging deep into the internet to find more. I got history with this movie… Back when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, I went to Hollywood Video and rented it by accident somehow. I wanted to get the movie Gappa, a movie that for some strange, baffling reason I can never guess, my dad refused to let me see Gappa… but somehow, I got to see this. I almost wanna ask my dad about why he hated me seeing the movie Gappa, but I’m sure he wouldn’t even remember if I did over twenty years later.
The plot goes that within the city of New York, New York, the common cockroach had become the unwilling carrier of a disease that has taken hundreds of children’s lives. In fear it will continue and become much worse, a bioengineer by the name of Doctor Tailor goes out of her way to create a genetic hybrid of roach that will interbreed with the local population of roaches and introduce into their genetics an enzyme that will cause their metabolism to run amok and they will eat and starve to death. She names her creation the Judas Breed in reference to the biblical story of Judas betraying Jesus and leading the insects to their doom.
This works quite well and within years the roaches quickly die out as a result of being unable to eat enough calories to sustain their very lives. Can you guess where this goes? You may, but you may not. Three years later, the mysterious vanishings begin to take place. Street wild animals are in low numbers, too, and Tailor is given an insect that she recognizes to be her own creation, the Judas Breed. One thing leads to another, and it is soon revealed that her creation surpassed its intent. The hybrid species she made was meant to die out after a single generation due to starving to death. This backfires, as roaches are some of the most adaptable insects on the planet. Within three years, the fast metabolism resulted in the species to reproduce faster than normal, and with each generation grew more adapted to their new biology. They become as large as people. That is a terrifying concept alone, but what makes this beyond more scary than “Oh my god, a giant insect!” is the fact these roaches have exploited the single most valuable food source available in a human city.
The Judas Breed have evolved to mimic human beings at a basic level. Unimaginably, we don’t think much of the strangers around us. People walk by every day while everyone is distracted by their busy lives. What you assume to be a homeless man in a dark cloak in the corner is not what he seems, and this works amazingly well for the roaches who do not concern themselves with being anything more than what may be a shadowy stranger out of the corner of your eye. They even have a modified set of arms that resembles a human face and their wings acting like a heavy coat you may see on someone living under the cold streets of New York City. It messes with you on a psychological level that can disturb most people.
I live in a populated area. I can see the tall bipedal figure between street lights at night and know its a person, but even then I find that uncertainty to cause a strong anxiety. I, and we as people, then make it a habit to assume “it’s just a person, and they are perfectly alright and mean no harm”. Most likely, they won’t even address you as they go on your day.
Now imagine if every now and again, it wasn’t a person. It was something else, lurking, stalking you or someone nearby for its next meal for it and its colony. You never think it may be despite it actually being so, and when you least expect it, a sharp blade-like insect leg skewers you and drags you down to continue rending and butchering you for many long, painful seconds.
This movie is all about that. These creatures adapted to the most open niche in the entire world currently: Human beings. Such a concept is morbidly fascinating to me… A dedicated human predator that eats almost exclusively human beings. Is it not scary? It isn’t that hard or even far from some organisms living today. There are animals that have already adapted quite well to human existence and have before. Cats and dogs, for example, but they are dependent on us in most cases or at least our byproduct, as are horses which are now only alive in any real number due to domestication. It goes further, though. Echinochola is a family of grass that in some places where rice is grown now mimics the rice plants so humans will not pick them and discard them. It’s very convincing. Elephants, thanks to the last hundred or so years of poaching, have only allowed the elephants that grow no tusks at all, resulting in no poaching, and axolotles may have a future only in the pet trade with humans that breed them.
It isn’t a far stretch at all. Scary, right? So unnerving that it makes it ironic and messed up given how we as a race really detest the entire family of roaches regardless of species. As a species, we strive to use the knowledge we learn for good, but it is always and universally lawful to have an equally evil use. In Mimic, humans wanted to destroy pathogen spreading menace, and resulted in the cure surpassing the disease. That is a line from Morbius, but it is a phrase that has been around for some time coined in the 1500’s by a man named Frances Bacon. He feared the use of advancing medical practice and what it may lead to. I feel this concept has been used as a baseline unknowingly by pretty much every Atomic Horror ever, as Atomic Horror represents the powers we discover and then unleash in the attempt to utilize it. Bloodletting was thought to be a good cure for just about anything at the cost of possibly bleeding out. To stop a war, you make better weapons like guns, but then that leads to armor to repel them so they make stronger guns, and eventually to armored vehicals, then bombs, bigger bombs, to atomic bombs which ended the second world war, which spawned Gojira in the 1954 film “Gojira”, which lead to the ultimate take away when we make a weapon even Godzilla could not overcome… What would come after the Oxygen Destroyer?
It’s exactly like that. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Science accelerating forward is fascinating and equally terrifying. Perhaps that is why I and many of us like it? We like being scared a little bit, but also like to make things better. We just run toward it and try to disprove theories in the name of science.
I think I made the point of science run amok, now…
Mimic was relatively successful and went on to spawn two quality productions, but odd and strange movies. The sequel, there is a living male Judas Breed that wishes to reproduce with a human for some strange, odd reason… and the third movie goes back to the concept of the first one of these things just being within a short run’s distance, or even scrunched up in your wall within inches of you if they really want. That one plays more like Critters or Tremors, where the creatures are just outside your barricaded home and seem intent on eating you.
I know there are plenty of people who haven’t watched Mimic, or haven’t seen it in a long time. It’s the spooky season, so maybe pop it in for some good dread.
Hi, this article was written by me, DownatFraggleRock. If you want to see some of my fanfiction writing, you can read it on my Ao3 at: https://archiveofourown.org/users/DownatFraggleRock And if you want to see a mess of mostly reblogs with some of my own ramblings mixed in, you can check me out on my tumblr at: https://downtofragglerock.tumblr.com And if someday I get the courage to publish my own original fiction, I’ll probably make a post about it on either of those.
I’ve been a fan of tokusatsu for a long time now, and my favorite element of the genre is still what brought me into it in the first place: the entire menagerie of unique and wonderful monsters. But while the kaiju of the Godzilla, Gamera, and Ultraman series receive and have received love and adoration for decades, the monsters of the week in the countless Super Sentai and Kamen Rider series have seldom seen this affection, at least from my experience. The uncountable hordes of beautifully unique creatures that appear in these shows rarely get any attention from said shows fanbases, those fans too focused on the human-sized heroes who cut them down every week. But I amend to help change that and put the spotlight on these guys and give them the appreciation they deserve.
While the ever-expanding monolith of these shows can look daunting, they are always split into their own seasons/series, each with its own identity, and consequently, its own unique foes and monster designs. I’ve decided to pick 2009’s Shinkenger as the subject for this article, primarily because its creatures’ wonderful aesthetic and supernatural nature make them a perfect fit for this time and place. Shinkenger’s season motif is that of samurai & traditional Japan. Its heroes are explicitly samurai, and the monsters thusly share a similar source of inspiration. They’re called the Ayakashi, which traditionally is a sort of collective term for shipwreck ghosts, but in practice the group’s design inspirations lie in a general grab-bag of yokai, as well as some other things I’ll bring up later.
The Ayakashi come from this red-filtered demonic hell realm, which is defined by the Sanzu River. In Japanese Buddhist tradition it’s simply a river that dead souls cross to enter the afterlife, much like the Styx in Greek Mythology. But here it’s basically just an evil demon river these demons come from. Now a fun quirk about the Ayakashi is that they cannot survive without the waters of the Sanzu, they begin to literally dry up if not in contact with it for extended amount of time, i.e., when they’re in our world. This is a problem for them, as being malevolent spirits, they love causing, inflicting, and feeding off human sorrow and misery in a variety of creative ways. However, the misery of human souls adds to the Sanzu’s water, causing the river to raise. This manifests as the villains of the series overarching scheme: Cause so much human misery that the sheer amount of extra Sanzu water generated from it causes the river to flood into our world, allowing the villains to do whatever they please.
Also, they emerge in our world through any crack, crevice, or gap, both natural and artificial. Didn’t know where to put that in but it’s kind of important.
Now, there’s a lot of Ayakashi, and I do mean a lot, so many that there’s no way I can do them all justice. So instead, I’ve created a top ten list of my personal favorite designs of the bunch. I’ll try to cover what each of them does in the show, my personal thoughts on their design, as well as their yokai inspirations and how they correlate. And let’s begin with-
Rokuroneri is one of the early monsters in the series, and while his design looks a bit generically ogreish, there’s still a lot of interesting things going on with him. He’s a bruiser and a brawler, made of real tough stuff. He also has the ability to stretch out his fists for great distances, for some long distance roughing up. But you’re probably wondering “Why does he have those two hands grabbing him from behind?” Well, let’s look at his concept art.
While toned down in the final product for practical “this has to be wearable” reasons, the concept shows the main design motif of Rokuroneri; a clay figure, being molded and shaped by some unseen entity’s pair of hands. You can even see the ripples and grooves of prior places the fingers pinched, and also on his non-covered thigh, what appears to be a handle, like you would find on a ceramic mug. This begs the question, if Rokuroneri is still being actively shaped, what will he look like when he’s “finished”?
Rokuroneri is also based on the yokai Tsuchi-Korobi, who rolls around as a ball of soil and only has one eye. Not much of a correlation there, but the Ayakashi aren’t as direct counterparts to their yokai inspirations as other yokai-based Sentai monsters, hence why they don’t share names with the yokai they’re adapted from.
This guy doesn’t actually appear in the main series, rather he’s the central foe in a crossover special with Kamen Rider Decade. His main claim to fame is when he manages to steal one of the rider’s transformation devices, and uses it himself. The results are…well…
Yeah, this isn’t so much of a glowup as a “makeover scene where the after looks unintentionally worse than the before” but to Chinomanako’s credit, a monster of the week stealing a hero’s transformation device and using it to turn into a warped version of that hero is a great concept. And also they use all the gaps in that chest armor to summon the season’s grunts, a stellar play.
Back to the better Chinomanako design, there’s actually a lot of subtle details going on here that I really like. His legs remind me of tree roots, while his shoulder pads and hair look like autumn leaves. But the front of his hair also looks like an open maw, with pupilless eyes and the leaf points acting as teeth. There’re also tendrils hanging off him. I can’t really figure out what they’re supposed to be, but they kinda look like catfish whiskers.
Yokai-wise, Chinomanako is based on a rather notable one, the Mokumokuren. These spirits appear in the wrecked walls of rundown or abandoned houses, manifesting as an endless series of eyes. The Mokumokuren is also used as inspiration in the two other Sentai with yokai-themed monsters. In 2015’s Ninninger, they’re a keyboard monster, while in 1994’s Kakuranger, they’re a serial flasher.
This fella actually doesn’t work with the main villains of the series, rather a separate guy who shows up later with his own agenda. He can pretty much eat anything through his hands, even eating one of the heroes’ transformation devices. This doesn’t come into play until he’s defeated and grows giant size, upon which all the energy his arms devoured transform said arms into giant impenetrable gauntlets that he can bring together to form one massive wall.
While the wall his gauntlets form is clearly meant to evoke his yokai inspiration, another design aspect of Futagawara I noticed was his resemblance to the Dogū statues and other neolithic Japanese figure art. His shoulders and waist almost look like they were flat out copied from the detailing of some of those statues, with the curves and studs. But for the life of me I can’t figure out where the, for lack of a better term, silly string detailing all over his body comes from. Nor his head, which looks like it’s supposed to evoke something.
Futagawara is based on the Nurikabe, another famous yokai. They’re basically living walls who appear on roads and paths to block travelers and wanderers. You may also recognize them as the inspiration of the Whomps from the Mario series.
In regards to giving fun new names to the monsters, Power Rangers Samurai, Shinkenger’s American adaptation, is sadly lacking most of the time, like it is in pretty much everything. And of the actually good names they did come up with, a lot of them don’t belong to monsters on this list. Thankfully, this is an exception. He’s called Skarf. Y’know, ‘cause he eats everything. I like it.
I’m sorry this image is such bad quality, but all of the full body pictures of this guy are bad quality, and this pose looked too cool to pass up. Homurakogi is another Ayakashi who doesn’t appear in the main series, rather he’s a more minor threat in the annual “Sentai team of the current series partners up with last year’s Sentai team” crossover. Despite being on the back half of the list, this guy is actually one of the designs I almost immediately think of when the Ayakashi come to mind. There’s just something about him, maybe it’s his flame motif, maybe it’s his cool introductory pose, maybe it’s his giant ass chakrams. Seriously those are rad as hell.
I already sort of gushed about Homurakogi’s design in the last paragraph, but now that there’s an actually clear image, you can see what I was talking about. There actually isn’t too much going on with this design, especially compared to the others I’ve talked about so far. But sometimes it’s better to have a more simplistic design that’s just cool. Although the face on his chest actually reminds me of the monsters of a different Sentai series, Gekiranger, which would make sense, seeing as how both series, as well as several other Sentai, Kamen Rider, and other toku series monsters were designed by the great Tamotsu Shinohara.
Homurakogi is based on the yokai Wanyūdō, who appears as the severed head of a tormented man affixed onto a burning wheel. What I find most interesting about Homurakogi in this context is that it’s the flaming wheel that’s given prominence and anthropomorphized, rather than the human face. Which is basically the opposite of the original yokai. Before, we had a screaming man’s head on an ultimately unimportant flaming wheel. Now, we have a flame elemental who’s gotten a screaming face tampographed to his chest and is clearly not happy about it if his facial expression is anything to go by.
And now onto this quite literal edgelord. Hyakuyappa is said to be the master of 100 blades, and no, that’s not hyperbole. While he only wields two swords in his hands, all the blades and edges that surround his body can extend and be used as sharp tendrils to pierce and slash opponents. His motive for wanting to fight the heroes is actually quite personal. You see, he was a good friend of a monster the heroes killed in a prior episode, and now he’s out for pure bloody revenge. You kind of forget that these monsters are their own people with personalities, preferences, and friends, only for them to all sort of be treated as the same cannon fodder by the heroes.
I really love the detailing in this design. The fusion between tattered robes and sword blades is nigh-perfect, and the red limbs and gold accents really help keep the design from being too monochromatic. It’s just an unequivocally cool design, the kind you would see get a ton of fan art if this character had literally been anything but a monster of the week in a Sentai series.
Also I should note here that in Power Rangers, this guy’s name is Steeleto, which yes, is a great pun name, or it would be if it weren’t for the fact that the guy is wearing flats. C’mon, he could totally pull off a pair of heels, just give him the ones with the knife points and he’d be fine.
Hyakuyappa is based on the Yokai Amikiri, which is described as sort of a combination between a bird and a lobster. They love to cut nets and net-like material with their claws, usually running amok in fishing villages. Other than the cutting thing, I don’t see that much of a correlation.
Oh, look at this fun little fella, he really looks like he has a pep in his step. Narisumashi has the ability to disguise himself as others, notably doing so with the yellow ranger in an attempt to sow discord among the team.
I love Narisumashi’s eclectically symmetrical design. How the red and green bounce back and forth from each side I think makes him stand out a lot more than most “half-and-half” monster designs. Also, no piece of him is identical to its other half, even the lower arms and legs are just slightly different. There’s a lot of little details in play here and this design runs wild with them, and he just happens to look like two bell peppers smashed together and that gives him additional points.
Narisumashi is based on the Noppera-bō, a yokai that typically appears as a human without a face. They love pranking humans, disguising themselves as people familiar to their mark before revealing their true faceless self and frightening off the poor human. Which actually correlates pretty well with Narisumashi’s whole schtick of disguising himself as one of the heroes, although he’s a bit more sinister with his intentions.
One of the last monsters in the series, as well as the only female monster of the week in the series (Which side note: there is a shocking lack of female characters in toei-made tokusatsu, there really need to be more, but knowing toei, it sadly will probably never happen) Yomotsugari is given the special task of outright assassinating the red ranger. To do this, she’s given these demon bead bullets (the thing hanging down her shoulder in the photo above) that she’ll fire from the giant crow mouth that is her right hand.
There’re a few things to talk about with this design. One, of course, is the giant bird head she has for a hand. And you have the bird wing draped over half of her head like it’s some cool hair style, although you can see her actual hair poking out of the other side. That’s honestly another great character design feature, something that isn’t hair, but is styled like it. Some of the plumage also makes up half of the kimono top she’s wearing. But honestly the way Yomotsugari’s design interacts with its bird elements is a bit peculiar. While she does have birdlike feet, the rest of her legs, as well as half of her torso and her left arm lack the bird theme entirely, looking more standardly demonic. And with the way that the wings are placed, it almost looks like the bird was once a separate demon that this gal killed and is now wearing. It’s not a sound theory, but it’s an interesting thought experiment.
Yomotsugari is based on the Onmoraki, a yokai who looks like a bird with a human face. They’re said to imitate voices to freak out people, often said people’s own voices. This correlates well with Yomotsugari, seeing as how she’s a bird monster with one of the most human looking faces out of all of the series’ monsters. The bird elements in her design were based on crows, who are known to excel at imitating human voice and speech, and that was probably done as a nod to her yokai inspiration. Also, while I can’t find anything that outright says it, basically every artwork I saw of this yokai depicts them spewing flames, and the demon beads she fires from her crow mouth are called the “Oni Flame Bullets”, so she actually matches up very well with her basis.
Ah, a good ol’ skeleman for this halloweeny list. Dokurobou also serves the same side villain that Futagawara from earlier in the list does. His main ability is that he can create shadow clones of himself to overwhelm and weaken opponents before he goes in for the kill. Not something you’d really expect from a ghostly skeleton monster, but cool none the less. While his design his pretty eerie, I think his concept art really sells it with just a few tweaks.
Yeah, he looks a lot creepier here than in the final costume. I think it’s mainly in the eyes. They’re a bit bigger here and look a lot more ghostly. The crimson color is clearly meant to be a bloodstain for this ghost and the concept art really goes through with it. I’m not sure exactly what is sticking out of his back, but it kind of reminds me of a steering wheel on a ship. I’ll touch much more on this in the next two entries (mainly because most of the monsters I picked for the list are the exceptions) but a lot of the Ayakashi have a sea/nautical motif to them, probably because their names derives from a term for shipwreck ghosts. And that’s exactly what this guy looks like to me, a shipwreck ghost. Also is it just me or does the concept art make the design look, feminine? The final design doesn’t give me the same impressions, but the concept art makes me think that this was a lady shipwreck ghost. Maybe it’s just that there’s so few women in this villain faction that my brain is simply trying to fill in the gaps, but I think there’s something there.
Dokurobou is based on the Kyōkotsu, a yokai that’s described as a skeletal ghost with tangled hair. They act as your standard vengeful spirit, but their physical attributes are clearly translated one-to-one to Dokurobou.
Oh, I love this design, absolutely love it. It’s just the way every element just correlates and combines perfectly here. But enough gushing, Okakurage is an umbrella monster that can, quite fittingly, summon rains. These rains are supernatural in nature however, and anyone who gets caught in it loses all hope and gives into despair. Also, that umbrella on the top of his head is a part of his body, and can unfold and allow him to fly.
And now I can gush about his design. I love the big false eye on the center of his head. I love how the rip on the umbrella that exposes his face looks like a hood. I love the scarf/mask arm proboscis. And most of all, I love the aquatic vibe going on here. Okakurage, out of all of the Ayakashi, is definitely one of the most pronounced examples of this “sea creature” motif. The ends of the umbrella resemble webbed fins. The non-biological part of his skirt has a bubble pattern. His “third eye” resembles a pearl. And most obviously, his entire body is literally just a bunch a jellyfish. His arms are made up of a series of jellyfish bells, ending with some tentacles sticking out with his hands. The sides of his skirt, and as well as what we see of his legs, are much the same. And then his torso is just one big jellyfish, with the tentacles leading into the skirt. And while I couldn’t find large clear images of what he looks like with the umbrella unfolded, rest be assured, it also looks like a jellyfish. And his head, fully revealed, resembles a polyp, the adolescent form of a jellyfish.
