Features | Written by STARBURST Team 22/01/2021

KNOWING ME, KNOWING… KAIJU, ARRRGH!

[aka 20 ESSENTIAL KAIJU THAT AREN'T GODZILLA OR KING KONG]

While GODZILLA and KONG duke it out for the title of the true ‘King of the Monsters’, outside of their shared universe exists a mighty stable of giant creatures more than able to give the big lizard and his ape adversary a good run for their money in the city-stomping stakes. With this in mind, it’s our civic duty to prepare every reader for impending attack, so we’ve assembled STARBURST’s finest monster experts to guide you through our favourite kaiju outside of the Kings’ canon…

YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP

Monster movies teach us that for every reckless action by the human race, there is a reaction which can’t possibly be foreseen and will rise up from the depths to bite us on our collective behinds and keep us humble. So, when a nuclear test was held in the Middle East in 1967, it resulted in an earthquake in Korea. The shifting tectonic plates then released the buried fury of Yongary, Monster from the Deep, named, so we’re told, after an ancient Korean legend. Yongary is a giant bipedal prehistoric monster, similar in size and appearance to Godzilla, but with bigger eyes and a horn on the tip of its nose which can change colours for no apparent reason. It looked perpetually confused as it made its way to the city of Seoul, destroying everything in its path as it searched for sustenance (oil and petrol). Despite having flamethrower breath and an appetite for destruction, it eventually befriended a child and happily danced to some swingin’ sixties guitar riffs. Far out, man. Fortunately, Yongary was put out of his (and our) misery when it was discovered he had no immunity to an ammonia compound. What can we say – it’s a clean kill. So, basically, if you have enough Harpic in your bathroom, you’re safe. Better stock up. | RP

GAMERA

A giant mutant turtle, Gamera is the original hero in a half shell. He made his monstrous debut in 1965, during the cold war, when a plane carrying an A-bomb was shot down in the Arctic. The bomb detonated and caused Gamera to awaken from his millennia of icy hibernation. At 60 meters high with the ability to breathe fire, he truly is a force to be reckoned with. Gamera also has the ability to fly by spinning in his shell and reaching speeds of Mach 3.5. Unfortunately for Gamera, he was lured into an unmanned spacecraft called Project Z and launched into outer space. This, however, would not stop the Guardian of the Universe. He would return (several times) to do battle with other giant monsters. Gamera’s main city of destruction was Tokyo, and despite being referred to as ‘a friend to all children’ he has, over the years, amassed a body count that could rival that of Godzilla’s. Here’s hoping that one day we see Gamera take on the king of the Kaiju himself - now that fight would truly leave the world shell shocked! | SP

THE DEADLY MANTIS

Who would’ve believed that millions of years ago, giant insects roamed the Earth and died out without leaving any fossil trace of their existence? Except for one such creature, in the North Pole all this time, frozen until a volcano erupted in the South Seas in 1957, causing a vibratory chain reaction that reverberated all the way to the Arctic, shifting the icebergs, releasing the cryogenically preserved and still living insect to wreak havoc in the twentieth century! Not keen on the cold arctic climate, the mantis destroyed some military installations and upset the locals before heading south to a more temperate habitat – North America seemed nice. And New York being the destination of choice for a lot of oversized monsters, it made a beeline for the Big Apple, stopping off to perch for a while on the Washington Monument en route. Frustrating the armed forces’ response with lethal weaponry, by being impossible to hit by fighter planes whose pilots seem to have the aim and skill of Imperial Stormtroopers (it’s two-hundred feet long, for goodness sake!), it settled in the Manhattan Tunnel, where it was gassed to death at close range. No special powers, other than being a giant flying mantis. Now extinct. | RP

