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  Frankenstein Conquers the World Growing, Growing, Gone
Year: 1965
Director: Ishirô Honda
Stars: Tadao Takashima, Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Koji Furuhata, Jun Takazi, Susumu Fujita, Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Nakamura, Kenji Sahara, Yoshifumi Tajira, Peter Mann, Haruo Nakajima
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Germany in 1945 and the Second World War is drawing to an close while the Allies invade. In a secret laboratory, a scientist awaits the arrival of the military who when they appear, take his life's work contained in a box and knowing he will never see it again he smashes up the place in frustration. The box is transferred to a U-boat which sets sail for the Pacific Ocean where it encounters a Japanese submarine; the box is taken by them when soon after the U-boat is sunk by the Americans. Now the box resides in a top secret Japanese lab - so what's in it?

Ah, that would be telling. Frankenstein Conquers the World (or Furankenshutain tai chitei kaijû Baragon to give the film its original title - that's Frankenstein versus Baragon to you) was on the surface a typical giant monster movie from Japan, but there were parts to it that didn't quite fit the template. Directed by Godzilla creator Ishirô Honda, this was to have the title monster meet up with the big green lizard himself, but wiser heads prevailed and a far more sensible, erm, big green lizard was used instead. Baragon was his name. Sort of a dragon-dog thing.

However, making this stand out was that the other creature in this duel was not a man in a suit, but a man dressed as a caveman (Koji Furuhata) complete with heavy brow and jutting teeth. He doesn't look especially impressive, it had to be said, and for this reason many are content to write off this film as one of the worst of its kind, although it's not actually that bad. Indeed, it begins intriguingly with scenes that tackle the aftermath of the bomb on Hiroshima: most of these films would refer to this mass destruction in a roundabout manner, but not here.

After the bomb drops, we move forward fifteen years to see a rebuilt Japan that has not forgotten the dramatic events of the climax of the War in the Pacific. In the lab that the mystery box settled in, there are hospital patients including one teenage girl who has suffered a lifetime of illness thanks to the effects of radiation. On the other hand, that same radiation has had a beneficial effect on the contents of the box, which is, of course, the heart of the Frankenstein Monster. You should have guessed. From this still-beating organ has been grown the famed creation, although he looks inescapably Japanese.

This despite the doctors and scientists, among them Dr Bowen (vacationing American star Nick Adams) and his colleague Dr Togami (Kumi Mizuno), informing us that the reborn monster is actually a Westerner. Never mind that, though, because he's still growing and after they try to tame him (he likes the T.V. until someone on it shouts and then he does his rock star impression by throwing it out of the window in anger), they realise he's getting too big for his boots and place him in a cell. The media are called to have a look, the monster objects, breaks out and goes on the rampage, although not as destructive as the authorities think due to him being blamed for the antics of tunnelling, glowing-horned Baragon creating earthquakes. In truth, the film looks like two movies playing at once, the dry scientist scenes alternating with the giant monsters, but if you can overlook the shortcomings, which may be difficult, this was amusing enough. Music by Akira Ikufube.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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