Okakurage is, no surprise, based on one of the most famous yokai (at least in the west) the Kasa-Obake. Kasa-Obake are part of a whole class of yokai called the tsukumogami, whose origins lie in ordinary objects that were thrown away or abandoned. If these objects manage to reach 100 years of age, they turn into living yokai, with a grudge against humanity for throwing them out in the first place. Typically, Kasa-Obake have one eye, a tongue, and one foot. Although some depictions, like this image reference, have arms. As for how well Okakurage correlates with his yokai origin, well he is basically wearing one on his head. The umbrella is obviously the umbrella part of the yokai, the false “third eye” is meant to be the yokai’s singular eye, and Okakurage’s proboscis also looks like a limb, basically combining the yokai’s tongue and single leg into one body part. An interesting way to play with such a simple design.
Power Rangers Samurai proved that broken watch is right twice a day when they called this guy Desperaino. Which is a perfect name that not only perfectly represents this being and what he does, but manages to work as a pun on three different levels. You get a brownie point for this one Power Rangers Samurai, you don’t get many, but you do get one for this.
Now, I had some trouble figuring out who was going to be #2 and #1 on this list, because both are designs I absolutely love to death. But ultimately, I had to give the number one spot to-
There he is. I saw this design years ago and it has just stuck with me ever since. You’re probably wondering what this guy’s powers are. Well get this: he just spins. It’s literally all he does, which combined with the spikes all over his body, make him a devasting quick attacker. I love him all the more for it. You gotta appreciate someone who knows exactly what they’re about and just follows their dream. Also, he peppers everything he says with multiple uses of the word “Shaka”. Apparently, the word does show up in Japanese Buddhism, but the phrase is probably most known in the west for being associated with surfing, and I’m inclined to believe it’s intending to be a surfing reference, mainly because he’s based on a shark.
The concept art for Sogizarai doesn’t have as bright of a blue on his spikes, which is a feature that I think really helps complete the design. But here too you can see that “from the sea” motif I was talking about earlier. All of the spikes on his body are meant to resemble fins or shark teeth. His head looks sharkish (you can’t really tell here but it’s clear as day when viewed from the side). And of course, you have the giant shark jaw positioned on his shoulders, and I love how the head’s just peeking out of the middle there. What I think is also interesting is that this guy seems to based around shark teeth and a shark jaw, the remains of the shark that people tend to actually find due to the fish’s cartilaginous skeleton. There’s also the red fur, a feature that’s sort of dissonant with the rest of the design, but I think adds far more character. Gives him a bit of an otherworldly feeling. And of course the design in whole is just really, really cool.
Sogizarai’s yokai inspiration is the Yama-Oroshi. Much like the Kasa-Obake from the last entry, the Yama-Oroshi is a tsukumogami, in this case born from a disused metal grater. Its name is also apparently a two-way pun, both on the Japanese word for grater, but also the Japanese word for a porcupine, due to its spiny appearance. Other than it being spikey and spiny, there’s not much of a correlation between the yokai and its Sentai counterpart.
I had a lot of fun making the list, and I hope this inspires other people to do the same. There’s so much history in these shows and so many unique monster designs. Maybe I’ll make another one these lists some other time. Anyway, have a happy Halloween!
This ICHF was written by Nickel Smart. This article discusses the theatrical release of Exorcist III instead of the director’s cut or the novel Legion.
If you were to ask a random person what the scariest film ever made is, chances are one of the first films they’ll mention is The Exorcist from 1973. Whether or not you believe this to be true, the film is widely respected by horror fans because of its themes, realistic quality, phenomenal writing, and an intensity rivaled by few in the genre. In fact, its one of the few horror films that received Oscar nominations, as it was nominated for ten Academy Awards, managing to win the awards for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay, as it was based off the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty. To this day, the impact that The Exorcist has had on both cinema and pop culture can be felt almost 50 years after its initial release.
Because of its success, the film received a sequel in 1977 called Exorcist II: The Heretic. While I admittedly haven’t seen the film, the general consensus is that the film is pretty bad. So much so that William Peter Blatty wrote his own loose sequel in the form of a novel called Legion, which was released in 1983. This novel was then adapted by Blatty himself into one of the greatest horror film sequels of all time as The Exorcist III.
The film begins with returning character Lieutenant Kinderman, now played by George C. Scott, investigating the murder of Thomas Kintry, a young black boy who was a member of the Police Boys Club. When discussing the case with his best friend and fellow returning character Father Dyer, Kinderman says that the boy was decapitated crucified on a pair of rowing oars, with ingots driven into his eyes and his head being replaced by a head of a Jesus statue painted in blackface. We later find out that Kintry didn’t die from the decapitation, but from being injected by the drug succinylcholine, both paralyzing and keeping him conscious as he was being mutilated until he died of asphyxiation.
The scene then cuts to a church confessional with a priest named Father Kanavan, where he talks to someone completely obscured by shadow. The person then reveals that they’ve killed 17 people, the first being a waitress whose throat was cut and the killer watching her bleed the whole time. They then say that they’re working on all this bleeding and proceeds to laugh at a horrified Kanavan. The scene cuts to a woman in hysterics due to finding his unseen body, while an old woman leaves. After investigating the crime scene, Kinderman and the rest of the investigators discuss what appeared to have happened, as they found that Kanavan’s vocal cords were paralyzed so he wouldn’t scream, confirming the use of succinylcholine yet again and determining the killer has medical expertise. It is also determined that the killer’s fingerprints are on the confessional panel, but this is complicated in the fact that the prints don’t match the prints on the oars Kintry were crucified on.
After an interesting dream sequence involving a heavenly train terminal, Kinderman learns that Dyer, who was in the hospital at the time is now the newest victim of the murderer. The killer drained Dyer’s entire blood supply into jars and wrote “It’s A Wonderfull Life” in his blood on the wall. After locking down the hospital, Kinderman learns from the head nurse that the last person who saw Dyer was Mrs. Clelia, a patient in the neurology ward that happens to be quasi-catatonic, though she is unusually talkative with Kinderman about her radio. Kinderman then investigates the disturbed ward and seems to hear a patient with a familiar voice calling his name from Cell 11, though he can’t investigate further as he is called by the head of the hospital to explain his actions. Before the scene cuts, we hear the patient recite a modified version of the opening of John Donne’s “Sonnet X”, also known as “Death Be Not Proud.”
While being interrogated by the head of the hospital, Kinderman reveals that the three murders resemble the work of a deceased serial killer called the Gemini Killer, real name James Venamun. The Gemini is an obvious reference to the real-life Zodiac Killer, who stated in one of his letters that The Exorcist is his favorite movie of all time. The Gemini’s modus operandi that was known to the public was that the victim was beheaded, the middle finger of the victim’s left hand was severed, and the sign of the Gemini was carved on the victim’s back. However, Kinderman reveals that the MO the public knows is false because previous investigators misinformed the press in order to weed out people taking responsibilities for the killings. In actuality, the right index finger was severed, and the symbol was carved in the victim’s left-hand palm, which was only known by Richmond Homicide. But now, there are three murders that perfectly match the Gemini’s previous killings. Kinderman also reveals that when the Gemini wrote to the papers to brag about his crimes, he always doubled his final L’s like “wonderfull.” Finally, his victims always had names that begin with K, like his evangelist father Karl, who he hated and wanted to shame and kill. Thomas Kintry. Father Kanavan. Father Joseph Kevin Dyer.
In the next scene, Kinderman deduces that the murder weapon is a pair of large spring activated gardening shears, as a pair went missing recently. Kinderman then meets with Father Riley, who Dyer worked under, to see if a possible religious connection exists between the murders. Riley concludes that it may have to do with the exorcism of Regan MacNeil from the original film, the one that killed Kinderman’s friend Damien Karras. This is because Dyer was a friend of the MacNeil family, Kanavan was the one who gave Damien permission to perform the exorcism, and Kintry’s mother analyzed the tape of Regan speaking backwards. He also references a priest named Father Morning who performed an exorcism in the Philippines that turned his hair white, who, in the next scene, senses the evil forces at work.
Kinderman then learns that the fingerprints on the jars in Dyer’s room belong to Mrs. Clelia, though she doesn’t answer his questions. Kinderman then meets with Dr. Temple, head of the neurology ward, who informs him that the patient in Cell 11 was brought in by the police 15 years prior on the night of the exorcism with no ID or memory of what happened to him and later became catatonic. Six weeks earlier, the patient started to come out of his trance, getting just a little better each day. However, he soon became violent and was placed in the disturbed ward. Now, this man is saying that he is the Gemini Killer. The scene cuts to a horrified Kinderman backing out of the cell and obtains the patient’s file, though it doesn’t reveal if the man was injured or if he was wearing the clothes of a priest. Kinderman then confides to fellow investigator Seargent Atkins that he believes the man in Cell 11 is the supposedly dead Damien Karras. The scene then cuts to Kinderman reentering the cell and we finally see the patient and he looks and sounds exactly like Damien Karras, even being played yet again by Jason Miller.
Despite his appearance and voice, the man’s behavior does not match the good priest in any way. Where Karras was a flawed yet ultimately good man, the patient is cruel and callous, declaring he is the Gemini and delightfully describing a Gemini murder that was never told to the press. He also confesses to killing Kintry and the priests, as well as acknowledging the K’s that began their names, as well as revealing that he was obliged to settle the score on behalf of a friend on the other side. When Kinderman asks who he is talking about, the patient makes what is clearly an inhuman roar and says that he was taught by someone he calls The Master. He tells Kinderman to tell the press that the murders committed are Gemini killings. When Kinderman says that the Gemini is dead, the man starts screaming that he is alive, though if Kinderman had the eyes of faith, he’d see the truth. However, the audience does see the true face of the Gemini, as Brad Douriff now sits where Jason Miller was.
Now, this fact cannot be overstated enough: Brad Douriff as the Gemini Killer is one of the greatest and scariest performances in all of horror cinema. He goes from threatening Kinderman to singing with the voice of a woman to talking about Shakespeare to gleefully describing him showing the decapitated heads of his victims their bodies before they stop seeing. Douriff’s voice is also edited to sound deeper than it actually is in real life, though there are moments when you hear his real voice. Douriff’s performance captures a level of madness surpassing the likes of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Even with all the other phenomenal aspects of the film, it is worth seeing just because of this phenomenal performance.
After brutally describing how he drained Father Dyer’s blood supply and receiving a broken nose from Kinderman in the process, the patient goes unconscious. Kinderman then learns from the head nurse that not only is this the first time that the man has passed out, but when he does his brain wave activity accelerates. She also mentions that one time, the man muttered the phrase “save your servant” in a way that felt very different from how he is normally. Kinderman then learns the phrase comes from the rite for exorcism, which you can actually hear be recited during the first film’s exorcism. Also, when Kinderman is looking over the Gemini’s file, we see that his mugshot, confirming the man Brad Douriff plays is indeed the Gemini. This then leads to another murder and one of the greatest jump scares ever made, the victim being a nurse named Amy Keating. Her body was slit down the middle, her vital organs were removed, and sewed back up after being stuffed with Catholic rosaries. To make matters worse, Kinderman discovers that Dr. Temple has died by suicide.
When Kinderman meets the back with the Gemini, he confirms the killing was meant to be a message for the Lieutenant. He then reveals how he ended up in Damien’s body in one of the greatest monologues in horror history. After he was executed for his crimes, the demon who possessed Regan, Pazuzu, placed the Gemini’s soul in Karras’ body because he wanted the Gemini to continue his work. Karras’ body was selected out of revenge for the successful exorcism, as the use of a priest’s body in the Gemini’s crimes would horrify all who worship the lord. The main reason, however, was the torment brought upon Karras’ soul as he watches innocent people being slaughtered. It is at this point that Brad Douriff unleashes every bit of talent in his body. While he was calm throughout this scene, he is now raving about Karras’s suffering, looking directly into the camera the entire time. Through Blatty’s writing and Douriff’s acting, we witness the human monster unleashed in all of its horror and it is absolutely terrifying. This moment, along with Keating’s death, will stick with you after you watch it. And then, barely even changing expression, the Gemini apologizes about his raving.
Kinderman then, possibly attempting the killer to reveal more, claims he doesn’t believe that he is the Gemini. The Gemini responds that Kinderman is issuing a clear invitation to the dance, which he refuses to elaborate on. The Gemini then says that while Temple’s death wasn’t his fault, he reveals that Temple helped him by bringing Kinderman to him, as he threatened the doctor would suffer pain that cannot be imagined. Despite this, he doesn’t say that Temple was who let him out of his cell, instead saying it’s because of “old friends.” The Gemini yet again demands Kinderman tell the press that he has returned, though he also says he can help with Kinderman’s unbelief and then appears to pass out. Kinderman then hears Karras’ voice crying out for help and Kinderman checks the comatose body, though the Gemini briefly wakes up to taunt him some more before finally succumbing to sleep.
After calling for Father Morning to exorcise the Gemini out of Karras, Kinderman realizes that the Gemini has been possessing the catatonic patients in the neurology ward to kill. Upon arriving there, he finds a nurse’s dead body, realizing that the woman the Gemini is possessing has disguised herself as a nurse. After accidentally mistaking the head nurse for the killer, Kinderman realizes the Gemini is after his daughter Julie, who is a dance student. The Gemini then calls Kinderman’s wife and, while imitating her husbands voice, tells them a nurse is coming over with a package. Once Kinderman arrives home, the Gemini nearly decapitates Julie and nearly kills Kinderman. This doesn’t happen, as once Father Morning arrives at the disturbed ward, Pazuzu takes control of Karras’ body and mortally wounds the priest. When Kinderman returns to the ward to kill the Gemini, Pazuzu proceeds to torment Kinderman before trying to kill him. However, a dying Father Morning manages to awaken Karras’ soul briefly freeing Karras to tell Kinderman to kill him, which he does. The film ends with Kinderman at his funeral, the date on the tombstone showing he died the night of the MacNeil exorcism.
I cannot state enough that The Exorcist III is an absolute masterpiece and is quite possibly the greatest horror film sequel ever, with Douriff’s performance being a key factor. To any horror fans reading this, you absolutely have to watch this film and experience it for yourself.
I think it’s safe to say that Scooby-Doo is one of the most iconic animated characters in history, having been around for over 50 years. In fact, Scooby-Doo is one of the few fictional characters to ever be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with Bugs Bunny, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Shrek, and even Godzilla. One of the reasons for this was that, despite being a kids show and not being that scary, Scooby-Doo is a horror franchise. Even though most of the monsters they face aren’t real, they regularly deal with vampires, ghosts, witches, zombies, mummies, sea monsters, demons, aliens, dinosaurs, and basically any horror archetype that has ever existed. As a result, this attracted children who were too young to experience more adult horror fiction. Honestly, Scooby-Doo was likely the progenitor for horror entertainment for children, like Courage the Cowardly Dog and Gravity Falls. Therefore, its easy to say that Scooby-Doo is one of the most influential characters in the entire horror genre.
However, while Scooby-Doo is mostly known for being made for kids and dealing with people in costumes, it is commonly agreed that the best installments in the franchise are not only very dark in comparison to the other shows and films, but they also deal with real monsters. While many have cited Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island as being the franchises best and scariest installment, I posit that the position belongs to Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. After finding a mysterious locket with a picture of a man and a woman inside of it, Scooby and the gang find themselves trying to solve a mystery spanning centuries involving their hometown of Crystal Cove, all the while being guided by a mysterious voice calling himself Mr. E. I can safely say that Mystery Incorporated is a massive love letter to not just Scooby-Doo, but the entirety of the horror genre itself. Every monster they face is either a unique take on a notable horror archetype, or a flat-out homage to another horror property, including War of the Gargantuas, Duel, and even The Call of Cthulhu (complete with the shows own version of Lovecraft voiced by Jeffrey Combs). The story itself takes major inspiration from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Stephen King’s It. Even though the first half of season one doesn’t really focus on the overarching mystery and the contentious series finale, it needs to be said that Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is one of the finest pieces of horror for kids.
At the end of the show’s sixth episode. “The Legend of Alice May”, the gang learn the identities of the man and woman, named Brad and Judy, and realize that they were apart of group of teenage mystery solvers that were around before them named Mystery Incorporated (which is where they gain their name), complete with their own talking animal mascot in the form of a parrot named Professor Pericles. Four episodes later in “Howl of the Fright Hound,” the gang manage to meet Professor Pericles in an animal jail. While the other inmates are locked behind bars like regular criminals, Pericles is locked behind a glass cage in a waist jacket. When the gang meet Pericles, they are informed by the guard that not only has Pericles not spoken in years, but is quite possibly the smartest being on earth, which is shown after Pericles, without even moving, somehow knocks out the guard by duct taping his taser to his hand. With the guard knocked out, Pericles tells the gang to not only look for clues involving the previous gang’s disappearance but to not trust anyone, especially Fred’s father Mayor Jones. The guard then comes to and leads the gang out of the jail. At the end of the episode, it is learned that after the jail was attacked by a Terminator-esque robot mimicking Scooby (don’t ask) that Pericles managed to escape and is now on the run.
Its only in episode 16, “Where Walks Aphrodite,” does Pericles rear his head again. After the entirety of Crystal Cove, the human members of the gang included, fall under the sway of the titular goddess and her love potion. The only ones who aren’t affected are Scooby and Pericles, who form a temporary alliance to create an antidote, which they create after going around the town. The cured gang and Pericles figure out Aphrodite’s identity and catch her, though Pericles disappears soon after. It isn’t until Ed Machine, an associate of Mr. E, reveals a recording sent to E revealing that Pericles was the one who told Aphrodite the ingredients to make the potion, with his real goal being to find three objects for an unknown purpose, though Ed says that Pericles plan will threaten all of Crystal Cove and beyond.
Pericles would then make his return in episode 23, “A Haunting in Crystal Cove,” as the culprit in the episode’s mystery. Pericles poses as a cloaked apparition in order to get steal a strange puzzle piece-like object from Mayor Jones in an homage to Poltergeist and actually gets away with the piece, in spite of those meddling kids. Pericles comes back for the finale of season one, “All Fear the Freak,” as he sends a message to Mr. E by killing Ed Machine offscreen. He then returns in the final minutes of the episode. As the gang is broken up due to circumstances I can’t reveal due to major spoilers, Pericles reveals to Scooby that he has two out of six pieces of the now named Planispheric Disk, which he stole from the gang and Mayor Jones. This causes Scooby to become determined to bring the gang back together to stop Pericles. Pericles then becomes the main villain of the show during season two, being the cause of several prominent events and continuing to manipulate events to his goals.
Out of all of the villains to ever appear in Scooby-Doo media, Professor Pericles is one of the most distinct and possibly the most evil. Throughout the show, it is shown just how intelligent and cruel Pericles is as he tears Crystal Cove apart to further his plans. Much of this is aided by Udo Kier’s chilling performance, perfectly manifesting his malevolent intelligence, and his design, giving him an imposing look for a character of his size. But the most prominent aspect of Pericles is how much of a perfect foil he is for Scooby himself. Scooby is cowardly and gluttonous but he’s still good hearted. Pericles is intelligent and cruel, though he does enjoy eating sunflower seeds. While Scooby maintains a good friendship with Shaggy and the rest of the gang, Pericles used the former Mystery Incorporated for his own means. These aspects create what I wholeheartedly believe is one of the best villains to grace animation in the last decade. And I say to all who read this: Please watch Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated to see one of the best and most underrated animated series in recent memory.
Among the many genres of horror, one of the most notable is Folk Horror. Key features of this genre include the occult and its opposition by those of Christian belief, isolated rural locations, and the power of the natural world. Unlike Religious Horror, where the horror comes from supernatural evils spawning out of the pages of the Bible, the threat in works of Folk Horror come from the actions and beliefs of seemingly regular people, usually against outsiders. It is widely agreed among horror fans that three films defined the genre forever: Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan’s Claw, and the subject of this article, The Wicker Man.
Released in 1973, The Wicker Man details Police Sergeant Howie arriving at the island of Summerisle in search of a missing child named Rowan Morrison. Upon arriving, the devoutly Christian Howie is horrified to learn that the islanders are pagans who worship a pantheon of nature gods. After trying and failing to find her, including finding a hare in what is believed to be in her grave, Howie believes that Rowan will be sacrificed on May Day to appease the gods after their crops failed the year before. However, when Howie manages to rescue Rowan, he learns that he was the intended sacrifice, not Rowan. Afterwards, Howie is placed into a giant wooden man and is burned to death, the head falling off to reveal the setting sun and the credits.
