Thursday 22 February 2024

Varan AKA Varan The Unbelievable (1958)

The worst thing about choosing to FINALLY watch every Godzilla movie, and every main movie tangentially connected to that long-running series, is the fact that so many of the films are very similar to one another. You get a big creature, you get some initial sense of mystery before the destruction occurs, and you get people then struggling to figure out a way to stop whatever new beast is trying to stomp all over them. I knew this when I started this ongoing “quest”, and people will just have to bear with me when it comes to the movies that don’t really give me too much to discuss.

Varan is one of those movies, but I also enjoyed watching it, and looked forward to reviewing it, because it felt like the most successful retread of the original Godzilla template yet. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of this creature before, although that relative ignorance is part of my reason for watching all of these movies now, and it certainly feels like a Big G flick in all but name.

If you really need to know the plot, and I guess I should make some effort to summarize things here, just know that a large creature is discovered, it starts to roam around and cause some large-scale destruction, and everyone scrambled to figure out exactly how to destroy it. Flares might come in handy this time around, but only if the rest of the plan can be perfectly executed.

With the legendary (yeah, I think it is safe to cal him that nowadays) Ishirô Honda back in the director’s chair, and a screenplay written by Shin’ichi Sekizawa, this is a top-tier kaiju flick that features the usual visual trickery, melodrama, and an excellent creation wandering around and causing carnage. It’s only the sense of familiarity that may put most people off, but I was easily pleased by the fact that this felt like a great return to form after the mixed bag of the (still enjoyable) previous few movies.

The cast all do fine, and I will namecheck Kôzô Nomura, Ayumi Sonoda, Akihiko Hirata, and Koreya Senda here, but we all know who the real star is. Yes, it’s Varan, and the design and feel of the titular creature is a major asset. I am a fan, obviously, but it would seem that this creature wasn’t ever used again in the vast Toho filmography (not in a starring role anyway, and not including the American version of this film, which I am not rushing to check out).

A quick check on Wikizilla (a site I highly recommend to fans of these movies) shows me that I seem to be out of step with the general opinion of this. While many others appreciate the kaiju creation, very few seem to enjoy the movie as much as I did. Maybe this review will encourage one or two others to join me in my appreciation of it. Or maybe I will remain in a minority of one.


If you have enjoyed this, or any other, review on the blog then do consider the following ways to show your appreciation. A subscription/follow costs nothing.
It also costs nothing to like/subscribe to the YouTube channel attached to the podcast I am part of -
Or you may have a couple of quid to throw at me, in Ko-fi form -
Or Amazon is nice at this time of year -


  1. So it looks like the result of if Godzilla mated with a flying squirrel. I had never heard of this before. I suppose there were a lot of them after the success of Godzilla. It's like in the "Golden Age of Comics" you had Superman, Batman, and others who are still around today but also a bunch that have been mostly forgotten. Or even more recently a lot of 80s Saturday morning brands like Transformers, GI Joe, and Ninja Turtles have been repeatedly revived while a lot of others have been forgotten.

    1. Yeah, I think they just tried and tested a variety of creatures until they kept returning back to the most popular choices. But I was won over by this one.