Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Movie Review: The X From Outer Space (1967)

The X From Outer Space (1967) was one of many kaiju-eiga (strange beast)/science fiction films released in Japan during the monster boom of the sixties. It is a seriously goofy movie. Do NOT even think about trying to find a proper rationale for anything that goes on in this film! Just sit back and enjoy the goofiness!

Several mission to Mars have gone missing with all hands lost, so the spaceship AAB-Gamma is being sent out to investigate. The crew encounters a fuzzy UFO that the comm officer notes as looking like a fried egg that impedes them a little, mainly forcing them to waste some fuel, and the ship's doctor comes down with an illness, and head for the moonbase instead. There's some romantic entanglements with the Captain, the biologist and a lady on the moonbase. The doctor on the base is forced onto the AAB-Gamma, and they again run into the UFO on their way to Mars. This time, they turn back after wasting more fuel and discovering a strange foamy substance on the outside of the ship, along with egg-like spores, one of which they take with them back to Earth.

The crew and some of the staff had a dinner party, which is interrupted by the obligatory call from the lab - the substance is missing and there's a hole in the floor ... and a track on the floor that looks like a big chicken! The four of the crew head out to a party in Hakone when the power goes out and a strange-looking  (and I mean strange - look at the picture!) monster pops out of the ground and starts on a rampage. They fairly quickly (y'know, around noon the next day) deduce that this is what escaped from the lab and they name the deely-boppered creature Guilala.

Lots of cornball destruction of the Tokyo landscape, some dams, and some tanks and planes (of course) follow. The scientists reason that perhaps that mysterious foamy substance might be a defense against Guilala, so the AAB-Gamma takes to the skies once again. The new substance, Guilalanium, sucks up energy and radiation, making it difficult for the ship to return home, since it interferes with communications and controls. They manage to find a way to shield it and, after another UFO encounter in which they are buzzed by the flying egg (and not much else), get the Guilalanium back to Earth in time to prevent Guilala from destroying the entire island. A poignant choice in the romance department and "The End" flashes on the screen.

A clip from The X From Outer Space (1967)

This was the first monster movie produced by the Shochiku Film Studio, and while it had none of the polish you would find with a Toho Production or the early Daiei Gamera films, it was still an enjoyable film. There's a lot of goofiness, with the comm officer trying hard to be the comic relief, the monster itself being just the strangest thing they could've come up with, and the quaintness of the special effects. You don't notice a lot of wires, but the buildings tend to fall apart like gingerbread houses. The design of the AAB-Gamma space ship is very interesting though; looking a lot like some sort of modified submarine and not the usual rocket/missile-shaped craft of the era.

But one of the hallmarks of being a kaiju eiga fan is to look at a movie in a Japanese manner: If the story is worth telling, you can overlook flaws in the presentation. The X From Outer Space was a tale worth telling, so I find I can quite easily enjoy it with those flaws; in fact, like a lot of films, you can enjoy it more with the flaws.


By Rich Meyer

If you like monsters, giant-sized, human-sized or any size, then this is the quiz e-book for you! Godzilla, Gamera, Frankenstein, the Creature, the Mummy, Dracula ... nearly every creature that's tried to scare the pants off you gets a shout out in this one!

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