5.4/10
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16 user 13 critic

Varan the Unbelievable (1958)

Daikaijû Baran (original title)
When a rare species of butterfly is found in a mysterious valley in Japan, a pair of entomologists go to investigate and find more. However, when they get there they find an uncharted lake ... See full summary »

Director:

Ishirô Honda

Writers:

Shin'ichi Sekizawa, Ken Kuronuma (story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kôzô Nomura Kôzô Nomura ... Kenji Uozaki
Ayumi Sonoda Ayumi Sonoda ... Yuriko Shinjô
Koreya Senda ... Dr. Sugimoto
Akihiko Hirata ... Dr. Fujimora, bomb expert
Fuyuki Murakami Fuyuki Murakami ... Dr. Majima, Sugimoto's aide
Yoshio Tsuchiya Yoshio Tsuchiya ... Military Officer Katsumoto
Minosuke Yamada Minosuke Yamada ... Secretary of Defense
Hisaya Itô Hisaya Itô ... Ichiro, Yuriko's brother
Yoshifumi Tajima Yoshifumi Tajima ... Captain of Uranami
Nadao Kirino Nadao Kirino ... Yutaka Wada
Akira Sera Akira Sera ... Village High Priest
Akio Kusama Akio Kusama ... Military Officer Kusama
Noriko Honma Noriko Honma ... Ken's Mom
Akira Yamada Akira Yamada ... Issaku
Fumindo Matsuo Fumindo Matsuo ... Horiguchi
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Storyline

When a rare species of butterfly is found in a mysterious valley in Japan, a pair of entomologists go to investigate and find more. However, when they get there they find an uncharted lake and as they are observing it they are caught in a landslide and killed. A reporter named Yuriko, the sister of one of the men decides to go to the area to find out what exactly happened. She is accompanied by another entomologist named Kenji and a reporter named Horiguchi. When they get to the village where the men were last seen alive they find out about a legend regarding a giant monster. They soon find out that it is not a legend and the monster named Varan is very much alive. Soon Varan leaves the valley where he has lived for millions of years and is heading for Tokyo. Written by Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

14 October 1958 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Baran: Monster from the East See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toho Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Perspecta Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film began as straight-to-television co-production between AB-PT and Toho, and thus was shot in black and white in the Academy aspect ratio. AB-PT went bankrupt during production, but a two-part TV movie was still completed. The two parts were edited into a single, longer feature to be shown in Japanese theaters, which involved extending and re-recording the musical score, shortening scenes and adding new scenes. This theatrical feature was then cropped shot by shot and released in an ersatz anamorphic widescreen format apparently adapted from SuperScope called TohoPanScope. Neither the TV version nor the theatrical version exist in the Academy ratio, but the fully mixed audio track for the TV version still exists. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the military conference, a clapboard is quickly pulled off camera at the beginning of shooting. This part of the scene was originally edited out of older video prints in Japan, but was restored for DVD release. See more »

Alternate Versions

The scene of Baran (aka Varan) flying is deleted from the American version of the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Awamori-kun nishi-e iku (1961) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Routine monster mayhem.
1 January 2016 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

Scientists discover a species of butterfly that is believed to be native only to Siberia. They travel to a region known as "The Tibet of Japan", where a much bigger menace awaits: the towering lizard "Varan", some sort of throwback. Varan, of course, turns out to be a huge threat, but Japanese military forces are hard pressed to find a plan of attack that actually works.

Ultimately, "Varan the Unbelievable" is too much of an unimaginative "Gojira" clone to be all that successful. The action is decent, and the special effects are decent (some of the time, anyway). The atmosphere and widescreen photography are certainly reasonably impressive. But the characters lack any sort of truly interesting features; they're not fleshed out much at all. The steadfast actors do what they can with the material: Kozo Nomura as jut jawed, heroic Kenji, Ayumi Sonoda as his love interest Yuriko, a headstrong reporter, and Koreya Senda as the knowledgeable Dr. Sugimoto. The music by Akira Ifukube is rousing enough to be entertaining.

But Varan itself, while an engaging monster to watch for 87 minutes, lacks the appeal of the most striking creatures in Japanese genre cinema.

Not one of director Ishiro Hondas' best efforts, but lightly entertaining.

Six out of 10.


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