The Bootleg Files: Wolfman vs. Godzilla

BOOTLEG FILES 854: “Wolfman vs. Godzilla” (unfinished fan film).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube and Internet Archive.


REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A right clearance issue.


From a creative artist’s perspective, I could never understand the appeal of making fan films. I appreciate when teens and pre-teens create these cinematic tributes – there’s something very charming when the James Bond or Star Wars orbits are reimagined by an alternative universe of the under-18 crowd. But when adults spend a great deal of time and money in creating fan films, it usually leaves me cold.

I need to be clear that I am not talking about fan-made parodies of popular movies, but ambitious and serious productions conceived as non-canonical entries to established franchises.

Why do I feel this way? It is not because fan films are dreadful – in fact, many of them are very clever and well-made, and they offer a sense of enthusiasm that is often lacking in franchises that have overstayed their big screen welcome. But what irks is why this talent and energy is wasted in productions that can never have a proper commercial release – why didn’t the fan film creators make a work of original intellectual property rather than rip off characters that are protected by trademarks and copyrights?

One of the most outrageous examples of a film made by an excessively fixated fan is “Densetsu no Kyojū Ōkami Otoko tai Gojira,” which is translated as “Legendary Beast Wolfman vs. Godzilla” – it is more commonly known as “Wolfman vs. Godzilla,” though some sources call it “Godzilla vs. Wolfman.” This was the work of Shizuo Nakajima, who once worked at Toho Studios as a production assistant on “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla” and “Terror of Mechagodzilla.” Nakajima and several Toho colleagues created a three-minute fan film short called “Wolfman vs. Baragon” that paired a new lycanthropic monster against Baragon, a kaiju that appeared in the 1965 “Frankenstein vs. Baragon” but which never became a favorite of Japanese monster movie lovers.

Nakajima set his sights on a bigger film with a bigger kaiju icon – the one and only Godzilla.
Originally planned as a short film, “Wolfman vs. Godzilla” somehow metastasized into a feature-length film. Nakajima amassed 10 hours of Super 8mm footage that was shot from the late 1970s through 1983, but the film was never completed after Toho got wind of the project and issued a cease-and-desist order against the would-be filmmaker for using the Godzilla character without the permission of the studio.

Details on what “Wolfman vs. Godzilla” was going to offer are sketchy – the bare minimum of the plot that is known has a Japanese man becoming a werewolf that grows to monstrous size and embarks on a rampage across the country. Godzilla, who has been trapped at the North Pole, escapes from his Arctic imprisonment and returns to Japan to fight the oversized werewolf in a duel that bears more than a passing resemblance to the climax of “King Kong vs. Godzilla” – and speaking of that 1962 classic, Nakajima’s Godzilla resembled the movie monster during his early 1960s incarnation. Fuyuki Shinada, who would later design the monster costumes in “Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack,” worked with Nakajima on this project.

Few people knew “Wolfman vs. Godzilla” existed until a trailer was screened in 2012 at the Godzilla-focused G-Fest XIX convention; more footage turned up later at other Godzilla-inspired events. Over the years, Nakajima spoke about a 100-minute feature, a 140-minute director’s cut and a DVD release that gained Toho’s approval. To date, none of these promised offerings materialized, although 26 minutes of footage have surfaced online.

Strangely, the best part of Nakajima’s available footage involves the transformation of the man into a werewolf – this was clearly inspired by the special effects from “An American Werewolf in London” and it could have been an entertaining B-movie if the filmmaker followed that story line. But the human-sized werewolf has black fur while the kaiju version has white fur, which makes the creature’s growth into kaiju proportions strange.

As for the footage of Wolfman fighting Godzilla – to be frank, it is badly staged and dull. Even if Toho was benevolent enough to overlook Nakajima’s copyright infringement, it is impossible not to realize that his enthusiasm runs miles ahead of his talent. And since the potential for a commercial release of “Wolfman vs. Godzilla” is nil, the curious will have to pique their curiosity by hunting down the shabby footage that is floating around the Internet.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: While this weekly column acknowledges the presence of rare film and television productions through the so-called collector-to-collector market, this should not be seen as encouraging or condoning the unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either through DVDs or Blu-ray discs or through postings on Internet video sites.

Listen to Phil Hall’s award-winning podcast “The Online Movie Show with Phil Hall” on SoundCloud and his radio show “Nutmeg Chatter” on WAPJ-FM in Torrington, Connecticut, with a new episode every Sunday. His new book “100 Years of Wall Street Crooks” is now in release through Bicep Books.