Monday, May 06, 2013

Seriously unhinged fare from Shochiku Studios

Japan's second-oldest film studio had some catching up to do when men in rubber monster suits began to dominate the nation's cinema in the late 1960s.
SHOCHIKU was better known as the studio home of Yasujiro Ozu and "serious" movies, but wanted to join the rush in producing DAI-KAIJU (giant monster) films that were making big money.
Knowing Shochiku's reputation for thoughtful drama, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered the deliriously unhinged nature of the studio's horror/sci fi output.
Yesterday I watched KAZUI NIHONMATSU'S "UCHU DAIKAIJU GIRARA (THE X FROM OUTER SPACE)," Shochiku's 1967 combination of toy spaceships, jazzy soundtrack music and men in rubber monster suits.
A crew from a space mission returns with a glowing rock that hatches an energy absorbing monster that rampages through JAPAN.
The space crew then stumbles upon the only substance that will subdue the creature.
I vaguely remember seeing the movie as a kid. Then, I don't even think I noticed that the society depicted in the film would have a fully staffed moon base while still relying on late '60s model automobiles and rotary telephones.
Those incongruities just added to the fun while I enjoyed the movie as an adult.
I can't wait to see more of Shochiku's horror films.


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