QUETZALCOATL

Just when the beleaguered citizens of the Big Apple thought they’d seen it all, along came a new problem to hit Manhattan in 1982. Soaring above the city, and swooping down from the direction of the noon sun, comes a giant feathered, winged reptile with an appetite for unwary New Yorkers, be they cleaning windows, sunbathing, or just going about their business. This is Quetzalcoatl - an Aztec goddess, resurrected by a ritual of human flaying and sacrifice - and she wasted no time in making a nest for herself in the art deco splendour of the top of the Chrysler Building where she laid an egg. Ridding the city of this particular pest proved easier than most giant menaces though - some armed cops did the trick nicely with a hail of bullets while she circled the building to return to her nest. Just a case of “look out below” then, when the dead Q: The Winged Serpent plummeted to the busy streets. But a grim warning to New York - beware, she may just have a second nest. And another egg... | RP

THE CHEWITS MUNCHER

Nothing would satiate the appetite of the Muncher, who would devour landmarks all over the world in an attempt to fill that chasm in his belly. Even Barrow-in-Furness bus depot was not enough for him. It’s surprising, then, that a pack of tiny sweets would do the trick. Even as kids back then in the ‘70s (during the beast’s original rampages), we would polish a pack of Chewits off in minutes and still want more! We guess some kaiju are suckers for fruity flavours. We’re just grateful it wasn’t Opal Fruits he helped advertise, we couldn’t deal with that gag once more… | MU

KONGA

Produced by Herman Cohen and starring the legendary Michael Gough, 1961’s Konga raises the bar in terms of what we understand as ‘so bad it’s good’. Gough plays botanist Charles Decker, who returns to England after a year stranded in the wilds of Uganda. He’s brought with him a chimp called Konga and the secrets to a remarkable growth serum that, when injected into Konga, turns him, for reasons the script never addresses, into a giant gorilla. Decker embarks on a killing spree (using Konga as his weapon) to protect his secrets, but in the end becomes the victim of his own creation as Konga swells up to monstrous proportions and takes a stroll around London before being brought down by the army in a hail of bullets. The acting is staggeringly inept (apart from Gough, who is, of course, glorious), the script stiff and clunky, and the effects – rumour has it they took a year to complete – are the stuff of amateur school stageplays. Magnificent in its awfulness, Konga is a cult classic and required viewing for anyone interested in jaw-droppingly bad monster movies. | PM

FIN FANG FOOM

A giant green dragon wearing purple underpants, Fin Fang Foom is often referred to in giggled tones. But this belies the extraterrestrial origins of a would-be planet conqueror, who lay dormant while his fellow aliens infiltrated human society as sleeper agents. Upon awakening, triple F almost took over the world, forcing Iron Man to team with his deadly foe the Mandarin to defeat the alien threat, and periodically returned to threaten our world (and was once used as a host body for the Midgard Serpent). Fin Fang Foom first appeared in the pre-superhero Marvel comic Strange Tales, and his journey has been just that; after turning against his intention to subjugate the Earth, he found Buddhism and joined a rehabilitation program with three other Marvel Monster-era extants - the robot Elektro, the giant ape Gorgilla, and the alien Googam. Shrunk down to human size, they work in a restaurant at the base of the Baxter Building, but occasionally team up to save their adopted planet, even if they are not always happy about having to do so. | AB

THE GIANT CLAW

Somewhere in space, this may all be happing right now…. In 1957, electronics engineer Mitch MacAfee spotted a UFO as big as a battleship, but in reality, it turned out to be a giant, intergalactic half-plucked Christmas turkey made from anti-matter (and created for the screen on a budget that would make Roger Corman blush). America’s answer to Rodan was on its way to destroy the Earth! Global panic ensued (as seen in footage cheekily borrowed from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), as the indestructible gooey bird with teeth planned to conquer the world and lay eggs for future generations to feast on us tasty humans. Coming to the rescue, Mitch developed an experimental anti-matter, ‘meson cannon’ and loaded it into the back of a B-25 bomber (aided by segments of 1944’s Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo), as his girlfriend Sally brought sandwiches and ordered a general to get his pants. And all the while with the world on the brink of destruction. How thoughtful! The final confrontation between Mitch and the obnoxious space buzzard took place around the United Nations building in New York (which magically turned into San Francisco), as the meson cannon shot puffs of what looked like talcum powder at it. Eventually, the Jim Henson reject fell defeated into the ocean, thankfully never to be seen again. | WSB

