Friday 21 June 2024

Frankenstein Conquers The World (1965)

I'm not sure that I really needed to watch this film at this time, although I saw it lumped in with a load of other Godzilla and kaiju movies (which I have been trying to make a priority for this year), but I'm still glad that I got around to it anyway. Not that I am saying it's a good film, but it's such an oddity that I'm glad I can now tell others that I actually experienced it. Feeling like more of a bizarre fever dream than a standard movie, Frankenstein Conquers The World (also known as Frankenstein Vs. Baragon) is something almost impossible to believe until you see it for yourself.

Opening with a sequence that mixes wartime intrigue with the discovery of the still-beating heart of Frankenstein’s creature, this is the tale of a young boy (played by Kôji Furuhata) who baffles the scientific community. Growing at an accelerated rate, as well as being resistant to radiation, the boy is named Frankenstein and observed by scientists who hope to stop him from becoming dangerous. He isn’t the only anomaly to arise though, and may actually be able to save people from a greater danger.

Directed by the great Ishirô Honda, and written by Takeshi Kimora (billed as Kaoru Mabuchi), this plays fast and loose with elements of the classic tale being referenced, which was in turn reworked by both John Meredyth Lucas and Shin’ichi Sekizawa, a before settling into a third act that delivers some very familiar fighting between giant figures.

While not anywhere close to the best of this kind of film, particularly when one of the mighty creations is just an overgrown boy wandering through the Japanese countryside, this is so consistently and wonderfully odd that most fans of kaiju movies should still find enough to enjoy. You do get a big beastie, you do get some destruction on a large scale, just not as large a scale as it is in other movies, and you get the usual arguments between military and medical personnel.

Nick Adams and Kumi Mizuno are two of the main figures who try to keep the situation under control, both doing fine in typically thankless roles as they fill time in between moments of spectacle, and Tadao Takashima and Yoshio Tsuchiya are perfectly acceptable as they also struggle to keep Japan safe from a new menace. Furuhata is the star, but he’s unable to make a major impact while his character is kept disappointingly grounded by a lack of any outstanding special moves or abilities (aside from his growth and regeneration).

At once kind of terrible and kind of brilliant at the same time, this is an admirable attempt to do something a bit different with a very familiar template. I will be unlikely to ever want to revisit it, but I am happy that my cinematic quest this year has allowed me to watch something so entertainingly bonkers.


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  1. Universal Monsters vs Godzilla/Kong/Mothra/etc would be a pretty great crossover movie(s).

  2. The lunacy of the opening few scenes sells the film to me, but the rest is very average