Invasion of Astro-Monster

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Invasion of Astro-Monster
Invasion of Astro-Monster poster.jpg
Directed by Ishirō Honda
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Shinichi Sekizawa
Starring Nick Adams
Akira Takarada
Kumi Mizuno
Jun Tazaki
Akira Kubo
Yoshio Tsuchiya
Haruo Nakajima
Music by Akira Ifukube
Cinematography Hajime Koizumi
Edited by Ryohei Fujii
Production
company
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
December 19, 1965
(Japan)
July 29, 1970
(USA)
Running time
94 minutes
(Japan)
92 minutes
(USA)
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Invasion of Astro-Monster, known in Japan as Kaijū Daisensō (怪獣大戦争?, lit. "Great Monster War"), is a Japanese American science fiction kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. It is the sixth film in the Godzilla film series. The film was co-produced between the Japanese company Toho, and Henry G. Saperstein's American company UPA, marking the first time a Godzilla film was co-produced with an American studio. The cast included American actor Nick Adams and Japanese actors Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno and Akira Kubo. The film is the first in the franchise to feature alien invaders, combining the series with outer space themes such as civilizations on other planets and interplanetary space travel.

The film was released theatrically in the United States in the summer of 1970 by Maron Films as Monster Zero, where it played nationwide on a double bill with War of the Gargantuas.

Plot[edit]

In the 1960s, two astronauts, Fuji and Glenn, are sent to investigate the surface of the mysterious "Planet X". Upon landing, Fuji goes to look around while Glenn begins running some tests. Fuji spots footprints and hurries back to the landing sight, only to find that Glenn and their ship have disappeared. Suddenly, a glowing cylinder emerges from the ground and a voice, claiming to be the Controller of Planet X, orders him to enter. The cylinder takes him to an underground base where he is reunited with Glenn and meets the planet's cyborg inhabitants, the Xiliens. The Controller assures the astronauts of his good will toward them and claims that he brought them under ground for their protection. Sure enough, seconds later the surface is attacked by a creature the Xiliens call "Monster Zero," but which the astronauts recognize as King Ghidorah, a planet-devouring monster that that had attacked Earth once before. The monster eventually leaves, but the Controller states that Ghidorah has attacked repeatedly, forcing them to live underground in constant fear of the next attack. He requests to borrow Godzilla and Rodan, known to the Xiliens as Monster Zero-One and Monster Zero-Two, to act as sentries against Ghidorah's attacks. He tells them the monsters' locations and promises that in return, Planet X will give humanity the cure for cancer (the English dub says the formula can cure any disease). The astronauts then return home with the proposal to share it with Dr. Sakurai, the head of the space program, and the rest of the world. The people of Earth enthusiastically accept the offer.

Meanwhile, Fuji's sister's boyfriend, Tetsuo, has invented a personal alarm that emits an ear-splitting electric siren. Miss Namikawa, a representative for an educational and toy-making company, makes an offer to buy the alarm, which he accepts enthusiastically. However, he grows concerned when Namikawa apparently leaves town before paying him. Later, Glenn, Fuji, his sister Haruno, and Tetsuo meet up at a cafe. Fuji thinks that Tetsuo's invention is worthless and scolds him for getting suckered into a bad deal. Glenn leaves with a woman in a car, whom Tetsuo recognizes as Namikawa. Furious at having been lied to, he decides to follow her. He tracks her to a house on an island, where he falls into a trapdoor and finds himself in a prison cell guarded by Xiliens.

Glenn later meets up with Fuji again and claims that, while staying with Namikawa, he awoke during the night and saw Namikawa talking to the Controller. He is unsure whether he dreamed it or not but is concerned that it might have actually happened; he also recalls overhearing while on Planet X that their natural resources, particularly water, are nearly depleted. His suspicions seem to be confirmed when three Xilien spacecraft appear in Japan. The Controller speaks with Sakurai and apologizes for coming to Earth without permission. The Xiliens locate Godzilla and Rodan, both sleeping, and use their technology to transport them to Planet X, bringing Glenn, Fuji, and Sakurai with them. There, after a brief confrontation, the Earth monsters succeed in driving Ghidorah away. Glenn and Fuji sneak away during the battle and meet two Xilien women, both of whom look identical to Namikawa. Xilien guards confront the astronauts and bring them back to the Controller, who reprimands them for sneaking around and denies that Planet X is short on water. Glenn, Fuji, and Sakurai are given a tape containing instructions for the special drug, which they take back to Earth with them, leaving Godzilla and Rodan behind. They play the tape for the world's leaders only to be surprised by a recorded ultimatum demanding that they surrender Earth to the Xiliens or be conquered by force. As it turns out, the aliens were using their technology to control Ghidorah all along and are now doing the same with Godzilla and Rodan; with the combined might of the three monsters, they plan to wipe out Earth's defenses.

