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Gappa, The Triphibian Monsters
(MoAsia / Japan Shock) (PAL)
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Japanese Title: Daikyoju Gappa (“Giant Animal Monster Gappa”)
Original U.S. Release Title: Monster From A Prehistoric Planet
Director: Haruyasu Noguchi
Original Release Year: 1967
Running Time: 82 minutes

DVD Released By: MoAsia / Japan Shock Video (Netherlands)
Video: Widescreen
Audio: Japanese mono, German mono
Extras: International poster gallery, behind-the-scenes footage and photos, trailer
Subtitles: English, Dutch
Closed Captions: None
Region: 0 (the box says region 2, but the disk is actually region free)
Format: PAL
Chapters: 6
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: Unknown
UPC #: 8712806026802
Catalog #: MOAD 06
Status: Available


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Reviewed by:  Zillamon51
The Film: A magazine tycoon plans to set up a faux tropical resort on the Japanese mainland.  He sends an expedition to the South Seas island of Obelisk to collect rare plants and animals for the resort.  They discover something rare and special indeed:  A prehistoric egg!  Hidden in a cave where the natives fear to venture, the egg has (supposedly) been lying dormant for millions of years until an active volcano completes its incubation.  A reptilian creature hatches from the egg.  Confident that this discovery will bring great publicity to the resort project, they decide to bring the newborn creature back to Japan.  The natives warn that doing so will anger their god, Gappa.  However, the warnings fall on deaf ears.

The expedition has made a grievous error, though.  The egg is not a prehistoric relic; its parents are alive and well, and they want their baby back!  The Gappa are winged dinosaur-like creatures of Godzilla proportions.  They breathe deadly flames, and are equally at home on land, in the sea, and in the air (hence the title).  The military is unable to stop the creatures as they rampage through Japan in search of their offspring.  A lot of Japanese real estate is trampled before the publisher and researchers release the baby Gappa.  Reunited at an airport, mama and papa Gappa give the youngster a quick flying lesson before returning to their island home.

Gappa is an interesting entry in the 1960’s Japanese monster boom.  It’s the only kaiju eiga produced by Nikkatsu, one of Japan’s major studios at the time.  The special effects were directed by Akira Watanabe, an assistant to Eiji Tsuburaya.  While obviously low budget, they show great attention to detail (for example, when the adult Gappa pair first appear in Japan, the female carries an octopus in her mouth to feed her young).  The Gappa are an interesting combination of bird and dinosaur, and the miniature work is quite good.  Oddly enough, only one of the adult characters, a female photographer, is sympathetic to the baby Gappa.  Of course, the two children (a native boy and the publisher’s daughter) have a rapport with the creature.  Gappa both imitates and pokes fun at the Japanese kaiju eiga formula.  Grade:  B

Video: Gappa, The Triphibian Monsters is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.  The film print is in very good shape, with only minor speckles.  However, the transfer is a mixed bag.  In some scenes, (especially darker scenes, such as in the cave where the egg is discovered) the colors are dull, too dark, and it’s hard to see detail.  The island exteriors are too bright, and the image lacks sharpness, resulting in fuzzy, indistinct edges.  It’s difficult to compare with the region 1 version, because both versions are very inconsistent.  Overall, the R1 has a sharper image.  Grade:  C

Audio: The dialogue, music, and sound effects are all clear on the Japanese mono track.  Even though this version of the film has the Japanese credits, the opening theme song is only present on the Japanese language track (the reprise of the song does play at the end of the movie regardless).  The German mono track is not as good.  The dialogue is recorded louder, and there is less accurate separation of sound effects.  For example, in the monster attack scenes, the roars of the monsters are drowned out by the gunfire and explosions.    Grade:  B-

Extras / Menus: There is a poster gallery including ten still images of Gappa posters from various countries (one of them even has “King Kong” in the title!).  Next up is a “Making Of” program that runs 2 ˝ minutes.  It’s in black & white, and consists of set photos and silent footage of the actors and crew working with the Gappa suits.  An English-language Gappa trailer is also included.  These supplements aren’t very deep, but they’re interesting.

A quick montage of film clips precedes the main menu when it boots up for the first time.  All of the menus have sound effects, and there are animated film clips in the chapter selection windows. 
Grade:  B

Final Analysis: An okay disk.  The region 1 version has better picture and sound, but this disk has more supplements.  It’s not really worth importing however, except for completists.  Remember, this disk is in PAL format.  Viewers in the U.S. need either a DVD player or an external box that can convert the PAL signal to NTSC.  Final Grade:  B
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