The Deadly Bees (1966)

Based on H.F. Heard’s 1941 novel A Taste for Honey, this Freddie Francis film — look for an entire week of UK science fiction and horror next week — this movie predates the worries of the 70s killer bees by nearly ten years.

You know, singers don’t just get exhausted today and have to escape from reality. They used to in 1966, Vicki Robbins (Suzanna Leigh, Lust for a VampireSon of Dracula) collapses on television and has to go to Seagull Island to get her life back together. Look for a young Ron Wood in the opening number.

Originally adapted from Heard’s novel by Robert Bloch, director Freddie Francis and writer Anthony Marriott worked to improve said script and ended up with a movie that nobody seemed to like. Maybe it’s because there’s no Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee, as audiences expected them in almost every horror movie.

Bloch never saw the completed film, although he was a gentleman in how he felt about Francis, Marriott and Amicus, the studio who produced the film. He did say, however, that the movie “buzzed off into critical oblivion, unwept, unhonoured and unstung.”

If you want to see a movie with plastic bees glued to the faces of thespians, by all means, this would be that film.

Munster, Go Home! (1966)

Right after The Munsters finished up on TV, this movie was released. Everyone from the show but Pat Priest came back, with Marilyn now played by Debbie Watson. Even its director, Earl Bellamy, had worked on the show before.

The other major change in this movie is that it’s in color. The decision to make the movie — after the show ended, which isn’t how this usually works — is because this movie was made to introduce the characters and concept to foreign audiences, with the syndicated episodes following in its wake.

Herman (Fred Gwynne) and Lily Munster (Yvonne De Carlo) have inherited Munster Hall in Shroudshire, England, which makes Herman now Lord Munster to the rage of Herman’s British relatives Grace (Jeanne Arnold) and Freddie (Terry-Thomas, perfectly cast in this role). Also, somehow Grandpa has taken some wolf pills and is now a werewolf.

I always ask myself, when a horror-related movie comes out in the 60s, where is John Carradine? Well, he’s right here, playing the evil butler. Whew — I was worried he’d miss out on the paycheck.

This is also the movie with Drag-U-La in it, built by George Barris. It was the second car he made for The Munsters, with the other being the Munster Coach. Ironically, that’s the car in Rob Zombie’s video for “Dragula.” The sample at the open of that song — “superstition, fear and jealousy” — is Christopher Lee from Horror Hotel.

Irezumi (1966)

Based on Junichiro Tanizaki’s story Shisei (The Tattooist), Yasuzô Masumura’s (Black Test Car) tells the story of Otsuya and Shinsuke. She’s the daughter of a rich merchant who is tempted by her father’s employee to elope before they’re caught by an inn keeper.

Now sold into prostitution, she’s given a tattoo by Seikichi, a master artist, of a human-faced spider. Her pale skin has created the perfect canvas for him, but now she’s been marked as the property of another man. As she and Shinsuke seek to escape their lives, all manner of horror follows, with the face of the spider changing — and Otsuya herself — with each act and each man who comes her way must pay.

Masumura and his muse Ayako Wakao, who plays Otsuya, made several films together, yet this film is the first of theirs I’ve seen. It’s a woman getting revenge feature. Yet while the film makes you wonder at first if it’s the tattoo or the woman doing all of the murder, by the end, the answer becomes clear. 

The new Arrow Video release of this film comes with a new 4K scan of the film, new audio commentary by Japanese cinema scholar David Desser, an introduction by Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns, a visual essay by Asian cinema scholar Daisuke Miyao and a trailer. You can get it directly from Arrow Video.

Attack of the Robots (1966)

You know, there are times when you get the Jess Franco who is obsessed with sex and times when you get the jazz-loving, Old Hollywood fan Jess Franco and this would be the latter.

This Eurospy affair stars Eddie Constantine as Al Pereira*, who is hunting down a series of bronze-skinned and horned-rim glasses-wearing killer robots commanded by Lady Cecilia Addington Courtney (Françoise Brion, probably the only person to be in movies like Le Divorce and Otto Preminger’s Rosebud, as well as a Franco film) who is using computers to destroy Europe.