Throughout the movie, Howie learns of the islanders’ leader Lord Summerisle through his encounters with the schoolteacher and librarian. In both scenes, the two women tell Howie that they need Summerisle’s permission to do certain things, like checking the school registry and the index of death for proof of Rowan’s existence and then her death. Howie then ignores what they say and even threatens to arrest the librarian for supposedly hindering his investigation and proceeds to check the registry and index. Its only when Howie finds Rowan’s grave does he decide to meet Summerisle so he can dig up the grave so an autopsy can happen. After witnessing naked women jumping over fire, Howie arrives at Summerisle’s mansion and meets the ruler of the island.
One of the major factors in Howie’s character is, as a devout conservative Christian living in the 70s, he takes offense to the islanders’ religious beliefs, to the point that when he begins threatening to arrest people, it feels like he is doing so because of these beliefs. In general, Howie can come across as unlikeable to modern audiences because of this. This is in direct contrast to Lord Summerisle who, despite his religious beliefs, is very friendly and courteous to Howie, even when Howie antagonizes him. He is happy with the pagan traditions as he sees it as a way to remind each generation that the old gods are still alive. When Howie retorts and asks him of the Christian god, who he sees as the true god, Summerisle tells him that he’s dead as he had his chance in the modern world but blew it. Summerisle then describes that his scientist grandfather came to Summerisle and, after finding out the island’s unique climate, developed strains of fruit that could grow on the island. Then, Summerisle’s grandfather allowed the people living on the island to worship the old gods in order to harvest the fruit, which Summerisle and his father continued out of love of the people and the gods. As we learn later, however, the island’s latest harvest failed for the first time since Summerisle’s grandfather arrived and causes the islanders to turn to darker means to appease the gods. Animal sacrifices are good but imagine the gods’ joy that a human is sacrificed, especially if it’s the right kind of adult.
This is where we get to arguably the scariest part of Summerisle’s character: he believes that what he is doing is genuinely good. While the film never outright states if the gods the islanders believe in are actually real, Summerisle is so devoted to his beliefs that he is willing to sacrifice a fellow human being to save the islanders, even joyously singing along with them as Howie burns to death. All the while, Summerisle is still friendly with Howie before the sacrifice, even respecting his beliefs and faith to his god and calling him a martyr. This belief makes Summerisle feel very realistic in compared to other horror villains, as real people have killed thousands over what they believe their higher power wants. However, unlike real monsters who mostly use their religious beliefs as an excuse to commit horrible acts, Summerisle seems to genuinely believe that the sacrifice of a human being was the right thing to do in order to save his people. Summerisle genuinely sees himself as the hero of the story, no matter how anyone else sees it. As a result, Summerisle becomes the center of one of the greatest horror films of all time. Hail the queen of the May!
This article was written by UncleJellyfish, an average Toronto guy with a lot of Niche interests who aspires to be a writer someday, and has a blog here: https://unclejellyfish.tumblr.com/.
Horror as a genre is extremely malleable. What is scary or macabre to most can seem silly and absurd to others. There are tropes, cliches, and archetypes, whether involving superhuman madmen, arcane blasphemies, or the dead walking among the living. But certain stories throw out any semblance of logic or archetype, settling on a nightmarish and surreal mind-fuck that’s almost incomprehensible to the average audience but grotesquely beautiful all the same.
Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1989 cult classic Tetsuo The Iron Man is that kind of story. Released in 1989, adapted from Tsukamoto’s previous short films and filmed on a very small budget, Tetsuo , similar to works like Lynch’s Eraserhead or Kafka’s The Metamorphosis follows a simple man who is changed physically and mentally by monstrous forces penetrating his everyday routine.(Literally multiple times in this case) A Japanese salaryman and his girlfriend run over a strange, crazed vagrant while on a drive. Rather than be descent human beings and take the man to a hospital, the couple proceeds to push his body aside and make out, unaware he’s still conscious and watching. This outcast is the Metal Fetishist, named “Yatsu” by the credits, a bizarre figure who gets gratification from shoving metal pieces into his open wounds. He is the main subject of this article, and can be considered a victim who becomes a victimizer. Through bizarre means, the Fetishist has become a walking plague, able to infect any matter with a gruesome contagion that transforms anything into metal-and he’s infected the Salaryman. (The film has two sequels, but I haven’t watched and they both share almost no continuity, so this article only covers the original.)
As the Salaryman finds his body mutating hideously into robotic viscera, we are also afforded a look into Yatsu’s own nightmarish life. Flashbacks in POV shots paint a picture of a lonely broken child who was beaten by a cruel adult with a metal pipe, leading to a piece of metal being lodged in his skull. The boy’s doctor is apathetic to his patient’s condition (“Think of it like a piece of Jewelry”, he says) and the metal gradually consumes the boy’s body and mind from within, leaving only the Metal Fetishist a robotic husk fueled by trauma and addiction. There are many ways to interpret this film’s symbolism. Yatsu himself is emblematic of society’s marginalized and outcast poisoning the lives of the apathetic upperclass, forcing them to experience the suffering of the addicts, the mentally ill, the homeless. The Fetishist may represent the latent homosexuality beneath the Salaryman’s heteronormative image, slowly coming to the surface in the most gruesome way. Yatsu isn’t just seeking retribution, he is obsessed with the Salaryman, literally plotting to physically fuse their metallic bodies together. (seriously, the Salaryman’s penis turns into a working drill) Through other lenses it may warn how technology is ingratiating itself into our lives, even on a sexual level. But personally, I see the Fetishist as a symbol of suffering and how it affects our relationships.
The Fetishist is in a great deal of physical and psychological agony. He wants to share that pain with someone who’s caused him agony, to fuse and emerge as one in a “beautiful” new world where everything is terraformed into cold steel, wires, and machinery. The Salaryman isn’t the metal maniac’s only victim. Several bystanders are assimilated by the Fetishist’s powers, including a random woman turned into a zombie-esque cyborg drone, the Salaryman’s girlfriend who is forced to watch her lover mutate before taking her own life, and even the Salaryman’s cat, turned into a meowing tin ornament.
All this chaos culminates in the Salaryman’s full transformation into a monstrous cybernetic humanoid and the two Iron men duking it out in a brutal battle that takes them across town to the same junkyard the Fetishist was brutalized as a child. In some sick poetic twist, the Metal Fetishist’s story ends where it began. The Salaryman, having lost to his metal corruption, turns the tables and assimilates the Fetishist into himself. From their fusion emerges a towering mound of machinery very evocative of phallic imagery. Yatsu the Metal Fetishist, dominating the top of the monstrosity while his victim is buried beneath, vows that together, they will reduce the rotten world to metal ruin, their “love” rotting away the cruelty of humanity.
“We can mutate the whole world into metal. We can rust the world into the dust of the universe.Our love can destroy this whole fucking world. Let’s GOOOOO!”
This is a hard movie to summarize and definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s not so much a film but an experience, a psychosexual cyberpunk fever dream that has to be seen to be believed. It’s also probably the closest we’ve come to a live-action Junji Ito movie, one that captures the surreal body horror hellscape of Ito’s various manga. And all that rambling aside, it’s beautiful to watch. The makeup and practical effects designed to bring Yatsu and the Salaryman’s transformations to life are some of the most impressively gruesome and detailed you’d find in a B-movie. All in all, it’s surprising how such a disturbing, creative, and oddly tragic antagonist came from what many would dismiss as a trashy shock cult film.
Let me ask you a question. Are you, to any degree, familiar with the character known simply as the Mask? If your answer was yes, let me provide you with another inquiry: which version of the Mask are you familiar with?
Most people would probably answer with the live action movie version of the character, the one portrayed by Jim Carry (as well as Jamie Kennedy in the sequel, but most people prefer to pretend there was never a sequel), and whom was portrayed in a rather comedic cartoony light. And to be fair, this is totally valid; the film’s success really helped bring the Mask more into the public eye and launched their popularity, resulting in them gaining an animated series with legendary voice actor Rob Paulsen providing a stellar performance for the character.
And yet, despite their popularity in the film adaptation, I feel not as many people know about the original comic series made by Dark Horse Comics, from which the movie was based on to begin with. Which is a shame, because the comics really do provide a very different take on the Mask that I think people can enjoy, though I should say right now that the comics are far more violent than the movie and cartoon.
You see, while the adaptations of this comic are lighthearted and fun for all, the comic run itself is far more violent, while utilizing the humor and cartoony physics referenced in the movie and show, albeit in a more twisted manner; for while the Mask themself is certainly toonlike in behavior and abilities, everybody else not wearing the namesake false face still suffer much like any normal human if put through his shenanigans. A cartoony bomb will kill a man like any other explosive, just for an example.
The beginning of the comic starts off in a manner relatively reminiscent of the plot the movie uses; one Stanley Ipkiss acquires the Mask, he puts it on one night, and finds himself with power beyond imagination. He decides to himself that he must use the Mask’s powers for the benefit of mankind, and protect and serve others in need.
See, the thing about the Mask is that while it does grant you great cartoony power, it also draws out your inner dark desires. It pulls out your id, makes you more willing to commit actions you’d normally find morally reprehensible. As such, while Stanley might have initially planned to become a hero, his inner desires very quickly ended up pulling him down the path of villainy.
In the movie, the Mask goofed off, going into the club, stealing money, and generally behaving in a whacky zany fashion while almost everyone else enjoys his antics.
In the comics, the Mask goes and murders numerous people whom have crossed or even just inconvenienced Stanley at some point or another, taking those cartoony physics and putting a dark twist on them.
Stanley Ipkiss also doesn’t get a happy ending in the comics. He becomes fixated on the Mask at all times, craving it more and more and falling down a pit he ultimately never escapes from. By the end of it, his exe shoots him dead and tries bringing the Mask to the police lieutenant, only for him to end up wearing it himself and continuing on the cycle.
While in the movie, the Mask is the creation of the Norse god Loki, the comics give a rather different origin story, with the artifact in question hailing from Africa, and originally was used in strange shamanic rituals before being stolen and sold away. The comics version of the Mask also lacks the movie version’s weakness of only being functional at night; at any point in time, anyone can wear the Mask and utilize its abilities however they want.
A word of caution, however, for those who keep wearing the Mask don’t exactly stay in control of themselves. They may act out things they would never otherwise do, hurt those they care about, find themselves shocked by their own actions. Prolonged use of the Mask always seems to have negative effects on its users.
Because, metaphorically speaking, the Mask is a drug.
It makes whoever wears it feel good; they feel invincible, they can do whatever they want, all their inner desires are brought up to the full front for them to appease. But then come the side effects, the harm users suffer from prolonged use. As already mentioned, those who wear the Mask too much fall under its spell and commit acts they’d never even dream of; the lieutenant whom was given the Mask and subsequently started wearing it nearly killed his colleague before regaining control of himself and afterwards buried it in concrete. Another user who wore it ended up seeing everything around him as weird and scary, even his own folks; let’s be real, this is basically the equivalent of tripping out on acid or mushrooms and regretting it.
It’s funny; while the movie greatly distanced itself from the violent actions prevalent in the Dark Horse Comics series (whether or not this was for the best is debatable), there are still tidbits of horror-like elements and the theme of power abuse. When Stanley Ipkiss first puts on the Mask, the initial transformation is certainly one that many might deem frightful, with the way he claws at his face as the Mask latches on, at least until it concludes with a green tornado and the iconic “Sssssmokin’!” quote. He ends up indulging in his repressed desires and harms those who’ve wronged him before, albeit in a far more lighthearted tone with nobody dying. Granted, the movie has a much more happy ending with him giving up the Mask to live his own life, but even this ends up having the same theme of giving up that which can control you; it’s just more positive in its message.
The Mask, for all its seeming great power that it can give to those who wear it, serves as a cautionary tale: if you’ve been given power, don’t let it get to your head, else you’ll just start hurting those around you. And heed the words of those who warn not to use a certain something, much like drugs, for while it might seem fun at first, you’ll be left with nothing but regret by the end of it.
This entry was written by GlarnBoudin; when not writing rambling articles about semi-obscure 70s cartoons, he’s busy writing rambling articles about speculative evolution, kaiju, cryptids, and other nerd shit. He’s currently working on a Godzillaverse of his own, but he’s been a consultant for various fan-made Gojiverses across digital space, which isn’t that impressive in hindsight but fuck it, it’s neat to him. His dA can be found here: https://lediblock2.deviantart.com/
Monster Spotlight – Hanna-Barbera Godzilla
I’ve already covered the Hanna-Barbera series’ skyscraper-sized star, but quite frankly it would be absolutely remiss of me to overlook Godzilla’s colossal costars. As low-budget as this series was, it went all-out with its various kaiju, taking full advantage of the fact that its medium didn’t need to worry about how a human actor in a bulky suit could realistically portray it. Without the technical limitations of live-action, the animation team was given free reign to produce a wildly diverse menagerie of monsters whose sheer range of designs and abilities stand apart from any other installment in the franchise before or since. These aren’t the lumpy, misshapen messes of Zilla’s cartoon or the otherworldly quantum monstrosities of Singular Point; these beasts are a cast of literally colorful characters all their own, each with their own custom roars and a range of expression that wouldn’t be possible with the technical restraints of a physical costume. This is Hanna-Barbera’s creature design at its absolute best, combining the pulptastic origins and settings of its classic features with the sheer scale and size of the kaiju genre, and the two schools of design go together like peanut butter and jelly.
But why just tell you about them all, when I could show you instead!
Welp, might as well start out with the obvious and open up with arguably the most famous (or perhaps infamous) feature of the entire run of this series; Godzilla’s bumbling but lovable nephew, Godzooky.
Hey, it’s Hanna-Barbera, you know that they had to include a funny animal sidekick for our heroes – from what little documentation I can find on this show’s production, his inclusion was apparently another mandate from the higher-ups to further the overall kid-friendly vibe of the series. To be fair, though, it’s not like the Godzilla series was a stranger to the concept of a potentially marketable ‘baby’ kaiju intentionally designed to be cute – indeed, Godzooky definitely draws pretty heavily from Minilla, particularly in the smoke rings that represent about the full extent of his still-developing fire breath. Ultimately, though, Godzooky largely avoids the ‘Precious Moments’ effect that’s so prevalent with Minya – being rendered in 2D animation really helps in making something intended to be cute look, well, cute. The short rounded snout and big expressive eyes almost brings to mind a baby cow, sweet and dopy, but at the same time allow for quite a wide range of expressivity.
There is exactly one brain cell in this creature’s head, bouncing around the interior of his skull like a Windows screensaver.
Besides being much smaller than his gargantuan ‘uncle,’ his size shifting between shots from about as big as the real-life costumes used for kaiju films to roughly the size of a stop-motion theropod, Godzooky’s proportions are also markedly different – he more resembles a child’s plush toy of a dragon than anything else, with just a couple of upwards-curving spikes jutting up from the back of his head like a mohawk. There’s also more than a little bit of similarity to Zokk the laser dragon from the Herculoids, one of Hanna-Barbera’s most popular series from almost a decade earlier. He’s even got a working set of wings… well, sort of. Those little webs of skin along his arms are fully functional for flight, able to propel Godzooky into the air by flapping his arms hard enough. Again, it’s quite reminiscent of the typical designs for a ‘child friendly’ dragon – a creature that takes flight with stubby little wings, a visual cue that it’s something truly fantastical.
According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that Godzooky should be able to fly. Godzooky, of course, is an anarchist and chooses to fly anyway.
Nevertheless, though, Godzooky’s proportions fit pretty well into the typical body shape for a proper saurian kaiju, sort of triangular in overall shape with a broad robust lower body; similarly, his movement cycles have the same heavy lumbering steps that you would expect of classic tokusatsu. While he’s of course dwarfed by the majority of the monsters he and his human friends face, there’s still a definite sense of size to the not-so-little guy, from accidentally bumping aside cars and furniture to carrying people on his back or scaring off superstitious cavemen – much like with his ‘uncle,’ Godzooky’s height is whatever makes the best middle ground between the crew of the Calico and the monsters that they face off against, which in turn matches his role in the story. According to the series’ backstory, the Calico crew first endeared themselves to Godzilla when they rescued Godzooky from where he was trapped a reef; should Captain Majors’ sonic signal ever get misplaced or disabled (usually every other episode), the smaller kaiju is also capable of summoning him with a honking call for help. When the human cast have information on how best to beat the monster of the week or need to ask something of Godzilla himself, it is Godzooky who acts as the medium of communication between the two parties. And the young Gojiran’s role isn’t just as a translator, either – while he’s no Godzilla, the friendly oaf is more than strong enough to help his human pals out of a smaller-scale pinch, from aerial and aquatic rescues to easily lifting trapped vehicles and providing a handy amount of muscle. Even when faced with monsters many times his size, Godzooky displays a surprising level of courage – not Scrappy Doo-esque moments that make the situation worse but quick bits of mugging that take just a couple of seconds at worst and genuine openings for Godzilla to get a free hit in or for the Calico crew to escape at best, even dive-bombing other kaiju like a particularly large babyfaced seagull. Surprise surprise, when your funny animal companion is a giant flight-capable saurian the size of an elephant, there’s a lot more opportunities for said companion to be quite useful than those featured in most other HB productions. Again, it’s very Herculoids-esque, and that’s always a compliment in my book.
All in all, Godzooky’s a pretty solid addition to the well-loved genre of ‘monster buddies that you go on adventures with’ – which makes the overwhelmingly negative reactions to this goofy flapping fella al the more confounding to me. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that Godzooky is a serious contender for the most hated character or creature in the entirety of the Godzilla franchise, and I’m including Zilla and all of the Showa series’ various child characters in that roster – even the iguana has their share of edgy contrarians that latch onto their mediocre sequel series, but if you ask someone in this fandom their opinions about Godzooky, nine times out of ten their reaction will include some form of statement about how they want to flay him. But honestly… I really don’t think that Godzooky’s earned even a fraction of the vitriol he’s received over the years. True, he does seem like a general Hanna-Barbera sidekick from a cursory glance, but he very quickly comes into his own after even a short period of viewing – even the team of animators who brought this series to life quickly warmed up to him. I’m not asking for people to lie down on their knees and worship our new scaly savior; all I’m saying is that if a robot drone whose sole purpose is to scream loudly and break and the unlikable cast of jackasses that own it can attain such a beloved position in the Godzilla community, than there’s more than enough room for Godzooky as well. In Japan as well, the little guy’s legacy is still apparent, if his cameo in Singular Point is anything to go by… and come to think of it, don’t the Servum from those three movies about Discount Eren Jaeger And Godzilla is Also There seem kind of… familiar?
According to rumor, the original idea for this series was to utilize the various classic kaiju in Toho’s roster, but when budgetary limitations made getting the licensing impossible, the studio instead created expies of many classic kaiju. The Firebird is one of the most egregious of these examples, as well as the first creature in the series for Godzilla to square off with. Waking up in the heart of a dormant volcano within the Aleutian Islands and flying to the Arctic Circle to lay a clutch of eggs, she’s pretty much as close to Rodan as you can get without getting a copyright lawyer’s nose twitching – even then, though, this fiery fowl’s pretty visually distinctive on her own. While still clearly being based on oldschool pterosaurs, there’s a good amount of influence from actual birds present in her bulky body and long serpentine neck, more reminiscent of a colossal swan than anything else, as well as her hooked eagle-like beak. At the same time, though, there’s some dragon in the design as well – not just in the long serpentine tail and the ribbed wings right out of a medieval dragon (with some rather interesting pincer-like claws, I might note), but in the lizardy feet and the long snake-like forked tongue that constantly issues forth from the mouth like a thin flickering flame. She doesn’t have a scrap of plumage on her body, but she’s very definitely a monster bird. Of course, as you’d also expect from the name, she’s fully capable of spitting actual flames as well, along with what I can only describe as ‘heat rays’ – wavering red lines of thermal energy with enough punch behind them to give even Godzilla pause.
