Friday, June 5, 2015

Thunder of Gigantic Serpent

Kaiju (怪獣 ) is a Japanese word that means "strange beast," but often translated in English as "monster" or "giant monster."  

Thunder of Gigantic Serpent
Godfrey Ho

Vicious thugs shoot up a lab in hopes of getting their hands on a formula (apparently a formula is a transparent box) that can make plants and animals thousands of times larger than normal. One scientist escapes and tosses the box into the trees. A young girl, Ting Ting, finds the box and puts her pet snake, Mozlah (Mozler?), inside. He grows large, and electricity only makes him larger. The gang closes in on Ting Ting’s family and only the huge snake, and maybe a guy named Ted Fast, can save them.

For the uninitiated, Godfrey Ho is a notorious Hong Kong director/producer/screenwriter. He is most well known for innumerable ninja movies that were random action films spliced with some totally unrelated ninja footage. If you ever haunted a video store, you certainly ran across some of his films, Ninja Terminator (1985), Ninja Destroyer (1986), The Ultimate Ninja (1986), you get the idea. Godfrey Ho didn’t just do martial arts films, he also tried his hand (and editing scissors) at animation, and on one occasion, giant monsters.

Coffeemaker, bong, and penis stretcher all-in-one. I'm going to be a millionaire!
For one of Godfrey’s hack jobs, Thunder of Gigantic Serpent is almost coherent, if tonally schizophrenic. One part of the film is about a cutesy girl and her best friend who happens to be a monster snake. It’s a classic misunderstood monster story, sort of the Iron Giant (1999) of huge snake movies. The other half of the equation is a violent action movie featuring Ted Fast, loner, secret agent and all around stud. Ted likes to roll around and get into car chases and bloody gunfights. The two stories barely ever cross paths, but maybe that is for the best.

Thunder of Gigantic Serpent is filled with weird little quirks. Mozlah is already quite sapient even when he’s just a regular sized snake, he nods and responds to Ting Ting’s questions. Later. when he’s only semi-huge, he knocks a ball back and forth, and helps Ting Ting cheat at a (grass!) skiing race. I’m no airplane expert, but a Cessna doesn’t normally have a machine gun mount, and seems to make a poor choice of vehicle to fight a giant snake monster with. The score is pilfered from various sources, if you ever wanted to hear Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon used to underline a car chase, or the Re-Animator score tossed in at random moments, then this is your film.

Sssssss 2: Hugsssssss
But what about the giant monster action? Well… making a snake that moves convincingly is tough, so Mozlah is reduced to floating around. He feels like he has no weight whatsoever. He mainly just knocks people around with his tail, instead of eating them, like in any sane giant snake movie. I have no explanation why he screeches like a monkey. Still, there is something endearing about him, I mean all he wants to do is help a little girl and he gets a jet rammed in his face for his troubles.

Solomon, the lead villain, easily steals the show with overacting (even the dubbing rises to occasion) and cliched dialogue that is just wonderful to behold. Ting Ting is annoying with her constant screaming of “Mozlah,” and I found myself hoping she’d accidentally get a giant snake tail upside the head and be quiet. The rest of the cast exist only to run round around and get shot.

Thunder of Gigantic Serpent is a glorious thrill ride of nonsense. It’s cheap, kind of stupid, and needlessly violent. I love it. Highly recommended.

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