Invasion of Astro-Monster

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astromonster.jpgMy extended second childhood continues with the Classic Media DVD release of the 1965 Japanese/US co-production/Godzilla-and-friends monsterfest Invasion of Astro-Monster. (It was released in America under the less awkward and more accurate title Monster Zero as part of a double bill with 1966's War of the Gargantuas in 1970; I caught both on TV in the early 70s.)  

A sequel to 1964's  Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (reviewed here), the film opens with a journey to the recently discovered Planet X by "World Space Authority" astronauts Glenn (American expatriate Nick Adams) and Fuji (Akira Takarada).  They meet with the planet's inhabitants, the Xians, whose civilization has been all but whiped out by the creature they call "Monster Zero" - our old three-headed dragon-like pal Ghidorah (now called "King Ghidorah") -, which has forced them to move underground.  The Xians appeal to our two protagonists and Earth's goverments to send them "Monster Zero 1 and Monster Zero 2"-     Godzilla and Rodan (Mothra must've been on vacation) in exchange for a miracle drug that'll cure cancer.  Earth agrees, and Glenn and Fuji, in-between some goofy events at home, oversee sending our two monsters to Planet X. 

But, as the saying goes, things aren't what they seem to be.  After discovering that the Xians had already traveled and gone undercover (as businessmen!) on Earth, the world goverments discovers that the cancer cure is a bust.  The Xians, fearing the loss of their water supply, as well as just being plain, shifty two-timing "rats" (as Glenn calls them at one point), decide that, by controlling all three monsters, they can take over Earth and either subjugate or destroy our population, as well as get our water.  However, Tetsuo (Akira Kubo), the inventor boyfriend of Fuji's sister (Fuji can't stand the guy), may just have the solution to defeating the Xians...

Sure it's childish and not exactly deep, but Invasion of Astro-Monster is still charming after all these years.   Between the now-heroic, non-threatening  portrait of Godzilla (who dances a jig after scoring a hit on Ghidorah; earlier, he and Rodan looked sad when they were plopped on Planet X) and the goofy Xians (who use their fingers a lot when talking), you've got the usual city-stomping and smashing with all those great model buildings, cars & tanks, which the five-year-old in me still loves watching.  Add onetime Oscar nominee Adams' sincere performance (despite a lot of goofy dialogue), Ishiro Honda's expert direction and the usual Toho Studios' production sheen to the mix and this is one heck of an entertainment for kids of all ages! 

The Classic Media DVD includes both the Japanese and English versions of the film (the Japanese version, with English subtiles, has much better picture quality), plus an audio commentary by Japanese film expert (and Godzilla fan) Stuart Galbraith IV and a brief featurette on original Godzilla producer Tomoyuki TanakaYou can reserve it online here

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This page contains a single entry by Ed published on July 29, 2010 11:42 AM.

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