A Toho-Harryhausen Fantasy
As imagined by Trevor Thomson, with story elements by Charlott Knight, Bob Williams, Christopher Knopf, Shinichi Sekizawa, & Beverley Cross. Cover illustrated by Elden Ardiente. Internal illustrations by studio Lungga Creative.
As folks who have read my previous writings may know (& even if you don’t, now’s a fine time to learn), the two creative forces I hold most dear to my life, both as inspiration & simple occupancy of time, are the works of Ray Harryhausen & the cinematic franchise of an enormous, radioactive lizard named Gojira, or “Godzilla”.
And so too are the extensions of said man & reptile, in the fields they perfected & inspired, namely the process of stop-motion animation & the Kaijū genre of Japanese cinema. While not many men managed to properly follow in Ray’s footsteps, both due to their own skills or personas & sadly bad cards dealt by Life, any effort to do so has been of interest & fascination to me. The whole sub-genre of Tokusatsu, or special effects, superheroes & monsters that sprang mainly from Japan, has been equally of interest & fascination, not only in other productions by Godzilla’s parent company, Toho Studios, but in various others, such as the Super Sentai series, adapted stateside as Power Rangers.
All this is mentioned to pave the way to a concept I cobbled together, a meshing of two of my favorite films of all time (or three, technically). Two of these are works by Harryhausen, the magnum-opus of the first phase of his career, which entailed 1950s science fiction of the sort where irradiated monsters & invading aliens were all the rage, as well as the swan song that encapsulated Ray’s undying love of Greek Mythology. Together, they meld with another, perhaps the first truly great & “pure” Japanese Kaijū film, unburdened by the symbolism of a country scarred by a new super weapon, & devoted to representing a sense of whimsy & escapism that only that Land of the Rising Sun can. In layman’s terms, this is my passion project lovechild of 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964), & Clash of the Titans (1981), the middle film having been discussed before in relation to a certain giant moth, but today, an aspect I didn’t dive into shall be explored, as it is of paramount importance.
We begin with the Princess Selina Salno of the country Selgina on her way home from traveling abroad by plane, currently flying over Europe. Unbeknownst to Selina, her uncle & his fellow conspirators have arranged that she be assassinated by any means necessary, so that he may take power over the country. As she is currently in the air, they have planted a bomb on the plane, a quick & easy death, able to be explained as a freak accident.
However, while in flight, a supernatural presence overtakes Selina, keeping her safe by as yet unknown means. The plane comes crashing down off the coast of Sicily, Italy. There she is rescued by a local fisherman, Verrico, his son, Pepe, & a family friend, Mondello. Selina is the sole survivor of the crash, & while it is reported to authorities, the princess suffers from amnesia, thus being unable to identify herself. The local medical personnel is also limited in the nearby village, so until a doctor can be summoned to properly examine Selina, she is put under the care of her rescuers.
Though unaware of her identity, Selina retains her kindness as a person, & quickly bonds with Verrico & Pepe, becoming rather acclimated to the simple life in the village, she filling the void left from the passing of Verrico’s wife & Pepe’s mother. One night, a glorious meteor shower fills the sky, having broken apart from a larger meteorite, the three looking on in awe. The next morning, Pepe discovers something washed up on the shoreline: an oblong, gelatinous mass. Overcome with juvenile curiosity, he tosses caution to the wind & takes it home.
Once he brings it back to show Verrico & Selina, Selina becomes intensely fascinated by the mass, a sense of deja vu compelling her interest. That night, the mass hatches out a small, green, reptilian humanoid, about a foot tall. Selina wakes from her sleep & goes in the other room, finding the small creature walking about, investigating his surroundings. Unafraid, Selina attempts to communicate with him, he responding to the gentle interaction in kind.
The next day, Selina shows the little “lizard man” to Verrico & Pepe. The latter is amazed, while the former regards the small creature with suspicion. But what comes as a surprise to Selina is the fact that the “lizard man” has grown by at least two feet overnight, which feeds Verrico’s growing concern. Curiously, they discover that the only thing the little guy will eat is pure sulfur, which Verrico receives from a local farmer. Eventually, the lizard man grows to be as tall as a grown man, which Verrico realizes will become harder to hide from the other villagers. Before he can take action though, the lizard man finally reaches out to Selina, when it is just the two of them.
