Perhaps Korean filmmakers were latecomers to the giant monster scene, but no one can say that their national kaiju didn't have a flair of his own. One might even say he was simply fashionably late to the party. Yongary, a horn-snouted beast who was undoubtedly a cousin of Godzilla's, burst upon the scene in 1967, complete with a scientist adversary (who in turn, has his own kid sidekick), a terrified military to crush, and a dance number!
The story features Ilu (the scientist) and Icho (the kid sidekick) who, upon investigating a series of strange earthquakes, find themselves dealing with a giant reptile who smashes his way through the Korean countryside. Though the production values are low (at one point you can see the nozzle in Yongary's mouth that emits his "fire breath"), the loopy charm factor is high and the film is beloved among giant monster fans.
For an in-depth review, see Stomp Tokyo.
A widely available video presentation of Yongary, Monster from the Deep has been a long time coming -- some would say too long -- so this newest Alpha Video release is most welcome. Though there is some question of whether Alpha actually has the video rights to the picture (it sports the MGM logo when it airs on television), there can be no doubt that the company has done monster fans a favor by releasing a version -- any version -- to DVD. With distribution in mainstream outlets like Borders bookstores, the Alpha video of Yongary will reach new audiences and perhaps make classic monster fans out of a new generation of viewers.
That said, there aren't many more compliments to be paid to the disc. It's a so-so presentation of a mediocre print. Most of the outdoor scenes are dark to the point of murkiness, and there's quite a bit of dust-and-scratch speckling going on. The sound is monaural and a bit muffled, but it's not as if there was anything better with which to work.
The DVD menus are clear and are organized well at first glance, but the chapter index lacks a "return to main" button, which is found on all of the other submenus. Also, I wish the DVD had more than six chapter stops.
Included on the disc are a handful of production
photos, the poster for the film's German release marked 'Godzillas Todespranke'
(my feeble attempts to translate have come up only with the word "death"),
and the hilariously psychedelic cover for the super-8 version of the
movie, which depcits Yongary with a lovely coat of fuschia. (Even more
hilarious is the fact that the super-8 release was black-and-white.)
There is also a gallery of the DVD covers for some of Alpha Video's
Chris Holland, 4/7/2004