Reptilicus (1961)

Okay, let’s see if we got this straight:

This is the first Godzilla copy made in Denmark.

It is also the only one.  At least so far.

This really isn’t that much of a surprise, although it does seem that everyone seemed to be making Godzilla copies at the time. Reptilicus was created by the team of producer Sidney Pink and director Ib Melchior, who went on to make such deathless (or is that deadly?) films as Journey to the Seventh Planet and Angry Red Planet.

And yes, neither one is a great classic (although I‘ll admit to having a soft spot for Angry Red Planet).

Now the other curious thing about this one is its rather strange set of spin-off products, none of which seem to have had official sanction. There was a paperback novelization which a furious Sidney Pink demanded be yanked from the shelves as it featured a few extraneous pornographic scenes to liven things up. Then Charlton Comics released a short-lived Reptilicus comic book until someone got mad because they hadn’t paid for the rights.

The magazine would later be renamed and the creature mildly redesigned to become “Reptisaurus” — which would eventually get filmed by Fred Olen Ray’s son with the results you’d expect.

I.E., it’s worse than the original. By far.

A drilling crew pulls up their latest sample and, to their horror, a stream of blood oozes out of it.. There are even bits of flesh caught in the drill bit.

They dig and find the frozen tail of what must have been a giant reptile.

When supplied with the right nutrients, it starts to regenerate (with references to starfish and lizards who lose their tails and how they can regrow missing parts). As we’ve been expecting since they found it, it gets loose and turns into a giant, dragon-like monster.

This is not a good film. We have some rather goofy ideas, a Danish cast trying to act in English (with mostly acceptable results. Mostly), an absolutely terrible comic relief character, and it does drag at times.

However, Reptilicus’ design is attractive, and the battle scenes are fairly well done (even if they really needed another wire or two and perhaps some stiffening in the creature’s neck to keep its head from folding over and leaving a big crease).

But I’ll confess that I enjoyed this one in all its stupidity. It’s a reasonably good Kaiju knock-off: Nowhere near as good as Godzilla, but not that much worse than your typical Gamera film. Yes there are better Western copies — The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, say, or even The Giant Behemoth — but once you’ve seen those, what’s left?

Then you’d might as well watch this one. At least you will get your Kaiju fix.

You might even enjoy it.

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