How I’d Ruin It: Universal’s Dark Universe

Today’s How I’d Ruin It is a very special case, as it concerns a group of stories I actually think I’d be pretty good at adapting under normal circumstances. The stories in question are the classic Universal monster movies (and, by proxy, the novels that inspired them): Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, et cetera. So if I think I could adapt them well, where does the ruination come in? Well, as you might know, Universal Studios desperately wants to turn these horror movies – which, back in the day, eventually became interconnected with crossover sequels like Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man and House of Dracula – into a cinematic universe of action films ala Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’ve already branded the project the “Dark Universe,” despite the fact that the two films they made jumpstart the shared universe bombed immensely.

There’s a reason the Dark Universe hasn’t worked out, and it’s a very obvious one. The appeal of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, and all the other Universal Monster films is that they’re classic HORROR movies, and horror is a very different genre than action. Count Dracula was not designed to be Iron Man – they are incredibly different characters in stories with vastly different tones and aesthetics! This should be obvious to anyone with a brain, and yet here we are. Still, the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to make swimming pools full of money, so Universal isn’t likely to give up its Dark Universe scheme for a while.

So let’s have a special twist to the “What if?” that drives this column. Today, let’s talk about what would happen if I was forced to make a version of the Dark Universe – that is, an action movie reboot of Universal’s classic horror movies.

We’re going to look at what Marvel did as a template, and unlike almost every studio that’s tried to replicate their success, we aren’t going to try and rush our way to The Avengers. The slow burn was necessary for Marvel’s success, and trying to run to that finish line is just going to fuck up this project. So first we need our Iron Man – a story that’s grounded in reality with minimal supernatural elements, because it’s easier for today’s audience to accept super powers coming from technology than magic. So what’s the most sci-fi of the classics?

Why, Frankenstein!

Our hero is Dr. Frederick Franken, a genius medical student with a big secret. Over two centuries ago, his ancestor committed one of the most notoriously ill concieved medical experiments of all time, and Frederick even went so far as to change his last name so as not to be associated with the infamous “Mad Doctor Frankenstein.” However, a spark (heh) of his ancestor’s genius remains in him, and eventually Frederick is approached by Igor Fritz, a Transylvanian scientist who discovered a unique carcass in the artic. It turns out to be the body of the original Frankenstein monster, and while Frederick is initially horrified, he realizes the creature is still alive (albeit comatose) despite all this time – a medical marvel that could revolutionize the world! Despite his fears, Frederick and his girlfriend, Elsa, quickly begin studying the monster, trying to revive it from its suspended animation so he can reverse engineer his ancestor’s miraculous experiment.

Unfortunately, Igor Fritz has a more sinister motive, and steals Frederick’s incomplete research as well as the remains of the original Frankenstien monster to make his own army of monsters, mortally wounding Frederick in the process. Elsa discovers him, and Frederick has to walk her through the process of turning him into a new Frankenstein monster while bleeding out in a scene that totally isn’t a ripoff of the moment in Iron Man where Tony gets Pepper Potts to help him replace his heart battery. Now blessed with supernatural strength and endurance, Frederick chases down Igor, who in turn sets the original Frankenstein monster upon him. Elsa tries to stop Igor from escaping as the two monsters duke it out, but Igor kills her and makes his getaway. Frederick destroys the original Frankenstein monster, but the victory is bitter, as he quickly spots Elsa’s dead body. He breaks down, only to remember that he can bring back the dead. However, before he can begin the process of reanimation, he is approached by Not-Nick Fury, agent of Not-SHIELD, and is told that there are other monsters in the world.

We’d then have a Frankenstein origin movie that’s basically a superhero film AND allows us to have a Frankenstein’s monster that can be called Frankenstein without riling nerds up. It has almost nothing to do with the 1930’s movie and ESPECIALLY the actual novel, but it’s an action movie with a Frankenstein superhero, so boom! First entry done!

Our second film has to fill the Thor niche – it serves as a bridge between the “realistic” fantastical elements of impossible science and the “unrealistic” fantastical elements of magic and whatnot. It took Marvel so long to allow magic to be called magic that the third Thor movie was the first time Thor’s world was every treated as mythical – the previous two instead opted to constantly state that the “magic” of these Norse gods was just highly advanced technology. So who can we fuck up in this particular way – which character can be forced to straddle the line between sci-fi and fantasy despite clearly belonging in the later?

Why, The Wolf Man! It also helps that this story has a very similar dynamic to The Incredible Hulk, which is technically the second MCU movie despite the fact that no one remembers it.

