"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Could Toei Possess Original Korean Elements?

韓国の怪獣映画『大怪獣ヨンガリ』東映の外海配給ポスター !

Toei's international sales poster for the South Korean monster movie.

Conceived during Japan's "Monster Boom" of the mid-'60s, the South Korean production of YONGGARY, THE GIANT MONSTER (promoted as "The Great Monster Yongary") was made by the Seoul-based Keukdong Entertainment Company and directed by Kim Ki-duk in 1967, but also employed veterans of Japan's home-grown kaiju eiga, including key members of the effects staff from Daiei Motion Picture Company's Gamera films to helm the miniature effects, as well as Masao Yagi and the staff of Equis Productions to create the monster.

American International Pictures picked up the film and released it directly to Stateside television in 1969 as YONGARY, MONSTER OF THE DEEP. While it was readily assumed that YONGARY's worldwide distribution was handled by Keukdong, several sources have listed the involvement of Tokyo-based Toei Company Ltd. in connection with the film. While Toei served as an investor and broker on YONGARY, the foreign sales poster (courtesy of Akira Takiguchi) provides some proof that Toei also handled the international distribution.

All things considered, more research should be taken up to unearth as much as possible on the Japanese involvement in this South Korean imitation of the kaiju eiga, as there may be a chance that some of the film's original language elements (woefully incomplete in the Korean Film Archive) may be sleeping deep within some Tokyo film vault... Or did Toei ship everything to American International? Sure, it's not the legendary "bloodier" Japanese version of Hammer's DRACULA (1958), but doesn't YONGARY deserve some love, too?

Postscript: While the film was issued last July on R2 DVD in Japan, it was the English-dubbed version, licensed by Run Corporation through MGM as "Daikaiju Yongari." MGM contacted Toei in 2002, and were told that they had no extant materials for YONGARY. Unless Toei turned all of their materials over to AIP, perhaps they are elsewhere (such as the National Film Archive), if not discarded...

1 comment:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Wouldn't surprise me if they're stuck somewhere in the states.