So yeah, Jess shows up playing jazz piano, but don’t worry. Plenty of BDSM and mind control lurk right around the corner, instead of appearing full frontal and center. Perhaps the strangest thing about this movie is that it was shot in color and released in black and white. And that it’s nothing like the Franco movies that people dislike his movies harp on.

You can get this from Kino Lorber.

*Franco would return to the character in the films Les Ebranlées, Downtown, Botas Negras, Látigo de Cuero, Camino Solitario, Al Pereira vs. the Alligator Ladies and Revenge of the Alligator Ladies.

2+5 Mission Hydra (1966), aka Star Pilot (1977)

Editor’s Note: We previously reviewed the Star Pilot version of this 1966 Italian space opera as part of its inclusion on Mill Creek’s Sci-Fi Invasion 50-film pack. The set also includes its equally-weird space cousin, Mission Stardust, which we are also re-reviewing with an all new, expanded take, today at 12 noon.

Even without Mill Creek box-setting both Primo Zeglio’s Mission Stardust (1968) and this, Pietro Francisci’s Italian space opera — which dropped into the international marketplaces between 1966 to 1968 as Mission Hydra and Destination: Planet Hydra (1968, of course, being the year of our Kurbick) — we’d still watch and review these two movies back-to-back, since they complement each other so well. And they’re practically the same film — plot wise, at least — as you’ll come to see.

The most amazing aspect in watching Mission Hydra is how much Italian production values — as least in the sci-fi genre — hadn’t changed much from their Forbidden Planet (released by MGM in 1956) influences from the ’50s to the Lucasian late ’70s. Don’t believe us? Then give a watch to the Star Wars droppings that are Luigi’s Cozzi’s Starcrash and Aldo Lado’s The Humanoid (1978 and 1979, respectively) and you’ll understand the analogy. In fact: You’d swear the costumes from Mission Hydra languished in mothballs for ten years, only to be pulled out of the closet for both films (especially The Humanoid). It was for that very reason that Hydra-whatever-it’s-titled, was dubbed into English and dumped into the post-Lucasian marketplace (I saw it at my local duplex) to capitalize on Star Wars in the fall of 1977: the year when ANYTHING mentioned in the pages of Starlog magazine got our $3.25 at the ticket window.

To “Americanize” those ripoff-proceedings: we got the somewhat “familiar” title change, while most of the verse-dialog was ripped from TV’s Star Trek — which hadn’t yet made its way to Italy (Star Trek first aired in September 1966; Mission Hydra screened in Italy in October 1966) — so you’ll end up hearing lots of references to “Star Fleet,” “Warp Drive,” and “Impulse Drive.” But even with the Bechdel test costumes fails of the Roddenberrian-verse, you’d never see Communications Officer Uhura and Yeoman Janice Rand wearing the sexy vinyl-fishnet numbers of the Hydra’s female crew.

If there was ever a film that’s a celluloid mystery, it’s Mission Hydra. What was its plot? Was it meant as a Flash Gordon homage? To This Island Earth or It Came From Outer Space (plot similarities in all three). Was it meant to be an outer space “James Bond” spy flick: or was that the “plot” we got in 1977 once the opportunistic chop shop scoundrels at Monarch Releasing Corporation got a hold of it? Sadly, here, in the U.S., we’ll never see the original version of Pietro Francisci’s vision (unless you’re a Blu-ray hound), as the running times across its various theatrical, VHS, DVD, and UHF-TV re-releases over the years, are all over the place, with running times of 80, 84, 89, 90, and 92 minutes.

Yep! It’s another (cheapjack DVD) the-cover-art-is-better-than-the-movie epic from Italy.

As this ungodly mess of Star Pilot unfurled on theater and Drive-In screens in 1977, we, the sci-fi loving kids weened on UHF-TV’s galactic wonders, knew we were duped from the get: too late, they got our money, so we pushed through it. And, as we got older, and needed a desperate-doze of nostalgia to easy our grown-up pains, we rented the Star Pilot VHS for some MST3k retro-laughs as we called out the obvious Cormanesque SFX stock footage raiding of Toho’s space epics Gorath (1962) and Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965; starring Nick Adams, who also stared in 1968’s even-space sloppier no-it’s-not-2001: A Space Odyssey, Mission Mars) . . . but I’d swear I saw bits of Toho’s old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea rip-off, 1963’s Atragon, which Toho rebooted/remade — to cash in on Star Wars, natch — as 1977’s The War in Space. But I digress.

