Movies and Film

To Live Once Again – Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds (1977)


As far as kaiju movies go, Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds is a little cliché and about as cheesy as they come but at the end of the day, a lot of fun. Sure, the monsters do not look all that good, though better compared to some of the poorer examples of the medium like those found in certain Gamera films, but they manage to evoke what is needed and make the movie better for it. No, what makes this movie as silly as it is all falls down to some of the choices made by the makers of this film, whether story or soundtrack or whatever.

The plot is simple enough as some sort of earthquake unearths some giant eggs near Mount Fuji which eventually begin to hatch. Main character Takashi is soon introduced as are those that will support him throughout the film and being the geologist that he is, he wants to investigate. Cue up some strange disappearances and killings which eventually come to light as the actions of a giant Plesiosaurus and things really start to get interesting. A little further death ensues, another dinosaur, this time a Rhamphorhynchus makes an appearance while Takashi and Akiko, the woman who loves him, simply try to stay alive.

For a film such as this, it is actually quite bloody and there is a fair bit of gore to be found throughout as the Plesiosaurus makes a meal of more than one person. Headless bodies and missing limbs and so forth are all shown with one memorable scene featuring the creature carrying the body of a man in its jaws before one has to assume, it consumes him. There is a battle between the two monsters towards the end of the film, which was entertaining and even exciting at times, and definitely kept the pace of the picture going until that final, incredible scene it would leave off on. Though it would have been nice to see a little more effort put into the dinosaurs, director Junji Kurata at least made it look better than it was with some quick cuts and a little further editing to keep it from looking as inferior as it might have been.

For the first half of the film or so, before the action really picks up, the story is a little hard to follow, there being some minor plot holes, not to mention the fact that it is all kind of dull. It is only with the brief glimpses of the creature that keeps the viewer tuned in, a promise of more to come.  The music chosen for this picture will split its audience down the middle of either love it or hate it. With a mixture of Japanese funk and J-pop, it seems completely out of place and yet, at times feels so right it boggles the mind. Altogether, the movie is a strange beast, with scenes of greatness when it comes to the kaiju and parts that could have definitely been improved. That being said, the finale brings it all home in an epic kind of way, novel even and as ridiculous as it seemed at times, is still worth seeking out for those that love the genre.

3 out of 5

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