Thursday, December 19, 2013

Space Monster Wangmagwi the Easily Pronouncable

It turns out that Korea didn't produce one native kaiju film in 1967, they produced two. Ujugoe-in Wangmagwi is an unreleased monster film made entirely in Korea, and released a few months before Yonggary. Unlike Yonggary, Wangmagwi was an entirely Korean production. It was believed lost until a copy was discovered in the last decade. It is still undergoing restoration.

Which means I can't watch it. There are a few descriptions of it, and a couple of pictures, but opinions differ. The most complete description of the creature comes from Koreanfilm.com, which makes it sound both different from the usual run of monster films, while retaining many familiar tropes.



Aliens invade and create the giant monster Wangmagwi, which tromps through downtown Seoul. Ahn Hee, who is due to marry an air force pilot that day (shades of Yonggary) stays in town to wait for him, and it picked up by the monster (very King Kong and carried about. After Seoul is levelled, the monster moves to the countryside, where it can finally be confronted by the military. One very different piece introduced by the film, very different from other monster films, is a himeless boy nicknamed Squirrel. Cornered, Squirrel leaps onto Wangmagwi, climbs into his ear, and attacks the creautre with a knife. What effect this has on the monster, I don't know.



It also seems that Wangmagwi ow some design inspiration to Creature from the Black Lagoon. It's scaly, and spends a lot of time hauling a woman around.

Beyond that, I can only hope that the film gets restored and is released on DVD. I know that I'm not alone in this.

Your Boxing Day present, will be 1968's classic Destroy All Monsters. And that's going to be a load of fun.

3 comments:

varanid9 said...

When growing up in Korea, I saw this film as a young child. The aliens wore silver suits with flat topped cylindrical helmets with antennae, I think. Very '40-ish space invaders. There was an eye slit through which you could see human eyes. Showing the interior of their ship in orbit, you can see Wangmagwi in the back ground inside a cage. At this point, he is no bigger than the aliens. They eject him through a sort of pod which slowly floats down in the night. Upon touching down on a hillside, the pod explodes and, through the dust cloud, you see Wangmagi grown to giant proportions.

The young boy, while in Wangmagwi's ear, not only cuts its eardrum with a pocket knife (to witch the monster holds a hand to its ear and starts shaking its head bent over), he, at a loss for any more damage he can do, urinates in its ear canal. At one point, the hero and/or heroine are drifting down in a parachute wondering where the kid is, only to look up and see him clinging to one of its lines further up. This might have been at the end, can't remember.

Wangmagwi squirted a fluid out of a hole in its forehead that would ignite ignite fires, kinda like Gojira in the original. It's killed by strafing runs by jet fighters at the suspension bridge that crosses the river that runs through the center of Seoul; back then, the banks were high while much of the bottom was exposed as a kind of sand bar shore. It's here at that beach that the monster makes its last stand. The film was in black and white. I remember that the giant hand prop that the female lead and the boy spent much time in as they were carried around by the monster looked fake because the claws seemed straight-sided as 2x4s, and I swear it looked textured like concrete. Wang in Korean means "king" and "magwi" translates to something like warlock.

varanid9 said...

Now that I think about it, I might be confusing the location of the film's climax with that of "Yongary", as I saw that also, probably in the same theater, when it was first released.

John Goodrich said...

Fascinating. I would love to see this, and it's quite gratifying to hear from someone who saw the film. Thank you for the information and the memories.