Icons of Sci-Fi Toho Collection (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Mothra (1961) Frankie Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Emi Ito, Yûmi Ito, The H-Man (1958) Yumi Shirakawa, Kenji Sahara, Akihiko Hirata, Koreya Senda, Battle in Outer Space(1959) Ryo Ikebe, Kyôko Anzai, Koreya Senda, Minoru Takada
All films directed by Ishirô Honda
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
As a self-professed lover of all things Kaiju, I have been eagerly anticipating this release for a long time. Three movies, all from the creator of Godzilla, the great Ishirô Honda, in one package including the original Mothra, which is seeing the light of day on DVD here in the States officially for the first time ever? It's like Christmas in August! Yet, my joy would immediately be dashed due to a small bump in the road that we'll get to in a little bit. First let's look at the films themselves!
The H-Man is as out there as they come. Try to keep up. After a narcotics deal goes awry and the lead suspect disappears, leaving only his clothes behind, Tokyo police are left completely baffled. That is, until they meet up with a young scientist who claims that as a result off H-Bomb testing in the Pacific, the crew on a now ghost-ship (which just recently docked at the harbor) have been transformed into oozing slime monsters capable of dissolving anyone they touch. They just don't make 'em like this anymore, I tell ya!
From there we get Battle in Outer Space, which stars midget aliens who are hellbent on taking over the Earth via their killer lasers and flying saucers. Of course the world bans together to vanquish this extra-terrestrial menace and save the day. Out of the three films contained here, this one is the most cookie-cutter. That's not to say that it's bad; it just feels kind of stamped-out.
Finally we get the original Mothra, which is a classic in every sense of the word. Shipwrecked survivors are found on an island previously used for atomic tests. (When will we learn?) Strangely enough our newly rescued group show no signs of radiation effects! How could that be, you ask? They were protected by a special juice given to them by the natives of the island. Aw, yeah, mama. This prompts an expedition back to the island in question led by the evil Clark Nelson, who is only there to abduct women for his burlesque show. He sets his eyes on two tiny fairies, captures them, and brings them to Japan for lots of exploitation. Said fairies begin singing a telepathic cry for help to Mothra, the gigantic moth worshiped as a goddess by the island people. Mothra comes to Japan to find his bitches and fly them back home. Of course Japan gets leveled along the way, and who could ask for anything more?
In terms of special features we get two commentaries, one on Mothra and the other on Battle in Outer Space, by Japanese sci-fi historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski. These guys know their shit, and each commentary is a blast to listen along with. Really good stuff. Another good thing is that each of the three discs includes the original unedited Japanese versions of the flicks and the English dubbed versions. Solid!
There's just one problem ... the packaging. Really, Sony? Come on. Instead of holders for each of the discs we get an extra long nub for all three DVD's to be stacked one-on-top-of-the-other on. Not only is it troublesome to get the DVDs off of this nub, but it's near impossible to avoid fingerprints or even light surface scratching on the discs. In short ... this really sucks. That may sound like a nitpick, but I can assure you many collectors like myself will be truly disheartened by this pain-in-the-ass bit of packaging.
That being said, Icons of Sci-Fi Toho Collection is a must have collection of films for fans from a time when CGI wasn't even a thought, and practical and physical effects ruled the roost. How we miss those days. Sigh.
4 out of 5
Special Features Combined:
2 out of 5
Discuss Icons of Sci-Fi Toho Collection in the Dread Central forums!