Sora no daikaijû Radon (1956)


(director: Ishiro Honda; screenwriters: Takeo Murata/Takeshi Kimura/story by Ken Kuronuma/English version by Dave Duncan; cinematographer: Isamu Ashida; editor: Robert Eisen, English version/Kôichi Iwashita; music: Akira Ifukube; cast: Kenji Sahara (colliery engineer, Shigeru Kawamura), Yumi Shirakawa (Kiyo), Akihiko Hirata (Professor Kyuichiro Kashiwagi, biologist), Akio Kobori (Police Chief Nishimura); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: King Brothers, USA version/Tomoyuki Tanaka; Entertainment Rights; 1956-Japan-dubbed in English)

“There’s a soft spot in my heart for the comic book style of the film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Toho Studio horror film follows in their usual monster formula. This was Toho’s third giant monster movie, and the first one to be filmed in color. Prolific horror film director Ishiro Honda (“Godzilla”/”The Mysterians”/”Destroy All Monsters”) deftly handles the monster story authored by Ken Kuronuma and written by Takeo Murata and Takeshi Kimura.

The pic opens with a narration (David Duncan) lecturing us about the bad after-effects of testing the nuclear bombs by the Americans in the Pacific islands.

It then tells of two rival coal miners, Goro and Yoshi, in the mountainous Japanese village of Kitamatsu, mysteriously disappearing deep inside shaft number 8. Yoshi soon turns up dead. Therefore it’s believed Goro is the killer. In the search for the men, 3 policemen are killed. The chief safety officer engineer, Shigeru (Kenji Sahara), no longer believes the killer was human because of the similar brutal lacerations on all the corpses and tells this to Goro’s concerned sister (Yumi Shirakawa), who is Shigeru’s girlfriend. We learn that the monsters are brought about from the larvae that appears because the mine was dug too deep and that caused a volcano to erupt where they were nesting. This allowed for the hatching of the 2 eggsthat contained the super-powerful giant flying prehistoric reptiles–the male and female Rodan.

The male colossal Rodan, the bug-eating pterodactyl, whose birth is laid to atomic testing providing the larvae, emerges from the mine and leaves his mate underground. Flying at supersonic speed, the monster causes typhoons and tidal waves just by flapping his wings. The Army weapons can’t stop it from knocking down jet planes and destroying Japanese cities by causing sonic booms. When Rodan returns to protect his mate from the prying scientists, it results in both lovebirds destroyed by military flame throwers.

There was no tension, everything seemed flat and undramatic. But there’s a soft spot in my heart for the comic book style of the film.