For most sci-fi lovers, the first time they saw that Toho footage was when it was cut into the started-in-1967-and-released-in-1972 mess (of the ever-changing-spaceships) that was The Doomsday Machine. So, which came first: the chicken or the egg, or the egg or the shell? Did Monarch go direct to the Toho source — or did they get their Toho stock from The Doomsday Machine (yeah, they did the latter). Well, what we do know: that is definitely Casey Kasem (The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant) as an Air Force flight controller (sans his voice, natch) cut from that film, appearing with the Italians. And since no one saw The Doomsday Machine until 1972, obviously, it’s not part of the original 1966 release. And since most didn’t see the Toho space operas, Monarch thought they had us duped.

Oh, you scamps in Monarch’s executive suites: how wrong you were.

So, is there a plot? Well, of course there is. Well . . . not really. We think it goes like this . . . and, why yes, it is practically the same humans-help-aliens plot from Mission Stardust. See, we told you it goes great with Star Pilot!

Aliens (spandex-suited Gumbys, natch) from the constellation Hydra crash-land on the Mediterranean Sea island of Sardinia, west of Italy (and those Gumby-guys in hibernation are robots). There, Professor Solmi (Roland Lesaffre, who went from Georges Lampins’s Crime and Punishment in 1956, to this?), a prominent, greying scientist, along with his brunette-goddess daughter Luisa (Leontine May-Snell, of the 1971 western-spaghetti Dig Your Grave, Friend . . . Sabata’s Coming), and he-man lab tech Paolo (Mario Novelli? Tango from our fave ’80s apoc-romp Rome 2072: The New Warriors?) meet the aliens.

Star Wars fakin’ it!

Fashion Sidebar: We need to mention that Luisa starts out in tight mod-pants and a turtleneck sweater (perfect for island cave exploration), then changes into a chiffon skirt and heels for spaceship weightlessness, and then into the alien’s boob-augmented, leather/vinyl-fishnet wares. And truth be told: Overall, in spite of the budget fails, the costumes are stellar. For the big “space walk” scene (check out the wire-hung swinging stars), the Hydraian’s black-vinyl space suits fitted with exterior hoses and wires, reminds of Harvey Keitel’s suit in Saturn 3. But unlike Keitel, the Hydraians don’t need no stinkin’ (costly) helmets, just some hoses up the nose.

Okay, that’s settled. Back to the story.

The Earthly-trio are ordered to the island to investigate its increased radiation levels — from the alien ship that no one knows is there, get it? Then an earthquake hits. (Caused by the aliens? Don’t care.) And an alien craft is discovered in the newly opened cavern (and it takes 20 minutes of out-of-date, ’60s-era film to get there). Then a pair of Asian spies take the Professor and gang hostage — with the goal of stealing the “secret weapon,” i.e., the spaceship. Then everyone is taken hostage by the Hydraians, led by Kaena/Phena (Leonora Ruffo; uber-hot with her flame-haired and fishnet-bodysuit wares) and Belsy (Kirk Morris), who use the Earthlings as slave labor to repair their ship. (Ruffo went from Fellini’s I Vitelloni in 1953 and broke our UHF-hearts in the title role of Francisci’s 1952 bible-epic, The Queen of Sheba — to this. Morris was a sword-and-sandals vet from Hercules in the Valley of Woe (1961), and a bunch of Maciste, Hercules, and Samson movies.) And once the ship is repaired, the Hydraians renege on the deal and take the Earthlings with them anyway, you know, because we are fascinating creatures and they want to examine our “genetic materials.” And the humans mutiny. And the ensuing chaos causes the Hyrdaian ship to hurl, lost in space.

Movie Math Sidebar: Now, do you “get” the film’s original title: Three Earth scientists, two Asian spies, equals five. Then, two aliens, minus their robots, equals two: 2+5 Mission Hydra. I know, movie math hurts my head, too.