Ultimately, though, the main danger of the Firebird is the sheer amount of heat she constantly exudes – simply exiting her volcano was enough to nearly cause the entire island to erupt, and just getting near a glacier melted a hole big enough for her to rest in. And if just one Firebird could do all of that, imagine what two could do, or a dozen, or millions!
Like with the majority of the monsters featured in the series, the Firebird’s ultimate fate is left rather ambiguous – Godzilla seals her within an undersea cave to presumably return back to the molten mantle from whence she came. And yet, the legacy of this screeching demon lingers throughout the franchise if you know where to look. The kaiju’s emergence from its volcano lair, engulfed in flames and letting loose with a screeching war cry, brings to mind a couple of other pyroclastic firebirds that emerged from erupting volcanoes of their own decades later… and the mighty wound-up swing of Godzilla’s tail that smacks the Firebird out of the air is awfully familiar too.
Another beast from deep beneath the surface of the earth, this lizard-like brute makes itself known to the Calico crew when they arrive at San Francisco for a scientific conference only to find the city being hastily evacuated, the newly-emptied metropolis rocked by sudden tremors that swallow up entire buildings within seconds. The culprit of course turns out to be the Earth-Eater, a subterranean brute that, as the name implies, primarily feeds upon rock and soil – evidently, though, it finds masonry and metal far more appetizing to its distinguished palette. Hey, I can’t say that I blame it; if you were eating literal dirt for all your life, you’d be pretty ecstatic about getting some variety, too.
This big brute is a prime example of Hanna-Barbera creature design, but at the same time there’s a certain theme to its design aesthetic that’s reminiscent of Ultraman’s usual foes, as well as some bits of Pokemon. Stocky and low-slung, the Earth-Eater is much shorter than Godzilla but seems to roughly equal him in mass, lumbering along on four sprawling lizard-like limbs; at the end of its long tail is some sort of thagomizer-club-thing almost shaped like some sort of giant gear, with similarly-shaped ridges and armor along its back like the treads of a tire. The head, however, is where the design comes together, with wonderfully mean little eyes set above grooves evoking bags under the eyes of someone who hasn’t gotten much sleep (fitting, considering that it’s initially averse to bright light before getting acclimated to the light of day), and underbitten jaws lined with big square teeth like those on the scoop of a bulldozer. In some shots, though, the kaiju’s short snout is swapped for a more elongated muzzle almost resembling that of a hippopotamus, a similarity only further exacerbated by the sheer degree by which the thing can open its mouth. Seeing it in action, it’s pretty easy to get the idea of what the kaiju is based upon as it scoops up massive mouthfuls of dirt and rubble – it’s a living earth mover!
Sitting atop the head are a pair of antennae, but ones more in the territory of the ‘deedly-boppers’ on a cartoon alien than anything resembling a real arthropod’s – these are in fact the Earth-Eater’s primary weapon, emitting destructive soundwaves in either all-direction bursts or concentrated ‘beams’ that the kaiju uses to blast through rock and break it down into bite-sized pieces that it can more easily cram into its mouth. While they don’t seem strong enough to really do much damage to other kaiju – Godzilla’s reaction to the sound waves seems more like they’re irritating rather than painful – these sound waves are more than enough to smash Earth Eater-sized tunnels into streets and knock down buildings onto the kaiju’s opponents.
In terms of personality, this big brute’s pretty simple – it’s not really evil, it’s basically the kaiju equivalent of a bear that got itself acclimated a little too much to human presence. Even then, though, it’s quite the character – its relatively inexpressive face still emotes enough to register obvious glee when it munches up a mouthful of delicious cinderblocks and girders, and it gives the Calico crew a genuinely malicious grin as it doubles back through its tunnels to burst up behind them after their initial escape. Conversely, though, when squaring off with the King of the Monsters, the Earth-Eater’s… surprisingly clever. Rather than engage Godzilla head-on, it draws back and utilizes its sonic blasts to keep Godzilla at a distance before retreating, even using them to knock down buildings and slow its opponent down to buy it time. Once it’s driven out of its tunnels as the human cast fill them with smoke, however, it displays a surprise talent for climbing, perching itself atop one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge and using its sound waves to deflect the laser fire directed its way. Ultimately, though, its choice of perch becomes its undoing as it inadvertently smashes its post apart with its clubbed tail in an effort to nail a dive-bombing Godzooky, whereupon it tumbles down Kong-like into the bay and… melts into mud?
…Huh. Apparently this thing’s “natural enemy is water,” according to Dr. Darien as she stares in awe at the disintegrating monster – I guess that it works on Pokemon rules.
And so ends the story of the Earth Eater, a story that’s implied to wow the scientific conference that Quinn is to speak at; but is it truly the end? A big bulky reptilian monster with the ability to burrow and ridged armor over its back that battles Godzilla in San Francisco after the latter saves a ton of civilians on the Golden Gate Bridge… where have I heard that before? And its nature as a beast whose dietary needs put it in constant conflict with humanity as it covets the very tools that we use to proclaim our superiority over the natural world also feels reminiscent of another American kaiju that would terrorize the West Coast many years later…
Stone Guardians of Ramal
Made as it was by the creator of Jonny Quest, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that a number of the kaiju featured in this series wouldn’t look too out of place in a classic pulp adventure, squaring off with the likes of Doc Savage or the Quest family. These two sinuous stone beasts are the first of this lot – a pair of living stone statues that were created to guard the long-lost pyramid of the pharaoh Ramal, who allegedly had strange mystical powers. When an archaeologist stumbles upon this ancient tomb and scales the side of the pyramid, a miniature sandslide unearths a massive circle of pure gold set into the structure’s side, which reflects the blazing sun overhead in strange irregular flashes – a signal to the two guardians to awaken and defend their long-dead master. The sand dunes that they were trapped in for millennia rapidly erode away to reveal the Guardians’ titanic forms as they let out unearthly howls, jaws opening wide to unleash their frigid breath attacks. The archaeologist barely manages to escape to civilization, his body blue and frigid with frostbite – it’s a perfect opener for a pulp story, just scaled up to kaiju proportions.
Indeed, the Guardians’ episode is very much structured like a classic pulp story – as the Calico’s crew move inland to investigate the scientist’s frantic claims of monsters with blizzard breath, they’re met with event after strange event. A sandstorm turns into a blizzard so nasty that their helicopter’s rotors start to freeze in mid-air as strange silhouettes move on the desert floor below, forcing Captain Majors to summon Godzilla – even after the day is saved, both Godzilla and Godzooky remain on edge, looking around for something else but evidently finding nothing. Excavating the pyramid reveals the golden circle-signal once again, the sand falling away from the two Guardians’ massive forms, terrifying but inert… at least, until Pete and Godzooky accidentally find a secret entrance into the pyramid, and the ancient beasts reawaken to bombard the puny humans who dare to invade the Pharaoh’s tomb.
As vaguely lion-like as their faces seem, the overall body plan for these terracotta terrors more recalls some sort of stony lizard than anything else, with elongated bodies and sprawled limbs – they even move with the same leg-swinging stride you’d expect of a reptile, while their long tails sport the same gear/wheel shape as the Earth-Eater, and are utilized in much the same way as powerful clubs. When it comes to powers, the Guardians have all the resistance to fire that you’d expect a creature made out of living stone to have, and seem capable of covering themselves in sand dunes when their job is done, but their main weapon is a rather unusual trick that they keep up their stony sleeves – namely, they’re among the few kaiju that actively utilize ice as an attack, breathing out massive gusts of snow and freezing air with enough force to create localized blizzards, temporarily freeze other kaiju in ice, or even concentrate their ice into colossal boulder-sized hailstones! It’s a powerset that you would hardly expect to see in a pair of beasts native to the deserts of pulp-Egypt, but at the same time it makes an awful lot of sense – in an area where everybody’s expecting scorching heat, nobody expects to have to worry about frostbite. It honestly makes you wonder why this combination of frost and sun hasn’t been used in more forms of media, but it wouldn’t be the last time that Godzilla (or at least, something that stole his title) would face stone guardian monsters from the depths of Egypt – some would be a bit more shameless than others, though.
The Megavolt Monsters
Our first kaiju duo made their home in the scorching desert of Egypt, but our second can be found in just about the opposite environment – the extreme depths of the deep sea. When an oil tanker is sunk by a strange lightning bolt coming from under the sea while passing the supposedly bottomless Valley Trench, Dr. Darien and the crew are eager to investigate, theorizing that it may have been caused by some sort of mysterious new power source – as they near their destination, electrical nimbuses illuminate the ocean’s surface, but when Brock and Dr. Darien investigate in a diving bell, they come face to face with one of these supposed power sources – a gigantic sea monster, visibly glowing with untold millions of volts of electrical power! An errant bolt of lightning snaps the bathysphere’s tether and sends the two scientists plummeting down into the depths of the trench, while on the surface Captain Majors and Pete must summon Godzilla as the enormous creature ascends to the surface and wraps itself around the entire Calico!
As Godzilla sends the mysterious monster fleeing back down into the depths, however, Brock and Doctor Darien finally reach the bottom of the bottomless trench… or at least, until they fall out of the water into open air, crashing down onto dry land! This strange landscape, a desert under the ocean, is the natural habitat of the Megavolt Monsters, an enormous air bubble the size of an entire city; off in the background, a massive rock formation crackles with enormous amounts of electricity, guarded by the previous kaiju and another of its kind – after menacing the two scientists for a bit with bolts of lightning, they stop their bombardment and return to the crackling monolith in order to recharge their electrical powers.
The eerily barren environment of this strange undersea moonscape calls to mind the downscaled landscapes used in low-budget dinosaur flicks, where stingy movie makers just glued some spikes and horns onto live reptiles and used rotoscoping to make them seem larger. It was cheap as hell, it didn’t convince anybody, and the production process of these ‘slurpasaur’ films pretty much always involved flagrant animal cruelty in the production process… but in a medium where no real animals were actually harmed, and with an actual budget behind the set design, however small, you can almost kind of see what those moviemakers of yesteryear were aiming for – a desolate landscape with no sense of scale, leaving human visitors gripped with an overwhelming sense of smallness that’s only exacerbated when the monsters show up.
And what monsters they are! You could make the argument that the previous three kaiju were at least partially based on existing Toho beasties, but the Megavolt Monsters are in a class all their own – their elongated bodies and sprawling stances are again evocative of slurpasaurs without the animal cruelty, but their sleek elongated proportions also evoke the builds of real-life marine megafauna, while their fluked tails seem superficially fish-like but don’t really correspond to any one species, more the idea of a finned tail like what you frequently see with mermaid designs. Their horned heads, beaky mouths, sharp tusks, long forked tongues, and bulging eyes give the creatures a visage that wouldn’t be out of place among the monsters you’d see decorating old maps, but what really catches the eye is the absolutely gorgeous vivid blue coloration. These are sea monsters, without a shadow of a doubt, and their electrical abilities cast them in a permanent ethereal yellow glow that follows them wherever they go… or at least, until they expend their built-up electrical charges via lightning bolts fired from the tusks, tails, and fangs or concentrated electrical pulses. Once their power is completely expended, they must recharge – after the crew of the Calico are forced to destroy their power source to prevent the twin terrors from regaining their strength in their battle with Godzilla, the Megavolt Monsters are rendered relatively harmless, with the larger of the two brawling with the Calico’s titanic ally until it loses enough electrical energy to the point of shrinking to nearly half its previous size, whereupon it quickly flees back down into the Valley Trench. It’s a very Ultraman-esque ending – the monsters aren’t killed, but they’re no longer capable of harming anybody and left alone to live out the rest of their lives in peace.
The Seaweed Monster
From the depths of the sea to floating on its surface, the Seaweed Monster’s another of the Hanna-Barbera roster that has no real analogue among previous Toho kaiju – this is a 100% in-house design, something that wouldn’t look out of place among the Herculoids’ roster of rogues or crawling out of a swamp to menace Jonny Quest. It’s first spotted around the Sargasso Sea, where it reaches out and entangles first Dr. Darien, then Godzooky in its tentacles as it rises to the surface. A call for Godzilla quickly sends the beast running with its fronds between its non-existent legs, but not without leaving a little piece or two of itself behind – bits of greenery that were dislodged in the scuffle. Quinn decides to take a sample of the duckweed-like material and study its capabilities, while Godzooky messes around with a few sprigs that found their way down into the hold. Initial studies of the strange seaweed find that the cells are highly energized, allowing them to divide and grow at a highly accelerated rate… and that division only continues faster and faster as the group takes a short break. Within less than an hour, the lab has been overrun by a miniature Seaweed Monster, extending waving tentacles from a half-formed upper body like a particularly evil Jello mold. No sooner has this first Seaweed monster been shoved overboard, however, then another one comes surging up from the depths of the hold, even bigger than the first!
FEEEED ME, ‘ZOOKY!~
A sonar sweep of the area reveals that these two smaller Seaweed Monsters, along with other massive clumps of the stuff, are moving in synchronization with each other, coming together and merging into a single colossal mass of marine vegetation that’s getting alarmingly close to an inhabited island. Even as Godzilla is summoned again and starts Round Two with this botanical brute, though, every piece that he snaps off just grows into more and more seaweed before merging back into the creature’s mass. It’s only through some quick thinking on Dr. Darien’s part and coordinating with Godzilla through Godzooky that the creature can be defeated, dragged out onto dry land and dried to a crisp.
As far as plant monsters go, this is a pretty unique one, quite the departure from the usual stalks and stems of your average botanical horror. Being, well, made entirely out of mutated seaweed, it doesn’t really have much in the way of anatomy, almost resembling some sort of seagoing slime monster with a snarling Grinch-esque face on top that’s framed by several pairs of hand-tipped tentacle-like vines trailing behind the ‘head’ like the branching gills of a salamander. Its roar is also rather unusual – a horrible staticky yowl that sounds almost digitized, hardly what you’d expect from a creature like this.
Also noticeable about this big leafy lug is that not only is it among the relatively few kaiju in this series that ultimately don’t survive their encounter with Godzilla, it also has by far the longest and most drawn-out death in the entire series. Quinn notices that some of the fragments of seaweed left on the ship from the creature’s first attack failed to regenerate, instead drying out and crumbling with direct exposure to the heat of the sun; if the Seaweed Monster were dragged out of the water, its regeneration could be theoretically negated as its body dehydrates. With this new information relayed to Godzilla courtesy of Godzooky, the King of the Monsters drags the algal atrocity onto land, the sun rapidly baking at the Seaweed Monster’s biomass. It just barely manages to wrench itself out of Godzilla’s grasp, snapping off a few of its tentacles in the process, and starts slowly and painfully crawling its way back to the sea, but Godzilla’s having exactly none of that nonsense, bombarding it with gouts of fiery breath and scorching laser beams. Piece by piece, the formerly formidable colossus is burned away, finally crumbling away into ash and smoke – you can’t help but feel a bit bad watching its destruction. Much like Godzilla himself, it wasn’t evil by choice; it was a mutation that was born into a world where it didn’t belong, too big, too strong, and too heavy.
The Energy Beast
Our first genuine alien, the Energy Beast’s simplistic name scheme is somewhat misleading – this menacing myriapod represents something of a turning point for the series. From here on out until the end of the show’s run, the monsters would get noticeably more complex, either in their designs, abilities, origins, or some combination of all of them in an almost mirror to how Toho would in turn go with more complex designs in years to come for the Heisei era. And of these more complex kaiju, this many-legged horror was an absolute hell of an introduction.
Crash-landing on Earth in a UFO mistaken for a meteorite near a combination hydroelectric/solar power plant, this centipede-like monster initially goes undetected by on-site scientists by camouflaging itself as a towering pine tree, but it wastes no time in attacking the place the next morning, growing larger and larger as it siphons energy straight from the facility’s generators. Even when Godzilla is summoned by the Calico, the creature legitimately manages to get the King of the Monsters on the ropes, hurling bolts of plasma that actually incapacitates Godzilla at least for a short while before making its escape as our monstrous hero stays behind to repair the crumbling dam. With the job done, Godzilla finally sinks underwater for a well-earned, and the Calico crew investigates the dam, only to find strange tracks leading out of the meteor crater and the ‘pine tree’ seen the previous night to be missing… just as news reports suddenly come in that Godzilla is attacking a nearby city!
This phantom Godzilla rampages through town with wild abandon, trampling buildings underfoot, tossing cars, and tearing apart power lines as he makes a beeline for a nearby nuclear power plant – all the while, he seems to completely ignore his former allies, even trying to swat Godzooky out of the sky, while a strange electrical aura surrounds his entire body. The Calico crew frantically tries to reason with him from a helicopter, only for their pleas to fall on deaf ears… until Godzooky tries to get his attention with his alarm call, summoning the real Godzilla back into the fray.
The two Godzillas chase one another back to the power plant, smashing through solar panels as they lock together in mortal combat, only for the glowing Godzilla to suddenly change shape as it’s caught in a grapple, revealing itself to be the Energy Beast – its shapeshifting ability doesn’t just extend to inanimate objects, but living creatures as well, even copying Godzilla’s laser beams and fire breath (albeit with an electrical effect to both abilities). With its reserves of absorbed power now well and truly expended, the creature shrinks back to less than half its previous size and makes a break back to the crater it crawled out of, where it takes cover within a silvery UFO that Godzilla promptly hurls out of Earth’s orbit with a single massively powerful throw, ridding Earth of the Energy Beast forever.
Designwise, Energy Beast is another entry to the proud and storied tradition of giant invertebrates in old comics and cartoons that were very clearly drawn without using any actual arthropods for reference. While clearly meant to look like a centipede, it really, well… doesn’t. Its segmented body is covered in rings of spiky armor and propelled by dozens of stocky chitinous limbs, with the ones towards the back ending in two-toed almost hoofed feet and those in front snapping pincers – in some shots, the creature raises up its body upon the former limbs for short-distance dashes almost like a lizard, but it seems equally capable of simply clambering around on all of its limbs at once as it is rearing up like a cobra. On the rear end sits a fairly short tail ending in a spiky club, while the front sports a head combining a beaky/reptilian upper jaw (its lower jaw seems to just be… a jutting shelf of chitin) and a pair of snapping mandibles, plus a pair of short antennae and two bulging red malevolent-looking eyes. It’s a visage that wouldn’t look too out of place alongside Zorak, a nice middle ground between goofy and menacing, but it’s still expressive enough to let the crusty bastard emote a lot.
This look of “Oh, shit” on its face is absolutely glorious.
Besides its shapeshifting and absorbing electrical power, this space centipede’s also equipped with a number of energy attacks – it throws around plasma balls capable of vaporizing entire cliffsides and launches itself through the air on a bolt of energy to tackle its foes like something out of fucking Dragonball Z. Once again, one can’t help but notice the parallels between this sinister serpentine foe and the energy attack-heavy kaiju that would dominate much of the Heisei era – a prelude of things to come.
The Colossus of Atlantis
Our first mechanical monstrosity, the Colossus of Atlantis is perhaps one of the most unique in terms of design and motivation in the array of rogue robots that Godzilla’s fought over the years. Its story starts as the Calico passes over the alleged site where Atlantis once stood, whereupon readings suddenly pick up a massive seaquake rumbling beneath the waves… strong enough to split open the seabed and raise a futuristic city the size of Manhattan from the ocean floor. Among the bizarre buildings, lights flash along the sides of a strange tower that shoots a tractor beam forth to ensnare the hapless ship – Godzilla is summoned to fight against it, but even his strength struggles to match its power, only for another beam to zap out and teleport him to god-knows where. Once the Calico has been fully drawn into an artificial harbor resembling some kind of waterlock, the walls slowly start to close in – the crew just barely manage to escape before their ship is crushed like an empty tin can, stranding them within a totally empty city. As our heroes split up and wander around the eerie abandoned landscape, multi-colored sensors along the buildings’ walls, just like those on that strange tower, flash in response to their passing – the tower itself falls away like garage doors, revealing the bizarre angular shape of the city’s true master.
