Gort vs Reptilicus: The acid-spitting Danish kaiju movie you need to see

Admiral's log, Stardate 20092013.2:

"Where is the Commander?!" I shouted across the Mothership's bridge as I materialised myself as a giant floating head - as is my wont. "A giant reptile monster is attacking the Earth and I don't want anyone other than me disintegrating that blasted planet!"

"Uh, it's the Commander's birthday, sir. He's gone off on a bender," stuttered the moronic engineer the Commander had hired.

"Then who's going to save the Earth!?" I cried. Nodding stoically - even for a robot - Gort headed for the shuttle bay.

I glanced briefly at Steve the Engineer before he muttered: "I'll bring the popcorn." I was growing to like him.


The last years of the '50s and the dawn of the '60s were a golden age of giant-monster movies, with over thirty flicks featuring fearsome titan terrors hitting the screens between 1956 and 1962. Many were American, some were from Japan and a few even hailed from Britain. One, however, was Danish and his name was Reptilicus!

Well half-Danish, at least! Reptilicus was first shot in Danish by Poul Bang, then an English version was filmed by producer Sid Pink for AIP. The studio disliked the result so much, they shot new material, recut it, and even redubbed the already English-speaking actors in English. Hence, we have hurriedly added delights of tourist advert-style montages of Denmark and a musical number about dancing in Tivoli! AIP even decided to spice up the action by giving Reptilicus a Godzilla-style breath attack by hastily painting in green globs to suggest the monster was spitting corrosive venom.

"The studio disliked the result so much, they even redubbed the already English-speaking actors in English"

Given this dubious pedigree, you would rightly assume that this isn't one of the masterpieces of kaiju cinema. The movie's critical reputation hasn't exactly been helped by the fact that most viewers' reaction to first seeing the titular beast is to scream "IT'S A PUPPET!"; and you can see why, as the giant, winged serpent looks like it would be more at home in a Punch and Judy show than in a big-screen monster movie. Much like the similar el cheapo marionette monster shennigans of The Giant Claw, a few years earlier, Reptilicus has gone down in history as a truly terrible flick.

However, despite our monster looking like it was not only built on a shoestring, but was operated by one too, and regardless of the bizarre performances that result from English-on-English dubbing, Reptilicus is simply glorious! While there is much that connoisseurs of bad film will enjoy, this reviewer will contend that despite hilariously awful acting and not-so-special effects, Reptilicus is actually one of the good monster movies. Now, admittedly, the amusingly inept elements do help to pass the usual longeurs that occur in such creature features between the monster attack scenes, but, on the flipside, we have a rather-good story conceit.

Like many a good giant prehistoric monster, scientists discover Reptilicus frozen in ice. However, they only find a section of tail, which, when defrosted, regenerates into the full titanic beast. This means that they can't just blow up the rampaging puppet as every fragment could also regenerate into another Reptilicus. Obviously, this provided a hook for a sequel that was not to be, but it also gave the humans and the (for a change) non-stock footage military a real dilemma. It's no King Kong or Gojira, but all-in-all Reptilicus is enormous fun and its flaws just add to its charms.

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