In 1985, North Korea decided, for whatever reason, that they needed to get into the gian-to-mon-staa game. "Pulgasari" was the result. Fifteen years later, it is finally available on video in the USA.
"Pulgasari" was made with the help of one of the SFX men from "Godzilla 1985," who also wears the suit. The monster bears no small resemblence to the Nauga (a forgotten company icon and the fictional source of Naugahyde), which is ironic because Pulgy's hide looks like cheap vinyl, wrinkling in odd places (the chest, for example) with each step. There is some cel-animated cannon-fire-to-the-mouth straight out of the end of "Reptilicus," complete with a similarly inappropriate sound effect. Cruddy matte jobs abound. However, the miniature sets--and the oversized sets for scenes showing Pulgy as a tiny pup--are kick-ass. I was shocked when Pulgy walked into one shot and started tearing up the buildings; I would've sworn they were real.
The regular sets, unfortunately, are hideous. It's little comfort to know that as late as 1985, grade-school-play-level sets were still being used somewhere in the world; at one point the actors' shadows are clearly visible on the "sky" a foot and a half away. Natural settings consist of rough terrain and scrub the actors stumble and twist ankles trying just to walk over; watching this and "A*P*E" one might think Korea is all sharp rocks and dirt. The acting is also jawdroppingly bad, especially on the part of the "King," who squeals like a piglet, twirling himself in a curtain to hide from the approaching giant beast. The male lead attempts some half-assed martial-arts swordfighting, but it makes "Infra-Man" look like an Ang Lee picture.
The story: In the 14th Century, the Peasants are Repressed. A jailed blacksmith builds a doll out of, well, chewed food, and begs the Gods to give it life so that it may free The People. Soon, it's walking around, eating all the iron it can find, and...growing. Before long, it's leading the revolt, but no one's thinking about what happens after
the revolution...when iron supplies start to run low. Baby's still growing... Meanwhile, the Evil Government, foreshadowing Japan's military by 400 years, digs pits and builds supercannons and hires spiritualists in increasingly desperate and doomed attempts to destroy the monster.
Yeah, I pee all over it, but you know I love it. Rent it today! (WARNING: if you like horses, you might want to steer clear of this one. That didn't look like a prop. Enjoy your burger.)
You can find out more--careful of spoilers!--at "The Only Yongary Site You'll Ever Need" at http://www.stomptokyo.com/scott/yongary/
(You can bone up on "Yongary"--death by rectal bleeding!--"A*P*E," and the modern, can't-wait-to-finally-see "YongGary" there too.)