An opportunistic piece of copyright infringement from 2002, we should emphasise that this film has nothing to do with the successful Toho classics. Instead, it posits a contemporary, ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’, plot pitching the man-in-the-lizard-suit against Osama bin Laden. Not surprisingly condemned throughout the Western world as tasteless, it is frankly amazing that it was even awarded a certificate by UK censors at the time of its original, very brief, direct-to-video release. That said, it’s damned lucky for us that they did, as this is a very funny, if very black, movie. Sending up the post 9/11 hyping of Osama and his band of criminals as an apocalyptic global threat, it features America’s Most Wanted – following the US invasion of Afghanistan – using Middle Eastern magic to summon up a huge flying monster which breathes fire and shoots laser beams from its eyes. Osama quickly directs the creature against the US in a series of terror attacks on landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco naval yards. Memorable scenes include the Al Qaeda monster taking down Stealth bombers and B-52s.

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, US forces are being held back from bin Laden’s HQ in a hollowed out mountain by an evil army of the undead. With America’s military might apparently helpless in the face of bin Laden’s sorcery, help comes from an unexpected quarter- Japan. An eccentric Japanese scientist suggests that they can reanimate Godzilla with the help of: “…the radiation from an American nuclear bomb, after all that’s what made him!”. The swiftly resuscitated Godzilla homes in on the evil Al Qaeda monster and cripples it before it can destroy the White House, although the Capitol Dome and the remains of the Pentagon are destroyed in their titanic struggle. In a blackly humourous touch, King Kong makes a guest appearance, discovered in the rubble at Ground Zero in New York (where he was buried at the end of the King Kong remake in 1976 – he looks none the worse for wear and an explanation tells us that he must have simply been in a coma ), and revived by bin Laden as his Plan B. It is the subsequent fight between King Kong and Godzilla in NYC that truly captures the spirit of those old monster flicks from Toho, whilst simultaneously sending them up in a good natured way, as they rip the tops off sky scrapers and smash them over each other’s heads, and generally cause massive destruction in downtown New York. King Kong is despatched by drowning in the Hudson, with a US General musing that “an ape of that size would be weighed down by water soaked fur, and large apes are not good swimmers.” (Although strangely he survived falling off the World Trade Towers). Still, the sight of a giant ape emerging from the remains of the WTC is amazing.

Tasteless this might be, but it is funny and is a fine satire on the American presentation of the whole terror attacks and the over playing of the power of Al Qaeda and the creation of bin Laden as a Bond style super-villain. Sadly, thanks to legal action by Toho for copyright infringement, the original VHS vanished almost as soon as it was issued, leaving only a lucky handful of us early buyers in possession of a copy. However, thanks to a recent You Tube upload, this classic is once again available for the enjoyment of discerning film fans. It should be noted that this is not the You Tube movie which has recently sparked anti-US riots in Egypt and Libya.