Riots break out; those willing to surrender to protect the peace clash with others who want to resist. Glenn storms into Namikawa's office where he finds her in Xilien garb. She admits to being one of their spies but also claims to have fallen in love with him. She begs him to join her rather than die fighting, but he angrily refuses. Namikawa's commander arrives to capture Glenn, but Namikawa clings to him, still proclaiming her love for him. The commander executes her on the spot for letting emotion cloud her judgment, but not before she slips a note into Glenn's pocket. Glenn is taken to the same cell as Tetsuo, where they read Namikawa's note which explains that Tetsuo's invention disrupts the Xiliens' electronics. Testsuo happens to have a prototype on him, which he activates, causing the guards to lose control of themselves and bumble around helplessly, allowing the prisoners to escape.

Meanwhile, Sakurai and Fuji learn that the Xiliens are controlling the monsters using magnetic waves and create a device to block the transmission. Glenn and Tetsuo arrive to share their knowledge of the Xilien's weakness. As the monsters attack, the two devices are activated. The Xiliens lose control of the monsters and are stricken by mass panic as they begin to malfunction. The invasion force, unable to retreat and fearing what will happen if they are captured, destroy themselves en masse. The monsters awaken from their trance and a fight ensues. All three topple off a cliff; Ghidorah emerges and flies away, while those watching speculate that Godzilla and Rodan are probably still alive. Fuji acknowledges Tetsuo's important role in the victory and no longer thinks poorly of him. Sakurai states that he wants to send Glenn and Fuji back to Planet X to study the planet thoroughly (the English dub says they are to be ambassadors). The two astronauts are reluctant but decide to make the best of it, happy at least that the Earth is safe.

Cast[edit]

Effects director Eiji Tsuburaya on the set of the film.

Production[edit]

During Godzilla and Rodan's city rampage, footage from Rodan (1956) is used, specifically the scenes where Rodan blows over a train and a pair of soldiers with the hurricane-force winds generated by the monster's wings.

English version[edit]

Maron Films theatrical poster for the 1970 U.S double bill release of Monster Zero and War of the Gargantuas

The film was released in North America by UPA in 1970 under the title Monster Zero. It played on a double bill with War of the Gargantuas.

There were several alterations made:

  • The opening theme was changed, and some of Akira Ifukube's score was re-arranged. Several sound effects were also added.
  • Deleted: Several shots of Godzilla's foot stepping on houses and huts. Some short shots of flying saucers. Rodan blowing away tanks from the top of a hill. Several scenes with the Xiliens speaking in the language of Planet X.
  • The scene where Godzilla does his dance has added stomping noises in the English version.

The English version runs 93 minutes, seventy-one seconds shorter than the Japanese version. In his book Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: An Unauthorized History of 'The Big G '​, Steve Ryfle says "The Americanization...is respectful to the original Japanese version."

Also, in the original Japanese version of the film, the drug the Xiliens promised was a cure for all forms of cancer. However, in the English version of the film, the cure was for all forms of disease (perhaps due to a translation mistake).

During production, Nick Adams spoke his lines in English, while the Japanese actors spoke their lines in Japanese, in order to retain his voice for the English-language version. For the Japanese language release, Adams' was dubbed by the noted voice actor, Goro Naya. The English-language version was prepared by UPA at Glen Glenn Sound in Hollywood. Marvin Miller provided the English voice for Akira Takarada as Astronaut Fuji, and Jack Grimes provided the voice of Akira Kubo as Tetsuo Tori.[1] The remaining voice talent is unknown.

This dubbed dialogue was also used by Toho for its official international version, Invasion of the Astro-Monsters, which was released in the United Kingdom. Unlike later Toho international versions, Invasion of the Astro-Monsters is slightly edited from the Japanese version and the dubbing was not commissioned by Toho or produced in Tokyo or Hong Kong.

Titles[edit]

  • The Great Monster War - Translated Japanese title.
  • Invasion of Astro-Monster - Toho's official English title and current home video title.
  • Monster Zero - Original US title.
  • The Great Monster War - King Ghidorah vs. Godzilla - Japanese 1971 Champion Festival reissue title.
  • Invasion of the Astro Monsters - UK home video title.
  • Godzilla vs. Monster Zero - Previous home video and TV title.

Box office[edit]

In Japan, the film sold approximately 3,780,000 tickets.[citation needed]

DVD release[edit]

Classic Media

  • Release date: June 5, 2007
  • Special features: Audio Commentary by Stuart Galbrath IV, Tomoyuki Tanaka biography, and original trailer.
  • Note: Contains both original Japanese and English versions of the film.
  • Note: Part of the Toho Collection

References[edit]

External links[edit]