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Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Sat May 04, 2019 10:09 pm
by LSD Jellyfish
Just rewatched this, remains one of my favorite Godzilla movies, but each time I’m increasingly surprised by how inconsequential Godzilla and co are, minus the destruction scenes.

The two fights with Ghidorah, the one midway, and the one at the end are laughably short. It is also kind of underwhelming how the fight takes place after the Xilliens are killed, where all the dramatic tension sort of dissipates.

One big missed opportunity, would probably have the UFOs take a more proactive role in the destruction scenes. It would’ve added some variety, and I realized despite how many aliens exist within the showa series, how little aliens ufos that actually attack are. We get a brief scene of the Xilliens attack the space base, but not much else. Even Godzilla or Rodan taking a brief swipe at them would’ve been cool.

Again, none of these really detract from the movie for me because it’s a great sci-fi film and I love a lot of little elements within it.

I haven’t really seen many people talk about this, but Fuji’s brother in law to be, is an inventor, who like Serizawa has some love drama, and ultimately makes a weapon that undermines the main antagonist of the film. Of course it’s a less tragic story in this case, but I realized in a way he’s a funny play on Serizawa. And, what really strikes me as interesting is how this film has two live issues, the other being with Namikawa and Glenn. While it’s not as fleshed out, it’s a really interesting element, especially with the whole tonal backdrop of the Xilliens being run by a computer.

What’s also interesting is that while yeah Glenn and Fuji are technically scientists, they’re primarily astronauts; a unique profession throughout the Godzilla franchise. To further them being interesting, they also have separate side plots from one another, and while clearly being friends, clearly also bicker throughout the story, with Glenn actually taking Fuji’s sisters side.

And yeah, the Xilliens look a little goofy, but really they have remarkable standout and iconic designs. While minute, the minor detail with the radio antenna sticking out the back of their cap reinforces the idea that they’re controlled by a computer. I actually would say for the alien invasion genre as a whole, the Xilliens are actually the quintessential alien invasion force. And that’s where IATOM wins, Id argue for the time it was one of the best films in the alien invasion genre.

This time around, I also noted a brief, sortve genius by then standards, editing moment. There’s a shot of Fuji and Glenn in space, leaving for Planet X, and it shows a background of space. Cut to a backdrop of the fancy resturaunt that Fuji’s sister is meeting her boyfriend in, which has space themed wallpaper. A minor detail but a cool one nonetheless.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Sun May 05, 2019 9:17 am
by eabaker
LSD Jellyfish wrote:Just rewatched this, remains one of my favorite Godzilla movies, but each time I’m increasingly surprised by how inconsequential Godzilla and co are, minus the destruction scenes.

The two fights with Ghidorah, the one midway, and the one at the end are laughably short. It is also kind of underwhelming how the fight takes place after the Xilliens are killed, where all the dramatic tension sort of dissipates.


Yeah, I'd say the primary purpose of the monsters in this movie isn't as much to provide monter-vs-monster spectacle as it is to provide disaster porn during the Xillien attack.

That said, while it's brief, the Planet X fight is one of my favorites in the series. It's economical; every moment matters.

What’s also interesting is that while yeah Glenn and Fuji are technically scientists, they’re primarily astronauts; a unique profession throughout the Godzilla franchise. To further them being interesting, they also have separate side plots from one another, and while clearly being friends, clearly also bicker throughout the story, with Glenn actually taking Fuji’s sisters side.


Sekizawa wrote few different takes on guys' friendships in this era, with Sakurai and Furue, Glenn and Fuji and Komai and Mark Jackson standing out as the most distinctive of the lot, in large part because the amount of bickering or competition between them.

This time around, I also noted a brief, sortve genius by then standards, editing moment. There’s a shot of Fuji and Glenn in space, leaving for Planet X, and it shows a background of space. Cut to a backdrop of the fancy resturaunt that Fuji’s sister is meeting her boyfriend in, which has space themed wallpaper. A minor detail but a cool one nonetheless.