This would essentially be like Teen Wolf (the Michael J. Fox movie) crossed with An American Werewolf in London. Lon Talbot is a young youtube celebrity who travels to the wilderness and films himself surviving outside of civilization. During one trip he gets attacked by a strange wolf-like monster, and eventually he starts turning into a werewolf. After his first rampage, he is taken in by Not-SHIELD, and Not-Agent Coulson tells Lon that he has a rare virus that turns him into a wolf-like man, treating the whole thing as a strange but ultimately mundane disease – not a curse or anything. The word “werewolf” is treated with derision, and instead everyone insists on referring to the disease as Lycanthropy and the afflicted as Lycanthropes. They make a deal with Lon: they can supply him with an experimental drug to control his transformation, and will give him access to the cure if they ever find it, on the condition that he use his wolf-man powers to help them fight other monsters, starting with the lycanthrope that turned him. Lon agrees, and there’s a fight between him and the evil lycanthrope (your starter villain has to have the exact same powers as you, this is Cinematic Universe law). The stinger shows Lon returning to Not-SHIELD, where he runs into Frederick Frankenstein and the newly reanimated Elsa, leading to…

Bride of Frankenstein, the Iron Man 2 of our Dark Universe. Frederick and Elsa are now working for Not-SHIELD, and are chasing down Igor Fritz, who has teamed up with the nefarious Mr. Hyde (evil alter ego of the decent Dr. Jekyll) to create a stronger variation of the Frankenstein monster. Our couple’s relationship is a bit rocky, as Elsa isn’t entirely comfortable with her new monster body and resents Frederick for making her life so weird. It isn’t helped by their ally, the sarcastic and arrogant Dr. Henry Griffin, also known as the Invisible Man. Eventually the trio work out their issues and take down Igor, Mr. Hyde, and their new monster creation, the Frankenhyde. Igor is put in prison, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde is forced to work for Not-SHIELD while being kept in custody, and the Frankenhyde is apparently destroyed. Our stinger would show Not-Agent Coulson discovering a new paranormal artifact: an long-buried Egyptian sarcophagus.

Like The Wolf Man, our take on The Mummy would try to frame the magical elements as “advanced science,” claming that the Ancient Egyptians were visited by aliens that gave them super advanced technology. Yes, I am aware the idea of “Ancient Aliens” being responsible for the advanced technology of ancient non-white civilizations is horribly racist, but to be fair, so is the idea of mummies as stock horror monsters. I’ve never been too fond of The Mummy as a horror icon, and this is just one of the reasons why.

Anyway, ancient aliens gave the ancient Egyptians super technology, including a medical procedure involving special bandages that can bring the dead back to life, albeit with some limitations. This technology was only used twice before being buried. The first attempt was used to “save” Pharoah Imhotep, but the procedure was botched and he came back as a mad and homicidal monster that could literally suck the life out of people, reducing them to dust. The second was used upon high priestess Ahmanet, who fought Imhotep until they were both drained of vitality and rendered comatose. The two mummies were interred in a secret tomb along with the mummy-making technology, and for centuries they were little more than a legend.

In the present day, Not-SHIELD has found the lost tomb. They open Ahmanet’s sarcophagus, and the ancient mummy awakens to a strange new world. She has a lot of fun fish-out-of-water moments as she adjusts to modern civilization, and bonds with the bland Not-SHIELD agent who serves as her love interest. Not-Agent Coulson notes that the technology that preserved her actually use some of the chemicals in Frankenstein’s process for bringing corpses to life, tying this movie to previous Dark Universe films while also grounding the supernatural aspects of the Mummy in “realistic” science.

Of course, Imhotep gets released as well, and does some evil shit while trying to conquer the new world, and once again Ahmanet must fight him. She wins, Imhotep is sealed away, and Ahmanet officially joins Not-SHIELD. We get one last stinger as Not-SHIELD stores Imhotep’s sarcophagus in their warehouse next to another ominous box: a very gothic-looking coffin…

Dracula’s Daughter is our next film, a period piece set in the roaring twenties. Lucy Harker is a flapper and a free spirit that loves Jazz and has a tense relationship with her parents, John and Mina Harker. It’s so tense, in fact, that Lucy ran away from her home country of England to travel to America, unaware that her parents had good reasons for their over-protectiveness, as the Harker family has some powerful enemies. Lucy is attacked by the sinister Lord Ruthven, a powerful vampire who wants revenge on Lucy’s family for killing Count Dracula, the king of the vampires. Ruthven begins the process of turning Lucy into a vampire, but is interrupted by the timely arrival of Gabriel Van Helsing, grandson of Abraham Van Helsing. Gabriel tracked Lucy down at her parents’ behest, and now helps Lucy fight the vampiric disease (we’d still be framing this supernatual stuff as a virus because, again, it takes a while for people to accept magic for some reason) while the two of them try to track down Ruthven before the transformation can be completed.

They fight Ruthven and his zombie minions, but Ruthven has them outclassed until Lucy’s vampirism takes full hold, allowing her to kill him. With his dying breath, Ruthven tells Lucy that, “His blood flows through your veins! You may have killed me, but from this day forth you shall always be Dracula’s daughter!” Lucy realizes this is true when she hungers for Gabriel’s blood, and tearfully asks her friend/contrived love interest to stake her too. Gabriel can’t bring himself to do it, and instead incapacitates her with garlic before locking her in a coffin, promising to find a cure. We then realize he founded Not-SHIELD for that purpose, and our last scene shows Lucy awaking in the modern day. Not-Nick Fury (perhaps Gabriel’s descendant? Peter Van Helsing perhaps?) greets her, and Lucy chastises him for bringing her back, ranting about how dangerous she is. Not-Nick Fury shuts down her complaints with one sentence: “Count Dracula is back.”