Okay, that’s settled. Back to the story.

Now, for all of that footage from The Doomsday Machine: Right in the middle of it all: plop goes the spaceship footage at the 50-minute mark. But why? This is why: No, this SFX-shot is not clipped from the Rocky Jones theatrical feature Beyond the Moon (1954) (also on the Mill Creek Sci-Fi Invasion set): this footage is original to Mission Hydra.

Could the Hydra ship be any more 1950s? No way this thermos-and-candle sticks space cruiser (a coffee pot with squirt of silver paint, perhaps) can pass muster in the 1977 Lucas-verse. So, cut in the Toho footage. Why? Again . . . remember the Asian spies on the island of Sardinia that started the film? It’s all about the continuity. (And lack thereof.)

Anyway, while traveling to Hydra, our not-so-magnificent 7 (Wouldn’t have Seven for Hydra been a better title, in lieu of dropping math symbols?) encounter a skeletal pair of astronauts in a ship from Earth’s future (the best effect of the movie, even with the astro-motorcycle helmets/image). Or are they from Hydra’s past? (Don’t care.) And tapping into that dead ship’s computer, they realize the ship is from Earth’s past, which is now their future, and they’ve been hurled into the future-future? Or Hydra’s . . . argh! Oh, and “the past” is actually the Gorath footage — the footage that didn’t make it into The Doomsday Machine that Monarch cut into their new, 1977 version of the film — of the Earth destroyed by earthquake and title waves (that’s actually better than the rest of the movie it supports) to show the folly of man. (Or Hydra . . . argh!)

So, well, at least, we sort of know what happened to Bobby Van’s and Ruta Lee’s Danny and Dr. Marion Turner from The Doomsday Machine . . . we think, as they were left drifting homeless, in the open-ended never-sequel space. (Or was it Denny Miller’s Col. Don Price, who also appear via the stock footage? Don’t care. But I’d care if they’d worked in Mike “B.J Hunnicutt” Ferrell from M*A*S*H, with his big “press conference” scene.) So, now what do we do: Return to Earth or onward to Hydra? Uh, oh. Going to Hyrda was a bad idea: it’s an abandoned, contaminated wasteland and the populace left to find another planet to live on. (What, Earthlings are descendants of Hyrda’s past? Future . . . movie math . . . and time travel . . . what the frack, this is worse than a Battlestar Galactica episode. Where’s Hector and Vector? We need rhyme and reason!)

Poor Bobby Van (left) with Ray Bolger (from The Wizard of Oz): From The Doomsday Machine to vaudeville robots in the BSG-verse. And you thought the cast of Mission Hydra has it bad.

See. A mess. And you thought Escape from Galaxy 3 was a cut-n-paste death-penalty crime to cinema. Well, guess what? Star Pilot is worse. Oddly enough, not much has changed from Mission Hydra in 1966 to Christopher Lee and Robert Vaughn’s Canadian Star Wars dropping that is Starship Invasions in 1977. Yeah, it’s the same ol’ cardboard spaceship sets and the same ol’ “Gumby” aliens. Except. . . .

The space gorillas.

Yes, we can’t forget the space gorillas that now populate the wastelands of Hydra. Are they from Toho’s Kaiju-cum-Apes romps Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)? No, but with all of the post-Lucasian, Monarch Studio hodgepodge cutting from films released after Mission Hydra‘s original 1966 release, why they hell not? Were the apes even original to Pietro Francisci’s vision? Did he (or the film’s backers, more likely), inspired by the pre-production of Pierre Boulle’s 1963 French novel La Planète des Singes as Planet of the Apes (1968), decide (or forced by producers) to toss in some apes? Seriously. Out of nowhere — right in the middle of an Earth woman and Hydra male hook up, and with no explanation — the nuclear war on Hydra spawned an ape-ruling class. At least we think so. Monarch’s chop job is so bonkers, anything is possible.

