In 1954, Japan relived the horrors of the atom bomb and the nuclear tests on the Bikini Atoll through Gojira. It is a timeless classic that tells the dangers of nuclear energy and mankind's misuse of that power we had yet to grasp to understand at the time. With TOHO Co. making money off of the Godzilla movies, another Japanese film studio, Daiei Film Co., wanted to make their own monster movie that would rival Godzilla. This became Gamera, The Giant Monster (a.k.a. Gammera the Invincible), a movie about a giant, prehistoric, fire breathing turtle that wakes up from nuclear testing in the Arctic. Before there was Gamera, there was another monster movie that lost its squeak early in production called Giant Horde Beast Nezura.
The movie's story was about a chemical experiment that went terribly wrong. A research institute was developing a new high-calorie superfood called S602, but due to human test subjects showing signs of mutations and high levels of aggression the experiment was dumped. When the rats ate the dumped S602, they started to grow bigger and were attacking people and livestock. These rats would make their way to Tokyo revealing an even larger rat called Nezura leading the horde. The rats and Nezura were defeated when the rats became so aggressive that they turned on and devoured each other in cannibalism.
Giant Horde Beast Nezura started production in late 1963 under director Noriaki Yuasa. The plan was to have the monster, Nezura, be played by an actor in a suit and to have real rats swarming over miniature cities. Since the rats being used were real sewer rats, the studio and crew members had a major lice and flea infestation. The rats escaped and began infesting other businesses nearby. The rats were killed with pesticides and from cannibalism (ironically like the ending of the movie). From the chaos in producing Giant Horde Beast Nezura, production for the movie had to be shut down and moving on to making Gamera, The Giant Monster instead.
There were 20 minutes of footage already filmed with some of it used to compile a movie trailer, but most of it is now lost. You can find stills online however they're publicity stills that would have been used to promote the film. Thanks to SciFi Japan, there is an image of the unused footage showing the rats swarming over a bridge. Perhaps this is when the rats are making their way to Tokyo. This is the only image of the film that was recovered.
In 2002, Daiei Film Co. filed for bankruptcy and merged with Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co. This merger lead to Kadokawa's newest branch, Kadokawa Pictures and announced that they would begin producing new feature films from Daiei's classic franchises. The Great Yokai War was the first to get a new movie releasing in 2005. It was a trilogy of films that were released between 1968-69 about the goblins and demons from Japanese folklore and the 2005 film was a massive success in giving those movies a major update. The second film to be released in 2006 was Gamera: The Brave. At this point, Godzilla just finished another series of films and Kadokawa wanted to make a new trilogy of Gamera films to compete with Godzilla. Kadokawa brought Gamera back to his original roots to being a kid-friendly monster from the 60s and 70s with some elements of the Gamera from 90s. However, Gamera: The Brave flopped at the box office thus cancelling the plans for two more movies. There was a second attempt to revive Gamera in 2015, yet Kadokawa decided to not follow through. The final project that would get rebooted was Daimajin, which was a trilogy of films about a giant stone statue that sought revenge towards corrupt politicians and warlords. The original plan was to make a new movie, but was reworked as a TV show in 2010 called Daimajin Kanon.
Writer/Director Hiroto Yokokawa and his company, 3Y Film, approached Kadokawa proposing to revive The Great Horde Nezura. He and his studio had just completed making their own independent film The Great Buddha Arrival (a lost film from the 30s that got a revival). Yokokawa proposed to film FX sequences of how the completed version of Nezura as well as offering a behind the scenes look at the production. Kadokawa approved the idea as long as Kadokawa was involved in the development and production of the film.
The budget money needed to produce Nezura 1964 was crowdfunded on Makuake (Japanese version of Patreon or Go Fund Me) asking for ¥1,000,000 (US $9,150.51). The crowdfunding promises:
to add the names of the people that helped crowdfund the film in the credits
a 5 minute video of the behind the scenes look at the production of Nezura 1964
an email invitation to a pre-screening of Nezura 1964 being held on December 19th, 2020
edition "0" of the DVD will be sent out in January 2021
a brochure with info on the post-production and photos
a postcard with the concept art of the monster rat, Nezura
the rights to appear in the movie for one scene
a figurine of Nezura
a lithograph of Nezura concept art
a 10 page research paper on the production of the lost film Giant Horde Beast Nezura
a poster signed by the performers and director
and products and logos of the supported companies that appear in the movie.
Lost projects of unmade movies are always something people wonder about and it is good to see that there is some interest in reviving these lost movies. There are tons of ideas that were scrapped that fans today would like to have to seen back then. As of right now, Nezura 1964 has reached the desired goal needed for the production of the movie.
One thing that baffles me about Daiei's production of Giant Horde Beast Nezura is that they were using untamed sewer rats. It makes me wonder why they didn't use clean rats instead. The only two reasons I could think of are either Daiei didn't have the budget to use clean rats or clean rats were not available at the time. Perhaps clean rats were around and available to use and Daiei were just being idiots. Who knows?
The premise for Nezura sounded like a typical B-movie. Although, the more I think about how the movie could have looked back then, Giant Horde Beast Nezura could have been right up there with Godzilla. There are a lot of dark themes such as inhuman experimentation, the ignorance of not disposing waste properly, and our search for the new super food and the consumption GMOs to appease mankind's gluttony. So I just hope Nezura 1964 captures those themes with a great story around it.
What do you guys think about Nezura? Do you have any interest in Nezura 1964? Would you like me to do more articles on other lost projects? Let me know what you think in the comments section whether it is on Giant Horde Beast Nezura or Nezura 1964. Make sure to follow me on my Facebook, Twitter, and Minds pages to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.