A scientific research expedition travel to a South Pacific island where there is an active volcano. The natives worship what they call Gappa. The scientists venture into a cave on the mountainside that the natives regard as taboo and discover a dinosaur egg and bones. The egg hatches into a creature, The scientists capture that creature and set out to take back to Japan. However, the Gappa’s much larger parents come looking for it, creating a swathe of destruction.
Toho’s Godzilla (1954) was a big success. It immediately spawned an industry of Japanese Monster Movies. Toho produced a series of sequels, team-ups with other in-house monsters and later English-language remakes that continue to this day. It also spawned a number of copies – rival company Daiei made Gammera the Invincible (1965), which produced its own series of long-running sequels, while Tokkatsu made a tatty Godzilla copy with The X from Outer Space (1967). This was a copy from Nikkatsu, who even go so far as to employ Akira Watanabe, who was production designer on Godzilla, as director of special effects.
Gappa the Triphibian Monster, known in the US as Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, was the one and only kaiju film produced by the Japanese company Nikkatsu, which was formed in 1912 and became known for their pinku (Japanese pornographic) films during the 1970s. The studio was sold in 2005 and rebranded as Sushi Typhoon, becoming a popular producer of genre films.
Gappa the Triphibian Monster/Monster from Another Planet is a copy of the Godzilla films conducted with little flair. It is no more than a dully directed monster movie. The plot makes no real effort to vary from the formula, although one oddity is having a native tribe on the island that worship a volcano that also contains a cave where the Gappa lives. The plot of the monster captured and then its parents looking for it is a blatant steal from the British Gorgo (1961) of this same era. The special effects are fairly terrible – the Gappa looks like a giant chicken gone wrong, while there are some crappy ship and submarine model effects.
The most annoying aspect of watching the film is that most of the versions that seems available anywhere is one that has been dubbed for US television by American International Pictures in 1968 where the original 2:35:1 widescreen print has been cropped to a 4:3 ration for tv screens, something that serves to cut off the names of most of the actors when they appear on the credits. A restored version from the Japanese print would be welcome. The dubbing leads to some unintentional howlers – such as the plans to launch a theme park called Playmate Land.