With nary a sound, the silvery colossus immediately goes on the prowl, its head swiveling as it scans for the intruders on its territory like an enemy in a survival horror game – as soon as it spots Pete, Godzooky, and Captain Majors, it immediately goes on the attack, bombarding them with emerald-green blasts of laser fire that reduce statues and scenery to molten slag. One of these errant shots sends a tower crumbling to the ground, revealing none other than Godzilla, trapped in some sort of stasis field; the crew of the Calico are on their own to face the silent defender of the un-sunken city.
Meanwhile, Dr. Darien and Brock manage to locate the Atlanteans’ archives, all of the information handily recorded on transparent crystal discs – including the city’s last days on the surface. These discs reveal that as the city was swallowed by the waves, a scientist name Kara-El (Yes, really) urged the panicking populace to utilize a time machine to escape through time itself, only for the citizenry to flood into stasis chambers to wait out the calamity. Upon investigating this time machine, however, the two end up transported to the day of the calamity, and are forced to go into stasis as well to be found by Captain Majors and Pete. As the two frantically try to free their friends, Kara-El’s psychic projection dumps a few more lines of exposition – the robot that had attacked them, Colossus, was a former protector of the city but suffered serious damage during the seaquake that sank Atlantis. Now, its only prerogative is to keep the Atlanteans in peaceful stasis, by any means necessary.
…Look, I did say that this was the start of monsters getting really complex. Regardless of how bizarre the situation is, the Calico crew quickly realizes that they’re helpless to stop the enormous automaton without Godzilla, and hitch a plan to free him from stasis by redirecting the Colossus’ shots into the energy field. Once freed, Godzilla is quick to dispatch the massive robot, letting the mech grapple him before dragging it out of the city limits and hurling it into the sea where it short-circuits in the saltwater… apparently Atlantean tech and waterproofing don’t go together After using the time machine to return to the moment when the Calico was still intact (don’t think about it too hard), our heroes wave goodbye to their new friends… only for another energy field to engulf the city as all of Atlantis – now revealed to be a giant UFO – flies out into space.
Absolutely batshit as its episode’s plot is, the Colossus’ design is quite the departure form what you’d expect from a robot character, especially one in a low-budget series like this. Lacking legs, it rolls around on a single wheel, a big old A emblazoned on its chest proudly letting you know exactly who made this thing. Besides firing laser beams from its eyes and between them, it also extends pincer-tipped tentacles to snap up foes…
And it’s pretty damn well-armed for grappling, too!
The Cyclops of Forgotten Island
Another monster found on a mysterious island, the Cyclops, or The Horror of Forgotten Island, couldn’t be more different from the previous entry in terms of its execution. When a mysterious meteor known as Taylor’s Comet swings by Earth as it does every 900 years, the resulting magnetism-boosted storms not only damage the Calico as it’s dashed against a reef, but cause a reflective force field in the middle of the ocean to flicker and fall away, revealing a mysterious island behind it. With no other choice, the ship docks on the strange island for repairs, only for a strange hulking shape to be briefly illuminated by flashes of lightning as it stomps towards the strange disturbance in its territory.
Man, the MultiVersus reveals are getting weirder and weirder.
The next morning, Quinn and Pete find a strange gem-encrusted monolith and colossal hoofprints, only to be menaced by the monster that made them. Godzilla is hastily summoned to save the day, but the force field has re-erected with the passing of the storm, and even Godzilla can’t seem to break through it – for now, the Calico crew is on their own. With no other option than to try and give pursuit as the Cyclops snatches up Godzooky, our heroes rush into a narrow dead-end canyon, only to find nothing… at least, until Godzooky is spotted struggling and squirming in mid-air, moments before the Cyclops seemingly appears out of thin air right behind them. Now trapped in the canyon as the kaiju piles a wall of boulders at the mouth of the crevice like the legendary Polyphemus, the humans can only rush into a small cave at the end of the fissure, which is engraved with pictographic illustrations of the history of the island. Apparently the force field is the work of an advanced alien civilization that came to Earth many millennia ago, built with the express purpose of keeping the Cyclops contained on this island and preventing it from terrorizing the world. No sooner has this been revealed, however, than the crustacean kaiju gets tired of waiting for its prey to come to it, and starts reaching into the narrow cave to grab a snack.
“Shit, did they find out my backstory?!”
Once our heroes hoof it out a back entrance, they rush towards the Calico with the Cyclops in hot pursuit; Dr. Darien manages to reach the monolith from earlier and tentatively starts to mess around with it as much as possible, finally dropping the force field around the island and letting Godzilla finally charge into battle. After a quick melee, the crustacean colossus seems to turn tail and flee, leaving the Calico crew to finish the necessary repairs to their ship and take their leave with Godzilla in tow and a timer set at the monolith to reactivate the force field within twenty minutes’ time. Just as they’re about to clear the barrier, though, the Cyclops bursts out of the water for Round 2 – the creature wasn’t chased off at all, it just doubled back around the island to stage an aquatic ambush, knowing that its adversaries would try to escape. This time, the creature is ready for the King of the Monsters, turning invisible to rain blows down upon Godzilla with impunity, but Brock and Pete are quick to come in for the assist, dumping buckets of red paint onto the monster’s body to leave it wide open to their titanic ally’s attacks. With his opponent visible once more, Godzilla picks up the Cyclops and hurls it back towards its island before clearing the area, just in time for the force field to rise back up around the island and leaving the one-eyed horror trapped.
Whoever it was who decided to use red for this scene must have thought they were real clever.
The creature’s design is reminiscent of Harryhausen’s classic stop-motion cyclops with those big stompy cloven hooves, but with a lot of features more akin to crustaceans than anything else, with a chitinous exoskeleton, jointed limbs, and crab-like pincers; the singular eye is set on a turret-like structure atop the head that can swivel around 360 degrees. The mouth is filled with uneven craggy teeth, almost permanently slack-jawed in a gaping grimace – it’s like nothing on Earth, but at the same time it really does look like some ancient primeval brute. When it comes to powers, however, the Cyclops has an unexpectedly complex set of abilities – its invisibility lends itself well to some surprisingly suspenseful scenes, while its swiveling eye fires a silvery beam of what I can only describe as a tractor beam, lifting even huge boulders like a UFO and flinging them towards opponents, or even stopping hurled projectiles in their place with a quick blast that instantly saps the momentum of incoming missiles. It’s another classic bit of pulpy Hanna-Barbera strangeness – they just don’t make monsters these days like they used to!
Monsters of the Island of Lost Ships
And speaking of Harryhausen, the next episode features an entire menagerie of monsters that would be right at home menacing Sinbad or the Argonauts. As the Calico sails through a terrible storm near the Greek coastline, a strange high-pitched keening song suddenly puts Captain Majors in a mysterious trance, urging him to steer the ship straight towards a rocky reef. One Godzooky call later, Godzilla drops them off on the shore of a mysterious island that doesn’t appear on any sea maps – and yet, the isle is inhabited, with Greek-style temples arranged around a spotlessly clean marble forum and a frighteningly realistic statue of a minotaur… a statue that Godzooky can hear audible breathing coming from. A strange woman dressed in Greek finery appears out of nowhere to greet Quinn, Pete, and Godzooky, introducing herself as Morphia; she’s fine with letting the Calico crew stay, but warns them never to go near a single building with massive heavy doors before disappearing… literally, she just fucking vanishes on screen, leaving the trio with more questions than answers, especially when they come across a harbor filled to the brim with the ruins of lost ships.
Every day’s a toga party on Siren Island!
Captain Majors and Brock, meanwhile, have ventured into a stone labyrinth littered with bones that seems to actively change its layout the moment they look away… and just as the minotaur statue goes missing, a guttural bellow echoes through the halls.
That’s right, motherfuckers, we’ve got a wholeass minotaur! And it’s not the only mythical monster living on the island – when our heroes regroup at the forum, they’re cornered by Morphia and two other Greek women, all three of whom turn Brock to stone with color-coded flashes of light. Turns out, these three are none other than the Sirens, and they’re very eager to make sure that the Calico crew remain on the island’s shores by sundown, when the island disappears for another thousand years. In a fit of panic, Godzooky hurries to the barred doors and breaks them open, releasing…
A full-blown fire-breathing Chimera – even if they worked together, none of the Sirens can hope to contain its monstrous power, but Captain Majors is quick to call in the Calico crew’s own muscle.Much to the Sirens’ shock, Godzilla has no problem with shoving the mythic monster back down into its pen, although they quickly recover enough to blast the King of the Monsters with another petrification ray, although it seemingly just knocks him out. From there, the trio pick off the rest of the Calico crew one by one, leaving only Pete and Godzooky to save the day. After the duo trick the Minotaur into trapping itself in a room of the labyrinth, the Sirens decide to take matters into their own hands… literally. They join hands and let loose with their eerie whirring song, then fuse together into a ten-foot-tall mega-Siren, using their vastly increased magical power to subdue the Chimera and command it to destroy our heroes’ ship.
Fusion is just a weak tactic that makes weak Sirens song-er!
When Godzooky’s attempts to run interference get him nabbed by the Chimera, Godzilla is finally stirred to action, only for Morphia to engage her magic once more and somehow fuse with the Chimera, boosting its size and power enough to match Godzilla blow-for-blow in physical combat… and all the while, the sun is sinking lower and lower.
I have no jokes here, this is genuinely cinematic as fuck.
It’s only when Godzilla gets the Chimera to charge right off the cliff that the mythical monster is defeated, shrieking in dismay as she evaporates into smoke upon contact with the water, leaving only split seconds for the Calico crew to return to their ship and set sail before the island disappears for another thousand years. I can’t help but notice that there’s something of a pattern when it comes to monsters and water in this series – half the time, a quick dunk in the drink is enough to destroy them.
Anyways, the designs of this band of monsters aren’t too fancy save for the chimera – a rather interesting blend of lion, dragon, and ram that clearly conveys its chimeric nature without being too much of a pain in the ass to animate – but they more than make up for it with emotional range and style. Just… look at them!
“Minotaur, it’s 4 PM – time for your dick-flattening!”
Their characterization is rather flat, I’ll admit, but there’s genuine potential for something special were this series to be remade with even a slightly bigger budget. The entire setup feels like it could be its own Harryhausen film, a perfect fit for the pulpy vibe of the series.
Even back in the day, it seems that the kaiju archetype of a giant turtle was prevalent enough in the US of A for Hanna-Barbera to produce their own analogue to Gamera – of course, this towering turtle is far from a friend to all children. Our first introduction to the creature comes from a lone pilot flying to an oil field near the South Pole, when all of his instruments suddenly go haywire and his plane nosedives towards the water. Hastily, the pilot bails out, but as the plane plummets toward the briny depths, a colossal head breaches the surface of the water, the plane flying straight into its gaping maw without so much as a sound. When he recounts the events to the crew of the Calico, though, there’s something else that he notes… he never heard the plane splash down.
“It was like something… gobbled it up right before it hit the water.”
The Calico heads to the oil field where the pilot was scheduled to land, but the culprit behind the plane crash has already beaten them to it – a colossal turtle-like monster wielding magnetic fields as a weapon, sucking the buildings, vehicles, and equipment of the drilling site into its gaping maw before turning its attention towards the approaching ship! Godzilla is quick to come to the rescue and pull the Calico out of the creature’s grasp, but when he engages the Magnetic Monster itself, well… things don’t go too well. As befitting a creature so heavily armored, not a single one of Godzilla’s attacks do much to the damn thing, but not in the way that you would expect – the kaiju’s magnetic waves don’t just affect metallic matter, but can deflect not only laser beams but his fiery breath!
Fucking magnets; how do they even work?!
After the initial confrontation with the beast, Dr. Darien discovers that the creature’s trajectory puts it on a direct path to the South Pole, presumably attracted by the pole’s magnetic pull… problem is, the Magnetic Monster’s own magnetic field would react violently with that of the planet, the two forces repelling each other with enough force to blow the entirety of Antarctica off the face of the Earth! It’s a race against time to stop the colossal chelonian before it can potentially destroy the world, but even Godzilla seems powerless to stop the beast as it continues its inexorable trek south. For the first time in the series’ run, there’s a sense of genuine helplessness as the audience is left wondering how the hell the Magnetic Monster can possibly be stopped.
Designwise, this terrifying tortoise is something of a conglomerate of different types of turtle – the overall body plan is very clearly based on a sea turtle, but the rough-textured shell and hooked beak clearly evoke those of a snapping turtle’s, while the wide maw is almost reminiscent of a matamata… and much like a matamata, the Magnetic Monster uses its magnetic waves to happily vacuum up ‘small’ prey, from cars and buildings to ships and submarines. It even inhales the Calico’s mini-sub with Brock and Captain Majors still inside, revealing a veritable graveyard of everything that it’s consumed. On top of these base features, though, there’s quite a bit of added ornamentation that help the design stand out – a serrated crest/set of spines atop its head, a pair of antennae that give the beast an almost fish-like vibe, and piercing yellow eyes set on black streaks that pop all the more with the colorful brows set just above them. Its limbs, meanwhile, fluctuate in their function depending on what’s required of it in a given shot, fluctuating between flippers and feet, standing upright on fully functional back legs or just awkwardly propping itself up with the butt end of its shell. As the Magnetic Monster draws closer to the South Pole, though, it seems to settle on a strictly bipedal body plan, growing larger and larger off of ambient magnetic waves until it towers over even Godzilla himself – according to Godzilla comic illustrator Matt Frank, these towering proportions were the direct inspiration for the Trilopod queen Magita’s gargantuan size decades later in the Rulers of Earth comics series!
“ME GODZILLA SAY NO VORE IN THIS HOUSE TONIGHT!”
I’m not sure just what it is, but there’s something genuinely unsettling about this big bastard, a sentiment that’s shared by virtually everybody else I’ve shown this episode to. Maybe it’s the creature’s roar, a whispery echoing call that sounds almost like somebody’s last dying breaths; maybe it’s how effortlessly it shrugs off everything that Godzilla can throw at it, more so than any other monster we’ve seen before in this series; maybe it’s how it rapidly grows and grows until it dwarfs Godzilla himself, stripping away the idea of the King of the Monsters as a literally larger-than-life protector… or maybe it’s how it can somehow spontaneously grow fully functional hands.
Ultimately, though, the titanic terrapin’s endless appetite for magnetic fields proves to be its undoing – with help from Dr. Darien, Godzilla leads the Magnetic Monster straight to the South Pole itself, where it rapidly swells with more energy than it could ever possibly want, until its body simply can’t handle the rapid intake of power, and…
INFLATION?! You have the power of Godzilla at your fingertips, and you choose to animate INFLATION?!
… it detonates in a tremendous explosion and a storm of metallic shrapnel, ending the beast’s reign of Magnetic Terror for good.
Probably one of the weirdest monsters to menace the crew of the Calico, the Breeder Beast is another in Hanna-Barbera’s weirdly prevalent genre of blob monsters – makes a degree of sense given how simplistic designs like those are easy to animate. Hell, it’s not even the first time such a creature appeared in this series with the Seaweed Monster… but in execution, this oozing horror stands apart.
The creature is first spotted hanging around an oil spill, nearly capsizing the Calico as the ship draws its curiosity and it oozes onboard – Godzilla manages to drive it off with a blast of fiery breath that causes vast chunks of its gelatinous bulk to detonate en masse, but not before the creature slurps up the ship’s anchor and dissolves it instantly. Dr. Darien collects a few specks of the creature’s splattered tissues for analysis, only to discover that the strange being was entirely composed of a highly explosive nitroglycerin-like substance – if Godzilla had hit it dead-on, the monster could have exploded with the force of several tons of TNT. Just as this realization is made, the ship’s radio picks up a distress signal from a nearby gas refinery, far too close to Washington DC for comfort; the creature wasn’t destroyed at all, and it’s apparently eager to satiate its appetite. The gelatinous giant greedily guzzles down gas from the refinery by the gallon, growing larger and larger all the while… and with the sheer amount of gas it’s consumed combined with its highly volatile chemical composition, having Godzilla attack it could result in an explosion powerful enough to vaporize half the Eastern Seaboard.
The rest of the episode is a considerable divergence from the show’s usual formula – rather than actively battling the beast itself, the Calico’s objective is to protect the enormous ooze from anything that could potentially set it off, even as it crawls its way through DC. Naturally, Godzilla is called in to stop missiles sent its way by the American military and to help wrangle the creature, but even he can’t target the creature directly aside from keeping his human allies out of harm’s way; the entire episode is a tense, delicate balancing act that genuinely leaves you wondering how in the fuck this thing can be stopped. It’s a setup that plays very nicely into the classic theme of monsters being born of radiation, but with a genuinely clever execution that hasn’t been seen in any other media before or since – the only comparable instance that comes to mind is the gradual meltdown of Burning Godzilla decades later.
The forbidden gummy worm
As for the Breeder Beast itself, it’s a considerable departure from the typical formless blob of ooze – unlike most ooze monsters, this kaiju has a relatively concrete body plan, fat and elongated with segmented sections more resembling some sort of enormous maggot or caterpillar than anything else, or maybe a weird distorted tardigrade. Stubby pseudopods line its underbelly, allowing slow ponderous movements on land, but its amorphous body makes few obstacles a challenge for it to get around – it just oozes its way through whatever barriers are laid in front of it, dissolving any solid material that gets mired within its gelatinous mass. A pair of short ‘feelers’ flank its gummy maw like a mustache or mandibles, but they’re capable of grabbing objects and feeling around – in one scene, it uses them to pluck the dome off the Capitol Building and hurl it at Godzilla! After absorbing the natural gas, it’s oftentimes surrounded in a faint bluish glow, its sound effects underlain with a faint electric sizzle to signify its radioactive contents – the name is based on a type of nuclear reactor called a breeder reactor, which the creature’s anatomy is explicitly compared to. Overall, it’s very reminiscent of Hedorah in its origins and abilities, but its actual design almost evokes some kind of caterpillar made out of thick poisonous ooze, especially in the shots where its glowing red nucleus is secreted within a swollen hump set about midway down its trunk. It oddly reminds me a lot of Mothra’s larval form, especially with its rolling caterpillar-like crawl and even how it just plows through everything in its path, much like the insectoid goddess’ laser-focused rampage in her debut film…and much like Mothra, the creature has a second form, attained after consuming massive amounts of gold and silver purloined from the US Mint in order to stabilize the volatile compounds surging through its protoplasmic mass… and effectively turning it into a nuclear bomb waiting to detonate. As it gorges itself on precious metals, its color brightens to a metallic yellow, its aura turning a sort of orangey-yellow to match…
…and a crown of grasping tentacles emerging from its crown like a mane of hair, perfect for picking up and menacing helpless humans! This is the final straw – Godzilla decides that enough is enough, and plucks his tiny friends’ jeep out of the Breeder Beast’s tentacles before tackling it to the ground. The humans scream to their friend to be careful, lest the monster explode… but a direct hit with laser vision does nothing to the gelatinous kaiju. The Breeder Beast has somehow stabilized itself and learned to control its energy output, leaving Godzilla free to attack without worry of detonating the creature. A precision stream of laser fire from his eyebrows(?!) directed at the creature’s nucleus causes the monster’s body to rapidly crystallize, condensing down into a rather nondescript rock containing traces of everything that the Breeder Beast had consumed, sure to enjoy pride of place in the Smithsonian… and a tiny familiar-looking creature wriggling about in a a puddle of water also dripping from the stone.
That tiny little creature, equal parts slug and leech, is the original Breeder Beast – and according to Dr. Darien, that’s how it would have remained if it hadn’t been mutated by pollution. Even despite all of the mayhem that this little creature caused, all the panic and destruction, it ultimately wasn’t done with any sort of malice – this was simply a strange new species desperately trying to stabilize its metabolism as its body bloated with energies beyond its comprehension. There’s a surprising level of pathos to it, and it’s honestly rather sweet that even a creature like this isn’t maligned for its actions.
