It seems foolish to say that movies about giant bipedal monsters who can shoot atomic rays out of their mouths can ever be considered normal, but it's true. we're used to Godzilla, Gamera and King Kong. But some giant monster movies don't follow the rules, and the results are sometimes entertaining, sometimes awful, but always bizarre.
Godzilla Vs. Megalon
By 1973, Godzilla had gone from terrifying force of nature to a kid-friendly hero of Japan. In no film is the mighty King of the Monsters less regal than in Godzilla Vs. Megalon. First of all, the movie is actually about a remote-control robot named Jet Jaguar who is fighting the nefarious force of Seatopia, which is like Atlantis but everybody is goofier. Seatopia sends their giant cockroach Megalon to harass the surface world; under the order to protect people. Jet Jaguar gives himself free will and inexplicably grows several hundred feet tall to battle the monster. Megalon calls in his friend Gigan and the two double-team the robot until Godzilla stops by at the very end to kick everybody's ass. The weirdest moment, enshrined in the MST3K opening credits, is Godzilla somehow doing a dropkick on Megalon while Jet Jaguar holds the monster in a half-nelson… and Godzilla is so pleased with him he runs back, motions for Jaguar to pick Megalon up, and then does it again. Watch and believe.
The Mighty Peking Man
The first weird thing about The Mighty Peking Man is that despite its title, it doesn't actually star a mighty Peking Man. Oh, sure, they call the giant beast roaming the Himalayan mountains a Peking Man, but unless you know of any giant , fur-covered Homo erectus running around, it's really just a giant ape (as Hong Kong was shamelessly trying to capitalize on the 1976 King Kong remake). What makes Mighty Peking Man so weird is that he comes with his own Fay Wray in Samatha, a buxom white woman he raised in the jungle with the help of a few leopard-skin bikinis. Also, the titular Man grows and shrinks constantly through the film, so he can both knock over buildings like Godzilla and then climb them, like King Kong — at one point Man is described as being 10 feet tall, and yet he can pick up trucks like footballs. Add to that everyone in this movie, besides Man and his gal Samantha, is inexplicably an evil, evil dick, and you have the perfect recipe for craziness.
The Giant Claw
To be sure, The Giant Claw is a bad monster movie. So, so bad. The monster itself looks like a vulture puppet, a turkey puppet and an ostrich puppet were torn apart by wild dogs, briefly set on fire, and the remaining pieces were re-aseembled as best they could. But the weirdness comes from the film's "science" — or rather what the film thinks science is. The monster comes from "an antimatter galaxy," and the monster has some kind of energy shield which bullets can't pierce, like all giant birds from antimatter galaxies have. Luckily, our intrepid electrical engineer and "lady mathematician" use their Earth Curvature Calibration" project to locate the Claw, and then rig up a "Mu-Meson cannon" to disrupt its shield, allowing them to kill it. Thanks, science!
Godzilla's Revenge makes Godzilla Vs. Megalon look like Reservoir Dogs. The monsters in this movie aren't even real, because they're part of some dumb kid's daydreams about visiting Monster Island. And even his daydreams are terrible because 90% of them are about hanging out with Godzilla's weird kid Manila, who bizarrely talks to him. And that remaining 10%, where monsters actually fight each other? It's just old footage from other Godzilla movies. The weirdest thing about this movie is wondering why Toho even bothered to make it.
Exactly unlike The Giant Claw, the Daimajin movies, although less known that Godzilla and Gamera, are pretty great. They're set in feudal Japan where the peasants inevitably toil for some evil warlord. Someone prays to the Daimajin statue, which looks like a demonic samurai, and Daimajin comes to life to kill pretty much everybody it sees, starting with the bad guys and not necessarily stopping there. Awesomely, although the movie specifies it's the same statue in each movie, it just randomly shows up places where the weak are oppressed… but then just hangs out until someone asks him specifically to start kicking ass at the very end of the movie. If you haven't seen a giant demon samurai murdering his way through a small Japanese fishing village, it's awesome. Completely surreal, but also completely awesome.
The X From Outer Space
When Japanese studio Shochiku decided to get into the giant monster game in 1967, they did not limit themselves to earth-bound monsters. Instead, The X — a.k.a. Guilala is an alien spore that attaches to a spaceship returning from a trip to Mars. Once on Earth, the spore grows until it becomes a giant-thighed Godzilla-esque monster with a UFO for a head and two deelyboppers for antennas. Guilala can transform into a giant ball of fire and fly around in his search for energy to eat; he's defeated when he's coated with an element called Guilalium — what are the odds?! — which shrink him back into a spore, which is then placed in orbit around the sun instead of being destroyed because… maybe they'll need it later? No idea.
Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster
A.k.a. Godzilla Vs. Hedorah. When an alien lifeform absorbs Earth's pollution and becomes the titular smog monster, even Godzilla can't stand its poisonous fumes. Humanity very quickly gives up, accepts defeat, and decides to have one huge party on Mt. Fuji until they die. Luckily, one scientist figures out a way to defeat Hedorah with some electrodes, and somehow the scientist gets a memo to Godzilla telling him he needs to shoot the electrodes with his atomic ray, and boom, Smog Monster defeated. If humanity's last bender isn't weird enough for you, or the fact at one point Godzilla uses his atomic ray to fly, then please watch the above clip of the titular fight scene, in which it very much seems like Godzilla is sexually assaulted.
Frankenstein Conquers the World
Say you're a Nazi who happens to have the Frankenstein monster's heart. You take it to Japan with you for study, because hey, why not, but unfortunately the lab is in Hiroshima and you and said heart get hit with an atomic bomb. Sorry about your luck. Eventually, a feral boy stumbles upon the irradiated heart, and, like anyone would do when confronted with a glowing internal organ or unknown origin, he eats it. Thus he becomes Frankenstein Jr., who grows whenever he eats protein and ends up fighting Barugon for no particular reason. Watching a giant feral boy run through model sets usually designed for slow, lumbering rubber-suited monsters is actually quite unsettling, as is Dr. Kawaji, a character who wants to conduct an experiment on Franky by cutting off one of his limbs to see if it grows back.
Gamera Va. Guiron
All the Gamera movies were goofier than their Godzilla counterparts, but the legendarily surreal Gamera Vs. Guiron is like David Lynch got ahold of it. Two young boys wander onto a spaceship, which takes them to an alien world where two sexy Japanese twins pretend to be nice in an overelaborate attempt to eat their brains. Few monster movies have gone so far as to shave kids heads to show how serious the aliens are about eating brains, but Gamera Vs. Guiton delivers. There's also the fact that Gamera, in his attempt to save the children, fights what is basically an anteater with a knife for a head who also shoots throwing stars out if its nostrils (or whatever the throwing-star containing orifices on its face are). The there's the fact that Gamera — who I feel I should remind you is a giant turtle — is somehow tossed on a gymnastics bar and does flips for a while. And I'm not even gonna mention Cornjob (I'll let MST3K do that for me).