Which brings us to The Avengers of the Dark Universe, a movie I’ll call The Universal Monsters. Count Dracula has been returned to life by an escaped Igor Fritz, and the two create an army of Franken-vampires to take over the world. Frederick and Elsa Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, Wolf Man, the Mummy, and Dracula’s Daughter must team up to stop him, all while dealing with their own angst over their conditions as well as the interpersonal problems posed by their contrasting personalities. While many are dubious that such a ragtag team of freaks could be anything but a menace, in time they prove to be the heroes humanity needs. Count Dracula balks at this during their big confrontation – “What is this? Do you really think you can save humanity?” “Humanity? Drac, we won’t stop there. We’ll save the world. Hell, we’ll save the universe. That’s what we are – the Universal Monsters.”

And from there we’d start adapting the more obscure monsters – the Creature from the Black Lagoon could be our Guardians of the Galaxy-style wacky offbeat hero, the Phantom of the Opera could finally bring in explicit supernatural elements ala Doctor Strange, and on and on in that fashion. Maybe Count Dracula could become a redeemed antagonist via some Hellsing style magic shackle – Hollywood loves ripping off Anime and passing it off as an original thought. That’s how I’d do the Dark Universe – it completely betrays the stories that it uses as source material, but I think it would be some good, cheesy fun.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – a First Impression Review

It’s finally time for another First Impression Review – the movie reviews that come with a huge asterisk because it really takes more than one viewing to make a good analysis and evaluation of a movie, but that takes, y’know, time, and people don’t like to be patient.  And what better subject to mark the return of this column than the sequel to Jurassic World, a movie that was so good at manipulating my childhood nostalgia that my first impression overlooked its many flaws?  So join me friends as we discuss Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the second entry in the sequel trilogy of the Jurassic Park franchise.

If you follow me on tumblr, you may have noticed that I take issue with how quickly critics slap the word “stupid” on any genre fiction movie that doesn’t star superheroes, and especially in how frequently the word comes up in regard to monster movies.  Even positive reviews do it –  “Well, it’s a dumb movie, but it’s fun!” – as if the fact that there’s a monster in a movie at all is inherently stupid, and yet at the same time the idea of, say, a frozen super-human wearing a costume made out of the American flag coming to the present day to fight a fictional NSA’s giant flying aircraft carriers is smart by comparison.  I think there’s a bit of a double standard here.

I will stand up for the average-but-competent writing of films like Rampage and Monster Trucks – just because a film isn’t a masterpiece work of art that changes your life when you experience it doesn’t mean it’s stupid.  Films don’t work on a strict Genius/Idiot dichotomy – there’s a spectrum between them, and some movies are just ok instead of good or bad, smart or dumb.  Some movies are just acceptable.  Competent.  Not stellar, but not utterly terrible.  Just ok  – a solid C grade for those of us who grew up with the horribly backwards American education system.

I mention this because when I say Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is dumb but fun, I want you to know that yes, I appreciate the irony.  However, I’m also not saying this lightly.  JW:FK is a movie that makes significant and stupid mistakes in its writing.  It has an abundance of glaring lapses in logic and character consistency.  The dialogue is serviceable at best and pretty bad far more often than not.  It doesn’t have a plot so much as a series of flimsy justifications for the string of action sequences that make up the majority of its runtime.

You know how people often claim genre fiction movies don’t care about story, and that all their talky bits are nothing more than a hasty excuse for the stuff that people actually want to see (in this case, dinosaurs eating people)?  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is exactly that.  In its defense, the dinosaur scenes are all incredibly effective at their intended purpose.  The numerous chase sequences throughout the film are all gripping, and dear god, you get your money’s worth for the dinosaur action.  This isn’t a dull slog of a cash grab like Jurassic Park III – this is pure fanservice, the closest any movie has come to being “just dinosaurs eating people for two hours” like so many monster movie fans clamor for.  For the sheer schlocky fun of watching big prehistoric monsters rampage around, this movie hits it out of the park.

There are also a few moments that play the dinosaurs for pathos, and, for me at least, this was effective.  Like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, this movie really works better once you realize the true protagonist isn’t human – in this case, it’s really the story of how Blue the velociraptor goes from trained pet to full on action hero.  We even get to see her origin story AND a scene where she showcases the action movie hero superpower of being able to survive an explosion unscathed just by turning her back to it!  That last bit is a bit silly, sure, but it happens in your precious fucking superhero movies and you ain’t calling them dumb anymore.  

She’s not the only dinosaur that gets sympathy, either – given that a huge plot point is the idea that all the dinosaurs are being threatened by a volcano, we do get more than a few scenes that play up the horror and tragedy of seeing these large, impossible creatures facing an even more unstoppable and primal force of death than themselves.  How effective this is on you depends on how easily you sympathize with dangerous creatures – as a person who’s been fascinated by and compassionate towards predatory animals since childhood, particularly those of the reptilian persuasion, I was a pretty easy mark for this movie’s attempt to pull at an animal lover’s heartstrings.  It did make me cry in one particular scene (if you’ve seen it you definitely know which scene I’m referring to – it’s one of the standout moments of the film).  I have, however, heard plenty of people who have a lot less sympathy for the dinosaurs, on account of them eating people in every movie and all that.

Which, y’know, fair I guess.  It’s probably natural to value the lives of human beings over genetically engineered chimeric prehistoric monsters.  I might be wired a little strange.