The Watchuki and the Great Watchuka
You wanna know the great thing about cryptids? Not only are they well-known names for the general public that quickly garner people’s attention, they’re effectively public domain characters and as such free of pesky copyright issues when you include them in your series, while their nature as beings with no real proof of their existence means that you can get away with taking a lot of creative liberties with them – what’s Bigfoot going to do, call its agent? In and of itself, cryptozoology has gone hand-in-hand with the kaiju genre for decades, going all the way back to the idea that King Kong’s debut film directly inspired the Loch Ness Monster’s iconic appearance – it should come as no surprise that both titans of the genre have tangled with such legendary beasts on multiple occasions. In Marvel’s comic run, Godzilla brawled with a Bigfoot mutated by nuclear tests, and here in Hanna-Barbera, he faced off against the Abominable Snowman – or more specifically, the Great Watchuka.
Once more, this episode is noticeably different in its script and structure than the typical formula for this series, pushing the limits for how suspenseful and tense a Hanna-Barbera cartoon could get. A colleague of Dr. Darien’s is searching for a source of geothermal energy in the mountains of Tibet, known in local legend as The Valley Beyond the Ice and supposedly guarded by a monster known as the Watchuka that violently defends its territory from outsiders, the borders of which were marked centuries ago by crimson standards reminiscent of traditional Tibetan prayer flags. The scientist and his staff laugh off these superstitions, but something has been causing avalanches seemingly directed at any attempts to explore beyond those prayer flags, burying base camps under thousands of tons of ice and snow – as such, he called in the Calico for their expertise. Pete and Quinn head up into the mountains with the expedition, while Brock and Captain Majors stay with Godzooky on the river where the Calico is docked. But strange events continue to take place with both parties – the Calico is almost swamped by an avalanche that Godzilla manges to stop, but there’s something nearby that keeps the King of the Monsters on edge even after saving the day; in the mountains, the expedition is besieged by random snowslides, while their guide is discreetly kidnapped and replaced by a mysterious silent figure whose only feature is their glowing red eyes… and all the while, mysterious howling calls echo from the snowy peaks all around our heroes.
There’s quite a few bits of cryptid-based media that play up the fact that the featured creature knows the area far better than its pursuers, but it’s not every day that the twist is that it’s been following you the whole damn time.
Of course, the Watchuka proves to be very real… and what’s more, it isn’t alone. The mythical Valley Beyond the Ice turns out to be the verdant hollow interior of an extinct volcano, home to an entire civilization of snowmen. Here, they’ve mastered the art of pyramid building, steam-powered technology, and all sorts of mining equipment in search of strange red gemstones, which they evidently use to manufacture some sort of freeze ray. The latter bit of technology is instrumental to the snowmen’s plans – according to the Watchuka that shows our heroes around, they were driven deep into the mountains many thousands of years ago by mankind, and they’re rather intent on getting their homelands back… leading to legitimately one of the most fucking metal lines I’ve ever heard come out of the mouth of a Hanna-Barbera character:
“But can’t you live in peace with the mountain people?”
“There is no need to live in peace… WHEN WE HAVE AN ARMY!”
The music rises to a menacing score as the snowman spreads his arms wide, revealing a cavern filled from wall to wall with thousands of Watchuki soldiers kept in suspended animation, waiting for the day of glorious conquest.
Brock, Godzooky, and Captain Majors have found their own way into the volcano through a service tunnel at the foot of the mountains – they too are captured and frozen, but Brock manages to figure out the technology behind the freeze rays and defrost his friends… and inadvertently awakens the entire Watchuki army in the process. As our heroes make a break for the exit, they find themselves surrounded by hundreds of angry snowmen, soon joined by the kaiju-sized Great Watchuka. Being a giant ape in a pulp setting, it of course immediately snatches up Quinn, but she’s having exactly none of the ape-man’s shit – she’s been remarkably snarky throughout the episode’s run, and it gives quite a bit of a fresh twist on the usual trope of apes capturing women.
“ME GODZILLA SAY, RESPECT WOMEN OR ELSE!”
Of course, Godzilla is none too pleased about his friends being captured, especially by the ancient enemy of all predatory dinosaurs, the giant ape. He immediately goes on the warpath, clawing his way into the volcano and tackling the Great Watchuka head-on before smashing a path out of the valley for the crew of the Calico to escape through – with his friends clear, the King of the Monsters unceremoniously grabs a massive boulder and tree trunk to combine into a makeshift hammer, unceremoniously plugging the entrance to the activated volcano and trapping the would-be conquerors forever.
As far yeti designs go, the Watchuki are quite the departure from the usual takes you see across various media – their hands, inner arms, and chests all have a strange green hue, presumably representing their natural skin tone, while their glowing red eyes are an instant eye-catcher, further emphasized by thick black rings around the eyes that are especially prominent in the larger individuals. Their mustached faces more recall some sort of macaque than any ape, and their minimal noses seem to specifically evoke the snub-nosed macaques of China and the Himalayas with their creepy near-skeletal noses. Come to think of it… a big lumbering yeti-like monster colored in white and green, with reddish eyes and a flat hairy face – where have I heard that before?
Notably, though, the Watchuka seem to come in two main types – a smaller, squatter form almost like some kind of hairy simian dwarf that seems to focus on mining and machinery, and massive musclebound brutes that apparently play the role of guards and soldiers. In typical HB cartoon fashion, the why of this isn’t really explained, nor is the nature of the Great Watchuka elaborated upon. The presence of multiple forms of yeti isn’t too weird in and of itself – cryptozoological accounts have long held that there’s a number of species lurking in the Himalayas of various sizes and habitats – but one can’t help but wonder. Is this just sexual dimorphism between snowmen and snow-women, or is this a multi-species alliance of yetis, using a kaiju specimen as a weapon of war in a parallel to King Kong’s worshippers? Or what if it’s even weirder than that? Dr. Darien specifically compares the Watchuki’s buildings to hives. Are… are we looking at eusocial steampunk snowmen? Because that combination of words might be one of the most gloriously pulpy statements ever uttered.
The Time Dragons
Another plotline mirroring the Marvel comics’ run of Godzilla’s adventures, the story of the Time Dragons starts out with a typical gloriously pulp setup – a satellite has fallen out of orbit and is plummeting to earth, the on-board nuclear reactor ready to detonate upon impact, and it’s heading directly for the Calico’s coordinates! Of course, this being Godzilla, a little thing like a miniature nuclear reactor plummeting to earth at Mach speeds isn’t going to stop him – the King of the Monsters catches the falling satellite like a baseball, and totally contains the nuclear blast within his hands… so tightly, in fact, that it causes a goddamn time warp. That’s some Chuck Norris Facts shit right there.
Now finding themselves in the middle of a tar pit surrounded by prehistoric jungle, the Calico crew are quick to explore alongside Godzilla, soon finding the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean several miles away… but if the intense earthquakes rocking the area are anything to go by, the tide’s going to be coming in sooner rather than later. To make matters worse, the quakes also bring something else close to shore – a massive Diplodocus, and one that’s apparently ‘not too choosy about what it ate’!
With a head like a baby crocodile’s, jaws full of sharp teeth, and a long snaky serpentine neck, there’s something very draconic about this design – it’s a wonderfully retro sauropod, but it still manages a genuinely menacing look. As somebody who absolutely fucking loves retro sauropods, I’m always in favor of having more of them featured in media, and this sleek slithery customer is a perfect example of just that. Of course, it’s quickly driven off by Godzilla – notably, though, it’s portrayed as being about the same size as the King of the Monsters, who’s already become quite comfortable in the ancient past. Perhaps that theory about Godzilla already being enormous before being mutated has something to it, at least in this incarnation.
Deeper into the jungle, Pete gets distracted chasing what looks like a bright yellow butterfly, a welcome spot of color in the monotonous green of a jungle that has yet to evolve flowering plants. As he gets closer to the flickering floating form, however, he finds out too late that the butterfly is merely the lure of a gigantic carnivorous plant, resembling a bizarre mix of pitcher plant, rafflesia, and cycad – long tentacle-like vines issue forth from the tangled roots around its base to entwine around its prey, the entire structure bending forward to better shove the hapless human into its gaping maw, filled with teeth and no less than four lashing stamen-tongues! Quite an impressive bit of Horror Flora, if I say so myself, and one with a design that’s quite distinct from the typical ‘flytrap’ maws of most examples of the genre. How is a carnivorous plant using a butterfly to attract prey when flowers and therefore their pollinators are otherwise nowhere to be seen? I dunno, hypothetical interrogator, why are you looking for paleontological accuracy in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the 70s that just featured a 300-foot Diplodocus not five minutes ago?
Thankfully, the plant isn’t exactly the brightest bloom on the bush – Brock and Godzooky double back to find Pete, with the latter getting entangled as well in the process, only for Brock to roll a pumpkin-sized rock to Godzooky to toss into the killer plant’s maw, momentarily mollifying it and inducing the vines to slacken their grip as it works to digest its ‘meal’.
Things aren’t exactly looking great for Captain Majors and Dr. Quinn, either – they find themselves plummeting into a purposefully dug pit trap, only to be hauled out and surrounded by a hoard of cavemen. The leader, Torak, is quick to explain that all captured strangers are treated as slaves… but after Godzooky scares the shit out of the entire tribe, he’s quick to change his tune. “No man who commands dragons is a slave,” he tells Captain Majors – I can only presume that this is the same period of pulp prehistory inhabited by the likes of Mightor and Spear for that sort of tribal law to be enforced.
After some shenanigans with the now-friendly tribe of cavemen, mostly in the form of leading them to a more permanent residence in some nearby caves set on high dry ground, constructing wooden barricades and a catapult to ward off more ‘dragons,’ and watching a cave painting taking shape, the onset of more tremors suddenly rock the landscape, a pretty clear signal to the crew of the Calico that they’d best get back to their ship. But there’s one more challenge awaiting our heroes in this prehistoric world…
C’mon, it’d be downright criminal of me to not talk about a retro tyrannosaur on this site, and what a tyrannosaur it is! This massive brute, dubbed the Time Dragon by most sources, sports a striking set of navy blue scales, a row of small spikes down the back, long powerful arms for a tyrannosaur, and a wonderfully menacing-looking and highly expressive face, with big glaring eyes set under heavy brows, flared nostrils, and a mouthful of sharp craggy teeth that would make Sharptooth blush. While lacking any sort of ranged attack, it’s more than strong enough to match Godzilla in hand to hand combat, even as Torak’s tribe bombards both combatants with gray uranium-rich pitchblende mud that somehow recreates the time warp that sent the Calico crew back to the past, transporting not only our heroes and Godzilla himself, but the titanic tyrannosaur back to the present… specifically, moments before the satellite’s impact! With some guidance from Godzooky, the King of the Monsters blows the falling satellite into the Time Dragon’s open claws, safely sending the King of the Dinosaurs back to the past where it belongs. Between it and the Diplodocus, I honestly have to wonder if kaiju were just… the norm in this setting’s prehistoric past, a plot point that would only resurface again many years later with the Monsterverse.
The Giant Fly and the Micro-Monsters
You know, if I had a nickel for every time that a shrunken-down Godzilla faced off against a perfectly normal rat, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice, right? After saving the Calico from a typhoon of strange pink fog, Godzilla begins to rapidly diminish in size, all the while a large and belligerent house fly grows larger and larger. For the most part, the episode functions as a spotlight on the Calico crew themselves as they frantically work to try and find a cure for their friend before he shrinks away into nothingness, but for completion’s sake, I’m gonna be covering the fly, too. Another surprisingly accurate invertebrate design for this era of animation, this buzzing little bastard displays a surprising level of intelligence for a cartoon bug – both Brock and Godzooky tried to swat it away before its sudden surge of growth, and as it grows, it actively pursues both of them with a vengeance, even tailing the Calico itself from a distance as it patiently awaits for its chance to strike again. Meanwhile, Godzilla’s having a rather rough time of it all – as he dwindles further and further in size, the Calico takes aboard the monster that has saved it and its crew dozens of times over, but even at this tiny scale, Godzilla continues to find foes to battle. After tussling with the aforementioned rat and sending it scurrying, the Calico crew place him in a petri dish, whereupon he’s immediately besieged by a trio of micro organisms.
I’m honestly not sure what these three creepy-crawlies are supposed to be based off of, but it’s entirely likely that they don’t really have any basis in biology – they’re more based around the idea of microscopic organisms, monsters of a world so small that we can’t even normally perceive it – they may have only a bit part to play in their episode, but what bit players they are!
The Giant Cephalopods
I’m including these two together for simplicity’s sake – they’re not really the main focus of their respective episodes, and their designs aren’t too much to write home about.
The squid is the product of a Dr. Voltrang, a disgraced genius geneticist living and working out of a massive supertanker – a mobile evil laboratory complete with a legion of identical assistants cloned from his daughter who manages his affairs on dry land and a glass bathysphere-like prison inside of a tank full of piranhas! Constantly tailing this massive ship is the squid, another clone that’s been genetically modified to grow to kaiju size – with tech like that, surely Voltrang has plans befitting the sheer scale of his creations! And sure enough, his first order of business is to capture the crew of the Calico and clone them as well, hoping to use them in order to… learn the location of a secret oil deposit that was just discovered by another scientist that the ship was preparing to meet with. Yeah, it’s… kinda disappointing, but the squid’s design is pretty decent at least, with a mix of octopus tentacles, slit-pupiled reptilian eyes, and a massive jagged parrot-like beak.
The octopus, meanwhile, was woken up from its lair at the bottom of the sea when an experimental super-torpedo from a defrosted WWI U-Boat detonated in Godzilla’s hands while he was in the middle of transporting it far away to detonate safely… it makes sense in context, trust me. As far as monster designs go, this big fella’s fairly standard – the main standout feature is that there’s next to no stylization in its anatomy. No weird siphon-snoot, no misplaced beak, it’s just… a giant octopus, adorned in a rather striking contrast of dark green-black above and pale cream-tan underneath. It very much feels like Maguma – it’s a giant monster that’s present because a monster is needed for the premise and nothing more, but it does beg the question of what the hell else lives in the ocean in this setting.
Now, you might have noticed that just about every creature featured in this series so far hasn’t really had a proper name. Earth Eater, Firebird, Time Dragon – all pretty descriptive titles. Axor here is the only one bestowed with a proper name, and by God(zilla) he’s absolutely goddamn earned it.
Located among the many islands of northern Canada lies the remote Storm Island, so named for the terrible typhoons that regularly rage around its shores – caught in one of these storms, the crew of the Calico rescue a single man lost in the waves, who immediately begs them to leave the island and never return, lest they invoke the wrath of ‘Axor the All-Powerful’. Of course, no sooner has he mentioned the monster’s name, Axor himself is quick to attack this band of intruders, bombarding the intruding ship with bolts of lightning fired from his gaping maw and sending the shipwrecked sailor into shock before he can spill any of the serpent’s secrets. It seems that the Calico has safely escaped the Beast of Storm Island as Godzilla drives Axor back, but the adventure is only beginning – in the dead of night, the rescued sailor wakes from his shell-shocked state and makes his way to the ship’s controls, deliberately scuttling the ship on the rocky reefs around the island as he murmurs the words “Axor must be obeyed.” With the ship damaged, the adults set out to explore Storm Island and look for something that could be used for some hasty repairs.
Dominating the landscape of Storm Island is a massive vaguely Aztec-like temple, built and maintained by a veritable army of workers, all evidently shipwrecked sailors and all in a hypnotized almost zombie-like state… but they’re aware enough to quickly swarm the intruders and bring them into the temple for Axor to deal with, deliberately destroying the Godzilla signaller as they do so. Pete and Godzooky, both confined to the Calico to deal with colds caught during the storm, have no choice but to flee as the minions of Axor advance upon their ship, slipping inside of the temple just in time to watch helplessly as the gigantic cobra-like kaiju rises from a pit of iridescent vapors at the temple’s heart, brainwashing the rest of the Calico’s crew with a blast of mystical energy from his eyes!
The boys’ pleas for their friends to recognize them fall on deaf ears, and they’re forced to flee for their lives, only for a blast of hurricane-force winds from Axor’s hood to stir up a tidal wave that leaves the Calico high and dry – what’s more, with his head cold, Godzooky can’t muster up a call to summon Godzilla for help. But when they’re brought before Axor to be welcomed into the fold… nothing happens. Evidently, having your sinuses clogged with snot prevents the Slave Ray from taking hold upon one’s mind – who knew? With no other option but to flee, Pete and Godzooky dive down into the vapor-filled pit that seems to be Axor’s lair – now out of sight of the cobra cult commander, they watch as the kaiju greedily inhales lungful after lungful of the vapors, imbuing him with more power. And as the gas fills both youths’ lungs, it becomes apparent that it works on more than just Axor – now powered up with strength befitting a kaiju, Godzooky manages to wrestle with the giant serpent and pelt him with a blast of full-on fire breath before its effects wear off just a few seconds later, but it’s more than enough time to finally call in Godzilla for round two.
Throughout the entire run of the episode, Axor’s animation is… weirdly fluid, especially for this show and its low budget. When he moves, he puts everything into the motions, swaying back and forth and from side to side with every stride he takes, lashing his tail about, and gesturing grandly with his arms. What’s more, this oddly, well, animated animation seems to also apply to his followers – the worshippers of Axor are much livelier than the typical human cast, wildly gesticulating and emoting with their hands rather than their faces as they speak of the giant serpent. Perhaps it’s some sort of personality bleedover from being under Axor’s spell for so long, subconsciously taking on their master’s mannerisms? Either way, it’s an interesting touch that helps Axor stand out all the more for it.
When it comes to design, the lord of Storm Island’s body plan is… kind of weirdly conventional by the standards of this series. You could very easily imagine this design being translated into a physical suit, with its bulky, roughly humanoid proportions and tail-dragging saurian visage. For a creature that’s very clearly supposed to be a snake monster, Axor doesn’t really have that much in the way of features from an actual snake – the ophidian influence is most prominent in his sinister-looking face and in the structure of his head, particularly in the massive fangs on his upper jaw that jut out almost like a pair of tusks. When I look at this magnificent bastard, I can’t help but be reminded of Disney’s Jafar – their designs both convey that same slithery, slimy, sinister vibe without really having much in the way of snake-like features as these sorts of characters tend to have. You just know that if he had any facial hair, Axor would be gleefully twirling his mustache as his slaves work to maintain his temple.
Rather than a cobra’s hood, however, Axor sports a huge fleshy pouch atop his head that runs down the back of his neck – when not in use, it indeed resembles a cobra’s hood, but it can inflate with enormous amounts of air like the bladder of a bagpipe and expel it from a nozzle-like aperture above the kaiju’s forehead in the form of hurricane-force winds, strong enough to batter even a kaiju of Godzilla’s size and bulk. In practice, well… yeah, let’s not beat around the bush, it looks like a giant penis. But when you look over the design as a whole and know the monster’s motivations, the reasoning for such an odd design choice becomes clear – Axor is a reverse snake charmer, combining a cobra’s hood with the stereotypical turban and the bladder of a set of bagpipes, literally creating the storms that give his island its name. The lightning breath, though, brings to mind another serpentine slavemaster from kaiju media of yesteryear – specifically, the monster Sslither, from The Inhumanoids.
Separated at birth?
Of course, like any cult leader, Axor’s not exactly much of a fighter – when Godzilla rolls up for a rematch, he doesn’t put up much of a fight, hanging back and blasting the King of the Monsters with bolts of lightning and his Slave Ray, only for the latter to be easily shrugged off. It’s only when Godzilla blasts the side of the temple that the titanic serpent loses his shit, breaking off the battle to frantically scrabble through the rubble before turning upon his opponent with renewed fury. Ultimately, though, the kaiju’s anger proves to be his undoing as Godzilla goads Axor into hitting himself with his own slave ray by striking a wall of rock smelted into glass by a blast of his laser vision, shorting out the colossal cobra and causing the creature to vanish forever.
All in all, Axor feels very much like something out of classic Ultraman, both in design and in the setup of his starring episode; in fact, Hanna-Barbera would later go on to collaborate with Tsuburaya Productions less than a decade after this series’ run and produce an animated Ultraman movie. Perhaps old Axor here was a precedent for things to come. And indeed, out of all the monsters featured through the run of this series, it seems that Axor is by far the most well-remembered, having featured not only in Matt Frank’s semi-infamous Godzilla Neo series but in a gorgeous fight sequence by animator Vrahno. Then again… maybe it’s best for everyone if the giant snake monster with hypnotic powers and the ability to inflate himself remains out of the Internet’s field of vision.
