Friday, June 19, 2020
Kaiju Watch: Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
Format: Criterion BluRay
Viewing: 4th? - for whatever reason, I've seen this a few times
Director: Ishiro Honda
This one I've seen a few times and very much remember watching it as a kid on some local UHF channel. However, I think watching it with Japanese language subtitled to English may have changed a few details. I swear I thought this whole movie took place on Mars.
It does not.
A pair of astronauts, one Japanese, the other American, jump in a rocket and fly to a newly discovered moonish thing circling Jupiter. It's the mysterious Planet X. Once there, they meet a race of art-students who are plagued by "Monster Zero", better known as "King Ghidorah". And, yes, somewhere when I watched the movie, the title was Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. But here in Invasion of Astro Monster (1965), Ghidorah's general dickishness is causing havoc for the Xilians, who ask the astronauts if they can borrow Godzilla and Rodan to fight Ghidorah.
If Earth agrees, they'll give us the cure for cancer. It's a swell deal.
Meanwhile on Earth, a dorky inventor is dating the sister of the Japanese astronaut, and he's invented a rape alarm that looks like a compact. A toy company rep, played by the always fetching Kumi Mizuno buys the device to put it on the market.
The aliens come and take away our monsters (and this detail upset me profoundly as a child - I was very sad Godzilla would be taken away from us) and the fight ensues back on Planet X.
Funny thing, it was all a ruse, now Earth is defenseless, and an astronaut finds out his girlfriend - and toy reseller - Kumi Mizuno - is a clone alien? Maybe. But she's absolutely baller in her space outfit.
This movie actually has a plot that has at least an internal logic, which is one point that separates it from other films of the era. It also has a budget above $5.75, which means we get rockets and sets and special effects before we even get to the monster fights.
Not enough Godzilla for my dollar, exactly, as they worry about "plot" and "characters". but it's still a fun movie.
And, hey 8 year old me, Godzilla makes it home again.
This one does have a lot of questions I can probably look up, like, why Nick Adams for our American co-lead? Why won't anyone use his last name? Was Tim Burton influenced by this movie? How much of a dork WAS the nerd inventor and was the astronaut brother right for trying to get his sister to dump that guy?
Anyway - there's a lot of set up to the movie, but it mostly pays off. And the movie includes the now famous Godzilla Dance of Joy. So, how bad can it be?