That does lead to an important point of criticism, though, and one that’s particularly relevant to my blog here.  As you know, I’m incredibly fascinated by the idea of treating monsters as characters instead of as simply a force of conflict.  Both approaches can work, of course, but in general I think a monster is far more interesting when it’s given its own motivations and personality, especially when those monsters are pretty far from human in shape and mentality.  The Jurassic Park franchise is generally very adept at treating its dinosaur stars as characters – I wrote an ICHF on Rexie/Roberta, the T.rex from the first film who returned in both Jurassic World and this entry, and even the turgid Jurassic Park III gave its dinosaur stars motivations and a great degree of personality.

By contrast, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is hit and miss at this.  While Blue, the herbivorous dinosaurs, and the villainous hybrid monster Indoraptor (we’ll get to him in a bit) enjoy the level of characterization that’s standard for the series, all the other predators are treated much more like the standard movie monster: namely, they exist only to menace the human characters, even when it makes no sense to do so.  And unfortunately, MOST of the scenes are ones where it really doesn’t make sense for the predatory dinosaurs to go after our human characters.  A real animal would not stop in the middle of running from lava to menace a few humans, or worse, spend all its time chasing humans while trapped in a building filled with lava.  Even the aforementioned Rexie is treated as nothing more than an eating machine, hunting every conceivable prey item with her every waking moment.  Since these monster chase scenes make up roughly 70% of the film’s runtime, the result is a LOT of scenes where the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park don’t behave like real creatures, but rather as puppets of the script’s forced conflict – “This scene would be scarier with one of the dinosaurs acting as an obstacle to our heroes’ escape from the lava, so let’s do that even though it makes the carnivores seem suicidally gluttonous.”

The one exception to this is the aforementioned Indoraptor, and even then we must include an asterisk.  While the other dinosaurs are treated as such a uniformly destructive force that there’s a sort of subtextual malevolence to them, the Indoraptor’s wickedness is just plain text.  It is an evil being, a creature that smirks while tricking a human into coming closer to it, that visibly delights in toying with its prey and inflicting carnage.  It doesn’t just feel an instinctual need to kill people wantonly all the time like the other dinosaurs – it actively wants to kill.  It’s a murder-saurus, Freddy Krueger’s dinosaur fursona.  Is that a bit silly?  Yes, but you don’t criticize it when superhero movies have villains with the exact same moustache twirling villainy.

The Indoraptor provides some of the best scenes of the movie – tense, horrifying chases that make use of dinosaurs/the prehistoric monster archetype in a way that has never been seen on film before.  If they were in a movie that had a better script – the way their antecedent, the “Raptors in the Kitchen” sequence of the original Jurassic Park had been – I think they would make for one of the most effective movie climaxes of this decade.

That’s the real tragedy of this movie, honestly.  There are a lot of elements of it that work – you can take basically any of its dinosaur scenes, particularly those that have little or no dialogue, and see how much talent was poured into them.  The director of this film is to be commended – he provokes a wide variety of emotions despite working with a rather lackluster script, and there are shots in this movie that no horror film has ever experimented with before.  I honestly think this could have been a groundbreaking film, perhaps even on par with the original…

If.  It had.  A better.  Script.

I know I’ve railed on it a bit, but I have to admit that, for all its faults, I enjoyed my time watching this movie.  As other reviewers are so fond of saying, I enjoyed the spectacle despite my brain constantly seeing all the weak writing that tried and failed to justify that spectacle. It was dumb, but it was enjoyable, and because I really do love big scaly monsters, it tugged my heartstrings with great expertise.  The camerawork and editing is top notch, and the special effects artists knew how to make some really fun dinosaur moments.  Most of the cast is great too – the actress who plays the requisite child character is quite possibly the most likable child in any Jurassic Park movie (damning with faint praise since most of the child characters in this franchise are abysmal, but still, she does damn good work), and Chris Pratt brings as much charm as he can to the horribly written cliche that is Owen Grady.  The snarky paleo veterinarian Zia is the highlight of the movie, if only because she’s perpetually exasperated by how stupid all of the characters around her are.  And of course Blue steals the show.

But it would be nice if we could have all these good elements in a story that makes sense, and with characters who are at least well written enough to make us care about them.  At least one Jurassic Park film managed that, and I don’t think it’s a lot to ask.  Yes, we’re coming here for the dinosaurs – they’re the main draw – but as any player of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis can tell you, people need more than just dinosaurs to stay around, and this franchise needs more than spectacle to live up to its inaugural entry’s name.

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Profile: Tyrantis

T5 Cancerous Tyrantis

Aliases: True Tyrantis, Terror Tyrantis, Tyrantis the Terrible, Ty Too

Date Discovered: May 10, 2018

Place of Origin: Unknown

Notable Stomping Grounds: San Francisco, Echidna Island

Height: 220 feet

Length: 500 feet

Biology: In many ways similar to the original Tyrantis, this kaiju began as a paleo tyrant living in a subterranean ecosystem cut off from the human civilization on the surface.  Like his counterpart, this Tyrantis’s world was thrown into chaos by an atomic bomb test.  However, this Tyrantis had the unfortunate luck of living in a universe without Yamaneon crystals, and while his the laws of his universe and his unique physiology allowed him to survive the otherwise lethal dose of radiation, his mutation into a colossus was far from pleasant.

