The unsung kaiju-ninja epic MAGIC SERPENT (part 1)

posted in: 1 - Film and TV | 0

Kairyu Daikessen was a 1966 Toei fusion of ninja revenge and giant monster magic. It delivered in spades on both fronts and was a fantastic movie.


Then it was picked up by American International Pictures for English-language distribution, and has since wallowed in international obscurity. Does it have a cult following based on sporadic UHF TV airings and grindhouse circuit screenings? Sure. But it should be A LOT better known.

So why hasn’t this flick been one of the most exploited and re-issued titles of all time? It should have at least B-grade kaiju status, under Godzilla and Gamera for sure, but right up there with the Gargantuas at least. It should have been a staple rental during the ninja craze, but for some reason has never been marketed for it’s shinobi content.

The blame starts at the AIP re-title, which you may have seen in TV Guide listings and in DVD discount bins for years, never knowing what you were missing – MAGIC SERPENT.

Magic fucking Serpent???

No one could have figured out a way to glom onto some other genres and trends with a strategic retitle bearing a little more dramatic flair? How about Samurai Serpent? Shogun’s Serpent? The Dragon Ninja? War of the Ninja Monsters?

The fact that one movie can have THIS:


and THIS:


AND be translated into English and still be widely anonymous to both kaijufiles and shinobimaniacs is just a crime of marketing and exploitation NEGLECT! Dammit all to hell, it ends here!!!

I will now assault you with images of this masterpiece until you find it and buy it and love it like you should have all these years…

Yep, that's a big ass bladed boomerang! Early in the film, an assassin uses it to cut off the hero's head.
Fortunately, Jiraiya (Hiroki Matsukata) has mad ninja wizard skills and can fully function decapitated. That's his wise-cracking disembodied head on the left, taunting the ninja his body just captured.
He also throws around FX-laden trickery like the trusty old magic energy snare.
But his sworn enemy Orochimaru (Ryutaro Otomo) is not without special effects of his own. LOVE this animated energy cloud, despite the bad opticals.
But when the swordplay and shadow sills fail, it's time to get down with some big time GIANT MONSTER SUMMONING! Orochimaru transforms into the film's eponymous critter, one of the best kaiju ever put on screen in my opinion...
BUT WAIT! Who's this uninvited peeing tom?



Oh yeah, our hero sure as hell can summon and embody a glowing eyed giant horny toad! Let the games begin!!!

Coming in part two, MONSTER FIGHTS!