X FROM OUTER SPACE, THE (Uch├╗ daikaij├╗ Girara)

(director/writer: Kazui Nihonmatsu; screenwriters: Moriyoshi Ishida/Eibi Motomochi; cinematographers: Shizuo Hirase/Chitora Okoshi; editor: Yoshi Sugihara; music: Taku Izumi; cast: Eiji Okada (Dr. Kato), Toshiya Wazaki (Capt. Sano), Itoko Harada (Michiko), Peggy Neal (Lisa), Franz Gruber (Dr. Berman), Mike Daneen (Dr. Stein), Shinichi Yanagisawa (Miyamoto), Keisuke Sonoi (Dr. Shioda); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Wataru Nakajima; Orion Home Videoa; 1967-Japan-in English)


Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cheesy Japanese comic book-like adaptation of a Ray Harryhausen-like special effects monster sci-fier, with the special effects just being okay (though the design of the monster just doesn’t cut it). The Japanese producers try to cash in on the success of Toho’s Godzilla films during the 1960’s by making a similar monster on-the-loose flick. It’s flatly helmed by Kazui Nihonmatsu (“Genocide”). To keep it lighthearted and earthbound, there’s some chintzy lounge music on the soundtrack serving as the film’s theme.

A new ultra-modern rocketship, the AAB Gamma, containing a team of three Japanese men astronauts– the heroic but stern pilot leader Capt. Sano, the wacky comic relief radio man Miyamoto, the ailing ship doctor Dr. Shioda–and one gorgeous and brainy American lady biologist Lisa (Peggy Neal) are going to Mars at the request of the head administrators of the Fuji Astro-Flight Center, Dr. Kato and Dr. Berman, to clear up answers as to the previous six missions that resulted in attacks by a UFO and to try and find the six space ships that are missing. The UFO forces them to retreat to a nearby moon base inhabited by communication officer Michiko (Itoko Harada), who has a crush on the ship’s captain and is jealous of Lisa. The crew is now joined by the cranky Dr. Stein (Mike Daneen) who replaces the ailing doctor, but are not able to return to Mars because of a meteor shower and that the UFO has locked onto them. Michiko comes to the rescue on her rocket and the crew return to Earth after collecting a gooey foreign substance on the rocket’s hull. The lab scientists test one of the spores found and it’s discovered that it mysteriously grows into a chicken-lizard-alien giant monster, weighing 15,000 tons. The energy absorbing monster named Guilala (the X from the title) gets stronger with every attack on mankind and is set upon destroying first Tokyo and then the world. After a few mishaps the beast is dispatched with doses of a super-strong space gelatin that temporarily stops it from growing and attacking. In the end, the crew collect the spore in a container and are told by smarty pants Lisa that it can’t be destroyed on Earth but must be returned to outer space to be destroyed–calling for another dangerous moon trip. Lisa then comes to the conclusion that “all things should remain where they belong.” The double meaning here is that the feisty but still not liberated Lisa has a crush on Captain Sano, but now realizes he’s better off with someone of his own kind–the Japanese Michiko.

The delicious blonde scientist delivers the film’s conservative message without any irony that one should know one’s place in the world. It was that kind of an unintended goofy comical flick, that admittedly has its own peculiar kind of charm if you are so inclined to take in such sludge with an open mind.