Now a bloated, tumor ridden monstrosity, this alternate Tyrantis emerged from his now ruined home into the sunlit world of man,  His bad luck only continued, as his fearsome appearance and agonized flailing served only to strike fear into the hearts of humanity, who immediately tried to destroy him with every weapon at their disposal.  Though he has no more inclination to harm humanity than his counterpart in the world of ATOM, this Tyrantis has a hard time becoming hero he could be.

This Tyrantis’s power set includes

  • Super strength
  • An enhanced healing factor beyond any kaiju in the universe of ATOM
  • Radioactive heat ray
  • Gamma Radiation Aura
  • Boiling blood

Personality: Though his mind is wracked with agony and his history with humanity is composed entirely of them hurting him, this Tyrantis is just as compassionate and understanding as the original.  His most passionate desire is to figure out why his body hurts so badly and how to make it stop – once that is accomplished, he would go about searching for what all the various Tyrantises end up searching for: friends and family.  Sadly, his home universe seems almost cruelly designed to keep him from reaching any of these goals.

Luckily, however, his universe is not the only one out there…

~ ~ ~

 

Author’s Notes: This ATOM Bonus Kaiju File is a bit different than the others, as you may have noticed – instead of representing a different kaiju from Tyrantis’s universe, it represents a Tyrantis from a different universe.  With this final entry, we explore another what-if.  Second to a properly feathered Tyrantis, the other most requested revamp of Tyrantis has been one that makes him a properly fearsome monster, playing the irradiated mutant factor for terror rather than in the tidy, almost glamorous way I have with the canon Tyrantis.  This Tyrantis takes more than a few cues from Shin Godzilla, which gave the same treatment to the King of the Monsters himself.  It’s also inspired by when my old pet bearded dragon lizard got melanoma – he recovered, don’t worry, melanoma isn’t a super huge deal to lizards because their metabolisms are so much slower than ours.  Still, though, the way the tumor sprouted out from beneath and between his scales was fascinatingly gross, and I repeated it here (several times, since again, my lizard’s melanoma never got very serious – it was one tiny lump on his tail, rather than the cornucopia of lumps shown here).  Of course, as with all the previous Tyrantises, this Tyrantis is still the big green lug we know and love – he just has a much harder time getting people to see that.

I hope you all had fun with this self indulgent excursion!  And for those of you who follow this site primarily for the movie reviews, uh, well, it’s gonna be a month or two before those start back up again, so, uh, sorry about the weird monster profile stuff that probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to you without context.

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Monster File: Tyrantis

T3 Dinosaur Tyrantis

Height: 60 feet at the hip

Length: 220 feet

Powers/Weapons: Supernatural strength, rapid healing ability, combustible methane belch

First Appearance: Tyrantis (1998)

Description: An enormous radioactive Tyrannosaurid, Tyrantis is more formidable than ever in the new big budget remake of the 1950’s classic creature feature!  With a more scientifically accurate look, this new take on the old monster packs a lot more terror into every second of screentime, proving once and for all that largeness is an important factor!  Though his cast includes a virtual who’s who of celebrity talent, from comedy legend Dan Castellenata to former 80’s teen heartthrob Judd Nelson, rest assured that this Mon-Star is the true star of this new thrill ride that puts all others to shame!  Bigger than Jaws, bigger than Jurassic Park – see Tyrantis when it debuts this coming Friday, and remember, Largeness Is An Important Factor!

~ ~ ~

Author’s Notes: This ATOM Bonus Kaiju File is a bit different than the others, as you may have noticed – instead of representing a different kaiju from Tyrantis’s universe, it represents a Tyrantis from a different universe.  In this specific case, this Tyrantis hails from a universe where birds/dinosaurs ruled the Mesozoic instead of retrosaurs, and as such is an actual mutated Tyrannosaurus rex.  However, this reality is also one where radiation makes all creatures change size and gain random super powers, so in terms of scientific accuracy it’s still something of a lateral move.  This particular alternate Tyrantis is a gift for the many, many, MANY fans who asked me to make the canon Tyrantis have feathers.  I will never, ever grant that wish, but I am willing to throw a bone since I understand why people want more dinosaurs in media that are, y’know, actually similar to how dinosaurs really looked.

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Kaiju: Tyrantis – CR 35

T4 Authoriel Tyrantis

Hit Points: 600
Speed: 60 (12 squares) Feet
AC: 42 = 10 + Natural Armor 35 + DEX 5 – 8 Size Modifier
Flat Footed AC: 37 = 10 + Natural Armor 35 – 8 Size Modifier
Touch AC: 42 = 10 + Natural Armor 35 (Scintillating Scales) + DEX 5 – 8 Size Modifier
Initiative: +9

STR: 42
DEX: 20
CON: 34
INT: 6
WIS:20
CHA: 20
Base Saves
Fortitude: 31
Reflex: 24
Will: 22

Damage Reduction: 15
Spell Resistance: 30
Regeneration: 40 hp per turn

Base Attack Bonus: +30
CMB: 54 CMD: 67

Attacks:
Bite: Attack 1d20 + 38 (+4 more on crits); Damage 4d8 + 16 (+2d6 bleed damage every round after on criticals)
Claws (x2): Attack 1d20 + 38 (+4 more on crits); Damage 1d12 + 16 (+2d6 bleed damage every round after on criticals)
Tail Slap: Attack 1d20 + 33 (+4 more on crits); Damage 3d10 + 8
Breath Weapon: 200 foot cone, DC 32; Damage 20d12 (fire damage)
Crush: Medium creatures or smaller, DC 28; 4d6 + 18

