Reptilicus: Danish MGs in Action

Want to see more Danish machine guns (mostly Madsen LMGs, but also a couple Madsen-Saetters) in one place than you’ve ever seen before? Well, try the 1961 Danish monster flick “Reptilicus”. It’ a pretty terrible piece of cinema, but hey, where else will you find video of that many Madsens?

Note the use of the bipod as a front grip...
Note the use of the bipod as a front grip…
Madsen-Saetter mounted on a Jeep
Madsen-Saetter mounted on a Jeep

Happily, someone on YouTube has posted a version edited down to just under ten minutes in length – still more than you really need to see, but lots of footage of the Danish Army on exercise as the monster rampages (well, something like that) through Copenhagen.

Thanks to Chris for the tip!



  1. Note Norwegian plastic blanks belted for the Saetter – they were all agog those years, manufactured by a company called Bakelitfabrikken.

  2. This is like almost every Japanese film I grew up watching: overgrown critters are somehow only annoyed by full automatic fire of ANY caliber, but a cheap flame thrower sends them packing every time!

  3. Like the man said: “Give ‘im everything you’ve got!” Ha!

    And the poor farmer! 14 of his best cows!

  4. The screenwriter for Reptilicus was Ib Melchior, a fascinating guy worth a Google. He not only wrote a lot of B-movies (and some Z-movies), but he also wrote prolifically — science fiction, history, historical novels, espionage thrillers, short stories, basically anything that would get him paid.

    Reptilicus is pretty dreadful — acting, effects, etc., although the guns are good — did you guys catch the one shot of a
    Browning M1919A4? — but we enjoyed the compressed version. Whoever made it knows that the gun scenes were important.

    He also created the idea for Space Family Robinson and Hollywood ripped him off (not for the first or last time, he’s probably got 100 stories of being cheated by producers).

    He was in the CounterIntelligence Corps in WWII and has written about that (he was there for the liberation of KZ Flossenburg, which he might have been in if his family hadn’t escaped from Germany — they were Danes, but lived in Germany until 1938 or so). His father was something big in music — conductor? Opera director?

    A few years ago he was still alive and still had his wits about him, and was fighting Germany over the Nazis’ seizure of his family’s estate in Brandenburg. The Nazis passed it on to their spiritual and political successors, East Germany, and today’s Germany found the estate rather too valuable to return to its former owners.

    If he’s still around today, he has to be pushing 100. Last I knew he, his wife, and his sister were all still alive and ninety something!

    • If you think the movie version of Reptilicus was bad, do not read the film novelization by “Dean Owen”, real name Dudley Dean McGaughy. He wrote it the way he wrote the over 40 other novels and novelizations he churned out from 1949 to 1969, as a “bodice-ripper” that almost qualified for UTC (Under The Counter) sales;

      Yes, I have a copy of it, and a couple of his other opi. Not only is it borderline pr0n by the era’s standards, the story gets so wrapped up in the “family affairs” of the characters that it has little or nothing to do with the giant reptile.

      On the plus side, if you ever wondered how an Elizabethan playwright might handle a 1950s sci-fi movie plot, well, it’s probably pretty close.

      That still doesn’t make it good.



    • Thanks for the great information, Kevin — I am only really sorry to hear about the terribly unfair verdict inflicted upon Ib Melchior’s family even in the face of the supposed enlightenment and justice of our times. If correct, what it all amounts to is the same old adage that has, unfortunately, held true for so long in one form or the other — that big money, epitomized by big business and governmental interests, still hold sway in spite of our collective realization to the contrary.

      On the other hand, the news about the Melchior family’s long lives is encouraging — I hope they have outlived, out-endured and outlasted the same bastards who tried to take advantage of them.

    • Not that surprising since they’d been out of service since 1943, 18 years before. The Madsen was still in limited use by the Home Guard.

  5. At 3:35 in the last video, did the gunner get hit in the face by the shield on the cannon?

    Surprised this never showed up on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

  6. I recall that the Madsen-Saetter 7.62mm UMG / GPMG was in service in some numbers in the Indonesian Army in the 1960’s-1970’s., and was actually made under licence by PINDAD, the Indonesian state-owned arms manufacturing conglomerate. By all accounts, it was a good machine gun that was hamstrung by the old bugbear of “market timing”, having come into service form in 1960, shortly after the ground-breaking FN MAG58 7.62mm GPMG, and at about the same time as the Maremont M60 7.62mm GPMG, in an arms market and international political situation that could not have been more hostile towards a “third-party” weapon of the type.

    The Madsen-Saetter had a gas-operated, long-stroke action with continuous ( non-disintegrating ) belt feed and a quick-change barrel, all characteristics recognizable from any number of other successful GPMG’s of the period. It fired from an open bolt in full automatic mode and utilized a locking-flap mechanism somewhat similar to that of the Degtyarev DShK HMG. As with other contemporary GPMG’s, it could be fired off the integral bipod, or off a standard tripod reminiscent of the early FN MAG tripods. It was a remarkably smooth-operating and reliable weapon with low felt recoil, and one could clearly see how over-engineered and closely-toleranced it was when disassembled for evaluation ( this last feature being the subject for considerable discussion of pros and cons on the battlefield ).

    It was admittedly gratifying to find that most of what I remember of the Madsen-Saetter was corroborated by Max Popenker’s web site, among others. Nice to know that, sometimes at least, old-timers like me do get to provide some useful contributions.

    • I agree. That’s not a Madsen-Saetter. The front sight, buttstock and carrying handle doesn’t match.
      The SIG M/51 was used by reconnaissance units in exactly that type of vehicle mount though.

  7. UK readers will (might?) be interested to know that the Danish newsreader who’s heavily featured in the film is Sandy Toksvig’s dad. She was talking about it today on Radio 4.

  8. Wow I totally forgot about this movie. I now remember, I watched it on VHS at my grandparents when I was a kid.
    Even then, guess I was 7 or 8 years old, I really thought that this movie sucked. And so did all of the other danish “military” movies, my grandparents had. Like the “Soldaterkammerater” movies (Soldier Buddies? Soldier Comrades?, Soldier Pals? Idk…), which is something like “Stripes” with Bill Murray, but worse.

  9. Reptilicus has been riffed by the new Mystery Science Theater 3000, so anyone with a Netflix subscription can watch it!

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