Greetings from the edge!
Man the fortifications, deploy the miniature tanks, and arm the oxygen destroyers because this week, Yongary: Monster of the Deep is out to prove he’s a real Seoul man! Staring Yongary, a South Korean monster ( whose construction was outsourced to Japan ), Kwang Ho Lee as Icho a child actor that will make you long for the kids from the Gamera movies, and a horde of South Korean mid-level government officials who will be with us through many, MANY low key meetings.
This week’s riffing kicks off with Jonah and the bots reading their dream journals and the invention exchange featuring “Tiny Desk” for when you want to unleash your rage and flip office furniture, but you don’t want all that clean up ( and possible unemployment. ) On the Mads’ side, we have Hittler brand free-trade gourmet coffee, sourced from hidden Argentinian bean fields. It’s the Reich choice!
Yongary hits all of the riff-worthy targets with itching rays, a giant fire breathing ( and fire eating! ) monster, who might be scarier if you couldn’t see the eye holes for the suit-mation actor in its neck, and a space capsule that can descend into the bowels of the earth. What impresses me most is the obligatory crowd fleeing immanent monster attack scene. While everyone else is carrying luggage or carpets, one grandmotherly lady is toting a table over her head like it’s nothing. I have a sneaky suspicion she’s taking this opportunity to improve her home decor. Y’all loot away, Granny, no one will ever suspect!
Let me take a minute to talk about the weird history of the Yongary suit and why there aren’t any existent copies of the original Korean cut of the film. The Yongary suit was actually constructed by Masao Yagi, who was a key special effects artist for the Showa-era Gamera films for the princely sum of $5,000 dollars, and if you’ve seen those films, it shows.
When Keukdong Entertainment sent the film to America for international distribution, they sent all the original film elements instead of a copy and they were lost or destroyed. In fact, Yongary was not rebroadcast on Korean television until 2011, and that was the English dubbed version with Korean subtitles. Maybe they’ll get lucky and the next time it gets broadcast over there, it’ll be the MST3K version!
Yongary is a strangely low energy kaiju film with more meetings than battles and a tonal whiplash ending that seems to come out of nowhere. Yongary feels like the script writer read detailed notes on what should go into a giant monster movie and then decided to skip ever actually watching one. The pieces are there, but the assembly directions were upside down.
Thankfully, Jonah and the rest of the crew once more swoop in to save us from media mediocrity. Even Gypsy gets in a few good shots this week. Unfortunately, I don’t think even our merry band of misfits can completely redeem this monstrous mess. With a hit or miss original sketch in the middle and finishing up the episode with a lackluster musical number, I don’t think I’ll be watching Yongary again anytime soon.
Still, with some good riffing and a goofy film to build on, I can still recommend Yongary if, like me, you’re into bad movies and kaiju kookiness. Just don’t expect it to be quite as good as the season opening Reptilicus.
Join us next week for episode 10, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, a 1985 swords and sorcery romp starring Bo Svenson as Kor the Conquerer and Vidal Peterson as Simon. With monsters, epic battles recycled from Deathstalker ( Thanks Roger Corman! ), and what is either a yeti or a terrifying eyeless furry. My money’s on terrifying eyeless furry. Don’t miss it!
And always, remember, “Keep circulating the tapes!”