Yes, with a “G”.
One of the minor, less known giant monster, and the only kaiju eiga ever made by Nikkatsu (which almost went bankrupt after releasing it), also known under the mystifing title “Monster From Another Planet” in the US, and directed by Hiroshi Noguchi, better known for the Cat Girls Gambler yakuza series and the Ginza Mighty Guy/Ginza Whirlwind series.
Oddly, the plot is virtually identical to the one seen in Gorgo (hi again), with a grouple of people (in this case a group of reporters and scientists instead of a salvage crew) capturing and bringing a monster from its island (here a place called Obelisk Island) to “civilization” in order to become a media attraction. But this also angers the natives of the island and – more importantly – the parents of the infant Gappa monster, who head to Japan and cause huge havoc in their wake.
If japanese monster movies taught me anything, it’s to never steal children, especially those of literal giant monsters. Just don’t. Or stop.
It’s a bit weird, but yes, aside it taking place in Japan with a japanese cast instead of England, it’s basically the same exact plot of Gorgo, making it feel like an unauthorized remake of sorts. It’s almost poetic since Gorgo itself was basically “british Godzilla” with plot elements more akin to King Kong, and Gappa puts further emphasis on that, with island natives worshipping a giant monster, adding to the pot a dash of Gamera, with a children character that has the solution to the problem, some of the juvenile characterization and the moral lesson to be learned at the end, even if it doesn’t go proper into it, like the critique of austerity politics in Daigoro VS Goliath.
Characters are both unremarkable in any way and mostly kinda dickish just because, when not plain regressive or accidentally racist. They go on an expedition to this island because the employer is a business man that wants to open an “exotic amusement park” and wants some exotic unknown or rare animals for it. They meet the natives (in obvious “blackface-body”) and one of the group suggests bringing the natives over… not so much to live in Japan as in the frigging amusement park.
I’m not making this up. But they thankfully drop this idea almost immediately, and on closer examination, fits with how surprisingly dumb the scientist are, and how the main “scientist lady” at the end decides to drop her entire career and become a “normal housewife”, not that it actually concludes the usual tacked on romantic subplot, as here it goes completely nowhere. YAY?
On a less controversial side, the special effects, suits and miniatures are quite good, not as good as the ones from Toho or Tsuburaya Productions, but still, they did a good job overall, this is way above the Showa Era Gamera films in term of craft, heck, they even did 3 suits, as you can see “The Gappas” reunited at the end, and there are also some slight differences in the gendered adult monster designs, nice attention to detail. The monster design is basically a cross between Rodan and Godzilla, as it’s a reptile-bird creature with functional wings and fire/atomic (?) breath.
It does have a catchy theme song that plays at the beginning in the original version, there a couple of american actors that have a couple of laughably spoken lines in english, but it feels a bit slow moving at times, and it feels very generic…. because it is.
It isn’t a bad kaiju movie, it’s alright, but as it’s also pretty unremarkable as well, it makes perfect sense for Gappa The Triphibian Monster to eventually have faded into obscurity even for monster movie lovers, and with its plot constructed of multiple layers of cliches/borrowed elements, it’s forgettable characters and just ok monster… it’s not that surprisising that it never got a proper or sizeable cult following. Not that i know, at least, but i struggle to even imagine such a thing.
It’s arguably a bit better than Varan The Giant Monster, but still, not that much.