Sunday, March 15, 2015


Reptilicus ~ There was a time when the Japanese giant monster movies, kaiju eiga, were so popular that everyone was getting into the act. Japan had at least three different film companies with their own continuities and soon the rest of the world wanted in. The US was in on it at the ground level co-producing with Toho on some of the Godzilla flicks. The UK had Gorgo, South Korea had Yongary, and Denmark had Reptilicus.

Like some of the Godzilla (as well as Gamera, Yongary and others) movies as mentioned above, Reptilicus was an American International co-production. Usually this was done only to guarantee distribution in the US, but sometimes like here, AI took a stronger hand in the film. This, like the Hollywood and Spanish versions of the 1931 Dracula, is actually two completely different films - one in English and one in Dutch.

Directed by Poul Bang in Dutch and Sidney W. Pink in English, Reptilicus is the story of a prehistoric beast, almost similar to a winged Chinese dragon, found frozen then revived. Once awake, the regenerating and flying monster rampages through Denmark and finally Copenhagen where it meets its seeming end.

Unlike most kaiju, Reptilicus is brought to special effects life as a marionette like Mothra rather than suitmation like Godzilla. The special effects look much better than might be expected for what is essentially a puppet.

While the first half-hour or so drags by, there are lots of sights and sounds of Copenhagen to enjoy. It's almost like an old Hollywood travelogue. My favorite parts early on are the man in overalls who spoils his lunch by looking at it under a microscope, and Birthe Wilke as herself singing up a storm. It all goes to hell however when Reptilicus breaks out of his lab, offscreen of course.

The American version added some badly animated acid breath to the monster's arsenal, yet removed the flying scene. Also missing was a romance between two characters and an additional musical number. There was at some point legal action sought to fix the American version, which the Dutch thought at first was unreleasable. Notably in the English language version, the Dutch actors are so much better than the American ones.

After over five decades Reptilicus remains a cult classic and quite popular in Denmark. There has always been talk of a sequel, and the movie even sets up the possibility. There was a novelization, and American comic book from Charlton that lasted two issues before legal problems caused a name change to Reptisaurus. I kinda dug this so-bad-it's-good kaiju eiga from the Dutch, worth watching.

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