Oh, and who caused it all? Murdu, played by requisite Italian-peplum actor Gordon “The Bronze Giant” Mitchell, barking orders from the beyond (in a quickie-Eric Roberts name-on-the-box dupe doing, what seems, a John Carradine-cut-in-from-a-whole-other-picture role). What a career, Gordo! From Atlas Against the Cyclops and The Giant of Metropolis (both 1961), and a bundle of spaghetti westerns, Giallos, and yes, even a Filipino post-apoc with SFX Retailiator.

Gordon Mitchell? MOVIE SIGN!

And who brought this pre-Star Wars dropping to us that we were lead to believe was post-Star Wars dropping?

Well, yeah, Monarch Studios, sure.

But we really can’t blame director Pietro Francisci, who was behind the best-known ’50s peplums Hercules and Hercules Unchained starring the best-known Herc, Steve Reeves. Peter started out making good films, with the likes of I Met You in Naples (1946) and the really great (IMO) historical drama Attila (1954) produced by Dino De Laurentiis (Barbarella, Danger: Diabolik and 500 more films, like Death Wish and Flash Gordon) starring Anthony Quinn and Sophia Loren (and . . . it was written, in part, by Primo Zeglio from Mission Stardust!). However, it seems Pietro Francisci, obviously disappointed with the end result — his 1966 end result and not the 1977 end result — didn’t make another movie until the sword-and-sorcery slapdash Sinbad and the Caliph of Bagdad (1973), which is just as inept-bad as the film that caused him to retire in the first place. And that ended Pete’s career.

Look, if you’re a fan of Antonio Margheriti’s War of the Planets (from his four-part “Gamma One Series”) and Mario Bava’s (even better!) Planet of the Vampires (both 1965), there’s something here for you to watch. Even better (Or is it worse?): If you’re a fan of Alfonso Brescia’s five-film “Pasta Wars” SFX-verse (We Are! Check out our “Drive-In Friday: Pasta Wars with Alfonso Brescia” featurette.), then there’s something here for you to watch.

And you can watch Star Pilot, lost in the wilds of the public domain, on You Tube HERE and HERE, and it’s the U.S. 1:20:00/80-minute version, in case you’re wondering. (And we wonder what wonders are held in those missing 12 minutes of footage — and more, if you consider the several minutes taken out to add in the unrelated footage from The Doomsday Machine.)

If you’d like own it on a DVD or Blu-ray outside of the Mill Creek set, the 89-minute version was issued on Blu-ray — under the original 2+5 Missione Hydra title — by RareVideo in 2020 in a new HD transfer (with both the 1966 original and bogus 1977 artwork). (Again, don’t forget about the five versions running at 80, 84, 89, 90, and 92-minutes; as far as we can tell, the 89-minute version is the 1966 cut issued outside of Italy — remember that the other versions added in footage and took out footage to add in the footage from The Doomsday Machine, got it?) Under the Star Pilot title — that is, the 1977 80-minute theatrical; the version that’s also part of the Mill Creek set — was paired with the equally abysmal Battle Beyond the Sun — as a two-fer in 2000. In 2018, Retromedia issued a two-fer DVD with (the awful) King of Kong Island (1968/1977) — and RM, thank you, cut out all of The Doomsday Machine tomfoolery.

And speaking of movie math and numbers: Did I just drop 2,300-plus words on this? Hey, I was shooting for 2,500, so I actually came up short. Consider yourself blessed.

Be sure to look for my “Space Week” reviews of Mission Stardust and Mission Mars this week.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

The Wages of Sin (1966)

Somehow, this West German movie originally called The Doctor Speaks Out (Der Arzt stellt fest…) played to American audiences as The Wages of Sin and The Price of Sin. Sure, in its native country it was a mediation on abortion, but over here, it was a chance to see a woman fully nude. Never mind that she was having a baby at the time.

Being that this played the grindhouse circuit, it also came complete with a not-real doctor discussing the miracle of birth and then, yes, showing more babies come out into the world in shocking detail.

Those moments are on the Something Weird blu ray re-release that Kino Lorber has just put out. You also get a second movie, The Misery and Fortune of Women, audio commentary by film historian Alexandra Heller-Nicholas a medical lecture and book pitch by Donn Davison, who released this movie in America and two baby birthing films, Life and Its Secrecies and Triplets by Cesarean Section.