The creature gently takes her hand, & Selina’s mind is filled with glorious visions of divinity from a far off world, divine beings living in symbiosis with multiple lizard men. Then, she is overcome with horror, as the visions turn violent, & the far off world is set ablaze by a powerful storm & what appears to be lightning. Before the vision ends, a massive shadow looms over the carnage, forming the outline of some winged, three-headed dragon. Selina breaks her contact from the creature, wanting the vision to stop. To her amazement, she hears a voice in her head, addressing her by name. Selina realizes that said voice is coming from the lizard man. After a brief interlude of telepathic conversation, Selina gets dressed in one of the black dresses left behind from Verrico’s deceased wife, & the two leave from the house.
The next day, Selina & the lizard man go to the beach, where the creature draws attention. Selina steps up on a rock, & begins to speak to the gathering crowd. She speaks of what she saw in the vision: a three-headed, golden dragon, who she addresses as “King Ghidorah”. She states that Ghidorah destroyed her home-world, & that he’s now coming for Earth. The crowd, though intrigued, mock her claims, questioning her about the lizard man by her side instead, now having grown to be at least 12 ft tall. She tells them that he is a Ymir (e-meer), the last of her kind’s personal bodyguards.
Italian officials soon intercede, taking the young woman into their custody. She agrees to their questioning, though on the condition that the Ymir remain nearby, stating that he won’t harm anyone, so long as she remains unharmed. Selina then divulges to them more details than she did to the public. Thousands, perhaps even millions, of years into the past, the planet Venus was once a paradise filled with life. It was ruled over by a race of human-like beings, though unlike mankind, the ancient Venusians displayed various supernatural powers. Said race also bred the Ymir creatures, as pets, bodyguards, & even warriors.
The Ymir species lived in symbiosis with the Venusians, able to commune telepathically. The Venusian Empire reigned for thousands of years, until they were attacked by Ghidorah, who arrived from space encased in a meteorite. Ghidorah turned Venus into a wasteland, not only by destroying the society & culture that had ruled the planet for so long, but also through his absorption of its natural resources. The remaining Venusians who didn’t perish in the onslaught fled to the nearby planet Earth, landing in what would soon be known as the countries of Greece & Italy, they becoming the gods of Greek & Roman mythology.
Selina was informed by the Ymir that she is a descendant of the interbreeding between the Olympians & mankind, she effectively being a demigoddess, her powers long dormant until her bonding with the Ymir, he having arrived as an egg in the Venusian soil that comprised the meteorite. While the officials listen to Selina’s account, the meteorite that the Ymir hitched a ride to Earth on also houses the reborn Ghidorah, & he emerges from the meteorite following its crashing into a European mountain range. Once revived, Ghidorah is drawn to the presence of Selina & the Ymir, so he takes flight to their location.
The Ymir has managed to grow rapidly thanks to the Earth’s oxygen content, so he now stands at least 100 ft high. Ghidorah is much larger, but the Ymir is still willing to put up a fight, sensing the dragon drawing near. Despite his best efforts, the Ymir is overpowered, his first tussle with Ghidorah sending him off a cliff & into the ocean, seemingly dead.
The world now appears to be at the mercy of Ghidorah, but Selina remains undeterred, as she reveals the Ymir will simply evolve into the final stage of his life-cycle, becoming the aquatic “Kraken”. One such creature served the Olympians on Earth, until it perished thanks to the conflicting motivations of various infighting among the deities. Sure enough, Selina’s Ymir does indeed become a Kraken, now being nearly the same size as Ghidorah, & possessing a brighter reddish coloring, a massive finned tail, & two extra arms. As Ghidorah comes for Selina, the Kraken rushes to her aid. The Kraken beats Ghidorah, though at the cost of his own life.
With the loss of the Kraken, Selina’s connection is severed, & her memory restored. Realizing she has to return home to Selgina, she bids a sad farewell to Verrico & Pepe. Once back home, she rules for years & years, remembering the Kraken with sadness. That is until one night, long after she has become an elderly woman, she senses something familiar beckoning her out to the ocean. There she is met by the Kraken, or at least the offspring of the one she knew, & she allows the enormous monster to lift her in one of his hands. As our story ends, the two reunite, Selina pressing her head to the Kraken’s own forehead.
But somewhere, at the bottom of the ocean, a severed head of Ghidorah stirs with new life, now resembling a winged serpent…
Author’s Note: Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964) features a subplot where assassins from Selgina attempt to finish the job of killing Selina once they realize she survived the plane explosion & is prophesying the oncoming terror of the various monsters in the film. This element could be retained for this story, with the assassins pursuing Selina, & causing the Ymir to become hostile in defense. Not knowing that assassins are after her, the Ymir’s actions could be misinterpreted as general aggression, which would mean the local authorities would attempt to kill him, they being the cause of the large Ymir falling into the ocean, leaving the fight with Ghidorah to be between him & the Kraken alone.