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  X from Outer Space, The What Doesn't Kill Him Makes Him Stronger
Year: 1967
Director: Kazui Nihonmatsu
Stars: Eiji Okada, Toshiya Wazaki, Itoko Harada, Peggy Neal, Franz Gruber, Mike Daneen, Shin'ichi Yanagisawa, Keisuke Sonoi, Hiroshi Fujoika, Ryûji Kita, Takanobu Hozumi, Toshiyuki Watanabe, Torahiko Hamada
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the future and Planet Earth are about to commence a mission to its neighbour in the Solar System, Mars, though there have been attempts to succeed in that before all have been doomed to failure thanks to what the boffins are calling UFOs that have buzzed the craft and caused some mysterious mishap to befall them. They do have high hopes for this new endeavour, however, and under the direction of Captain Sano (Toshiya Wazaki) the four person crew of three Japanese men and one American woman climb aboard their space rocket. They must stop off at the moon along the way, but all are confident about reaching the Red Planet unscathed and finding out what happened to their predecessors...

By the late nineteen-sixties, every Japanese studio worth its salt was jumping on the giant monster movie bandwagon as the genre reached its saturation point in both volume and popularity, and The X from Outer Space was Shochiku's contribution. It became known for its decidedly goofy creature and little else, though on watching it you had to wait a good half of the film for him to show up. Guillala was his name, though in this case Guilala didn't mean I love you, it meant I will destroy you as he was a force for mayhem much as his peers were, laying waste to Tokyo that made you wonder if, by 1970, there was anything left of that city in light of the sustained attacks visited upon it over those recent years.

Mostly it was the mixture of the bloke in a rubber suit villain combined with some of the dinkiest miniature work you ever did see offering the appeal, tiny tanks and warplanes shooting minute missiles at the menace which bounce off because any energy simply makes him stronger. Before we arrived at these action highlights there was the journey into space to get through, which had the bonus of featuring more of those models, offering the same amusement that a Gerry Anderson series might supply, complete with its very own Moonbase Alpha and UFOs to contend with, though the film is somewhat vague on the specifics as to what precisely is behind the sabotage: even the luminous flying saucer we see is intentionally left blurred by the camera to make it look more amorphous.

On the journey to the Moon, the rocket is approached by the alien craft which makes the doctor come over all funny and therefore they have to stay there while he recuperates, allowing a superfluous love triangle between Sano, the Western scientist Lisa (Peggy Neal) and Moonbase operator Michiko (Itoko Harada in apparently her sole movie outing) to develop. Neal was playing one of those characters deemed oddly essential to many a sci-fi flick from Japan in this era, the blonde lady, although if you think there's any chance Lisa will end up with Sano by the end, well, they weren't that forward thinking: she even ends up getting trapped under collapsing machinery at the base during the grand finale while Michiko escapes entirely unscathed. Anyway, as it turns out the doc must be replaced.

But when the crew get out on the path to Mars once more, that UFO appears once again, as does an asteroid storm which sticks flashing blobs to the hull as the new doctor freaks out (he's a weirdly surly fellow, not the obvious choice for spacefaring companionship). The crisis passes, but they have to return to Earth, though Lisa insists on taking one of the glowing blobs with her for further examination. Big mistake. Once back on terra firma it grows into Guilala, who some have described as a chicken monster probably because when it leaves a footprint it's identified as chicken-like, though in effect it is as close to Godzilla as they could get away with, only with added puffy sleeves and what look like shoulder pads for that futuristic (well, the nineteen-eighties) look. He does have a beak of sorts, from which he belches fireballs at the military whose presence leads others to see this as a comment on that organisation and its role in society, but is more likely there to shoot at and be squashed by the giant monster. It was basic stuff, but those models were cute. Music by Taku Izumi.

Aka: Uchû daikaijû Girara
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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