1967, Movies

Taekoesu-Yonggary [Yongary Monster from the Deep] (1967, Ki-duk Kim)

There are some movies that should only be consumed through Mystery Science Theater 3000. And this South Korean rip off of Gojira appears to be one of them. Now, I should point out that the version I saw was overdubbed so at least one of my biggest problems with the film could be because of some really stupid decisions made by the English screenwriters. But this movie is so terrible that it’s hard to imagine that mattering all that much.

This movie is some kind of bad. But let’s get to the English-language version problem first: virtually none of the characters are named. I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve seen where they have this few named characters, but I could probably count them on my hands. It’s utterly bizarre and I’m not entirely sure it’s on the English screenwriters because IMDB shows only 6 named characters (and the cast is a lot bigger than that). But in the English version I feel like only two characters are named, and everyone else is identified by their relationship to characters who are identified by their position (i.e. “Minister,” “General” etc.) It is utterly bizarre and kind of incomprehensible. You’re never really sure what anyone is supposed to be doing. (The fact that the families are seemingly participating in their father’s/husband’s jobs just makes everything more confusing.)

So that’s a problem that could be somewhat on the adaptation. And you always have to be wary with English-language overdubs/versions of foreign films from the ’50s and ’60s because many of them are outright bastardizations. But it’s hard to imagine this film was ruined by the English version because

  • it is an outright rip-off of Gojira (13 years old at this point),
  • because the effects are awful, especially given that this movie was made in the late ’60s and not in the ’50s, and
  • because of the huge amount of time in this 80 minute movie devoted to scenes of people doing mundane things, such as driving.

There’s no avoiding that Yongarry/Yongary is just Gojira (Godzilla to us English folks) with a horn. Oh and he came through a crack in the earth! So, um, maybe that’s slightly different. In any case, this is just Korean Gojira but worse.

The effects are hilariously bad. Yongary is a man in a suit, of course. And nearly everything is a model. And the matte shots are mostly so transparently terrible they compare with Food of the Gods at their worst. I’d recommend the movie for its laughable special effects except that it’s horribly boring.

It’s boring because, like many terrible films, there are shots of people doing things that don’t advance the plot or develop character, namely walking, running, driving. Sometimes they people doing these things are not even main characters! (At one point the main characters are tailed by another car and it has nothing to do with the movie!)

In addition, there are shots of people doing things in reaction to Yongary that are hilariously bizarre, including a man stuffing his face with apples and cucumbers (seriously) because he wants to be a glutton before he dies (carpe diem, man! I mean YOLO!) and a man dumping a seemingly bottomless bottle of beer on another person’s head. This is what the filmmakers imagine people would do during the apocalypse – it’s really bizarre.

Yet, despite all this, it didn’t quite rise to a “Worst Movie of All Time” for me. I’m not exactly sure why, maybe because the plot still made some amount of sense (for a giant monster movie) or maybe because I watched it as part of MST3K and the sheer horribleness of it didn’t quite wash over me like it would have had I watched it without jokey commentary. But, here I am, giving it a 2.


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