Important Skills: Acrobatics 5 (45 when jumping), Climb 16, Diplomacy 5, Intimidate 21, Perception 43, Sense Motive 5, Survival 5, Swim 26

Species Traits
Darkvision 60 feet and low-light vision.
Immunity to magic sleep effects and paralysis effects.
Carapace: Tyrantis’s scales deflect cones, lines, rays, and magic missile spells, making him immune to such effects. There is a 30% chance the effect is reflected back at full force to the one who created the attack.
Scintillating Scales: Tyrantis’s scales and hide are both physically and magically thick and resilient, and as such even attacks that can normally bypass natural armor must work through them to get to him. His natural armor is thus part of his AC.
Powerful Leaper: Tyrantis uses strength to modify Acrobatics checks for jumping, and gets a +24 racial bonus for these checks.
Regeneration: No form of attack can suppress the creature’s regeneration. It regenerates even if slain by a death effect. If it fails a save against an effect that would kill it instantly, it rises from the grave 3 rounds later with 1 hit point if no further damage is inflicted upon its remains.
Rush: Once per 10 rounds, Tyrantis can move at a speed of 150 feet for one round. This increases the bonus on checks made to jump to + 87.
Amphibious: +10 Racial bonus to swim checks
Feats:
Intimidating Prowess: Add Strength to Intimidate as well as Charisma
Awesome Blow: When attacking with his tail swipe, Tyrantis can knock an opponent 10 feet away in a straight line. If the opponent hits something before landing, both the opponent and the object take 1d6 damage.
Blindfight: Tyrantis can reroll the miss chance percentile die one time for any foe he missed because they were concealed. Invisible attackers get no advantages to hitting the beast in melee.
Bleeding Critical: Whenever Tyrantis deals a critical with his claws or teeth, his foe takes 2d6 bleeding damage each round on his turn, in addition to the damage dealt by the critical. It can be stopped with a DC 15 heal check or through magic healing. The effects stack.
Power Attack, Cleave & Great Cleave: When Tyrantis successfully hits one foe, he can attack another right after, and so on until he misses.
Combat Reflexes: Can make 5 additional attacks of opportunity (one per point of dex bonus) per round and can even make them while flat footed.
Critical Focus & Staggering Critical Focus: +4 circumstance bonus to any critical hit, opponents become staggered for 1d4 + 1 rounds after any crit.
Great Fortitude: +2 on all fortitude checks
Improved Bull Rush: No attack of opportunity on bull rushes, +2 to bull rush attacks, and +2 to CMD when being bull rushed
Improved Critical (Claws & Teeth): Threat range is doubled
Improved Initiative: +4 to initiative
Iron Will & Improved Iron Will: +2 to will saves and can reroll one will save per session
Lightning Reflexes: +2 to reflex

~ ~ ~

Author’s Notes: This ATOM Bonus Kaiju File is a bit different than the others, as you may have noticed – instead of representing a different kaiju from Tyrantis’s universe, it represents a Tyrantis from a different universe.  In this specific case, this Tyrantis hails from the loosely connected shared universe of the various Pathfinder campaigns I’ve run.  Originally his stats were for Godzilla, which I made by taking the pre-existing stats for a Tarasque and loading them up with even MORE bullshit powers specifically designed to nerf the abilities of one of my players, who had basically munchkin’ed out his stats and was making it hard for the other players to contribute.  Later I repurposed the stats for Tyrantis, and as a result this incarnation of Tyrantis has had quite a few small but important cameo roles in all my subsequent Pathfinder campaigns.  In this universe – one which, like all D&D derived campaign settings, is full of magic and gods and stuff – Tyrantis is a type of prehistoric demigod called a kaiju, and like all of his kind he’s charged with keeping life safe from extinction, even if the cause of said extinction is SOME of that very same life.  The fact that he’s only BARELY sapient, with the vocabulary and grammar skills of a Hollywood caveman, means he’s not exactly the most precise tool for keeping the ecosystem secure, but he gets his job done.  Like all the other alternate Tyrantises, he’s more similar to his ATOM counterpart than different – in this case, he’s just a bit more ostentatious and, well, magical.

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HWE Kaiju File: Tyrantis

T2 HWETyrantis

Name: Tyrantis

Aliases:
 The Jade Giant, The Nomadic Tyrant

Factions:
 None (currently)

Status:
 Active

Alignment:  Chaotic Protective

Rank:
 3
Measurements: 
Height: 100 feet

Length: 200 feet

Weight: Normal


Powers:


Fire Breath:
 Tyrantis can produce a sort of natural napalm, allowing him to literally breath fire.  This is more versatile than being a simple oral flamethrower, however – Tyrantis can release a fiery spray, spit multiple smaller fireballs, or even “inject” flame into his opponents by biting into them, creating a small internal explosion within his foe’s body.
Heat Resistance: Tyrantis can withstand incredibly high temperatures, even going so far as to survive being dumped in lava.
Bone Crushing Bite: Tyrantis’s jaw and neck muscles are incredibly strong, even by kaiju standards. This means his jaws are capable of crushing bone and tearing through steel.
Primitive Lizard Brain: Tyrantis’s reptilian brain is resistant against psychic attacks, keeping uninvited guests out of his mind.
Reptoid Chimera Biology: Like most creatures crafted by the reptoids, Tyrantis’s biology is unique compared to other terrestrial organisms because of the many different sources his genes come from.  His cells are incredibly resistant to disease, as viruses and bacteria – which usually specialize in one type of organism – have trouble getting a foothold against his immune system.  Tyrantis is also technically able to breed with most other chimeras that were produced by the clan of reptoids that created him.
Weaknesses:

