Oh man, this movie.
Seriously, this is a film that will challenge your comprehension of time and space, question your ability to exist and then continually challenge you to remain connected to its narrative. A combination of live action rubber suit monsters and vehicle combat with 2D animation taking place for any human interaction, it feels like a forced childhood playdate with that weird kid of your parents’ work friends, a child who has toys of all different sizes and scales and plays with them all at the same time regardless of scale, so that He-Man and Optimus Prime have a picnic with Duke and Matt Trakker, all while numerous Hot Wheels and a Tonka truck race around them. The entire time, you are sure that the child you are playing with is hopelessly deranged and could attack you at any moment.
I never thought I’d know that feeling again.
Attack of the Super Monsters is really four episodes of Ultraman and Mighty Jack creator Tsuburaya Productions’ Dinosaur War Izenborg, which combines the anime and daikaiju tokusatsu styles to delirious effect. It’d be weird enough, but then the American dubbing ads completely bonkers vocal stylings to what is already a psychotronic idea: dinosaurs are back and only twins who can become a hybrid being can stop them.
Emperor Tyrannous* (known as Dinosaur Satan Gottes in Japan) is the leader of the rubber reptilians who have declared war on mankind from their empire beneath the Earth’s surface. The only hope Earth has is the Gemini Command, which has brother and sister team Jem and Jim Starbuck (D-Force, Tachibana Ai and Tachibana Zen in the land of the rising sun) as its front-line defense. At one point in the original cartoon, they were nearly killed and their bodies were replaced with machinery. Later still, they get even more upgrades that let them become a giant robot, as is necessary in shows of this nature.
There’s also a genius scientist Dr. John Carmody (Dr. Torii) and his two absolute morons of assistants, Jerry Fordham and Wally Singer** (Goro Kanbara and Ippei Kurosawa) who have a pet sloth. Small animals are a major part of this story, as the underworld super monsters tend to possess animals like rats and dogs against their will instead of just realizing that they are fire-breathing beasts that by all rights should be eating all humanity or at the very least eviscerating Tokyo.
Just imagine if you crushed four episodes of an American kids show into a sprawling narrative, then translated it into multiple languages and beamed it all over the world. That’s what happened here, with this airing in Italy and Arabic counties, who loved it so much that Tsuburaya Productions and a Mr. Jarrah Alfurih from the Kuwait and Cultures Factory produced a documentary called The Return of Izenborg in 2016.
While the original series was directed by Toru Sotoyama (who was also behind the Ultraman-related Iron King) and written by Masaki Tsuji (who wrote series such as Cyborg 009, Urusei Yatsura, KImba the White Lion, Tiger Mask) and Ifumi Uchiyama from a story by Hiroyasu Yamaura (who wrote numerous Ultraman series, as well as Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, the Star Wolf series that Fugitive Alien was dubbed from, Galaxy Express 999 and Godzilla 1985, so he graduated from this to, well, the real thing), the American dub is the brainchild of Tom Wyner, who scripted the first English work on Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (which is the first part of Robotech), did the ADR writer and directing of Fist of the North Star and has wild credits like being an uncredited extra in An Affair to Remember, a crew member on The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and doing voiceover work for everything from the Japanese adaption of Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula to numerous voices on Robotech, several Star Trek games and as M. Bison in the Street Fighter cartoon.
In an even more goofball connection to horror movies, the producers of this were Sidney L. Caplan and Mark Cohen, who a decade before made the Orson Welles-starring Necromancy.
You really need to see this, if only to understand that Japanese cartoon sometimes have rats eating clothes and sidekicks who contemplate suicide to bring back their honor, then American kids get cheap VHS tapes of this and their parents use it as a babysitter and no one explains just how strange it all is until nearly forty years in the future.
*Dan Warren, a voice actor who is in a ton of stuff, for some reason does the giant dinosaur’s voice in a style that can best be described as Pacino in Devil’s Advocate but with more cocaine.
**Those who have watched way too many cartoons will recognize Wally’s voice as Cam Clarke, who was Kaneda in Akira as well as Leonardo and Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
You can watch this on YouTube.