I've always really liked that moment. Though I do think "genius by then standards" slightly underestimates the sophistication of editing techniques at the time. I mean, this was nearly 40 years after Battleship Potemkin, and more than 20 years after Citizen Kane and Sanshiro Sugata. ;)

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:43 am
by attilagodzilla
watched it again for the first time in years 2 days ago. I didn't remember much, but seeing it again I really enjoyed it. I love the xiliens, the look sorta silly, but I still think they are pretty cool. I guess I also liked it because it reminds me of the mysterians, wich is my third favorite Toho movie after Gojira and Mothra

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:45 am
by Orichalcum
This film feels distinctly Western to me.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:38 am
by JesstrK
I like this one because it's the one movie where Ghidorah arguably wins (if only just barely) or at the very least pulls a draw. Same logic as Godzilla vs. Kong: All combatants fall into the water, only one emerges while the others are nowhere to be seen - the one who emerged from the ocean is the winner. Ghidorah probably left because he was too tired/injured after knocking Godzilla and Rodan out to finish them or continue an attack on earth. It also would explain why Godzilla was dormant in Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:42 am
by UltramanGoji
But Ghidorah objectively didn't win. Godzilla and Rodan beat him up enough to scare him away. If he won, he would've continued rampaging around Japan.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:49 am
by JesstrK
Like I said, knocking out Godzilla and Rodan would have taken too much out of him. He was in no shape to attack anything, if he had tried there would be the risk that Mothra or some other earth kaiju would come and finish him in his weakened state. So he retreated to space or wherever the heck he goes to recuperate. I also said that perhaps it was a draw, which against both Godzilla and Rodan is still a pretty impressive feat.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:27 am
by Terasawa
That's just conjecture. The film only gives us the absence of Godzilla and Rodan and Ghidorah's retreat.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:30 am
by GojiDog
If Kong coming out of the water after tumbling off a cliff with Godzilla counts as a win for him, then Ghidorah emerging out of the water after tumbling in with Godzilla and Rodan counts as a win in my mind. That was what I always told younger myself anyway.

But now I'm willing to be flexible and chalk it up to a tie where Rodan and Godzilla got knocked unconscious on the way down, and Ghidorah just got the hell out of dodge.

Why didn't Ghidorah continue attacking Earth afterwards? Well, I've always kind of had the head-canon that Ghidorah was not the great destroyer he was played up to be in his debut film. As a kid, I believed that his attack in the previous film was under the control of the Xilians and he was fully under their control until it was broken at the end of IOAM. Having his new found freedom and probably a certain level of confusion with that and just decided to flee to do what he wanted.

Every other time we see Showa Ghidorah, he is acting under the influence of some alien force. The Kilaaks and Nebula M aliens took control of him, and even when their control was broken at the end of Godzilla Vs. Gigan, Ghidorah just tries to beat up Godzilla (that monster that is always fighting him) rather than trying to destroy the world.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:37 am
by UltramanGoji
I like how nobody bothers to address the actual story the films are telling.

Kong emerged from the water and was considered the winner because he is the "hero monster" of the story. Even though both were rampaging monsters, it was Kong who was portrayed more sympathetically, being taken from his home to Japan as opposed to Godzilla who came to Japan on his own accord.

Ghidorah was the pawn of the antagonists of the film. They were destroyed so Ghidorah, by association, also lost. His retreat is objectively a loss, Godzilla and Rodan emerging or not.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:53 am
by JesstrK
I don't see how who the hero or the villain of the story is has anything to do with the outcome of a fight if the result is the same. If Godzilla and Rodan were knocked unconscious in the fight (as Godzilla presumably was in Kong vs Godzilla), then I don't see how we can count it as a legitimate win for them. A draw, you could argue, but certainly not a win. So we may just have to agree to disagree on that point.

Due to the ambiguity of the scene in KvG (we are not shown if Godzilla is unconscious), you could also argue that Kong had had enough and was retreating from Godzilla's turf which is why he left. But we count it as a win for Kong is because they said so in the movie, whereas in Invasion of The Astro Monster it's not explicitly stated who won, although the characters appear disappointed when Ghidorah is the only one to emerge and they even worry out loud that Godzilla and Rodan may have been killed by Ghidorah.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:57 am
by UltramanGoji
JesstrK wrote:I don't see how who the hero or the villain of the story is has anything to do with the outcome of a fight if the result is the same.


Because the intentions of the authors of the film are more important than speculative fantasy match bullshit.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:01 pm
by Terasawa
We don't know Godzilla and Rodan were knocked unconscious or not, nor do we know if Kong was "beating a hasty retreat" for whatever reason. As I said, all we actually know is that Godzilla and Rodan do not surface and Ghidorah retreats to space.

The victor isn't named in either film, either. The 1963 volume of Toho Films, however, confirms a Kong victory in KKvG.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:02 pm
by eabaker
JesstrK wrote:I don't see how who the hero or the villain of the story is has anything to do with the outcome of a fight if the result is the same.


Because the story of a movie is defined by more than just the events visually depicted, read in isolation. The tone of the movie, the reactions of characters, the music, these things all contribute to our responses. KKvsG is a movie that establishes Kong winning as a desirable outcome, the characters react happily at the end, and we are meant to emotionally identify with those characters, so we typically interpret the ending as the one that would merit that reaction. Likewise, at the end of Monster Zero, all signs point to a happy ending, and thus we can read the outcome of the battle as the one that would represent a happy ending.

