Recapping from 2012's G-FEST report:
Back in the early ’80s, there was a group of independent Japanese filmmakers, headed up by director Shizuo Nakajima, who wanted to make their own kaiju movie. The difference is that these folks either worked at or had friends who worked at (wait for it) Toho Studios. As a result, they were able to gain access to materials and designs not usually made available to the general public. Case in point, they were able to make an incredibly detailed reproduction of the 1962 Godzilla suit (as used in KKvG) as well as an impressive giant werewolf costume who would serve as the big G’s opponent. The rumored film is known by several names, Godzilla vs. the Wolfman, Legend of the Superbeast, Godzilla vs. the Giant Wolf Beast, Legendary Giant Beast Wolfman vs. Godzilla, etc., but no real evidence of it has ever surfaced. Only some poster art and one production shot have kept the mystery alive...
L.A.-based ultrafan Mark Jaramillo had been chasing this particular myth for 13 years. In 2012, he made contact with Nakajima. The news? There definitely was a Godzilla vs. Wolfman feature – extensive footage was shot, as well as stock footage utilized to increase the scope and production value. It was apparently never completed, but there’s a lot of existing video footage still in the director’s possession. The bigger news? We at G-FEST XIX were going to be the first Western audiences to see it, because Nakajima had sent Jaramillo a sampling.
In the same room where kaiju fan extraordinaire Jeff Horne had been programming awesome TV and film offerings all weekend long, lights were dimmed, breath was held, and for the next three minutes, we all became children once again as we watched a giant white werewolf do battle with the big green stomping machine. Granted, this was just a fan film, and an incomplete one at that, but for those of us who have seen all the G-flicks and Zone Fighter eps, this was a brand new Godzilla film, and darn it, it looked pretty good. It was a magic moment for the hundred or so folks lucky enough to have crowded into the screening room (or who had been fortunate enough to bump into Jaramillo earlier in the weekend when he was providing private viewings via his iPad. Kudos to G-FEST organizer J.D. Lees for allowing the footage to be screened to the festival at large).
I saw several folks with their iPhones and cameras pointed at the video screen (if I’d been thinking, I probably would have too), but surprisingly, the recorded footage has not yet emerged on YouTube as expected. Or maybe it has and has been pulled off at the request of Lees and/or Jaramillo, I don’t know. Bottom line, I’m glad I was there, and I’ll definitely be there next year to see if they make good on their intention to bring Nakajima over to screen all existing footage in its entirety for the G-FEST crowd.
Fast forward to 2013, where Jaramillo and J.D. made good on their promise. Mr. Nakajima was indeed on hand, with a truncated 20-minute version of Giant Legendary Wolf Beast vs. Godzilla in hand.
While it's impractical to try to review the footage we saw (drastically edited and in unsubtitled Japanese), the easiest way to sum it up would be "The Howling meets The Amazing Colossal Man meets Godzilla." There's some pretty cool bladder/transformation work that recalls Rob Bottin's mind-blowing effects and once the hairy dude turns big and white (near as I could tell, this is part of the lycanthropy curse, or maybe there was a serum somewhere in the mix), it's time for the Big G to wrassle this hirsute interloper off his home turf.
Jaramillo asked the capacity crowd to refrain from sharing any of the footage online, as there are plans afoot to release the entire film on DVD, but he did say that it was fine to share the production stills that Nakajima had provided in order to spread the word. Nothing could give me greater pleasure.
You can learn more detailed info about Jaramillo's journey in bringing Giant Legendary Wolf Beast vs. Godzilla to North American audiences via his article on Sci-Fi Japan and his In Search of Monsters website pictured above.
Jaramillo has also written a full article for Famous Monsters of Filmland, detailing his adventures in tracking down Nakajima and the film. You can pre-order their August 2013 issue HERE.
|This is the original MechiKong costume from King Kong Escapes. Nakajima rescued it from Toho's garbage dumpster. It now lives in his garage. You gotta love this guy.|