The X from Outer Space


Year 1967

Eiji Okada as   Dr. Kato
Shun'ya Wazaki   as Capt. Sano
Itoko Harada   as Michiko
Peggy Neal as Lisa
Franz Gruber as Dr. Beihrman  
 
Director - Kazui Nihonmatsu  
Screenwriters - Moriyoshi Ishida
  - Eibi Motomochi
  - Kazui Nihonmatsu

This movie, The X from Outer Space, in Japanese with English subtitles is an attempt to cash-in on rubber suited monsters. Let's just say that Godzilla was more plausible.

If you're in the right frame of mind to make fun of a movie, this one has promise. But not enough promise to warrant recommending it solely for ridiculing it. The writers tried to mimic the Godzilla campy formula and failed. Oh, they got the formula right but they forgot that 1 + 1 = 2 is correct but not entertaining. That's the biggest problem with this movie - it's rather dull.

The plot is that a monster that's tearing up Japan needs to be stopped. Nothing more and nothing less.

What's French for "Drumsticks"?

The first half of the movie shows how the monster got to Japan. A manned space expedition to Mars, codename AAB-Gamma, was interfered with by a UFO. So, AAB-Gamma had to make a pit-stop at the nearby moon base. Then AAB-Gamma started off to Mars again and came across the UFO again as well as had its rockets covered with some sort of white foam and seashells. One seashell was retrieved, taken back to Japan, and left alone. It hatched into the giant Guilala and is now tearing up minature sets throughout the studio!

This movie loves its minatures. Buildings, cars, planets, the moon, and people are seen as miniatures. Bad miniatures. Buildings are hollow, cars lack detail, planets are disproportionately small, the moon is smooth, and people are static dolls.

These are not bad things, just notable things.

Science is psyllie. According to the movie:

Yes, it's silly. It's just not silly enough.

This movie is part of the Criterion Collection "When Horror Came to Shochiku" so it gets a wonderful treatment. The colors are fresh, the sound is clear, the transfer is great.

Speaking of sound, the music is sort of 50s jazz even though the film came out in the late 60s. One word that will drive you crazy is "Eezah" which is how Lisa's name is pronounced in Japanese. And don't even think of using this name as a drinking game. Everyone calls her by name for everything. "Eezah, do this," and "Eezah, do that," and "Eezah's doing this," and "Eeezah's doing that."

You see Eezah, sorry, Lisa, is a tall, thin, American blonde and played by Peggy Neal. (I see where she may have also been in The Green Slime, too.) Peggy knows some Japanese and sometimes her lips match the Japanese dialog. Other times her lips say her lines in English but you hear a super-sweet Japanese voice, that doesn't match Peggy's voice at all, say the words.

There's an "international" cast and Americans aren't treated with complete disdain.

Anyway, Lisa is a big fan of Captain Sano and this makes Michiko, a radio operator on the moon, a bit jealous. Michiko has a big crush on Captain Sano and keeps a photograph of the Captain on her desk at work. She figures that El Capitan is going to end up with Lisa despite the fact that she's about five inches taller than the captain. I mean, after all, she's an American blonde.

This love triangle doesn't add any extra depth to the movie, though. It's just fodder for derision.

Now about the monster... Chicken legs, flabby thighs, flacid rubber suit, glowing red eyes, burps out fireballs (the sound effect is a belch), dorsal and ventral ridges, chicken feet and a beak, and some trumpet-horn thing on its forehead. I tell you that it might be the biggest mishmash of pieces I've ever seen slapped onto a single monster. But, it's not quite laughable and it certainly isn't intriguing.

So the as the movie draws to a close, the Japanese defeat the monster Guilala. Actually, they don't. The turn it back into a spore, egg, whatever and figure that they can't destroy it. How do they handle this? They send the monster back into space. Because that worked so well for everyone the first time. Not into the sun or anything, just back into space. Was someone thinking sequel? Now there's a horrific thought.

And the mission to Mars? The original premise of the whole movie? Fehgetaboutit. It's not even brought up again.

In the end, there are two things wrong with this movie really. One is that it's too trivial to be enjoyed by adults. The second is that although young boys, aged 9-12, would enjoy it, they wouldn't want to read the movie's subtitles. I'll tell you, if I was about ten years old and the movie was dubbed in English, I would be a big fan.

No nudity, profanity, or blasphemy. There's not a lot of chick flick potential here. (Perhaps chicken flick potential?) There's unintentional humor and fodder for one-liner commentary if you like that sort of thing.


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