That said, the tone of Monster Zero's ending is a little more ambiguous than that of KKvsG's ending, and throughout the characters have displayed a fairly ambivalent attitude about Godzilla and Rodan. The important thing is the defeat of the X-Seijin; the outcome of the monster battle is really more of a footnote. That being the case, I do think that the outcome of the fight is more open to interpretation than in KKvsG. My reading has always been that the crash into the water basically broke up the fight, and Ghidorah took off rather than continue to engage, but that there was no real "winner." (And, really, there are no winners in a Great Monster War, only losers).

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:05 pm
by JesstrK
Terasawa wrote:nor do we know if Kong was "beating a hasty retreat" for whatever reason.

Never said we do know that. I only said that you could speculate as much if you were using the same logic that Ghidorah flying off at the end of Invasion means he for sure lost. I suppose I could have been more clear on that.

Added in 30 minutes 28 seconds:
eabaker wrote:
JesstrK wrote:I don't see how who the hero or the villain of the story is has anything to do with the outcome of a fight if the result is the same.


Because the story of a movie is defined by more than just the events visually depicted, read in isolation. The tone of the movie, the reactions of characters, the music, these things all contribute to our responses. KKvsG is a movie that establishes Kong winning as a desirable outcome, the characters react happily at the end, and we are meant to emotionally identify with those characters, so we typically interpret the ending as the one that would merit that reaction. Likewise, at the end of Monster Zero, all signs point to a happy ending, and thus we can read the outcome of the battle as the one that would represent a happy ending.

That said, the tone of Monster Zero's ending is a little more ambiguous than that of KKvsG's ending, and throughout the characters have displayed a fairly ambivalent attitude about Godzilla and Rodan. The important thing is the defeat of the X-Seijin; the outcome of the monster battle is really more of a footnote. That being the case, I do think that the outcome of the fight is more open to interpretation than in KKvsG. My reading has always been that the crash into the water basically broke up the fight, and Ghidorah took off rather than continue to engage, but that there was no real "winner." (And, really, there are no winners in a Great Monster War, only losers).

I don't know that I'd call the monster fight a footnote, when you consider that even if the X-Seijin are defeated, you still have an angry planet killer on the loose that has tried to and probably would destroy earth on his own if Godzilla and Rodan weren't there to stop him. But other than that, yeah, I see what you're saying, and based on what we were shown it's probably premature to count it as a definite win for Ghidorah (though I would like to point out that some people, not you, are acting like I called it a definite win for Ghidorah, which I did not. I said it was "arguably a win or at least a draw"). But when the characters say things like "Do you think Ghidorah killed Godzilla and Rodan?" after Ghidorah emerges, we definitely can't call it a surefire win for Godzilla and Rodan either, it's a draw at best.

And my whole point in bringing this up in the first place was simply to point out that, whether he won or it was a draw, Ghidorah battling a team of both Godzilla and Rodan and not straight up loosing is a pretty impressive feat which is why I liked this movie.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:48 pm
by Gojira9310
Is there any copies of this film with the raw audio? Aka the Japanese version but Nick Adams still speaks English? I was severely disappointed when I found out that the Criterion Blu-Ray dubs him over in Japanese unless I watch the English Dub, which I don't want to do.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:50 pm
by Terasawa
Gojira9310 wrote:Is there any copies of this film with the raw audio? Aka the Japanese version but Nick Adams still speaks English? I was severely disappointed when I found out that the Criterion Blu-Ray dubs him over in Japanese unless I watch the English Dub, which I don't want to do.


Not officially, unfortunately, but there is a fan version that reinstates Adams’ voice into the Japanese film.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:08 am
by miguelnuva
Personally I like the story it tells if Ghidorah does win In this film. If you watch the fight Godzilla and Rodan actually set Ghidorah up the same way they do in Gtthm but with no Mothra they can't web him up thus Rodan improvises twice.

Later everyone wondered if Rodan and Godzilla were killed. Godzilla and Rodan save Japan in defeat so monsters lose but humanity wins as Ghidorah can not continue his attack.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:15 pm
by Great Hierophant
Great Hierophant wrote:So, why four and a half years between the finished version of the film, with Nick Adams and the release to theaters stateside? UPA did not need to dub Adams, which lessened the dubbing workload considerably. The film was not considerably altered and the dubbing was done locally. War of the Gargantuas, released on the double bill with "Monster Zero" only suffered a four year delay, but there was a somewhat better excuse there because Russ Tamblyn was required to dub himself. I believe the best explanation was that UPA had a falling out with AIP and had serious difficulties finding a replacement theatrical film distributor for some time. Still, it must have irked Henry Saperstein, the head of UPA because he contributed money to both of these films (probably Adams and Tamblyn's salaries) and had to wait years for any kind of return on his investment.


