Saturday Afternoon Kaiju: The Return of Daimajin (1966)
This week, I thought we pay another visit to the badassery that is Daimajin and see what he is up to in the second installment of the Daimajin trilogy. When we last left our big stone guy, he had just killed a bunch of bad guys before turning back into a statue. Let’s see what he’s up to now…
Well, as it turns out, not a whole hell of a lot. The statue is now residing on an island in the middle of a lake. There are two villages around the lake where the lords are benevolent and people live in peace and they all get along with one another. The problem is, there is a third village by the lake and this one is run by an evil lord. His villagers are constantly in fear of him and try to flee to the two other villages to escape him. All anyone wants to do is live their lives with some freedom and dignity. They have discovered Daimajin on the island and frequently row over to pray to the statue to watch over them. At one point, a group goes over and while praying, the statue’s face turns red. A prophecy states that when this happens, their village will be destroyed. They race home in a panic.
While this is happening, the evil lord gets an idea: he wants to get the other two villages under his control. He knows a large festival is coming up and so he comes up with a plan of attack. Might this be what Daimajin is angry about?
After a ton of bloodshed, the evil lord decides to take someone hostage in exchange for one of the lords who has been protecting them, Lord Juro (Kôjirô Hongô). The villagers and Lord Juro are having none of that. They decide they are going to fight back against the evil lord and his men. The villagers have all been making treks out to the island to pray to the statue so the evil lord wants an end to that real quick. He sends his men out with massive quantities of explosives to blow up the statue. They do a good job of it, too. The statue’s head flies off into the lake and pieces of the stone are scattered everywhere, including the shore of the village where people find pieces flying at them.
Eventually, many of the villagers are held prisoner. They are tied to poles for everyone to see. Even the daughter of one of the lords has been captured. They’ve got her up on a crucifix like they used in the last film. All seems lost, until Daimajin rises from the lake and goes ashore, mad as hell, ready to kick some evil overlord ass.
These Daimajin stories are interesting because, unlike Godzilla or Gamera movies, they take place in feudal Japan and include samurai and all the tradition that entails. Also in the Daimajin movies, all of the plot revolves around the people, with Daimajin coming in at the end to save the day. This is opposed to other Kaiju movies where trying to get rid of the monster is the main problem and then you have secondary plot lines revolving around a certain group of people. I’m sure there are those that find the Daimajin movies a little dry and I get that. Feudal Japan and all its intricacies may not be for everyone.
I feel this movie continues in the vein of the first one, in fact, I think I like this better. There’s lot of action in it, even though we don’t really get Daimajin coming in until the last 15 minutes. That first hour doesn’t drag, though. The movie looks really good, too. For this viewing, I watched an English dub copy via YouTube and I was pretty pleased with the copy. I couldn’t find the movie streaming anywhere but I know the trilogy is available on Blu-ray so if you’re interested, and really, why wouldn’t you be, you should pick it up. Coming up in the next few weeks, we’ll return to our not so friendly statue to find out what happens in Wrath of Daimajin. Here’s a hint, he gets really mad again.