Nov 22, 2023

Delirium Movie Review: Daigoro Vs. Goliath (1972)

Yesterday, I got two vaccines.

It was fine. I had only expected to need one of them, and the actual appointment was drawn out quite a bit longer than I'd like, but they were both relatively painless. However, like many people, I tend to get some post-vaccine-illness. Not ill as in an abnormal reaction, or in any other concerning way, but the general weak illness you can't certain is neurologic or tangible pain. I was also spending a lot of time working on webmastery things, so it got late far quicker than anticipated. And then the sick started to kick my ass.

Being upright sucks too bad. But I really didn't feel like sleeping. I remembered the stack of movies I have on disc I wanted to work through, picked one up, and stuck it in an external drive to my Mac.

Finally, to the main topic: DAIGORO VS. GOLIATH. A Kaiju film I had genuinely never heard of prior, I got my DVD-R from Trash Palace maybe a few weeks ago. Released as a part of Japan's theatrical Toho Champions Festival in 1972, Daigoro was a joint project produced primarily by Tsuburaya Productions and distributed by Toho, released earlier in the year than Toho's more recognizable Godzilla Vs. Gigan. You'd expect a film by two such huge names in Tokusatsu to have gotten more attention, but the crowd on the English Internet that has seen this film is minimal at best - attributed to the rare lack of any release outside Japan, and the lack of an English fansub until 2011. If you're after an offical physical release, you may be able to snag the 2022 Japanese Blu-Ray if you can import it, but outside that, you're likely out of luck (that's where Trash Palace comes in - no problems with my rip!).

Honestly, the lack of international release surprises me - for a 70's kaiju film, it's not half bad! It's an interesting member of Tsuburaya's and Toho's lineup for sure.

In pure Toku 70's fashion, it's very kitschy and inconsistant in it's tone (my favorite example being Daigoro's theme song at the beginning speaking directly to him, including a verse thats something like "you lost your mom" and immediately moving on from it), but in my tired and foggy state, it was a lot of fun!

To spare too many spoilers, the plot is pretty simple and fairly standard for the genre - the first half introduces titular Daigoro and shows him interacting with local people, and their efforts to financially support his growth and health. Daigoro breaks the monster mold, if you will, as a kaiju raised by humans to atone for the killing of his mother. As a result, he is completely passive towards them, and seems to (to a degree) understand speech. Once the first conflict is resolved, the second is introduced - a secondary monster dubbed Goliath, who is not nearly as friendly. Daigoro is tasked with defeating Goliath so he can be sent back to space from whence he came.

Given Daigoro's lack of monster instincts, much of the focus is on the human characters, who are mostly pretty one-dimensional but active and memorable enough to not be a chore to watch. The effects are, for the most part, done well - there were some moments in the suit acting and SFX that broke my immersion a bit, but that's kind of to be expected in more "lighthearted" kaiju media. I certainly got out more giggles from it than similarly "goofy" Toku pieces I've seen from this period, but I can't say how much of that isn't accredited to the vaccine delirium. There's some attempt at social commentary that either sits passive or kind of falls flat - between the environmental officials refusing to support Daigoro at his rate of growth and some discussion on pollution and nuclear aftermath - mostly out of what I see as a lack of strong conviction by most of the storytelling and repetition of concepts explored familiarly in previous Kaiju media, but with less impact.

Ironically, I think the most visually interesting kaiju in the film IMO is Daigoro's mother. I like the big horns and big fucking wig combo. And teeth. YAY teeth! She's serving. She's a girlboss. I wish they didn't murder her before the events of the film :( or at least reuse the design, or something. I don't know!

Anyways, I'd say Daigoro Vs. Goliath was alright! I wish the film and its monsters got more attention, even it lacks much substance, it was cute and I'm glad to have a copy of it now. I don't like putting numbers on movies, but on a 1-10 scale, I'd personally give it something like a 6 or 7. Here's a pic of Daigoro's mom because I think she's really cool

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