Varan the Unbelievable

Tagged: Film

Film (1958; 1962 US). Original Japanese title Daikaiiju Baran. Dallas Productions Inc/Toho Company (uncredited)/Crown International Pictures. Produced by Jerry A Baerwitz. Directed by Baerwitz and Ishro Honda (uncredited). Written by Sid Harris from a story by Ken Kuronuma and Shi'ichi Sekizama (uncredited). Cast includes Myron Healey, Clifford Kawada and Tsuruko Kobayashi. 70 minutes. Black and white.

US naval commander James Bradley (Healey) is in charge of a project on an Island near Okinawa, Japan, to desalinate water at a rare salt-water lake said to be the home of the local natives' god Obaki. A taboo regarding the lake is soon broken, leading to the emergence of Varan, a Dinosaur-like Monster which soon attacks Naha, Okinawa. Working with his friend Captain Kishi (Kawada), Bradley devises a means of killing Varan using the chemicals for the desalination project, and the film comes to a reasonably happy conclusion. Anna (Kobayashi) is on hand as Bradley's Japanese wife.

This minor effort to launch another giant monster series similar to Godzilla (1954) fails badly; the US print was damagingly cut from the 90-minute original and Healey's scenes poorly edited into this version for the US television network ABC-TV. Producer Baerwitz completed this poor US version using stock footage and a much-altered story. The original Japanese version is reportedly much better, and features the monster in flying sequences. [GFi]

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