GODZOOKY

Bear with us. We know we said up front that these were the most dangerous monsters outside of Godzilla’s universe, but since the King’s juvenile nephew has been completely eradicated from canon since his last sighting in 1979, we believe the exception is of the utmost importance. After all, it’s hard to imagine another giant beast with a bigger beef. How would you feel if your mere introduction incited such ire in fans that they cruelly compared you to the likes of Scrappy-Doo? And once Hanna-Barbera’s Godzilla animated series came to an end after 25 episodes, how would you feel when your Scrappy-Doo-arse was relegated to the scrap heap, where you’d have to watch your uncle’s popularity continue to rise for decades to come? Fuelled by contempt and now forty years old, Godzooky is out there, somewhere, and god forbid he ever decides to take out his issues on us. Perhaps the first to feel his wrath were his buddies on the Calico. They were never seen again either. Suspicious. | KH

GEORGE

A giant albino gorilla who’s best mates with the Rock – now there’s someone you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. When 2018 movie Rampage begins, George is an ordinary gorilla in the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary, looked after by Dwayne Johnson’s ex-army primatologist Davis Okoye. But when a space station owned by a gene manipulation company explodes, a bit of bad science crash-lands in George’s garden, beginning the process of turning him really big and evil. This would be worrying enough on its own, but then other bits of bad science crash in other bits of America, and start the same process with a wolf and a crocodile. Lured to Chicago, all three wreak havoc over the city. Thankfully, Okoye finds some good science to turn George from big and evil into big and good, and the giant ape helps batter the crap out of the two other mutants. Rampage was based on a video game series in which you played one of the creatures; here, though, they were humans turned into giant animals, a grim twist on the story. You could release a lot of pent-up aggression smashing up cities, though – seek the games out to experience being a kaiju yourself! | KM

THE COLOSSI

In a land where the main inhabitants are giant monsters and there’s only one normal-sized guy going around killing them, are the giants really that monstrous? Perhaps they’re the normal-sized ones, preyed upon by one persistent little germ? The sixteen colossi of Team Ico’s beloved 2005 video game Shadow of the Colossus are seriously impressive beasts. No two are the same, but all share an aesthetic – the ‘giant statue come to life’ look is on fleek in the Forbidden Lands. From a distance, you could mistake them for architecture, with their green furry patches resembling grass. But get closer and you’ll realise that what you’re looking at is in fact an enormous stone minotaur, or bird, or eel – or one of thirteen other things to run away from. While one stomp of a colossus foot could kill, they do have a weak point, indicated by a glowing sigil (god knows why evolution allowed that to happen). The brave adventurer Wander has made a deal with a mysterious entity – slay the colossi, and his damsel in distress will have her soul returned. Little does he know about the dark force incrementally released as each colossus is killed. But at least he has his lovely horse. | KM

RHEDOSAURUS

Awoken from its aeons-long slumber thanks to nuclear bomb testing in the Arctic circle, this (entirely fictional) rhedosaurus made its way to New York City where it proceeded to terrify, trample upon or devour the populace, and smash up lots of stuff. Memorably brought to life by stop-motion genius Ray Harryhausen (the film is based on Ray Bradbury’s short story The Fog Horn and the film dramatises the story’s key lighthouse attack sequence), 1953’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is generally regarded as one of the first – and classiest – of the ‘atomic monster’ creature features that became so prominent in the 1950s. As with many monster movies of the era, the human cast are entirely disposable and forgettable, but the proud and powerful rhedosaurus remains one of the most iconic and memorable creatures in cinema history and Harryhausen’s extraordinary and painstakingly realised FX bring the beast to life far more vividly than any creation dreamed up by today’s CGI animators. | PM