Extreme Cold Climates:  Tyrantis is nonetheless a heat-loving creature, and is far less powerful in cold climates than warm. In temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit he becomes sluggish, and when the temperature drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit he can no longer generate napalm (though he will still be able to control fire from other sources, albeit with less precision).
Primitive Lizard Brain: While not exactly dumb, Tyrantis isn’t particularly smart either. He has a hard time communicating with other creatures, even when they use telepathy. As such it is hard for Tyrantis to form strategies with ally monsters, and not hard for enemies to trick him.
Sparring Obsession: Tyrantis was designed to be a shepherd of other kaiju, and while that often means beating them into submission, it rarely means killing them outright.  As a result, despite loving combat, Tyrantis is reluctant to strike killing blows.  Tyrantis will only aim to kill when he is absolutely certain his life is on the line, which means he will often pull his punches when dealing with other kaiju even if they have more malevolent intentions.

Personality:  Tyrantis loves one thing more than anything else: fighting. Tyrantis lives for combat, whether it’s a friendly sparring match with one of his allies, or a full out duel to the death with a vicious enemy. While a vicious combatant, Tyrantis also has a sense of honor. He never uses dirty tactics in combat, and refuses to fight creatures that don’t provide a challenge for him. Any creature that does not show the same respect, though, will face the full force of Tyrantis’s wrath.
Despite this violent lifestyle, Tyrantis is nonetheless a benevolent creature, and is more than willing to befriend other kaiju (after they wrestle for a bit, of course).   Tyrantis was genetically engineered to be a social creature, and as such feels a passionate need to form a “pack” no matter where he goes.  Those lucky enough to accept his friendship will have gained a fiercely loyal ally.
While not incredibly intelligent, Tyrantis is something of an idiot savant when it comes to fighting, showing a level of creativity and inventiveness that is beyond most creatures. Tyrantis can build crude weapons, set traps, use his environment against his foes, and pinpoint weak spots with bizarre ease. While not good with plans, Tyrantis is a genius at thinking on the fly. This impulsive mindset can make him an unpredictable opponent – when he’s not content to simply beat his foes into submission, that is.

Bio: Tyrantis was one of the first kaiju to be discovered in the modern era.  For most of its life it had lived in an Earth Hollow – a subterranean ecosystem hidden from human civilization within the earth’s Enigma Layer.  Unfortunately, an earthquake of absolutely ridiculous proportions caused by a human mining operation utterly destroyed the monster’s home, even forcing a large section of the Earth Hollow up to the surface.  To the humans above, this was already a bizarre and horrifying event, for in their eyes a new mountain had basically sprung up in Jordan, Montana overnight.  Little did they know that the mountain’s inhabitants would be far more disturbing.
The first sightings of Tyrantis were dubious at best, coming from thrill seeking people that wanted to explore the new mountain despite being warned of its possibly unstable nature.  Tales of the “giant lizard” in the mountain spread pretty quickly, and were denounced by most as sensationalist nonsense even quicker.  Nonetheless, one herpetologist by the name of Dr. Minerva Lerna was intrigued by the tales just enough to fly out to Montana to find the monster.  She eventually discovered that the rumor was true, and that a monstrous reptile the size of which humanity had never dared to dream truly did exist in the mountain – and it wasn’t alone.
A second monster emerged from another section of the mountain and, in a blind rage, promptly began to bulldoze the nearest human settlement.  Dr. Lerna could only watch in horror as Tyrantis charged after the monster, but to her surprise Tyrantis didn’t join its side.  Instead, Tyrantis beat the other monster into submission, often going out of his way to drive his foe away from the human settlements in the process.  Eventually the enemy monster retreated, and Tyrantis, secure in his victory, roared in triumph before returning to his mountain lair.
News of the battle spread quickly, and soon it was clear Tyrantis and his foe were just two more of the giant monsters that had recently sprung up around the world to plague mankind.  However, the behavior of Tyrantis is what truly grabbed the world’s attention, for this seemed to be the first instance of a kaiju that would willingly protect humanity from others of its kind – and thankfully, it would not be the last.

History:  Tyrantis was created 4 million years ago by a race of subterranean reptilian creatures.  He is a hybrid of several creatures – specifically, several creatures from the Mesozoic era, including Deinosuchus and Tyrannosaurus rex.  Like all the other kaiju creations of the reptoids, Tyrantis was made for a specific purpose: in his case, he was essentially a shepherd, and specifically a shepherd of other kaiju.  Tyrantis was designed to have an instinctual love of combat (especially nonlethal “sparring”) and a desire to socialize with other creatures, even and especially ones of a different species.
His life in his Earth Hollow proceeded as expected for 4 million years – he helped reign in the other kaiju in the ecosystem, was fed routinely, and generally enjoyed a simple and routine lifestyle.  However, a human-caused and Enigma-powered earthquake brought that lifestyle to an abrupt end when it tore his home apart and stranded him on the surface with only one other kaiju from his home for company.  Without masters to give him orders, and a herd of kaiju to reign in, Tyrantis had nothing to do except explore the new surface world he had been violently forced to enter.  Along the way he formed a sort of bond with one of the surface dwellers – a human woman named Dr. Lerna.

