monster movies -- especially those made in Japan during the 1960s -- are
usually viewed as campy, kitschy, or children's entertainment. How seriously
can a viewer take a movie that's essentially comprised of a man in a rubber
suit destroying a model of Tokyo as toy planes and tanks fire bottle rockets
at him? However, there are exceptions to every rule. Daimajin,
made in Japan in 1966, is proof that, when done correctly, not all movies
a larger-than-life creature have to be silly.
Starring: Miwa Takada, Yoshihiko Aoyama,
and Jun Fujimaki
place in feudal Japan, Daimajin tells the story of a village
who's peaceful ruler is overthrown by a vicious overlord. As the coup
takes place, the rightful heirs, Princess Kozasa (Miwa
Takada) and Prince Tadafumi (Yoshihiko Aoyama) escape the evil Samanosuke
With the help of Kogenta (Jun Fujimaki), the two children race
off to hide in a forbidden area of the forest called Majin's Mountain.
the side of the mountain is a stone statue that is said to contain the
spirit of the Majin, a vengeful god who watches over the village below.
time passes, Samanosuke becomes more and more drunk with his power. Ten
years after he began his rule, he forces the men
of the village to build a fort that will allow him to
brutal treatment of the villagers gets back to Tadafumi, who is now 18
years old. Tadafumi decides that the time is right for him to return
to the village and reclaim the
position that is rightfully his own. But the plan goes horribly wrong.
Kogenta and Tadafumi are captured and sentenced to be executed. Princess
Kozasa appeals to the Majin to help free her brother and defeat the evil
only is the story completely different than the usual monster movie,
but the special effects on display during the movie's final moments are
a testament that suitmation -- that is, the use of a man in a suit --
can be an effective way to film giant monster scenes. Aside from a just
a few poorly matted blue screen shots and the use of an obviously rubber
giant hand, the effects are nearly flawless.
a mostly forgotten kaiju (giant monster) movie and that's a terrible
shame. It's got a compelling, if simple, story, a satisfying climax
and it never ventures into camp territory. If you thought it was
impossible to watch a Japanese monster movie with a straight face, hunt
Trivia: Daimajin and
its two sequels were filmed simultaneously and each released one
year apart. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)