Saturday, June 15, 2019

Frankenstein Conquers the World through Japan

Frankenstein Conquers the World, 1965, Toho, Color. Director: Ishiro Honda; Cast includes Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Tadao Takashima and Kuji Furuhata. 87 minutes in most prints. Seven out of 10 stars on the Schlock-Meter.

Review by Doug Gibson

This is a fun film that doesn't fail to deliver cheesy thrills with a fast-growing boy Frankenstein (Furuhata) eating everything in sight and battling a monster named Baragon at the end. Scientists (Adams, Mizuno and Takashima) battle to save the boy monster so he "can be studied."

The FXs are cheesy, with the boy Frankenstein looking pretty silly on miniature sets and with overhead camera shots. The battle scenes are fake but fun, with a rubber monster flipping around a lot. The dubbing is as bad as expected. The most campy dubbing involves a German scientist, who sports an accent so bogus that even "Hogan's Heroes" would be ashamed to use it.

The bizarre plot is as follows: Late in World War 2, the heart of the Frankenstein monster is stolen from the lab of Dr. Frankenstein by Axis soldiers. It makes its way to Japan, where it survives the atomic blast in Hiroshima. It then somehow attaches itself to a small boy who survives the Hiroshima blast. He grows and grows and grows. There are a lot of twists on Mary Shelley's legend: Frankenstein can never die, and if you cut off a limb, it grows again!

This film, corny as it is, can be at times compelling. It takes place in Hiroshima and the horror of the Hiroshima bombing hangs over the plot. Star Adams's doctor is an American so horrified by what happened in Hiroshima that he's chosen to travel across the world and treat those still suffering. Frankenstein Conquers the World, while a misleading title, is a silly film, but it's a cut above its genre. The wild plot and classic Toho effects make it worth a rental and a tape if you can catch it on TV. I saw it on American Movie Classics.

Notes: According to an article in Cult Movies magazine, stars Adams and Mizuno had a brief affair; The film was released in the USA by Henry Saperstein's UPA company; There was more than one ending filmed (the ending for this review has the monster sinking into the earth); Toho made one more film with the Frankenstein monster, War of the Gargantuas, starring Russ Tamblyn.

Watch the trailer below:

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