The Power Dragon
After a quick prelude with the Power Dragon divebombing and sinking a ship, the episode opens with the Calico investigating a colossal stationary storm in order to test some new equipment. So massive is this storm that a colossal whirlpool forms at its base as it sucks up seawater, inexorably pulling the hapless ship towards the whirling winds as a barrage of ball lightning shorts out all the instruments. Even Godzilla can only keep his allies from getting sucked in for so long before he too is swallowed by the storm, and the Calico soon follows suit… only to land atop a strange island of fog and mist – literally. Somehow, they’ve been marooned atop a mass of solid clouds, with a massive futuristic city nestled amidst the mist. Godzilla, however, is nowhere to be seen, and doesn’t respond to Godzooky’s calls – he’s still stuck in the storm itself.
The city itself seems to be totally empty, with a pair of towering pillars topped with Tesla coils standing in the town square… as Captain Majors and Dr. Darien pass, though, two people dressed in futuristic outfits emerge from a crackling orb of energy generated between the two pylons. These are Ze-us, ruler of the Cloud-Dwellers, and his daughter Anthea; they handily explain that nobody left the city, but rather nobody’s arrived just yet – their people dwell high up in the skies of an ‘alternate world’ much like our Earth, but when weather conditions are just right, it’s possible to travel between the two realms via the portal that the duo emerged from. Unfortunately, their world is apparently just as full of monsters as Earth is; on their world, the Cloud-Dwellers are menaced by a kaiju known as the Power Dragon, a monstrous creature attracted to enormous sources of electrical power such as the generators of their cities. To escape the monster, the Cloud-Dwellers plan to emigrate their entire population to Earth, leaving the dragon behind – evidently, the beast followed its victims through space to their new home, and promptly swoops down to terrorize the floating city once more. The only thing capable of keeping the beast at bay seems to be a ‘thought amplifier’ worn by Ze-us to create a mental shield around the city, but even only seems to buy a few moments of time… at least, until Godzilla arrives on the scene, pulled out of the storm’s vortex by the Cloud-Dwellers to battle the dragon.
“I am Lightning! I am DEATH! I am-”
Suplexed into the goddamn ground.
Needless to say, Godzilla wipes the floor with the draconic alien, suplexing it into the floor and sending it fleeing with its tail between its legs, much to the Cloud-Dwellers’ shock, but all is not well. See, watching Godzilla in action has given Ze-us an idea; why should he have to settle for living on Earth as a refugee, when he could live as a conqueror? And with the Calico’s signaling device at his disposal, he could do just that, harnessing the power of the world’s mightiest monster. Of course, Godzilla’s not pleased about the Cloud-Dwellers taking his friends hostage, and immediately charges the alien guards surrounding them, only to be pulled through the portal and hurled into the airborne invaders’ alternate world. The Calico crew take flight, but Ze-us’ thought amplifier allows him to easily subdue them, freely warping the density of the cloudstuff comprising the entire city to trap them within a tower of solid atmosphere – with the signaller at his disposal, the king of the Cloud-Dwellers plans to lure the Power Dragon back to the city and direct it towards Godzilla, whereupon both monsters will destroy each other and leave Earth without its greatest defender. Of course, no plan ever survives contact with a dinosaur-sized flying reptile, and our heroes quickly escape with Godzooky’s help, hatching a plan to subdue Ze-us and pluck the psionic amplifier off his head. Of course, it’s right about then that the Power Dragon reappears, blasting the portal before Godzilla can be pulled through as it dives for the amplifier; fortunately, it seems that Cloud-Dweller technology is cross-compatible with other species, with Dr. Darien donning the thought amplifier and re-opening the portal to release the King of the Monsters. Understandably pissed about his sudden vacation to the world of the clouds, Godzilla leads the Power Dragon out of the limits of the city and towards the dropoff point of the cloud-island, where the eye of the colossal storm still rages.
Hurling himself and his opponent down into the gargantuan whirlwind, Godzilla safely splashes back down into the ocean; the Power Dragon, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky. The electrical power surging through its body combined with the energy generated by the storm itself re-create the conditions foreshadowed earlier that allow for movement between the two worlds in the first place, forcibly shunting the monster back to its home world along with the Cloud-Dwellers themselves and destroying the generators the aliens were using the produce the storm in the first place. And with the thought amplifier now safely in the hands of the Calico – at least until Godzooky breaks it – the airborne invaders have no way of ever returning to menace Earth again; they’re stuck in their own world again, with only the vengeful Power Dragon for company.
The Power Dragon itself has a relatively simple design,but it does its job quite well – it’s a wyvern-like creature with a long neck adorned with a spiny crest, a pair of long backswept almost antennae-like horns set just above its pure glowing yellow eyes, and a distinctive hooked upper lip straight out of medieval heraldry. The same goes for the structure of its webbed membranous wings, themselves tipped with a pair of claws structured much like the Firebird’s in some shots – honestly, the entire creature feels like an electrical analogue to that earlier kaiju, removing the bird elements in favor of a more even mix of dragon and retro pterosaur. Much like Axor before it, the creature also displays noticeably more animation in its movements, swooping and swerving through the sky with almost serpentine fluidity and producing a rather menacing visage as shifting shadows half-conceal its massive form in darkness. Moreso than any other flying beast we’ve seen so far in this series, it truly feels like an absolute master of the air, contrasting sharply with its somewhat awkward upright movements on solid ground, draping its wings around itself like a vampire’s cloak. Indeed, in a physical confrontation, the Power Dragon is no match for Godzilla – its strengths lie in its speed and its ranged attacks, bombarding targets with bolts of lightning fired from its toothy maw and electromagnetic pulses as it caws and screeches. Notably, the specific sounds that the beast produces, while most likely a stock sound effect, are also reminiscent of another famous storm dragon prevalent throughout the Godzilla franchise.
Indeed, with its association with storms and its nature as both a destroyer and secret weapon of a hostile otherworldly civilization, it’s not hard to see the parallels between the Power Dragon and everyone’s favorite three-headed golden asshole King Ghidorah. And looking at the kaiju going after electrical generators, and knowing the fact that Gareth Edwards was a fan of this series, one can’t help but wonder if that connection was made more physical.
Unfortunately, this mechanical monster is neither a cyborg nor a whale… or even really a monster, to be honest. Rather, it’s an experimental prototype for a supersized submarine, constructed with the intent of harvesting the riches of the ocean – the name comes from the massive ‘mouth’ of the machine evoking that of a huge whale to intake tremendous amounts of raw materials. Be it harvesting plankton or mining the ocean floor with laser drills, this massive machine can do it all, but when a titanic storm shorts out its circuits, the Whale is locked on a beeline collision course for Honolulu, and Pete and Brock are trapped inside!
Honestly, there’s not much else to say about this one – it’s very much a story that would have been more at home in a series like Jonny Quest. I will say, though, the sheer scale of this thing does feel pretty on-par with the many super-vehicles of the Godzilla franchise – I could see this thing as a more civilian counterpart to the Gotengo or something. Also, this episode features Godzilla literally punching his way through an islet to create a canal for the sub to go through rather than risk Pete and Brock getting hurt by attacking it; I can’t help but give some bonus points for that alone.
Valley of the Giants
We’ve already had a shrinking episode, itself a hallmark of Western cartoons, but this episode’s titular valley is very clearly based on the same idea, leaning more into the ‘surviving in a world of insects’ angle that wasn’t really focused on too much with the giant fly’s episode. But how do you apply that trope to a series where your star is a skyscraper-sized saurian of stupendous strength? Why, you just blow up the bugs, of course!
A mining crew in Central Africa are digging into a mountainside near Mt. Kilaminjaro in order to construct a new highway, only for their explosives to accidentally open a fissure in the mountain leading to an unknown valley – no sooner has the breach been opened than a horde of gargantuan ants pour forth, attacking the construction site and raiding the workers’ supplies! Even with the shoddy lighting of the episode (the majority of season 2 is still primarily present online in the form of direct rips from VHS tapes, and they’re about as low-quality as you would expect), it’s a genuinely tense scene clearly drawing from classic creature feature Them!, especially with the chirping, clicking vocalizations of the enormous ants.
The Calico crew, meanwhile, have come up the (totally fictitious) Mtumbo River in search of the river’s source, leaving the ship behind to trace the river’s flow on foot until they get to a massive waterfall. As they scale the falls, they find themselves within the valley… and what a valley it is.
The ‘trees’ are smooth and supple without a trace of bark, crowned by gigantic flowers the size of houses and long bladed leaves – they’re not trees at all, but colossal grasses and herbs blown up to the size of buildings. Hanging overhead are clouds of golden-orange mist, casting everything in a strange glow… and roaming this bizarre jungle are an assortment of enormous arthropods, large enough to match even Godzilla ton for ton!
The mist overhead is the source of these titanic organisms – as the crew search for a way out, a normal-sized bee evidently flown in from the outside world wanders into a patch of strong sunlight filtered through the amber mist, whereupon it immediately balloons in size until it’s as big as a small airplane. Dr. Darien theorizes that there’s something within those clouds that, when sunlight is filtered through it, induces some sort of bizarre chemical reaction in invertebrates, causing them to swell to these titanic proportions. Hey, it’s as good an explanation as any, and one that harkens back to all manner of classic pulp stories – super-growth formulas are practically a dime a dozen in old sci-fi. Ultimately, though, the plot of the episode isn’t really about stopping the reaction as would typically be the case in most stories like this; the bugs are fine where they are, there’s no need to disrupt the ecosystem. In a refreshing change of pace for pulp protagonists, our heroes just want to find a way out of this strange valley and go home, but not without making sure that the enormous arthropods stay where they are with Godzilla’s help. But enough about premise, let’s see some giant fuckin’ bugs!
These colossal ants are the first supersized bugs to appear in the episode, and end up being quite relevant to the plot – after attacking the construction camp, the ants seized all the raw materials that they could find, from wooden beams and steel girders to crates, pallets, and smaller pieces of mechanical equipment, the first clue to the crew of the Calico that there is indeed a way out of the Valley of Giants. Each easily the size of an elephant, these ants take some time out of their busy schedules to briefly menace our protagonists, but Godzooky’s more than capable of bluffing them off for long enough to let the human cast escape. Overall, their anatomy is pretty accurate for real-life ants save for perhaps their elongated mandibles with grooves like a pair of pliers, giving them an almost beaky visage.
The same cannot be said, however, of this horrible horrible spider monster – another proud entry into the tradition of ‘scary arthropods clearly drawn so as not to terrify small children’. I’ve noticed that out of all the various creatures that tend to get this treatment, spiders are the ones that it gets applied to most consistently by a very wide margin – my guess is due to the prevalence of that most obnoxious fear, arachnophobia. Either way, this enormous black widow-like spider is a primary example of that trope, with a pair of fully functional vertebrate-like jaws almost resembling those of a turtle and complete with a bright red tongue, a single pair of glaring all-too-human eyes, crab-like pincers on the tips of the first pair of limbs, and a pair of inwards-curving mandibles clearly supposed to represent a spider’s fangs but more resembling venom-dripping tusks than anything else. A bright red forked streak runs down the back/abdomen, providing a splash of color that proved to be a godsend for actually getting screenshots of the damn thing, while its webs emerge from the ‘waist’ where the abdomen meets the cephalothorax, either from the back or the underside depending on what’s needed for a specific scene. The weirdest thing about it, though, has to be the thing’s sounds – while it makes its fair share of hisses and snarls, its most consistent sound effect is a weird repeating knocking sound that doesn’t even sound like it came from an organic being. The closest comparison I could draw to it would be the sonar system of a whale… and the sound effects of another vaguely bug-like monster from decades later.
What this immense arachnid lacks in accurate arachnid physiology, it more than makes up for in attitude – this one fucking spider is a vengeful daughter-of-a-bastard, snaring a supersized dragonfly that I unfortunately couldn’t get a decent screenshot of and actively tailing Godzilla after its first encounter with the King of the Monsters, even lying in wait to ambush him by the water’s edge once he emerges from the valley’s lake to help his human friends once more. It’s also notable in being the only monster in the entire run of this series to accomplish what was previously the exclusive purview of avatars of pollution and walking extraterrestrial armories – that is, it makes Godzilla bleed as it injects him with its venomous bite. While the venom itself apparently doesn’t seem to do much to Godzilla’s tissues, the sheer amount injected into his system is enough to knock the King of the Monsters unconscious, leaving the spider ample time to wrap him up in silk and tether him down to the lakeshore. Being spidersilk, the Calico crew’s best efforts to cut their friend free are for naught, but when Godzooky gets stuck in the spider’s web, his cries for help snap Godzilla out of his near-coma, the colossal saurian tearing himself free with a furious roar before plucking his nephew out of the silken threads and tearing ass towards the spider for round 3. As the scuffle continues, however, another dose of energizing sunlight causes the supersized spider to grow even larger until it’s more than twice Godzilla’s size – it’s only through brains, rather than brawn, that the King of the Monsters wins the day, tricking the spider into injecting itself with its own venom and sending it collapsing to the ground.
This gigantic rhinoceros beetle unfortunately only shows up for a brief few seconds before Godzilla picks it up and hurls it back into the jungle, but it too displays the same pseudo-vertebrate features as the spider, with a short almost reptilian snout, two fangs poking out from the lips and a short spike on its chin, large dark slit-pupiled eyes, and no fewer than four large horns on its head – one where the nose would be, a pair jutting forth from just below and to the sides of the bulging eyes, above a pair of smaller facial spikes, and a fourth set above and between the eyes. It’s a visage that wouldn’t look out of place on some alien monster or an entry in the early Dungeons and Dragons bestiaries – there is not a thought in this bug’s head, and I will cherish it none the same.
While the spider is Godzilla’s consistent opponent throughout the episode, the crew of the Calico must regularly contend with a hive of gigantic bees – while they primarily concern themselves with feeding from the valley’s gargantuan flowers, they evidently have no reservations about adding a bit of meat to their diets, snatching up both Captain Majors and Dr. Darien and bringing them back to their hive to seal up in a wax cell behind a nearly foot-thick layer of wax. I have to wonder what exactly the reasoning behind this was – normally, bees use honeycombs to store both their honey and their larvae, the hexagonal cell shape optimizing the available space. Perhaps the larvae require a bit of animal protein as well as honey, like how wasps take prey back to their own hives to feed their young? Regardless of the why, it seems that these giant bees share the same weakness as their normal-sized cousins – Godzooky’s smoke is more than enough to render the entire hive temporarily docile for long enough to allow Pete and Brock to tear their friends free from their wax prison. However, the bees themselves aren’t the only danger that this huge hive presents – just outside of the entrance to the oversized beehive is a strange, deep conical pit, with a pair of monstrous mandibles jutting out from the deepest point in the center. On his way to the beehive, Pete accidentally slides over the edge, slowly edging towards the jaws of the pit’s creator…
Why does this thing look like it should be screaming Youtube Poops with CDI Ganon?
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a giant antlion larva ever featured on a cartoon, much less as a full-blown kaiju. This big brute has all the features that you would expect of a real-life example of its species – the giant mandibles, the shape of the abdomen, even the sensory hairs, but it’s still exaggerated and twisted into something that’s just… beautifully fugly. From above, all that you can see of its face is a pair of beady little googly eyes set on a triangular piece of chitin shaped almost exactly like the face of a fucking Worm on a String – set direclty underneath this setup is another pair of smaller mandibles like a lethal little mustache, and just underneath that like the mouth of a fucking shark is a broad vertebrate-like lower jaw. Clawed feet emerge from the tips of its hairy legs, and yellow warty growths emerge from its reddish back; the entire thing looks like an enemy from an old Nintendo game manual, this monstrous hodgepodge of parts that looks superficially like something from Earth, but gets weirder and weirder the longer you look at it.
After the brief jaunt through Africa, we return to the depths of space to retrieve our next monster of the week, but this gravitational giant’s found quite a bit closer to home than your typical alien. Rather than a distant world, the Gravity Goliath calls our solar system home… and specifically, our very own moon!
As the hour draws near for a historic lunar eclipse to occur, A sudden moonquake dislodges a nearly mountain-sized chunk of stone that hurtles towards the Earth and splashes down into the sea nearby to a sealab where the crew of the Calico are getting ready to observe the astronomical event. After the tidal waves generated by the impact die down, however, the radio waves are flooded with distress signals sounding out from all around the area – ships, helicopters, even fighter jets are being pulled down under the water, their instruments going haywire… and the Calico is next, inexorably pulled towards the meteor’s crash site at incredible speed!
The culprit behind these gravitational anomalies is the Gravity Goliath, a towering monster that accidentally hitched a ride on the lunar meteor and crash-landed on Earth – as the name suggests, its very presence exudes an enormous gravitational pull with the potential to reshape the currents of the world’s oceans, and it’s only growing stronger as it bathes in the light of the full moon. Fortunately, the creature’s increasing power isn’t nearly as overwhelming as that of the Magnetic Monster featured earlier in this article – the Gravity Goliath’s powers are directly tied to the moonlight it receives, and as the eclipse begins, its strength rapidly dwindles away, forcing it to flee and buying time for the crew of the Calico to hatch a plan to stop the monster.
The Gravity Goliath’s build is overall fairly simple, a massive humanoid figure seemingly made out of moon rock, but the spots polka-dotting its bulky frame give the beast make it easily stand out, as does that wonderfully monstrous face; I swear, this thing has protrusible jaws like a goblin shark, going by some of the shots. Looking at this big brute, I can’t help but be reminded of Ray Harryhausen’s Giant Ymir – beyond the facial features, both monsters are enormous extraterrestrial brutes from another world within our solar system, brought to Earth by accident and wreaking havoc as a side effect of the basic functions of their bizarre anatomies. While the Giant Ymir had its gradual unstoppable growth, however, the Gravity Goliath has energy attacks out the ass – literally. Every single one of its spots can discharge a ray of gravitational energy strong enough to pull in cruise ships or shove away a creature as large as Godzilla, and it can fire an even stronger beam of the stuff from its mouth. Beyond that, it’s also immensely physically powerful – even with the eclipse draining its power, it still displays enough strength to lift and throw Godzilla, underwater. I choose to believe that it’s a John Carter situation – its adaptations to moving around and functioning in lunar gravity make it almost impossibly strong on Earth, while living on a world without an atmosphere means it can exist underwater indefinitely.
For all of its power, however, the Gravity Goliath gets plenty of opportunities to emote – we visibly see it slump and sag as it expends its dwindling reserves of power, the anger on its face as it stumbles into the trap set by the crew of the Calico, surprise as Godzilla powers through three of its gravity beams at once. Ultimately, its sojourn on Earth isn’t the end for it – as the eclipse passes and the full moon rises once more, Godzilla hurls the out-of-place alien into a ‘tether’ of gravitational energy extending forth from the moon to Earth, which promptly sucks the monster back up out of the atmosphere and launches it back home.
As their name implies, these four-armed bruisers are the series’ second set of living statue-guardians of an ancient civilization – specifically, they guard the ancient city of Kayak-Noor, heavily implied to be located in India, although the architecture of the ruined city itself also brings to mind the world-famous temples at Angkor Wat. Either way, these golden giants’ episode begins in a similar fashion fashion to that of the Stone Guardians in the previous season – an archaeologist’s camp is besieged by a colossal four-armed giant that rampages through the base camp with single-minded determination. When the Calico arrives just a few days later, having been called to investigate, there’s nothing left of the place but a deserted ruin, seemingly trampled beneath tremendous feet. However, there’s one major difference between these guys and their progenitors – while the Stone Guardians defended a simple pyramid, the Golden Guardians are commanded by the elder of an isolated tribe living nearby, who uses the giant creatures’ power to rule with an iron fist and to keep any outsiders from finding their home, by any means necessary. Of course, our heroes have no way of knowing just what they’re getting into as they start to explore the ancient city, only to find themselves pursued by one of the very same four-armed golden statues. The titanic statue wastes no time picking up the Calico and battering it with its many fists, only to be headed off by Godzilla – as the two titans clash, however, the stupendous statue fires twin yellow beams from its eyes to match Godzilla’s own laser beams, both beams canceling each other out in a flash of light. Dr. Darien theorizes that the Golden Guardian’s own beams constitute the exact opposite frequency as their massive ally’s lasers, therefore neutralizing one another. No sooner has the enormous idol stomped onto the scene, however, then it vanishes just as quickly as it came, leaving the Calico crew stumped.
