Reptilicus, a giant monster film about a fictional prehistoric reptile, is a Danish-American co-production, produced by American International Pictures and Saga Studios, and is—upon close examination—two distinctly different films helmed by two different directors.
The original version, which was shot in Danish, was directed by Danish director Poul Bang and released in Denmark on February 25, 1961.
The American version, which was in English with a nearly identical cast, was directed by the film's American producer-director Sidney W. Pink; this version was initially deemed virtually unreleasable by American International Pictures and had to be extensively reworked by the film's Danish-American screenwriter, Ib Melchior, before being finally released in America in 1962. Pink was angry at the changes and wound up in a legal dispute with AIP. After Pink and others viewed the English-language version, the lawsuit was dropped.
Resembling a giant dragon-like serpent with webbed wings, Reptilicus, with near-impenetrable armor-plated skin, had the ability to regenerate itself from any segment as well as fly (a feature obscured in the US version, when AIP removed the flying scene). In the US version, an effect was added (albeit randomly and clumsily) where Reptilicus shot a neon-green acid slime from his mouth.
The special effect used to bring Reptilicus to life is a wired marionette.
Danish miners dig up a section of a giant reptile's tail from the frozen grounds in Lapland, where they are drilling. The section is flown to the Danish Aquarium in Copenhagen, where it is preserved in a cold room for scientific study. But due to careless mishandling, the room is left open and the section begins to thaw, only for scientists to find that it is starting to regenerate.
Professor Martens, who is in charge of the Aquarium, dubs the reptilian species "Reptilicus" (upon a reporter's suggestion) and compares its regeneration abilities to that of other animals like earthworms and starfish.
Once fully regenerated from the tail section, Reptilicus goes on an unstoppable rampage from the Danish countryside to the panic-stricken streets of Copenhagen (including one of its famous landmarks, Langebro Bridge), before finally being killed with poison by ingenious scientists and military officers.
However, the monster's foot is not destroyed and sinks to the bottom of the sea. The movie is left open-ended, with the possibility that the foot could regenerate.
Some of the crew work with the Reptilicus marionette among the miniature buildings.
Much like Universal Studios' original Dracula film, this film had two different versions:
The original version, with the actors speaking Danish, had many more scenes including a romance between Svend and Karen, a comical musical number by Petersen (Dirch Passer), and the original Reptilicus flight scene.
The English version, in which the Danish actors are refilmed speaking English (a few of the actors are different, like the character of Connie Miller). AIP used this print and not only redubbed the actors, but drastically cut out many scenes as well as rearranging some (even adding some effects, like Reptilicus shooting acid slime from his mouth). Some additional music by Les Baxter was used as well.
The Japanese release title was The Frozen Evil Beast's Onslaught. It was also released as Prehistoric Beast Reptilicus.
Directors: Poul Bang (Danish Version), Sidney W. Pink (English Version)
Producers: Johann Zalabery, Sidney W. Pink
US Producer: Samuel Z. Arkoff
Writers: Ib Melchior, Sidney W. Pink (Original story)
Music: Sven Gyldmark
Additional Music in US version by Les Baxter
Photography: Aage Wiltrup
Carl Ottosen as Gen. Mark Grayson
Ann Smyrner as Lise Martens
Mimi Heinrich as Karen Martens
Asbjørn Andersen as Prof. Otto Martens
Bodil Miller as Connie Miller (Danish version)
Marla Behrens as Connie Miller (American version)
Bent Mejding as Svend Viltorft (Drilling crew chief)
Povl Wøldike as Dr. Peter Dalby
Dirch Passer as Mikkwlawn Peterson (Night watchman)
Ole Wisborg as Capt. Einer Brandt (Royal Danish Guard)
Birthe Wilke as Herself (Nightclub singer)
Børge Møller Grimstrup as Danish farmer
Reptilicus as Himself
As Denmark's first and only giant monster film, this film has a cult following in its home country. Sidney Pink tried to get a sequel/remake made, back in 2001 due to the box office hit of Godzilla in 1998, before his death in 2002.
Novel and Comic
Reptilicus attacks a hunter in the jungle. From issue #2 of the Reptilicus comic published by Charlton Comics. When the copyright expired, Charlton revamped the character into Reptisaurus.
A novelization of the film was released in paperback at the time of its original release (Reptilicus by Dean Owen (Monarch, 1961)).
In 1961, Charlton Comics produced a comic book based on the film. Reptilicus lasted two issues. After the copyright had lapsed, Charlton modified the creatures look and renamed it Reptisaurus. The series was now renamed Reptisaurus the Terrible and would continue from issue #3 before being cancelled with issue #8 in 1962. This was followed by a one-shot called Reptisaurus Special Edition in 1963.
In 2012, Scary Monsters magazine reprinted the Reptisaurus the Terrible series as a black and white collection called Scarysaurus the Scary.
The American version of Reptilicus was released on DVD April 1 2003 by MGM Home Entertainment under the 'Midnight Movies' banner. The Danish version was released on DVD from Sandrew Metronome (Denmark) in 2002.