Invasion of the Astro Monster (aka Godzilla vs Monster Zero) 1965
This film was released in 1965 in Japan but not released in the US until 1970 where it played in many drive-in theaters on a double bill with War of the Gargantuas. 9My very favorite non-Godzilla monster movie that I will review after all the Godzilla movies are done). One of the rare hallmarks of this film was that it is the only Godzilla film co-produced between the Japanese company Toho, and Henry G. Saperstein’s American company UPA. Invasion of the Astro Monster was once again directed by Ishirō Honda with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Although Raymond Burr was edited into the first Godzilla film, this movie marks the first time a Hollywood actor, Nick Adams, was part of the Japanese production. The main Japanese actors Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno and Akira Kubo. In an odd way of filming Adams spoke his lines in English and the rest of the actors spoke their lines in Japanese. For the Japanese release Adam’s lines were dubbed in Japanese. The previous movie, Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster, featured the first reference to aliens. In this film alien invaders are featured for the first time. One of the things I like about this aspect of the plot is that it combines two of my favorite science fiction genres: giant monster movies and alien invasion movies.
The movie is set in the late 1960s where a Japanese and American astronauts, Fuji and Glenn, fly a spaceship to explore the new mysterious Planet X that maintains its position behind Jupiter. Um, wouldn’t that qualify it to be a moon of Jupiter? Anyway, once on the planet Fuji & Glenn and their spaceship are taken underground where they encounter the planets inhabitants called the Xians. They show Fuji & Glenn that their planet is being harassed by King Ghidorah whom the Xians call Monster Zero. The Xians offer a deal. If they can take Godzilla and Rodan to Planet X to defeat Monster Zero they will give people of earth a drug that can cure all diseases (in the Japanese version this drug cures cancer). Fuji & Glenn return home with the Xian’s perposal.
There is also a subplot involving some romantic relationships and crazy inventions. Fuji’s sister, , is in love with an inventor, Tetsuo, who has invented a device that makes an extremely loud noise and was made for women that are being attacked. Fuji does not like Tetsuo nor does he approve of his sister’s relationship. Glenn is dating a Miss Namikawa whose company is interested in Tetsuo’s device, however they want to destroy it.
After Fuji & Glenn tell the government about the Xian’s proposal scientists begin searching for Godzilla and Rodan. Suddenly three Xian spaceships arise out of the lake and aides in the search for Godzilla and Rodan. The Controller, leader of the Xians, apologizes for hiding in the lake. Once the monsters are captured Fuji and Glenn accompany the Xians and the monsters back to Planet X. While on the planet Godzilla and Rodan confront King Ghidorah and as the defeated monster flies away Godzilla does his happy dance!
Despite being suspicious of the Xians Fuji & Glenn return to earth with the tapes containing the formula for the miracle drug (who would have thunk that such an advanced civilization was still using reel-to-reel analog tape?). But things were too good to be true! On the tape the Controller of the Xians gives Earth an ultimatum; surrender to Planet X or be destroyed by King Ghidorah, Godzilla & Rodan. The Earth refuses to surrender and the Xians unleash the three monsters on the Earth.
Tetsuo tries to find out why Miss Namikawa has not placed his product on the market, (really at a time like this!!) and is captured by the Xians and thrown into a cell. Glenn also discovers that all the Xian female look like Miss Namikawa and he is captured and put into a cell with Tetsuo. The two manage to escape and Glenn runs into Miss Namikawa who gives him a letter telling him of the Xians weaknesses then the Xians disintegrate Miss Namikawa.
The weakness the Xians have is that they are immobilized by extreme loud noises such as the device made by Tetsuo who still has the prototype. The Government mobilizes and broadcasts the signal which disables the Xians which causes them to destroy their spaceships. With their destruction the monsters are no longer in their control and Godzilla and Rodan turn on King Ghidorah. The three monsters battle which ends up with them all tumbling into the sea and King Ghidorah flies off once more into outer space (didn’t we just see this?). As the Government officials, Glenn, Fuji and his sister with Tetsuo watch Godzilla and Rodan defeat King Ghidorah; Fuji accepts the relationship between his sister and Tetsuo while Glenn and Fuji are appointed as the new ambassadors to Planet X.
I personally find this movie an improvement over the last movie. The previous movie, Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster, was much more somber in tone than this movie. Invasion of the Astro-Monster is a lot of fun. Sure some of the plot points are contrived and Godzilla’s happy dance is funny and silly and aimed at delighting the kids, director Honda was against putting it in the movie. The special effects are good. Some of the scenes of Glenn and Fuji’s spaceship flying through space are still impressive today. I especially liked the design of the Xians flying saucers and the special effects of the three ships rising from the lake is pretty spectacular in my opinion. Also like the chemistry between Fuji and Glenn, it turns the movie into more of a buddy picture. The destructive battles between Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah are some of the best to date. These shots were so good many of them were used later as stock footage in other Godzilla movies.
I rate this movie A
Posted on June 29, 2012, in Godzilla Movie Review and tagged 1965, Godzilla, Gojira, Invasion of the Astro Monster (aka Godzilla vs Monster Zero), Ishirō Honda, Nick Adams, Toho Studios. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.