While Brock and Captain Majors stay behind to repair the damage done to the Calico, Pete and Dr. Darien continue their investigation of the abandoned city, stumbling upon a courtyard lined with nearly a dozen gigantic golden heads identical to that of the giant that just attacked them. Nearby is a large shrine evidently dedicated to the gigantic statues, inscribed with what looks like the writing of the Harappan civilization – as Quinn investigates these carvings, Pete wanders into a side room and finds a colossal diamond-like gemstone almost the same size as he is, embedded into the floor and emanating some sort of strange aura that lulls him into a half-asleep state within seconds of exposure. As soon as he touches the gigantic gemstone, though, the young man immediately falls into some sort of trance, trapped in a dream-like state of enormous golden giants… just as one of the buried ‘heads’ tears the rest of its gigantic body free from the earth.
Godzilla is quickly summoned once more to do battle with the gleaming titan, but this time the four-armed colossus is ready for him – its yellow-green beams sweep over Godzilla’s titanic form, rapidly encasing him in a layer of solid gold until he’s completely petrified into a new statue to decorate the ruins with! No sooner has Dr. Darien pulled her nephew away from the massive jewel, however, then the Guardian halts its advance, immediately reburying itself as Pete awakens from the strange dreams that the monster just re-enacted.
Back with Brock and Captain Majors, they’ve been captured by the high priest and locked up for their trespassing into sacred ground – behind a moat full of hungry tigers, no less! He orders the rest of his flock to search the jungle for the rest of the crew, then heads to the shrine himself and activates the huge gem, which he calls the Dreamstone – turns out, the elder is a lucid dreamer, and as such is able to control the Guardians when under the gem’s influence.
After breaking out their friends with Godzooky’s help, our heroes hastily jury-rig the communication laser aboard the Calico to fire at the petrified Godzilla, freeing him from his prison… and not a moment too soon. The elder has already awakened one of the Guardians and sent it to destroy the Calico; as the King of the Monsters thunders forward for a rematch, though, the high priest calls upon reinforcements… as the rest of the Golden Guardians awaken and march to engage this titanic intruder. As their friend is forced to battle no fewer than seven opponents at once (well, mathematically at least – Hanna-Barbera budget limits them to only five being shown on-screen at a time at the most), the Calico crew find themselves attacked by the last of the Golden Guardians as it awakens as well, but a thrown boulder from the four-armed monster shatters the Dreamstone, snapping the high priest out of his trance and leaving him unable to command the creatures… and therefore unable to rescind his last order to the gilded giants, to destroy Godzilla. Fortunately, the King of the Monsters has gotten wise to the Guardians’ tricks, dodging and juking out of the way of their eye beams with surprising agility for a hundred thousand-ton saurian; breaking off the battle, he leads them into a nearby marsh, where their weight causes them to sink down up to their necks in the muck and mud. Before they can recharge their eye beams with solar energy, Godzilla unleashes a veritable inferno of fire breath upon the trapped titans, washing over every last one of the Golden Guardians and melting their gigantic bodies down into a massive lake of solid gold.
All in all, this is an episode that’s kinda showing its age with the nature of its antagonists as the gods of an evil Indian high priest, but it merely toes the line between ‘oh that didn’t age well’ and ‘holy shit that’s real fucking racist’ without fully crossing over into full-on yikes territory. The Golden Guardians are clearly based on the many-armed statues and sculptures of Hindu gods and demons found all across the subcontinent, but they’re also just as obviously meant to be depictions of ogres or rakshasas, with curved protruding tusks, sharp teeth, and huge bulging eyes formed from huge emeralds set beneath furrowed brows. They’re also notably one of the relatively few monsters featured in this series to lack a unique roar, instead using the whispering calls of the Magnetic Monster – the roars were creepy as shit coming from a giant turtle, and they’re creepy as shit coming from these guys.
The Macro Beasts
Another classic pulp scenario scaled up to kaiju size, the Macro Beasts, well, aren’t exactly full-fledged kaiju – they’re a collection of sea life that mutated to colossal proportions after being exposed to a bizarre ‘super nutrient’ that bubbles up from the caldera of a newly-formed volcanic island and washes out into the sea. Feeding upon the purplish ooze and exposure to the volcanically-heated waters of the surrounding island causes them to grow larger and larger by the minute, resulting in veritable armies of gigantic sea creatures that could wreak havoc upon international shipping lanes if left unchecked.
Make my fishtank GROW!
Notably, this is an episode that’s rather heavy on the human-scaled action – it’s the crew of the Calico who do much of the heavy lifting for the majority of the episode, using the electrical shields on the ship’s mini-submarines to herd most of the super-sized marine life into a nearby atoll. Of course, there’s only so much that they can do by themselves – Godzilla lends a hand wherever he can, ultimately bringing back a full-sized iceberg from the South Pole in order to reverse the chemical reaction by rapidly cooling the water around the Macro-Beasts. Most of these are just oversized marine animals, but there’s enough weirdness with their anatomy that their inclusion here is warranted.
These giant seahorses are the first of the Macro-Beasts spotted by the Calico, all moving together in a herd just like their equine analogues on land. How exactly they’re propelling themselves when the dorsal fin, the main method of propulsion in real seahorses, is completely clear of the water, I have no idea, but I choose to believe that they’re either ‘standing’ on their tails like dolphins, or twirling their tails like helicopter rotors to zoom around. Pete describes them as being as big as regular horses, but they’re spotted later on at sufficient size to dwarf Godzooky; a visual signifier to indicate that the Macro-Beasts are still growing and growing as they intake more of the super-nutrient.
Only the bell of this gargantuan jellyfish is spotted rising above the water, but even this small portion of the actual organism is dozens of times larger than the entirety of the Calico! Given its irregular shape, I’d wager that it might be a gigantic man-o-war rather than a true jelly… if that’s the case, I wonder if all of the tiny organisms that make up such a creature multiplied themselves billions of times over to attain this size, or each individual animal grew to titanic proportions. What would you even call such a collection of colossi – men-o-war? An armada? A gestalt?
This enormous crab seems to combine the general shape of a stylized cartoon crab with the long spindly limbs of a king crab, with the added features of a spiky back and what appears to be a vertebrate-like mouth emerging from the front of its shell. First spotted marching alongside a similarly supersized sea turtle, it takes a few moments to menace the Calico’s mini-subs, only to learn a painful lesson courtesy of the vehicles’ afterburners.
The title for the most persistently pernicious of the Macro-Beasts goes to a rather surprising contender – not a shark or a barracuda or a saltwater piranha as you’d typically expect of an ocean setting, but rather a gigantic mutated manta ray evidently capable of full powered flight, dive-bombing the Calico’s mini-helicopter and firing bolts of lightning from the tip of its tail as it screeches with sound effects taken from Jonny Quest’s Turu the Terrible. Even when Godzilla rises up from the deep, it displays a surprising amount of hutzpah for, well, a ray, at least until the King of the Monsters grabs it by its tail and bodily hurls it back into the atoll-pen.
This goldfish serves as Dr. Darien’s test subject as she investigates the power of the super-nutrient – applying a few milligrams of ooze causes it to grow in size until it’s practically bursting out of its bowl, only to shrink back down as soon as an ice cube is dropped into the water. Honestly, hats off to her for just stopping there – if I had access to something that could instantly grow any animal into a kaiju, it wouldn’t be a matter of when I’d stop, but rather how long until I ran out of goo.
Normally, supersized sharks and squids like these (at least, I’m pretty sure that they’re supposed to be squids – the only footage I could find of them was too foggy to tell one way or the other) would be treated as the main threats that our heroes have to contend with, vicious killing machines that know only blood and death… but here, they’re just another sea creature that needs to be herded into the makeshift pen, with the only danger that they present to the crew of the Calico being when a shark swats aside Captain Majors’ sub with its tail when he draws too close. When you’ve got an atomic dinosaur on your side, the backbone of the Syfy Channel’s programming isn’t exactly much of a threat…
…but a swarm of electric moray eels each longer than a subway train and capable of spitting bolts of lightning? Yeah, that’s just straight-up nightmare fuel no matter what medium. While the manta ray was a persistent pest, the moray horde are the one group of Macro-Beasts that provide the most trouble for our heroes, shorting out the electric shields of their submersibles and bombarding them with trillions of volts of electric death. Honestly, my only complaint is that these sleek oily-black serpents’ faces didn’t lean a bit more into how fucking weird real morays’ faces can look, but their visages nonetheless do match up pretty decently with a number of different species. All in all, a solid take on the trope of the electric moray eel.
Seems that we’re still stuck on volcanoes this time around – our next monsters, however, aren’t created by a volcanic eruption, but rather create them instead! A geological research station in Hawaii is being inundated in reports of volcanic activity all over the world, with dormant and extinct volcanoes reawakening and new ones forming – the worst hotspots are concentrated around the Pacific rim. The Calico are of course on the case, investigating the one spot that all of the Pacific eruptions seem to be centered around – a stretch of open water right between the Pacific and Asian tectonic plates, near where a rocket crash-landed the previous summer. As the research ship draws closer to the area, a new volcanic cone bursts up from the seabed and breaches the surface in seconds to form a brand-new island, tearing open jagged fault lines in the ocean floor and leaving the Calico high and dry. Brock and Dr. Darien get sucked into an underground network of air-filled caverns by the rushing water when they investigate in the mini-sub, forcing them to explore on foot. The caverns themselves are barren and lifeless, the rock and dirt all tinted red to form a dark, gloomy atmosphere like a new circle of Hell… and wouldn’t you know it, one of its demons chooses that exact moment to make an appearance.
Pete and Captain Majors are quick to investigate a side vent of the volcano with Godzooky in tow, their voices echoing through the tunnels towards Brock and Dr. Darien – as they double back, though, they find the way blocked by a colossal fire engine-red lizard! The beast chases the two scientists into a much larger cavern where molten lava bubbles up like a spring, with several more of the creatures eagerly crowding around the seep and guzzling down the molten material… but they don’t seem too troubled about adding some meat to their diets, moving to surround the two humans.
Pete and Captain Majors, meanwhile, follow the echoing calls of their crewmates deeper into the mountain, moving along the banks of a flowing underground river and into a hall of massive rapidly-growing crystal formations that begin to rapidly wall them in. Godzooky calls in Godzilla, but even the King of the Monsters isn’t unaffected by the seismic activity, tumbling into a crack opening up on the seafloor beneath his feet and trapping him underground – for now, the Calico crew are on their own, with Pete and Captain Majors using the high-frequency signal of the Godzilla signal itself to vibrate the crystals penning them in and smash them to pieces. Once the crew is reunited, with Godzooky distracting the Magma Lizards long enough for Quinn and Brock to escape, our heroes trek further into the caves, where they finally find the lost rocket… wedged in between the very edges of the two continental plates, preventing any of the pressure from grinding together from being released. Is that possible? Absolutely not, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s happening. Dr. Darien is confident that she and Brock can jury-rig the rocket’s faulty guidance system and propulsions into something functional, allowing them to blast their way out of the new volcano, but another of the Magma Lizards seems to have taken a liking to the craft’s interior, even larger than the rest of its kin, and it’s rather insistent about staying right where it is. After luring it out of the rocket, our heroes pile in, with Godzooky following through the tunnel the craft drills through the earth, only to be met with the entirety of the Magma Lizard colony… just in time for Godzilla to bust through and pull him to safety. Having been mashed between two tectonic plates and only come out all the more pissed for it, the King of the Monsters plucks the rocket out of its downwards dive and rams it through the seabed and into the ocean above, then crawls out the long way… namely, by exiting via the mouth of the volcano with a thunderous roar of victory against geology itself.
As monsters go, the Magma Lizards are rather smaller in scale than the typical kaiju seen on this show – they’re each larger than Godzooky by a considerable margin, but Godzilla dwarfs even the largest of them. Their fire engine-red color scheme stands out even in the low-quality footage I found of them, contrasted nicely by the black down their backs. The horned heads and wall-eyed almost toad-like faces are a decent midway between dopey-looking and potentially dangerous – they remind me quite a bit of thorny devil lizards, especially with those spikes and that color scheme. Of course, drawing and animating such a reptile would doubtlessly be a nightmare, especially on a Hanna-Barbera budget, so the slurpasaur look was likely the only option for the animators. That said, they quite live up to the title of ‘devil,’ able to breathe streams of fire over dozens of meters – however, their pyrotechnic talents seem to have a limit before they run out of fuel for their fire.
And speaking of slurpasaurs, one can’t help but compare these reptiles to the Megavolt Monsters from the previous season – with their nearly identical walking animations, combined with the similarly barren rocky landscapes both beasts inhabit and their shared dependence on an external energy source to fuel their attacks, I have to wonder if maybe one of these lizard-like creatures was based off of scrapped designs for the other, recycled and repurposed into an entirely new monster. Either way, the two species serve as a rather interesting dichotomy to one another – two monstrous slurpasaur-inspired kaiju living high and dry beneath the depths of the ocean, one of water and the other of fire. Was that intentional? Probably not, same as the contrast between the Firebird and the Power Dragon. Is it neat? Hell yeah it is.
The Ice Creatures
The final opponents of this series, these insidious icy alien foes are one hell of a finale to the show’s second season. As temperatures plummet all over the globe, the sea level dropping by dozens of feet and the tropics getting swamped in snow, the Calico sails to the Arctic in order to investigate a strange supposed meteor impact that had occurred just before the climactic changes began, passing hoards of marine life all fleeing south as swiftly as possible and entire fields of newly-formed icebergs onto to come to a massive sheer wall of ice – the ocean is slowly being completely frozen, and it’s only spreading further, walling in the Calico to crush it to bits. Godzilla’s all too happy to smash through the encroaching ice, but the question remains as to what the hell is causing all of this. Further investigation in a mini-sub reveals entire shoals of marine life all captured in the ice… and a UFO nestled within the frigid depths of the ice wall’s caverns, seemingly carved entirely out of ice.
Closer investigation reveals that the UFO is full of aliens – pale angular beings all running tests and equipment checks under the oversight of a general Frios, adorned with a bizarre hooded crown, and his right-hand man Phobos; these are the inhabitants of Frios, a nearly moon-sized frozen asteroid from a distant star system, and evidently inhabited by similarly cold-loving beings… beings who plan to not only reduce Earth to a frozen wasteland more to their liking, but use the planet’s own magnetic field to draw their homeworld in close and crash it directly into Earth, repopulating what remains with ‘much higher life forms – our own!’ As the general gleefully recounts his people’s plan to do just that to a captured Quinn and Captain Majors, two more of these beings corner Brock with the minisub and incapacitate him with freeze rays. Pete urges Godzooky to bring back Godzilla, but even the two kaiju are similarly frozen, leaving only the younger Darien to save the day.
As Frios draws closer and closer, we get treated to quick glimpses of the rest of the world – oceans draining away, cities torn apart by earthquakes, ships engulfed in rising glaciers, famous landmarks ripped from the ground and hurled around vast distances by the two astral bodies’ clashing gravitational pulls. Cryos watches all this unfold with a cold smile on his face – when Captain Majors begs for an answer as to why he would do this, destroy an entire planet and all life upon it, the alien conqueror merely turns up his jagged nose.
“You see now why we ice creatures must conquer and why you Earthlings must fail.” He sneers. “You speak from warm emotions. We have none.”
That’s… a legitimately chilling line, and it’s coming from a dude wearing a fucking crown-parka combo.
Meanwhile, Pete’s managed to defrost Brock by refracting sunlight from one of the mini-sub’s windows, and begins to defrost Godzilla; Captain Majors, on the other hand, is hardly going to go down without a fight. Getting his hands free, he manages to reverse the polarity of one of the Ice Warriors’ freeze rays and turn it upon the guards, reducing them to little more than puddles. Even armed as they are, he and Dr. Darien find themselves cornered, soon to be frozen solid as well… until a familiar roar shakes the air. Godzilla is free, and he’s absolutely furious. This final stand brings together the entirety of the Calico crew, everybody getting their chance to shine as Frios looms larger and larger in the sky above – Godzilla smashes through the ranks of the Ice Warriors and sends them running, hefting the frozen UFO upside down and letting our heroes reconfigure the magnetic equipment on-board, forcing the incoming asteroid back into space and sending the Ice Warriors fleeing after it, never to return to try the patience of Earth’s greatest defender.
As far as ice-people go, the Ice Warriors are exquisitely designed – beyond simply just being pure white, their every feature is sharp and jagged as if they were just chipped out of solid ice, from eyes and cheeks to fingers and feet, while the dialogue is up their with the Watchuka in how fucking raw some of their lines are. But most of all, the sheer apocalyptic scale of these frigid foes’ sinister plot stands above and beyond that of any other monster in this series; the Magnetic Monster, the Firebird, the Breeder Beast, all of these beings had the potential to destroy the world, but it was always a matter of telling rather than showing. But with the Ice Warriors, we get to see firsthand just what they’re capable of – and it only makes our heroes’ triumph feel all the more well-earned for it.
And finally, we have a kaiju that technically never actually appeared within the series proper, but rather in a themed commercial bumper. But god dammit, I’m nothing if not a completionist, so we’ll be including it here too – one of the most obscure kaiju in the entire franchise. The bumper’s plot is simple: the crew of the Calico are celebrating the turn of the century when they’re suddenly attacked by a monstrous cybernetic insect… an insect that stops its roaring to calmly inform Pete that it prefers to be called the ‘Millennium Bug’ before immediately resuming its roars. Quinn frantically speculates about what such a creature could potentially do to the infrastructure of the world were this cyborg creepy-crawly to rampage – the stock market could crash, power grids could fail, we could be sent back into the dark ages! The only one who could possibly stop this calamity is Godzilla; Captain Majors hammers the signal as the music swells… and nothing happens.
“Carl.” Dr. Darien calmly asks. “Did… did you remember to update the internal microchips?” “Y-yes…?”
And so the bumper ends, zooming in on the signaller as it starts to smoke in Captain Majors’ hand.
As far as designs go, the Y2K bug’s rather complex for a Hanna Barbera creature, likely thanks to it only needing a couple frames of animation; its overall shape almost evokes a computer mouse, with the mouse buttons where the elytra would be on a typical beetle. Cruel jagged edges and barbs adorn its legs, with a pair of sickle-shaped hooks tipping its first pair of limbs, while glaring eyes styled like the headlights of a car glare out from beneath a V-shaped brow and a pair of segmented antennae that form an arrowhead shape when viewing the robobug from above, like a computer cursor. And of course, emblazoned on the creature’s underside are the words “Y2K BUG,” in case you didn’t quite get the joke just yet.
All in all, it’s a pretty ridiculous idea in hindsight, but honestly? I think it’s perfect for a closing segment on this little slice of Godzilla history. As funny as it may be to look back at the hysteria surrounding Y2K, it’s important to remember that the reason why nothing happened is because professionals around the globe were working nonstop to make sure of it. It was a legitimate event that loomed large in the public consciousness – in other words, perfect inspiration for an opponent of the King of the Monsters. Godzilla’s foes embody a truly enormous range of fears through the decades, from imperialism and genetic engineering to pollution, Cold War tensions, and of course atomic warfare. Out of all the beasts and baddies featured in this series, the Y2K bug is a monster that’s been well and truly defeated… but perhaps not forgotten. After all, the Monsterverse, the powerhouse behind Godzilla’s rebirth in the public imagination, came right out of the gate with the Mutos, a species of monstrous vaguely insectoid horrors whose very anatomy allows them to devastate the artificial landscape that we’ve built for ourselves to inhabit by instantly frying just about anything electronic as they literally feed upon the fuel that powers our modern society. I’m not saying that this super-obscure monster featured in a single minute-long commercial was part of the inspiration behind the King of the Monsters’ explosive return to the silver screen – I’m just saying that just like the rest of this series and its motley crew of monstrosities, there’s more to this little bug than meets the eye.