Godzilla-thon: INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER/MONSTER ZERO (1965/1970)



United Productions of America (UPA) asked producer Henry G. Saperstein to look for high quality monster movies to distribute in North America. Saperstein turned to TOHO and began his involvement in making Invasion Of The Astro-Monster while another movie, Frankenstein Conquers The World, was still in production. This is the first time where an American producer has input on a Godzilla film from the beginning of production. During production, Saperstein felt that the scripts written for the film were too formulaic always starting with a press conference or government conference of scientists and officials. He insisted on placing those scenes in the middle instead so the movie can move forward a lot quicker. 


Nick Adams 1931-1968

The idea for placing an American actor was also Saperstein's idea and after proposal, American actor Nick Adams got the role of playing the American astronaut, Glenn. Nick Adams claimed the role due to him starring in Frankenstein Conquers The World and Saperstein speaking positively of him.


Even though Invasion Of The Astro-Monster was released in Japan in 1965, the American version would not see the release of the film until the Summer of 1970. The reason why is as stated by Saperstein that TOHO did not always want to release a film quickly for international release and he had a lot of technical work to be done on the film. It was reported by Variety that Saperstein completed post-production in 1966 and was under a negotiation for a distribution deal. It was reported again in 1970 that both Invasion Of The Astro-Monster and The War Of The Gargantuas sat on the shelf at UPA because the distributors thought the movies had no potential. It was even said that Saperstein had a fall out with his previous partners, but Maron Films would distribute the film later on.


Despite Godzilla, Rodan, and King Ghidorah being in the film Mothra was also planned to be in the film as well, but she was dropped due to budgeting reasons. Director Ishiro Honda stated, "It was a vicious cycle of time and budget... If we recycled scenes from previous movies, we could cut the effects budget. But then we received complaints from our fans saying, 'It looks weird, it's not fresh.' We could fool the audience for a little while, but eventually they would know the trick and stop coming to see the shows. Then the studio would think that special effects films don't sell anymore. It's no wonder we could not make anything good around that period... It is a sad story."


Review:


After discovering the mysterious Planet X in the solar system, astronauts Glenn and Fuji fly there in the P-1 rocket. After some exploring, they find out that they are not alone on the planet. The inhabitants of Planet X called, Xilians (Ex-Zillions), invite their other worldly guests inside to hide from an invading monster they call, Monster Zero, which was identified on Earth as King Ghidorah. They claim that Ghidorah was responsible for chasing them under ground and they ask to borrow Godzilla and Rodan to chase Ghidorah away. Glenn and Fuji agree and Godzilla and Rodan were sent to Planet X to fight Ghidorah. Godzilla dances in victory after the fight and the Xilians were pleased with the results. They send the astronauts back home, but leaving Godzilla and Rodan behind. Once Glenn and Fuji arrive back on Earth, they find out that it was all a ploy by the Xilians to start their invasion on Earth and they would use Godzilla, Rodan, and King Ghidorah to begin the invasion.


As we get further into the series, we start seeing these movies are getting goofier by each movie. You could say these movies are becoming more of a joke, but not in a bad way. Godzilla is known for man's misuse of nuclear energy, but he is also known for iconic scenes that are so out of character that you can't help, but laugh at it. I'm talking about the dance scene here on the right. This scene is recreated EVERYWHERE and has become some sort of joke among fans. And the funny thing is that, this isn't the most far out there scene in the franchise. We are just scratching the surface of the goofiest iconic scenes in Godzilla's history and there are ones far more goofier than the Godzilla dance.


Another important detail that I begin to notice is that the two versions of the movies are becoming closer and closer to being more similar to each other to where it is no longer necessary to contrast the two versions. I may not be able to compare and contrast the two versions of the rest of the movies until we get to Godzilla 1985.


The story was some what different from your regular Godzilla film and I love that they went to a sort of different turn with an alien invasion theme instead of the usual "monster attacks village and fights another monster" trope. At this point, the usual formula was getting stale and it needed fresh new ideas and I am glad Saperstein told the writers to come up with something else that breaks that formula. Besides, this is the time when sci-fi alien invasion movies start becoming popular and an alien invasion theme would have worked in the movie's favor if the distributors didn't let it sit on a shelf for five years.


It is barely noticeable, but this is when TOHO has started to reuse stock footage from previous films as well. They used it very lightly in this, but the use of stock footage gets worse and very noticeable overtime. There is one movie in this series that uses nothing, BUT reused stock footage. For now, though, it is hardly noticeable unless you are looking for them.


Final Verdict:


Invasion Of The Astro-Monster is another fun movie for the family to sit down and watch together and for those that love cheesy sci-fi flicks. I say give it a watch.

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