The Greatness of Toho Classic Sci-Fi

by Brian Scherschel

On September 19th, Kaijuvision Radio will begin its 2nd season.

Now that the Godzilla journey is over, it’s time to visit the kaiju we didn’t get to last season.  In this new chronological journey, I’ll be tackling many of the classic Toho sci-fi movies that don’t have Godzilla in them.  That includes non-Godzilla kaiju movies as well as non-kaiju tokusatsu movies.  The time period is 1955-1977: 22 years of fun, fantastic, and underrated Toho classics.  There will be episodes for the new Godzilla movies as they come out too.

The Submersion of Japan (1973)

Kaijuvision is sticking with the creative community that brought us the Showa Godzilla movies, including Ishiro Honda, Tomoyuki Tanaka, Shinichi Sekizawa, Akira Ikufube, Masaru Sato, and Teruyoshi Nakano.  Of course we get to see many of Toho’s contract actors like Akira Takarada, Kumi Mizuno, Akihiko Hirata, and Takashi Shimura.  We even get to see Toshiro Mifune in this season!  Haruo Nakajima often played the kaiju depicted in these movies.

I love the concepts and ideas that these movies present to the viewers.  These movies are intriguing and fascinating.  They make you want to watch them again and again.  Almost all of them are in wonderful color, and many are filmed in Tohoscope.  Additionally many of Toho’s best actors were in these films.  In contrast, American sci-fi movies were often relegated to black and white film, and good actors often avoided them.

These films are not only interesting, but they’re also culturally relevant.  They tap into the Japanese cultural zeitgeist like many of the best Godzilla movies do.  Since Kaijuvision excels in examining these kinds of connections, they make perfect sense to analyze.

What’s great is that these movies are more available and more affordable than they ever have been before.  Many of them used to be “rare DVDs”.  The DVD guide for these movies came out last week, so check out where to buy them.  As current listeners know, Kaijuvision Radio prefers the Japanese versions with English subtitles.  It’s much closer to the real thing than these sometimes horrific English dubs.

So strap yourselves in for another season of movie greatness!

Here again is the list:

Half Human (1955), The Mysterians (1957), Varan (1958), The Three Treasures (1959), Battle in Outer Space (1959), The Last War (1961), Gorath (1962), Matango (1963), Atragon (1963), Dogora, the Space Monster (1964), Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), War of the Gargantuas (1966), Latitude Zero (1969), Space Amoeba (1970), The Submersion of Japan (1973), War in Space (1977).

Season 2 DVD Guide (+2 additional films)

by Brian Scherschel

Season 2 will begin on September 19th with “Half Human” (1955).  That’s right, not one, but two more movies have been added to the season: “Half Human” and “The Three Treasures” (1959).

To help you with finding all of the movies for this great season of Toho sci-fi classics, I have written this DVD guide.

Some of these movies are still considered “rare” DVDs, but they’re not hard to find.  I suggest you Google the harder to find titles and grab the original Japanese versions where you can find them.  Let’s get started!

Half Human (1955)

DCA (American Cut)

Directed by Ishiro Honda, and released only one year after the original Godzilla.  This movie is banned in Japan due to its portrayal of natives as savages.  There is a really bad American version of this.  Though Toho has never released a home video version of this movie, see if you can find the Japanese version with English subtitles.

 

The Mysterians (1957)

Tokyo Shock

Released in 2005, this Tokyo Shock version has the Japanese language option with English subtitles.  One of Ishiro Honda’s (and Toho’s) absolutely best sci-fi classics.  You can buy it here.

There are also Japanese versions with English subtitles available if you search for them.

 

Varan (Daikaiju Baran) (Varan, the Unbelievable) (1958)

Tokyo Shock

Tokyo Shock released their version of this movie in 2005 with optional Japanese language and English subtitles.  You can buy it here.

Reel Vault

The American English language version of Varan is available and is quite cheap.  You can buy it here.

Cory Film Corporation

There is an English only version of Varan on Amazon video as well.  You can get it here.

There are also Japanese versions with English subtitles available if you search for those.

 

The Three Treasures (The Birth of Japan) (1959)

Toho

Also a hard to find movie, but it’s great.  It’s a religious epic about the founding of Shintoism.  Toshiro Mifune is one of my absolute favorites.  See if you can find the Japanese version with English subtitles.

