Aliens & SDF
Staff of Toho
| Frankenstein Conquers
|Company: Tokyo Shock
|Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
| || |
|Japanese (1.0 Mono/5.1
Surround), English (1.0 Mono/5.1 Surround)
||Trailers: Frankenstein vs. Baragon (Teaser,
Mysterians (US DVD), Matango,
||Commentary with Sadamasa Arikawa (Japanese, English
||Extra International Footage/Alternate Ending (12
||Deleted Scenes (5 Minutes)
||Contains original Japanese cut, edited US version
and "International" version with alternate
Probably one of the more anticipated cult
classics from Toho, which has been out of print
in the US for decades, Media Blasters, under their
Tokyo Shock label, has given the film a feature
packed two disc release. Across the two DVDs,
the firm has included three different "versions"
of the 1965 production. This fact, coupled with
a good video presentation, a solid audio offering
and a wealth of extras, leads to another highly
recommended release from Media Blasters.
Due to the nature of this set, with the three
separate video tracks, there is going to be a
lot to talk about. To start off, its seems natural
to begin with the "International" version
as it's the first option presented. The video
track accompanied with this version is respectable,
although has its share of blemishes none the same.
To be blunt, the presentation is mixed throughout
the movie's duration. For example, sometimes the
color are spot on, with a vivid spectrum and very
rich tones, such as the final battle where the
deep, raw-like red of Frankenstein's gum line
becomes apparent. Other times, though, the color
is a little off, either discolored slightly yellow
in hue or magenta. As a whole, though, the color
spectrum is a fairly well handled aspect of the
release. In terms of the shape of the print used,
this also tends to vary through the course of
the movie, with some scenes having loads of grain
and others with hardly any. Other print damage
is apparent on occasion, particularly during some
scene transitions, although never enough to really
detract from the viewing experience. Overall,
it's a fairly commendable looking presentation,
and certainly one that can be appreciated for
the majority of the movie's duration.
Before moving on, it's probably worth explaining
what exactly the "International" version
is, as it's never really explained on the DVD
itself. Essentially, this is the original cut
of the film that was presented to the US distributors,
with the Giant Octopus ending attached as was
requested. However, this ending was never used
in the US version anyway, as the distributors
instead opted for the original finale.
Next up is the Japanese cut (denoted as "theatrical"
here), which has about the same quality as its
"International" counterpart. The similarities
between the two video tracks shouldn't be surprising
given that the same source was used for both.
Unfortunately, the original ending, starting at
the 81 minute mark, looks fairly poor on this
release, for whatever reason. This includes a
more muted color presentation while details are
notably reduced as the image is overly soft. The
frame also appears to be slightly cropped compared
to the "International" version. In fact,
the disparity between the two during their respective
endings is night and day, such as this scene off
cut and the same one off the Japanese
version. Thankfully, this only effects the
ending of the film, leaving the majority of the
feature looking fairly spot on, although it's
still disappointing to see such a large dip in
quality for the movie's climax.
To move on to the "US" version, there
are, sadly, going to most likely be a lot of complaints
in this respect from purists hoping to get an
untouched version of the American Intentional
(AIP) cut. To put it plainly: although AIP's original
opening titles are included, the rest of the
video track is actually just the Japanese cut
already found on this set with the dubbed track
overlapped. This causes problems with the scenes
where the US version had different or additional
footage, as the music in these sequences skips
while the audio is jumbled around to match the
onscreen Japanese cut. Thankfully, these moments
are so few that it doesn't detract much from the
overall experience. Unfortunately, new onscreen
English title sequences were also created for
this version, such as here,
with less than stellar results.
Finally, to compare the three video tracks, here
is an image comparison of the different versions:
As is apparent, they are pretty much identical
in terms of quality. If one gets in close enough,
though, it can be noted that the "International"
has the most detail while the US has the least,
which is due to compression. The difference is
so minute, though, that it's only worth mentioning
for curiosities sake.
Frankenstein vs. Baragon is presented
in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 across
all three versions, and is Anamorphic for widescreen
This two disc set contains a wealth of audio
tracks across the pair of DVDs, including both
a mono and 5.1 surround mix for each version of
the film. In terms of the Japanese presentations,
which includes the denoted "theatrical"
and "international" versions, the 5.1
mix is superb. The new mixes add in some nice
speaker distinction while not overdoing the alterations
to the original mono presentation. Thankfully,
the film's mono track is also included for purists,
and sounds fantastic as it's devoid of discrepancies
such as audio pops or crackles.
In terms of the US version, unfortunately the
disc gets a couple mixed marks here. As previously
mentioned, the audio tends to skip around around
during the few segments where new or alternate
footage was included in the US version, due to
the fact that the Japanese cut is being used for
the presentation. Otherwise, though, the mono
track for the dub is a fairly good representation
of the original source. The 5.1 mix, however,
doesn't fare so well. The music on this track
sounds distorted during several sequences in order
to try and add range to the movie's audio, creating
a fairly cumbersome listening experience during
some scenes. This audio track is also recorded
at a much higher audio level compared to the other
audio found on the set, making for an occasional
shock when switching between tracks.
The audio can be accompanied with, removable,
English subtitles. The subtitles only appear for
the non-English speaking parts in the film, though.
Given the two disc treatment, it's not surprising
that Tokyo Shock has packed Frankenstein Conquers
the World with tons of extra content. The
star attraction here is an audio commentary by
special effects cinematographer Sadamasa Arikawa,
who regrettably passed away two years ago in 2005;
thankfully, his reflections on the film were recorded
by Toho when they initially released this film
to region 2 DVD in 2001, which is what's available
here. Complete with English subtitles, the audio
track, which accompanies the "International"
version of the film, presents a wealth of information
on the production during the course of the movie.
The commentary touches on some pretty interesting
topics, although sometimes only briefly, such
as the scrapped Frankenstein
vs. the Human Vapour concept. Overall,
anyone with more than a passing interest in the
film should probably set aside some time to hear
the track from start to finish.
Another notable extra on this disc is five minutes
of deleted scenes. The first minute and a half
of this footage is comprised of what could be
described as "bloopers", as footage
of tanks malfunctioning during the forest raid
are shown. The rest of the feature focuses on
the altered scenes for the US version, which should
be fairly important to viewers as these sequences
aren't included with the dubbed version here.
An isolated version of the alternate ending with
the Giant Octopus, cited as "Extra International
Footage", is also available with the extras.
As expected from Tokyo Shock, this disc includes
a good supply of trailers, including ones for
previously released movies such as Matango
(1963) and two trailers for Frankenstein vs.
Baragon, including a special announcement
"teaser". Rounding out the supplemental
material is a incredibly expansive image gallery,
which includes: lobby cards (Japan/Germany/US/Mexico),
the manga adaptation, theatrical pamphlet, posters
(US/Japan), production stills, US publicity material,
region 2 DVD package, toys and the Laserdisc package.
As a final note, in terms of the chapters, these
are only available for the "International"
and US versions of the film, not the original
line, there are some mixed things to note about
this DVD set, but it's really a fantastic package
all in all. Tokyo Shock certainly had its work
cut out with this particular release, considering
that the commentary track was attached to a version
of the film containing the Giant Octopus ending.
This means they either had to include it front
start to finish or drop the commentary track,
and thankfully they went above and beyond to make
sure it was still included, despite forcing this
to become a two disc set. The state of the US
version is of course a little disheartening, considering
only the opening titles "survived",
but the condition of the "international"
cut makes this more than easy to look over and
more than merits the package's overall high marks.