On this date, in 1958, Japanese audiences were first introduced to the third daikaiju (giant monster) to have its own film – Ishiro Honda’s DAIKAIJU BARAN. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a repeat of the success of Honda’s GOJIRA (1954) – even with the same foursome behind it – Director Honda, Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, Special Effects Director Eiji Tsuburaya & Composer Akira Ifukube. Four years later, American audiences would be introduced to him as VARAN, THE UNBELIEVABLE (1962). The differences between the two versions are staggering. Where GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS (1956) had extra, American-made footage edited into GOJIRA (1954), VARAN, went the OTHER way, using ONLY the FX shots from BARAN edited into the American-made film. The name ‘Varan’ was never actually said – they called the monster “Obaki’ – the name used by the villagers for their monster-god. Another major difference is that ALL shots of Baran flying were cut, plus – fx shots from GOJIRA were cut into it for closeups of buildings getting destroyed. Varan would not be seen again, until a brief cameo in two quick scenes in KAIJU SOSHINGEKI (1968) aka DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.
Happy 55th Anniversary, DAIKAIJU BARAN!