Note: I watched this as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode so I technically didn’t watch the whole movie.
Note 2: There are at least three different versions of this movie. I believe I watched the second American version but I’m not 100% sure.
This is one of those terrible films where it’s hard to believe it got made. It’s all-time bad. Worse, unlike most of the All-time bad films I’ve seen from the 1960s, this one had an actual budget. (As one cast member of MST3K put it, they couldn’t afford effects better than stop motion and puppets, but they somehow could afford tons of extras.)
From the opening shots of “Lapland, high above of the Arctic Circle,” shot in, I kid you not, Tivoli Gardens, you know this is going to be something special. I understand movie audiences 50 years ago were considered less sophisticated, but it’s some kind of crazy to decide that your audience will be fooled into believing a park in Copenhagen is north of the Arctic Circle, especially when one member of the cast is wearing short sleeves. (Seriously!!! One assumes in the Danish version the story is that Reptilicus is discovered in Denmark, and not in Lapland, but who knows.)
The effects in this movie make Gojira‘s effects look absolutely brilliant: not only is Reptilicus a ridiculous hand-puppet, the puppet is so poorly integrated into the surrounding film, that you can’t help but always be aware it’s a hand-puppet. In basically every scene with the puppet, there is some glaring thing to draw your attention to the fact that two pieces of film have been spliced together, my favourites:
- A picture (or drawing) of a man is pulled across the film so that it appears to go into Reptilicus’ mouth. (I am not making this up.)
- A couple of soldiers are shooting at Reptilicus through a window. However, Reptilicus and the window are in the same shot, projected on a screen behind the soldiers. In the shot, the window is closed.
You don’t need to watch the full movie, you can see how bad it is in 10 minutes: