Directed by Ishirô Honda
Distributed by Tokyo Shock
You see, now this is what I am talking about — DVD the way it should be done. Frankenstein Conquers the World a.k.a. Frankenstein vs. Baragon is an obscure little film that I thought would never get the royal home video treatment. Up until now the only way to get this flick was either by buying a ridiculously priced DVDr at a convention or on eBay or by waiting patiently for it to come on American Movie Classics at like four in the morning. Those days are now over as the fine folks behind the Tokyo Shock label are giving us not one, not two, but three versions of the film in a snazzy two-disc set! But before we get into all the digital goodness, let’s start with the plot …
Right before the bomb drops on Hiroshima, Dr. Frankenstein gives the still beating heart of his most monstrous creation over to the Japanese in hopes of making an army of super soldiers who could help win the world war. Before those plans can come to fruition, however, the city is devastated and the Monster’s heart is thought to be lost. That is, until a starving child finds and eats it. Yum! Pass the wasabi!
As a result of radiation exposure and ingesting the gory goodie, the child grows to enormous proportions and is then pursued by a team of scientists who are trying to save him and the military that is trying to kill him. What’s a fifty-foot mutant man-child to do? Hide in the forest of course! That’s where all the cool monsters go! Luckily for old flat-head a new creature named Baragon explodes onto the scene, thus distracting the military from scorching his over-sized keester.
So who or what is the lesser of the two evils? Who gives a shit?!? It’s time for a monster mash! Here’s the bottom line: If you cannot have a good time watching this, then you do not have a pulse. It has all of the key elements of a great Kaiju film — rubber suits, smashing miniatures, glow-in-the-dark horns, bad dubbing, rampaging disembodied appendages, and probably the most macho American to ever appear in a Japanese film, or as our Asian friends describe him, “the charm of Hollywood”, Nick motherfucking Adams! It’s big beastie battling nirvana I tell ya!
As mentioned earlier, we get three versions of this gem: the U.S. version that clocks in at eighty-four minutes, the Japanese version that comes in at eighty-nine minutes, and the longest cut of all, the international version that tops things off at ninety-three minutes. Which version is best? Simply put, they all rock. It basically boils down to some alternate takes, some added exposition, and a climax featuring a giant octopus. That’s right — a giant octopus. Honestly, does it get any better?
As if the three cuts of the film weren’t enough, this set is dripping with DVD extras as well! Disc Two is where you’re going to find the majority of them. Let’s take a look at the haul … First up we get an eight-and-a-half-minute photo gallery/lobby card slideshow, followed by five minutes of deleted scenes that amount to some fun with mini-tanks, and two different versions of old Franky making his escape. Then we are treated to what I guess was a teaser trailer of sorts (for back then) announcing that filming was complete on the first ever American/Japanese monster movie collaboration, the original trailer, and finally a commentary on the international cut of the film with the director of special effects, Sadamasa Arikawa. Color me blown away. As a fan I couldn’t have hoped for a more complete package.
Just a bare bones release of this classic film would have warranted a purchase. Instead we get a DVD for the ages. A jewel to fit neatly into the great Kaiju crown. My hunt for this classic is now over, and wow, does it seem worth the wait. Don’t waste another second. Buy it. Own it. Love it. Good times!
4 1/2 out of 5
5 out of 5
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