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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Johnny Sokko and Giant Robot in a movie! Voyage Into Space



  By Doug Gibson
Voyage Into Space is an absolutely bizarre 1970 or so Japanese monster-rama that involves a young boy, Johnny Sokko, having control over a crime-fighting, flying Giant Robot. Sokko and Giant Robot work for the Unicorns, a UN-type spy ring trying to save the world from the extraterrestrial evil, Guillotine, his various sidekicks, including "Spider" and Dr. Botanus. The "army" of Guillotine is "the Gargoyle Gang," a group of military types who resemble Nazis. (Watch the clip below)
This is a weird movie but unbelievably entertaining for young kids and nostalgic adults who recall seeing it when they were young kids. I saw this film when I was 7, 8 or 9 and we used to talk about it on the playground in school. It stars no one you ever heard of, the special effects are pretty bad, the acting terrible, the dubbing weak, but it's strangely cool. There's a 1960s' counterculture aura to this film. Several of the baddies dress like they stepped out of a Roger Vadim film. Guillotine raises a whole host of monsters and some are pretty interesting. One is a giant plant; another is a giant eyeball (I kid you not).
But still, this film, released by American International Films to TV only, is woefully cheap. The battling monsters don't match up to the same size in close ups and far-away shots. In one scene, Johnny Sokko and a Unicorn agent wash up on the beach with their clothes fully dry and pressed and their hair neat. Johnny Sokko's dubbed voice sounds a little like Bea Arthur of The Golden Girls. The Giant Robot hero is very cool, though, and the film's theme song is catchy. My son, who like his dad loves the film, hums the theme song daily.
Here's the big secret to Voyage Into Space. It's actually about four episodes, including the first and last, culled from a 30 or so-episode series from the late 60s called Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot. That show also aired on TV, including on long-forgotten Channel 52 in Southern California when I was a kid. You can catch Johnny Sokko episodes today on http://www.hulu.com/ For more than a generation, you couldn't find Voyage Into Space on VHS or DVD. I spent decades wondering what had happened to my favorite Japanese color monster film. Finally, last year Sinister Cinema http://www.sinistercinema.com/ started selling the film. Since that occurred the floodgates have opened and Voyage Into Space, a public domain film, has many sellers.
It's a great film, particularly if you have a fondness for the Japanese monster genre, and your kids will love it. ALSO,ENJOY THESE GIANT ROBOT CLIPS!


5 comments:

Cliff said...

Thank you for this write up! I loved this movie and watched all five nights in a row when local TV station KTLA showed it as a daily re-broadcast. I've only seen it for sale as the TV show and not the movie version. I'm hoping that it'll get a panel and cast reunion at Monsterpalooza some day!

Anonymous said...

I remember watching this movie on KTLA also. I thought the missiles coming out of his fingertips was the coolest thing. All perfectly cheesy and wonderful at the same time I always wondered if the Power Rangers and their tacky, cheesy monsters were based on this movie and tv series. My kids just look at me strangely when I tell them about being a kid in the early 70's.

Boris Novak said...

Like you two, I remember making sure never to miss a single episode. What a treat that was growing up in the 70s. I've gotten in touch with, and remain friends with one of the unicorn agents on FB. Not telling who. Female, though. ;-) I do wish they would have a panel at the Monsterpalooza in Burbank, CA. That's a great idea. I've been trying to locate a copy of the movie VOYAGE INTO SPACE, but to no avail. I do, however, have the whole TV series. If you don't know where to get it free, it's easy, to be honest. It's public domain, so I grabbed it as one huge torrent. It was just a few gigabytes in size. I had a serious marathon watching them. And yeah, I'll admit... I felt that seven-year-old boy inside of me remember the good old days of cheesy, but great TV!

Jaytee Warner said...

I grew up in San Fernando in the 70's. This was my ABSOLUTE favorite show!!! Took years to find it, now I watch it with my kids (they don't care for it, or Godzilla/Gamera, but who cares). Also remember Gitigga (found out it is actually called Supercar Gattiger) Can't find it in anything but Italian. I could swear it was at least in Japanese with subs.

Unknown said...

whsts the torrent name and site ??