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Monster From A Prehistoric Planet
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Box Front Japanese Title: Daikyoju Gappa (“Giant Animal Monster Gappa”)
Alternate Titles: Gappa, The Triphibian Monsters (international title)
Director: Haruyasu Noguchi
Original Release Year: 1967
Running Time: 90 minutes

DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Video: Fullscreen
Audio: English mono
Extras: Alpha Video catalog
Subtitles: None
Closed Captions: None
Region: 0
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 6
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $6.98
UPC #: 089218419897
Catalog #: ALP 4198D
Status: Available (unfortunately)


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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.  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.

Monster From A Prehistoric Planet 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.  MFAPP both imitates and pokes fun at the Japanese kaiju eiga formula.  Grade:  B

Video: For those who thought Alpha could never sink as low as their pitiful Godzilla vs. Megalon disk, think again.  This is one of the worst video presentations I’ve seen of any movie.

MFAPP is presented in fullscreen.  The widescreen composition of the original Japanese film is very compromised.  The print shows its age with speckles and lines.  Colors are dull and bleed sometimes, and the image is grainy.  The transfer is dark.  Very dark.  So dark that at times, viewers not familiar with the film might have no idea what they’re looking at.  People’s faces, and even the natives’ lit torches, are often nothing more than dim blobs floating in the darkness.  As if these problems weren’t enough, there is also some digital artifacting.  The image sometimes breaks up into blocks, which makes it look like an MPEG-1 video download.  Grade:  F

Audio: There’s nothing terribly wrong or right about this audio mix.  It’s English mono, and serviceable if unspectacular.  Grade:  C

Extras / Menus: All of the menus are still images with no music or sound.  The only “extra” is the Alpha video catalog.  It includes over 200 images of other DVD’s available from Alpha.  It doesn’t include any of their kaiju eiga titles.  Alpha does come up with some cool, colorful cover art.  As the sole extra however, this really doesn’t add much value to the disk.  Grade:  D-

Final Analysis: If you want to own a copy of this enjoyable movie, pick up Tokyo Shock’s widescreen, dual-language version.  It may cost over twice as much, but it’s worth it.  Making a movie unwatchable defeats the purpose of a DVD.  Avoid this glorified drink coaster at all costs.  Final Grade:  F
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