Visit Denmark, where the puppet monsters roam free. Actually, scrap that. The tag line didn’t work. Reptilicus failed to catch on because most of the time spent with this glorious clunker is in comparison to similar giant creature “epics” but from American producer Bert I. Gordon rather than the good stuff. Sadly, Bert I. Gordon’s “killer crickets eat Chicago” movie Beginning of the End was more credible than Reptilicus.
This was the only rampaging monster flick to exit Denmark. Every country needed one. Gorgo busted up London, Konga Britain at large. Mighty Peking Man smashed, well, Peking. South Korea battled Yongary. North Korea? Pulgasari. All the while, America and Japan bumped heads with dueling radioactive beasts. The list is enormous.
Repitilicus is thus an oddity. It’s a strange film with limited identity – little of the feature concerns itself with Denmark other than a pace choking travelogue dropped into the middle. An American general’s obvious aggression is a lightly skimming commentary, or it would if Denmark needed any of this type. Scenes are stiff and awkward, copies of others rather than thrilling. Scientists dribble unidentified liquids between beakers, shout loudly their ideas to destroy the beast, and the military fire cannons on orders. Yawn.
The film is a total bust, yet as with the contemporaries of the ’50s and ’60s, appalling in an embarrassingly entertaining way. Reptilicus swings from strings, practically immobile as a movie prop, breaking through miniatures with plenty of assistance. This lizard/dragon/dinosaur is in competition with The Giant Claw for cinema’s grandest special effects failure. He is an icon.
A few elements of Danish culture were sucked from US cuts. Famed comedian Dirch Passer turned Reptilicus into an impromptu musical with a wildly animated performance, but one clearly inappropriate for local audiences. Anything of Passer’s left is still as pointless as the musical piece though. Gone too are the accents; local American International producers felt they were comical, so Reptilicus was completely (and poorly) redubbed in its entirety.
It’s cliché, run down, and incompetent, yet affable.
It’s cliché, run down, and incompetent, yet affable.
Audiences outside of Denmark have never missed much. A few cut scenes of Reptilicus taking to the sky with his itty-bitty wings were just saving time – and laughter. Pieced together as it is, Reptilicus is still Saturday matinee fun. It’s cliché, run down, and incompetent, yet affable. Comfort food for the movie junkie, where the monster is discovered, the monster breaks loose, and the monster is killed. If Reptilicus featured Ray Harryhausen’s work, it would be a classic. As it forever sits, Reptilicus is but a historically interesting failure.
Many of Reptilicus’ visual problems are likely linked to the American side. It’s doubtful the pitiful optical zooms – used with aggravating frequency – would be part of the original. The impact is a frequently hazy image, coupled alongside far too frequent chemical dissolves. Those are source issues. So is the lazy “acid spit” effect which was another touch-up of distributor AIP. The level of damage on the frame when this is used proves inexcusable. But again, the source cannot be fixed.
Most of what can be laid onto Shout Factory is positive. Scenes without any interference are lovely. Grain is excellent, well managed despite Reptilicus being paired with Tentacles on the same disc. Clarity and resolution are superb; neither has been a hallmark of previous home video editions. Most appeared faded. This does not and it is a revolution when watching the sloppy Reptilicus.
Color has been left alone, producing a distinctive ’60s glow. Flesh tones veer naturally orange with some of the primary colors sprouting from dresses of the few women characters. Reds and blues are excellent.
The only concern are two scenes. They’re botched and they were not so in the prior DVD release. The image is strangely doubled vertically. It’s as if the film reel is jumping between frames. While the shots are brief – one of a scientist inspecting a tail, the other a building exterior – they’re jarring. This error needs corrected.
PCM mono is the lone, unremarkable audio selection. Age has done little to the fidelity, keeping even the highs clear and free of distortion. Rockets, tanks, gunfire. They’re all fine. Dialogue carries an obvious over dubbed quality inherent to the production. The score, mostly loaded up deep in the background, is inaudible in spots. Reptilicus has always been this way.
Sadly, there is no original Danish track or version included. It’s never been released in the States.
Trailer, photo gallery (stills, posters), and a radio spot selling Reptilicus as a sci-fi triple feature which includes The Fly. Those are the only bonuses. Still waiting for that Danish version to show up in some official capacity…
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.