 

Battle in Outer Space (1959)

Sony Pictures

The “Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection” by Sony Pictures is an affordable way to get three good movies in one purchase.  It’s included with “The H-Man” and “Mothra”.  “Battle in Outer Space” is in Japanese with English subtitles.  You can buy it here.

Mill Creek Entertainment

I haven’t seen this before, but there is also a “Vintage Sci-Fi 6 Movie Collection” that includes “Battle in Outer Space”.  The whole collection is just two discs.  It’s affordable, but I cannot vouch for the quality.  You can buy it here.

 

The Last War (1961)

Toho

There has been only one VHS release of this movie in the US decades ago.  However, you can Google it and see if the Japanese language version with English subtitles is floating around.

 

Gorath (1962)

Toho

This is another great Toho sci-fi movie that hasn’t been widely released enough in the US.  You can find the Japanese language English subtitled version though.

 

Matango (1963)

Tokyo Shock

Tokyo Shock released its DVD of Matango in 2005.  There are Japanese language and English subtitle options on it.  You can buy it here.

The original Japanese version with optional English subtitles is also available if you search for it.

You can see the English dub version (“Attack of the Mushroom People”) on Amazon Video here.

 

Atragon (1963)

Tokyo Shock

Tokyo Shock released its DVD in 2006 with Japanese language and English subtitle options.  You can buy it here.

There is also a Japanese version with a English subtitle option available if you search for it.

 

Dogora, the Space Monster (1964)

Tokyo Shock

Tokyo Shock released its DVD of Dogora in 2005.  It has Japanese language and English subtitle options.  You can buy it here.

There is also a Japanese version with English subtitles available if you search for it.

 

Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

MBL

MBL released this DVD but the year of release is not noted on Amazon.  It lists Japanese language option and English subtitles.  You can buy it here.

The Toho version with Japanese language and English subtitles is also around if you search for it.

 

War of the Gargantuas (1966)

Vivendi Entertainment

Starz on Amazon Video has the English language only version of this movie.  You can view it here.

Classic Media

The Classic Media version of this movie was released with Rodan in 2008 and again in 2012.  However it’s a collector’s item now, and it’s expensive.  You can buy it here.

There is also a Toho version of this movie with Japanese language and English subtitles around if you search for it.

 

Latitude Zero (1969)

Tokyo Shock

Tokyo Shock released a 2-disc version of this movie in 2007 with Japanese language and English subtitle options.  You can buy it here.

There is a Toho version of Latitude Zero available via Internet search.  It has Japanese language and English subtitle options as well.

 

Space Amoeba (1970)

Tokyo Shock

Tokyo Shock released their version of this movie in 2006 with Japanese language and English subtitle options.  You can buy it here.

The English language only version of Space Amoeba is available on Amazon video.  You can see it here.

There are Japanese versions with English subtitles of Space Amoeba on the Internet so check those out if you like.

 

The Submersion of Japan (1973)

Toho

This film was released in the US as “Tidal Wave”, which was heavily cut.  That version isn’t very good.  If you search for the original Japanese language with English subtitle options, you will hopefully find it.

 

War in Space (1977)

Discotech Media

Discotech Media released this DVD in 2006.  It has Japanese language and English subtitle options.  It includes an interview with special effects genius Teruyoshi Nakano.  You can buy it here.

There are also original Japanese versions of this movie with English subtitles available if you search for them.

 

Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock

There is a 3-movie DVD set released in 2007 that contains “The Mysterians”, “Varan” and “Matango”.  There are English and Japanese language versions of all of the movies in this box set.  However it is quite expensive at the moment.  You can buy it here.

 

This concludes the DVD guide.  Good luck and start viewing and reviewing these great film treasures!

Episode 15: All Monsters Attack (1969)

Nate and Brian tackle our first postmodern Godzilla movie, and the final movie of Late 60s Month. We give this movie the appreciation it deserves, as there is plenty to analyze. Our related topics are escapism, industrial society, international bullies. There are two A-10 fighters that fly through the sky during 1:00:53-1:01:17 of the video.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:43

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:43 – 7:05

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:05 – 45:45

Part 3 – Related Topic: 45:45 – 1:11:37

Closing: 1:12:05 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Former site of General Electric, Fort Wayne, Indiana (peak employment of 20,000 workers. Shut down in 2014.)