Something of a followup. Henry Saperstein, director of UPA worked with James Nicholson and Samuel Arkoff at AIP to help bring Godzilla vs. The Thing to U.S. theaters in 1964. Then Saperstein and Toho co-produced Franstein Conquers the World in 1965, with Saperstein's financial contribution to the project almost certainly paying the salary and expenses of the American star of that film, Nick Adams. Saperstein contacted AIP to release the film in the U.S., which it did in 1966. However, I believe that Saperstein was not happy with the distribution deal he made with AIP, it was one thing when he was just brokering a deal to release a film stateside, it was another when Saperstein sunk a sizeable amount of money into the picture. Note that Frankenstein Conquers the World was never released alongside other films Saperstein had rights to on home video.

So when the next film he made with Toho, Invasion of Astro Monster was ready for distribution in 1966, Saperstein was looking for other distribution partners. Astro-Monster, like Frankenstein, starred Nick Adams and Saperstein/UPA were paying his expenses and salary while he shot in Japan. Similarly, Saperstein then co-produced War of the Gargantuas with Russ Tamblyn in 1966. I believe that Saperstein was at this point trying to find a distributor who would take a two-film package deal, but the offers were either slow in coming or the money was not good enough. His UPA was an animation production company, not a theatrical film distributor. I also believe that UPA was probably not in the best financial straits at this time, as its animated fare was limited to television by this time. So opportunities to secure distribution rights to other films were left to other companies like Walter Reade Serling and AIP. These companies released films directly to TV in 1967 and beyond, demonstrating that the market for theatrical releases had softened and distributors would be less likely to pay lots of money to show these films.

Then a few more stumbling blocks to a release would come about. First, in 1968 Nick Adams committed suicide, so any release of a film in that year where he was the star would be seen as cashing in on a tragedy and therefore in extremely poor taste. 1969 brought AIP's theatrical release of Destroy All Monsters. Having two Godzilla films being released in the same year would be rather risky, especially when AIP's film had a lot more monsters. The audio recording containing Russ Tamblyn's voice was lost and he had to be brought back to dub himself. I think by 1970 Saperstein accepted the need to release both his American-starred films "now or never", especially as he had acquired rights to All Monsters Attack and both Adams and Tamblyn's stars had burnt out. Much less money had been spent to acquire the rights to All Monsters Attack compared to either Invasion of Astro Monster or War of the Gargantuas and this may have been the carrot that brought Maron Films to sign a contract to distribute all three films in 1970-71/72.

Re: Talkback Thread #6: Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965)

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:09 pm
by Terasawa
The official word, re: Variety, was that WOTG and MZ "sat on the shelf at... [UPA] because distribs figured they had no potential." That makes sense. Consider how sharply theatrical releases of Japanese genre pics dropped off in the U.S. during the late '60s: the only theatrical releases in the five years before Maron's double feature were Ghidrah (1965, Continental), FCTW (1966, AIP), Gammera (1966), King Kong Escapes (1968, Universal), The Green Slime (1969, MGM), and DAM (1969, AIP). All but Gammera were handled by bigger or established studios, and all but Ghidrah and DAM had American marquee value (the former was also riding the tail end of a Japanese genre boom that had begun in the late '50s). Of course, so did WOTG and MZ, so I agree that a falling out between Saperstein and AIP may have been the biggest factor. The major studios were staying away from these movies (note that KKE and Green Slime were already Americanized by the time Universal and MGM came into the picture) and the only independent that saw potential in them after 1966 was AIP.

AIP's last release for Saperstein was What's Up, Tiger Lily?, also in 1966. After that, Saperstein may have had his hands full trying to get more pictures off the ground in Japan, as I mentioned in this thread. His Hell in the Pacific was released by Cinerama in 1968. His deal with Maron may have been finalized in 1969; WOTG and MZ (as "Invasion of the Astros") were reported to have been rated by the MPAA in February 1970.

Gallery of relevant vintage articles here.

I don't think there's any correlation between AIP and Saperstein and the lack of a video release of FCTW. Godzilla vs the Thing was also an AIP release that reverted to Saperstein but we saw that on video as "Godzilla vs. Mothra." FCTW (with new credits) was part of the same syndication package as Saperstein's Godzillas and other Toho titles. I'm not sure why that one title was never released on video.