Today’s selection: Return of Daimajin (1966, dir. Kenji Mizumi)
Subgenre: Historical fantasy, Kaiju
Available from: Mill Creek
Return of Daimajin is the second installment in the Daimajin trilogy, and a source of some confusion since ADV screwed up their DVD release, labeling Return of Daimajin as Wrath of Daimajin and vice versa (this is fixed on the Mill Creek blu-rays); it doesn’t help that all three were released in the same year, and imdb is still a mess on the subject. The franchise (Daiei’s second only to Gamera) is essentially a series of samurai-era stories of people who worship a giant statue, which is docile until somebody messes with its worshippers, at which point it gets angry. Slightly smaller scale than the Godzilla/Gamera films allows for superb miniature work, and the samurai setting is great for an unconventional style of kaiju rampage. Also, Akira Ifukube’s score for trilogy rocks. These are period films first and foremost, however, so if you’re one of those fans that gets upset that it took Godzilla too long to show up in Final Wars, you’re going to be looking at your watch for most of a Daimajin movie.
So, the second movie teaches us that Majin can recover from being blown up, can knock people down by looking at them, can turn into water, and has the Moses-esque ability to part a lake. It follows closely to the oppressed-village vs. warlord format from the first film, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (the third movie’s child-actor cast is a matter of some controversy, not to mention the TV series). The iconic defining aspect for this chapter has to be the water scenes, however, as that’s one of the trickiest effects to do with miniatures.
And, while we’re at it, how about ADV’s trailer for the trilogy? I’m just a sucker for those things.