Taking a cue from the Godzilla series at Toho and featuring the well worn idea of bringing “something” back from outer space is this Japanese feature from director Kazui Nihonmatsu and the folks at Shochiku Studios.
Cue that funky, jazzy score from Taku Izumi to get this party started. This outer space journey will see a group of scientists and astronauts board a spaceship bound for Mars in search of a lost ship and crew. It’s a typical crew with the team Captain, a biologist, a communications officer, a ship’s doctor and a couple others we might deem as expendable. Time to head on over to the launch pad meaning some cool looking miniatures just aching to have a large Godzilla sized creature stomp the heck out of them.
We have lift off. Yes this designer spaceship is going to be released from it’s outer capsule once in space. Should be a relatively easy journey but before they even get as far as the moon they spot a flying saucer that is messing up their communications to home base on Earth. I’ll be quick to point out that they didn’t seem all that freaked out by the existence of another intelligent life form so might there have been something I missed? Anyway, it’s time to take a slight detour to a space station on our Moon.
“This is groovy! I can’t believe we’re on the moon.” Almost sounds as if Wally and the Beaver are tagging along.
Yes it’s party time between the men and women of the crew but it’s short lived as they continue on their original trek to Mars. Again that damned saucer will turn up and appear to lay some sort of larvae on the tail of our space travelers vessel. A quick space walk and a sample is taken. Unfortunately a decision has been made to return home so that ship they were in search of will have to remain lost.
Ok, let’s fast forward a bit to the point where that damned larvae grows to epic sized proportions giving cinema goers a goofy looking Godzilla wannabe that the subtitles of the film called, Guilala. Now we can start the city stomping and have little model tanks moving towards their destruction. Sure enough just like the Big G and his thirst for nuclear energy, this G loves a little taste of atomic energy to keep his spirits up. While this new monster to the shores of Japan lays waste to the cities that same crew travels back into space with some scientific idea they believe will bring about the beast’s demise. Thankfully they bring back some sort of shaving cream kit from space that does just that.
Yeah it’s all kind of hokey and I had a tough time keeping a straight face over the last half and that’s mainly because this was a blatant attempt to cash in on the popularity of Toho’s iconic Gojira. Truthfully I enjoyed the first half far greater than I did the last half. Mainly because I found the set up enjoyable as the prep work is done for the journey ahead and the mystery of what they find. Then there’s that funky score and those biologists who just can’t resist bringing something home with them that is sure to wreak havoc on the world at large. Kind of like The Green Slime would be doing the following year and in a far more enjoyable vehicle. Sadly on this one it’s the guy in the rubber suit that didn’t quite measure up for me.
So bring on those Gargantuas!!!
Not overly familiar with most of the actors that populate Japanese cinema other than a few who became cult icons world wide (see Toshiro Mifune) I can’t relay much information about those involved here other than to say don’t be surprised to see a blonde haired Peggy Neal in a major role. It almost seems to be a prerequisite for overseas sales to have an American face included in the cast of these monstrous shenanigans. Even if he/she isn’t widely known. Miss Neal’s only prior acting credit was appearing opposite Sonny Chiba in Terror Beneath the Sea.
Always on the look out for creature features, this one came to me as part of the Criterion Eclipse Series #37 When Horror Came To Shochiku. It’s a four pack of titles that includes two I haven’t yet gotten to, The Living Skeleton and Genocide. It also includes the far superior and easy to recommend Goke : Body Snatcher From Hell.