Invasion of Astro-Monster (DVD)
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Distributed by Classic Media
My poor aching head. Know what the worst thing about having films imported, especially back in the Sixties, was? All the different titles a film can have. Invasion of Astro-Monster has had ten. When this DVD came for review, I wasn't even sure what movie it was. Thankfully the ever diligent folks at Classic Media had a quick fix for me. At the bottom of the packaging the words "Also released as Godzilla vs. Monster Zero" were emblazoned. Paydirt! My confusion was minimal, and I didn't even have to run and get some aspirin! Better yet, this was one of my favorite films in the entire franchise! Good times they were a'coming!
We earthlings? We're not the only ones with troubles. The residents of Planet X have been under siege by a creature they call Monster Zero (or Astro-Monster depending on which cut of the film you're watching) but whom we know as Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster. Yep. It seems that after Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra kicked his ass, old tripod-head blasted off into space to ravage another world. So what are aliens in need to do? Simple! Travel to Earth and borrow our monsters! That's exactly what happens, but much to our chagrin we've been double-crossed.
After they heist Godzilla and Rodan, it becomes apparent that Ghidorah is under the aliens' mind control; and now that our two champions have been kidnapped, they will fall under the spell of Planet X too. Before you know it, the aliens set all three monsters free on Earth while under their control and demand that the entire planet surrender to Planet X. Thankfully we've got American astronaut F. Glenn (Adams), his sidekick Fuji, and an inventor by the name of Tetsuo to set things straight.
Make no mistake; while Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster (review here) missed the mark, Invasion of Astro-Monster hits it with reckless abandon. Simply put, this movie is the shit! It has it all -- decent (for its time) effects, wacky aliens in outfits you'll wish you owned, and tons of big monster action!
To further sweeten the pot, we get two versions of this classic slice of kaiju mayhem to choose from: the ninety-three-minute English dubbed version and the ninety-five-minute Japanese cut. The differences between the cuts are minor, but this is one flick that should be seen in its original uncut form. It's that damned good and too much fun! Be sure to check out the English dub though if only for the amazingly informative and fun commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV. Truly good stuff.
The supplements from there are pretty much par for this ever-so-good course. We get the original Japanese trailer, an image gallery and slide show of movie posters, and an eight-minute biography about "the Father of Godzilla", producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, who was on board for the first twenty-two Godzilla flicks right up until his death in 1997. Rest in peace Tanakasan, and thanks for all you've given us.
If you've ever had an interest in Godzilla or want to introduce someone to the goodness of the Japanese monster mash, Invasion of Astro-Monster is the perfect place to start. Do not hesitate! Scroll down and click the Evilshop button immediately!
Two cuts of the film
Audio commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV
Tomoyuki Tanaka biography featurette
Original Japanese trailer
Poster slide show
4 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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