Important Dates:

March 16, 2033: Tyrantis’s earth hollow is destroyed, and a portion of it is pushed to the surface.
August 13, 2033: Tyrantis is officially “discovered” by humanity (though had been sighted many days prior) after he does battle with Tricerak in Jordan, Montana.
???: Tyrantis and Dr. Lerna are forcibly taken to another universe, wherein they encounter alternate versions of themselves while trying to find a way back home.

~ ~ ~

Author’s Notes: This ATOM Bonus Kaiju File is a bit different than the others, as you may have noticed – instead of representing a different kaiju from Tyrantis’s universe, it represents a Tyrantis from a different universe.  In this specific case, this Tyrantis comes from the world of the Hollow World Enigma, a group storytelling project I’m a member of.  This alternate Tyrantis is a genetically engineered chimera much like the previous one, although he was made by the cave dwelling Reptoids, since HWE has a much bigger focus on cryptozoology.  I won’t be posting the other stuff I have on HWE here, but I felt it would be fun to give it a bit of spotlight here on Horror Flora while doing this fun take on different Tyrantises.

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SAOM Kaiju File: Tyrantis

T1 Neosaur Tyrantis

Class M4 Kaiju

Height: 60 feet at the hip

Length: 250 feet

Powers: Class 4 Super Strength, Class 4 Regeneration, Organic Flamethrower in Mouth

Origin: Genetically engineered “Neosaur”, further mutated by a manmade gene altering pathogen to see if one could control the mutation from normal fauna to kaiju

From the notes of Dr. Wilhelmina Lerna:

T.giganticus was first discovered in 2034, the start of the Second Age of Monsters. It had been sixty or so years since the last confirmed kaiju sighting (although a few incidents were reported in the intervening years, none ever produced proof of an actually kaiju encounter), and as such it came as a surprise to most of the world.

“The first specimen of T.giganticus arrived at the shores of the city of Genericton, California. The monster was extremely malnourished, being drawn to the city by the smell of prey. The coast guard tried to fend off the creature, but its weaponry was nowhere near strong enough to provide a suitable challenge. The monster was eventually downed by an experimental bio weapon, though not killed.

“The appearance of this monster brought alarm on a global scale. Unlike most of the unverified sightings of the past, which mainly dealt with class M0 or M1 kaiju, this was an M4 – the kind of kaiju that had devastated Japan on a near-daily basis back in the 1950’s. Even more troubling was the fact that it was not an amphibious creature by nature, which meant it had travelled from some other landmass. This meant there may have been others from that same landmass (there were) that may follow in its footsteps, so to speak, and come to America (they did).

“An expedition was immediately formed, and sure enough it not only found the landmass, which was dubbed “Typhon Island,” but a half dozen or so kaiju on it as well. Amongst them were three other specimens of T.giganticus: an adult mating pair, and one juvenile. An unfortunate series of events led ALL of the island’s giant inhabitants to attack Genericton, with the horde of monsters only leaving once the mating couple retrieved their offspring.

“In a way this was actually very fortunate, as the father Tyrannopyrodon, who the public dubbed “Tyrantis,” would end up saving mankind from numerous threats – from kaiju, mankind itself, and even outer space – in next couple of decades.”

Team Afiliations: Tyrant Squad (Team leader)

Episode Appearances: Tyrantis of Infinite Earths

Personality & Temperment: T.giganticus is an intelligent and social species with a strong familial instinct. Parents will defend their young with all weapons at their disposal. All known specimens of T.giganticus show a great fondness for combat, often sparring with each other or other kaiju in a friendly manner. The species is renowned for its creativity in combat; on some occasions they can even craft crude weapons to deal with opponents. There is a tender side to the creature as well – unlike most predators, T.giganticus will not prey on the sick or weak, only fighting those who can face it on equal terms, and it shows absolute loyalty to any creature that has earned a place in its “pack.” The species is not particularly aggressive to humankind, and will keep to its territory on Typhon Island so long as it is is not provoked. It is also one of the few kaiju that regularly communicates with others, using a mix of vocal sounds and body language.

~ ~ ~

Author’s Note: This ATOM Bonus Kaiju File is a bit different than the others, as you may have noticed – instead of representing a different kaiju from Tyrantis’s universe, it represents a Tyrantis from a different universe.  In this alternate timeline, Tyrantis is a “neosaur” – i.e. a genetically engineered chimera designed to recreate a dinosaur using the genes of existing dinosaur relatives as well as incomplete prehistoric DNA.  He is then mutated further into becoming a full fledged kaiju by a shady organization trying to create bio-weapons.

If all of that sounds even sillier than the normal stuff you get from the ATOM kaiju files, that’s because it is – this is an homage to a much earlier draft of the story, where it was basically Godzilla meets Jurassic Park by way of Resident Evil.  The series has changed a lot since then (for the better, I think), but I thought it would be fun to pay homage to its roots.

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