THE CYBERKING

The technical description of the CyberKing: a bipedal dreadnought used to front planetary invasions, operated by an organic controller, containing a cyber-conversion factory, and armed with a laser blaster on the port side and a mortar launcher on starboard. The colloquial description: ‘holy shit, it’s a giant Cyberman!’ CyberKings are used in cyber-armies throughout the Doctor Who universe; comic book Supremacy of the Cybermen saw three front an invasion of Sontar. But the most notable appearance came in the bonkers final act of 2008 Christmas special The Next Doctor. Stranded in 1851, a group of Cybermen kidnapped children and forced them to build a CyberKing under the Thames. Made of bits and bobs found in Victorian London, it was a steampunk affair, but they made it work – even the laser cannon! For the organic controller, they picked the sadistic Mercy Hartigan. It then stomped across London, making waste of haberdashers, blacksmiths, and other old timey-sounding businesses. Thankfully, the Tenth Doctor was on the scene, armed with a hot air balloon and a bandolier of the Cyber equivalent of USB sticks. Weaponising the data, he opened Hartigan’s mind to what she had become, causing the whole palaver to self-destruct. | KM

ABADDON

King Kong scaled the Empire State Building. Godzilla wreaked havoc over the skyline of Tokyo. Abaddon, the Great Devourer, came to feast on all the life that could be found outside a Nando’s in Cardiff. This giant demonic creature, apparently the son of the Beast encountered by the Tenth Doctor in The Satan Pit, has sharp horns, fangs, and claws, and a sheen of not-so-sharp computer effects. He also has the ability to suck the life out of anyone in his shadow, and a human servant – the time-travelling clock merchant Bilis Manger. Before his short-lived rampage, in the Torchwood episode End of Days, we saw the events leading up to Abaddon’s emergence. In true Torchwood style, it was largely the team’s fault. Driven to madness by his desire to see a woman from the 1950s he’d had a time fling with, Owen Harper starting pissing around with Cardiff’s time-space rift, leading to a series of temporal anomalies, Team Torchwood turning on each other, and the creepy Manger taking advantage of all this to summon Abaddon. But Captain Jack Harkness, conveniently immortal, was able to slay the devourer by stepping into its shadow and overfeeding it. Job’s a good’un. | KM

REPTILICUS

Nobody really knows the origin of this giant reptile. We don’t even know its name – it’s the news media who called it Reptilicus, presumably because it sounded Latin and scientific. It was buried deep underground in Lapland – or at least a part of it was - until a Danish team of miners found a frozen piece of giant tail in 1961. The segment of tail was transported to an aquarium in Copenhagen for study, where, unfortunately, they let it thaw out. We all know that certain species of lizard can regrow their tails, right? Well, what if the opposite happened? What if the tail regrew the monstrous reptile it used to be a part of? This is exactly how Reptilicus the giant reptile came into being, and rampaged its deadly way through the peace and tranquillity of the Danish countryside, destroying everything in its path. Naturally, it needed a landmark to wreck, and it decided upon Copenhagen’s Langebro Bridge. Not quite the Empire State Building, but you take what you can get. A deadly sedative delivered orally with a bazooka soon settled the scaled monstrosity – but there may yet be bits of it underwater, ready to regenerate. Rest in Pieces, Reptilicus. | RP

CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

Hellhounds appear in mythologies from all over the world. Yorkshiremen talk of the Barghest, the black dog who preys on lone travellers. The blood-sucking Dip of Catalan folklore is the canine emissary of the Devil. Perhaps the most famous is Cerberus, the beast of Greek myth who guards the gates to the underworld. One lives among us. Summoned by an eight-year-old Satanist named Emily Elizabeth, this oversized blood-red beast escaped Hades in 1963 and entered our world. He has been terrorising the residents of Birdwell Island since. They call him Clifford. He prowls the suburban streets, the alpha of a pack of local canine converts, including brutal bulldog enforcer T-Bone and a greyhound named Machiavelli, a name betraying of the pack’s sinister intentions. The humans of the island largely succumb to his will – or his teeth. Sources vary as to the exact size of Clifford – those who survive an encounter usually recall him as approximately 7.5 meters tall, but in some cases he has manifested as far larger, indicating a concerning ability to increase his own size. Just how large could Clifford become if truly provoked? It’s a question we can’t know the answer to, but one thing’s for certain – we must be prepared. | KM