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved

Episode 14: Destroy All Monsters (1968)

We swear we’re not under Kilaak control, but we are pretty big fanboys of this movie. Before Marvel Studios made “The Avengers”, there was this film, which was intended to be the culmination of the studio’s kaiju films and the Godzilla series’ grand finale. Listen to Brian and Nate gush over this fan favorite film that defies analysis. Our related topics are the 1968 student demonstrations in Japan, the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands being returned to Japan, and the highest economic growth in Japanese history (measured by % growth).

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:36

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:36 – 6:43

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 6:43 – 41:25

Part 3 – Related Topic: 41:25 – 1:08:26

Closing: 1:08:26 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Hodell Acres, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved

Episode 13: Son of Godzilla (1967)

Believe it or not, this was intended to be a date movie. We have a cute monster that resembles a human baby. Japan experienced a huge drop in the birth rate in the year before this movie was released, so maybe this date movie was intended to get couples in the mood? Listen to Nate and Brian discuss this challenging and extremely different kind of Godzilla movie.  Our related topics are weather control, extreme weather, and the Three Non-nuclear principles.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:45

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:45 – 7:03

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:03 – 39:36

Part 3 – Related Topic: 39:36 – 1:07:52

Closing: 1:07:52 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Bryan, Ohio

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved

Episode 12: Ebirah – Horror of the Deep! (1966)

City slicker Brian and country boy Nate discuss the Godzilla film for young people with a South Seas adventure flavor.  Though it’s featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000, we conclude that this a considerably underestimated film.  Our related topic is how kaiju film audiences changed during this decade.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patrons Kyoei Toshi and Sean Stiff for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level.  Thank you for your support!  We really appreciate it.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:41

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:41 – 6:53

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 6:53 – 48:00

Part 3 – Related Topic: 48:00 – 1:09:59

Closing: 1:09:59 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Historic Old Fort, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved

Episode 11: Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)

Nate and Brian analyze a big fan favorite, and it has major sci-fi flavor. It’s our first alien invasion movie, and features the return of King Ghidorah! Our related topic is the international affairs dimension of the alien invasion.

This episode is dedicated to Yoshio Tsuchiya.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:32

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:32 – 7:26

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:26 – 52:20

Part 3 – Related Topic: 52:20 – 1:15:33

Closing: 1:15:33 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Lakeside Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved

Episode 10: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)

The franchise reaches a turning point with some James Bondian flair. Brian and Nate discuss Godzilla turning into a hero and the introduction of Godzilla’s archenemy King Ghidorah! Our related topics are China’s first nuclear test, Japan during the Vietnam War, and Japan joining the OECD. (Hail Ghidrah!)

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:40

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:40 – 7:18

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:18 – 56:19

Part 3 – Related Topic: 56:19 – 1:15:47

Closing: 1:15:47 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved

Episode 9: Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

Nathan and Brian discuss this momentous and archetypal film.  Many fans consider this to be one of the best Godzilla sequels. It was created in 1964, a seminal year for Japan, Japanese cinema, and the kaiju genre.  Our related topics include Typhoon Vera, the 1964 Summer Olympics, the preview for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the Shinkansen Bullet Train, and the Tokyo Monorail.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:53

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:53 – 5:52

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 5:52 – 26:43

Part 3 – Related Topic: 26:43 – 41:47

Closing: 41:47 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Towpath Trail, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved

Episode 8: King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

Two giant monster franchises collide in this momentous blockbuster that changed everything. Listen as Brian and Nate discuss this well-produced and entertaining parody that stars one of our favorite kaiju film characters, Mr. Tako! Our related topic is the Japanese Economic Miracle, which led to Japan becoming a global economic powerhouse.

We’d like to send a shout-out to our patron Kyoei Toshi for pledging at the Kaiju Visionary level. Thank you for your support! We really appreciate it.

MP3:

Introduction: 0:00 – 1:25

Part 1 – Film Description: 1:25 – 7:07

Part 2 – Opinion and Discussion: 7:07 – 45:21

Part 3 – Related Topic: 45:21 – 1:20:15

Closing: 1:20:15 – End

 

Co-Hosts: Brian Scherschel and Nathan Marchand

Editor: Brian Scherschel

Video Location: Cedar Creek, Metea County Park, Allen County, Indiana

Video: Brian Scherschel

Music: Audiophiliac (http://www.fiverr.com/audiophiliac)

Copyright Brian J. Scherschel

All Rights Reserved