THE ZILLO BEAST

It’s not just Earth’s major cities that must be on high alert for kaiju attacks, the concern extends to the galaxy far, far away also. As if they didn’t have enough to contend with already, what with the Clone Wars continuing to rage with no end in sight, citizens of capital planet Coruscant had to live through a rampage by this 97-metre high creature after it escaped captivity at the hands of a curious Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. It’s easy to see why the soon-to-be Emperor wanted to study the space-kaiju so badly; for starters, its armoured plating was impervious to blasters and even the blade of a lightsaber… just think of the endlessly evil possibilities if weaponised! Naturally, the sneaky Sith got the ball rolling on cloning the creature before it was tragically gassed to death by desperate Republic forces. A heartfelt homage to Godzilla and King Kong, The Zillo Beast and The Zillo Beast Strikes Back both feature in the second season of the Emmy-winning Star Wars: The Clone Wars and, like many of the 121 episodes, the idea came directly from George Lucas himself. | KH

KNIFEHEAD

Knifehead is the largest category three kaiju who will emerge, we are told, from the deep sea rift in the not so distant future date of February 29th, 2020 (mark that down in your calendar, not long to go!). This particular kaiju was given his fearsome codename due to his long sharp pointed nose which has the capability of cutting through just about anything we use to defend ourselves. He has two pairs of arms - one small set emanating from his stomach and a larger, more powerful set which have three claws on each hand and are used to grab and tear. When Knifehead appeared, he was headed for Anchorage, Alaska, but as documented in the 2013 movie Pacific Rim, he was eventually thwarted by the heroic Jaeger Gipsy Danger, a giant human-operated robot. | SP

D’COMPOSE

The ’80s was a weird period for pop culture. It was a time when the best way to get your bizarre ideas into the hands of the general public was to convince a toy manufacturer that your fever dream would be the next big thing. D’Compose is one such nightmare, a zombie dinosaur-like monster that dwarves most buildings, smashing exhibition centres and causing carnage. This horrific creature was part of the Inhumanoids toy range, a high end set of horror-themed monsters that fought ‘adventure scientists’. Each toy had a gimmick, and D’Compose’s was that his exposed rib cage popped open and you could put most ‘hero’-sized toys into his stomach. In the comics and TV show, anyone given this rather intimate treatment usually felt ‘the touch of D’Compose’. This turned the victim into a sentient undead creature, fiercely loyal to D’Compose. He also had his own army of undead creeps, who dwelled in the underground kingdom of Skellweb. The curse could be lifted by exposure to ‘Whiteburn’, which turned out to be sunlight. The sun also burned D’Compose quite badly, so his rampages were rather limited to the night. This fact means that we can easily class D’Compose as the ‘most Goth’ Kaiju in this list. | EF

GORGO

If it isn’t atom bombs or radiation that causes these monstrosities, then the other usual culprit is volcanoes. Just off the coast of Ireland lies the tranquil isle of Nara, a nice quiet, unassuming place, home to fishermen and their families, until an undersea volcano erupted in 1961 and spoilt everything. The first sign that something was wrong was the floating carcasses of prehistoric fish. The second was the appearance of a 65-feet-tall dinosaur-like monster, which was caught and taken to London to be put on display in a circus. (This was before the Health and Safety laws prevented this kind of thing and kept us all safe from reckless Kaiju shows.) The monster was sensationally dubbed ‘Gorgo’ after the Medusa of Greek myths, and was a featured attraction at Battersea. However, what they didn’t realise until it was all too late was that Gorgo was but a baby, nowhere near its full growth. Worse, momma came looking for her child – and she was over two hundred feet tall and rightly vexed. She was willing to trample London and stomp on Battersea until she found her offspring, just like any mother would. No special powers other than a mother’s love for her son, the greatest power of all. [Awww - Ed] | RP

Have we missed one of your favourite giant beasts? Not to worry, just tweet @STARBURST_mag and we’ll start the evacuation protocols immediately!

WORDS: ROBIN PIERCE, KIERON MOORE, KRIS HEYS, PAUL MOUNT, STEPHEN PIERCE, ALAN BOON, MARTIN UNSWORTH, WHITNEY SCOTT BAIN

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