What an astounding time for movies. And just think — you can have this on your shelf, just like I do, when someone is at your house and wonders, “You know, I’ve always wanted to see triplets get cut out of a human being.”

The Love Cult (1966)

Barry Mahon used the name T.A. Dee to direct this, which is kind of a bummer, because I’d put this on the good side of the Mahon film column. It was written by Forest Russell (using the name Russel Fore), who only wrote one other movie, Unholy Matrimony.

A hypnotist realizes that there’s more money — and women — if he starts a sex cult. He takes the name Brother Eros and starts to preach that “Love is all that counts.”

I dig the idea that there are old rich women who bankroll this cult because they’re elite perverts. But if you’re coming to The Love Cult expecting debauchery, this movie is near PG-13 in content.

I really do love the tagline for it, though: “Here’s a major motion picture that tells the inside story of phony religious groups that used the DEVIL for a preacher!”

Rita Bennett is in this. Despite appearing in movies for directors like Joseph W. Sarno, Barry Mahon, William Rose, and the Ameros during the nudie cutie and roughie eras, then appearing in plenty of mainstream movies like Raging Bull and All That Jazz, she never got her drinking out of control and was buried in a potter’s field, her body unclaimed after her demise.

Uta Erickson, who was in the Findlay’s Her Flesh trilogy, is also in this, as is Sharon Kent from Beware the Black WidowSome Like It Violent and Carny Girl.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: War of the Gargantuas (1966)

EDITOR’S NOTE: On one of our Drive-In Asylum Double Features, I mentioned that this is my favorite giant monster movie. I decided to bring this back — the original post was on October 7, 2019 — to explain why.

Today’s theme is close to my heart. As a young kid in the 1970’s, WFMJ-TV 21 in Youngstown, Ohio played monster movies every night at 1 AM (or later, if Tom Snyder was on). They only had so many Godzilla films before they’d run out and have to run a secondary Toho franchise.

Yes, this movie is a franchise, the sequel to 1965’s Frankenstein Conquers the World. Instead of Nick Adams, this time we have Russ Tamblyn as the American star. This is the third and final film that Toho would collaborate with Henry G. Saperstein on (in addition to the Frankenstein, they also made Invasion of Astro-Monster together).

Saperstein was an interesting guy — he specialized in licensing, working with Col. Tom Parker as Elvis Presley’s licensing agent as well as creating and selling merchandise for Debbie Reynolds, Rosemary Clooney, Chubby Checker and the Three Stooges. He’d go on to syndicate golf and bowling shows in the infancy of TV, as well as buying UPA, the studio that made Mr. Magoo. He led them to syndicating the Dick Tracy TV show, another merchandising goldmine. He also purchased the rights to the Japanese spy spoof Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Kagi noKagi (International Secret Police: Key of Keys), which became What’s Up, Tiger Lily? with help from Woody Allen.

At the end of 1965, Toho informed director Ishiro Honda that his director’s contract would not be renewed, despite successes like the original GodzillaKing Kong vs. Godzilla,  the unstoppable Destroy All Monsters, Rodan, Mothra and many more. Of course, he kept directing for Toho, but now there was the stress of wondering if each job would be his last.

To add to that stress, it’s said that Russ Tamblyn and Honda were often at odds, with the American actor refusing to read his lines. Honda’s chief assistant, Seiji Tani (who would go on to be the second unit director for Destroy All Monsters) would tell the authors of Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa: “Honda-san had to hold back and bear so much during that one. Russ Tamblyn was such an asshole.”

I don’t know how much you know of Japanese culture, but for someone to go on record saying such a thing is a major deal. For what it’s worth, Saperstein would later say that Tamblyn was “a royal pain in the ass.” As all of his lines were dubbed in Japanese, the American actor had to go back and redub the US version. He forgot all of the words, so what’s in the film is completely improvised. If only Tab Hunter, the original actor picked for this movie, stuck around.

The film was originally announced as The Frankenstein Brothers, then The Two Frankensteins, Frankenstein vs. Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Decisive Battle and Frankenstein’s Fight. Regardless of the title, this is one of my favorite Toho films. I’m not the only one. Brad Pitt has gone on record saying it’s the reason why he wanted to become an actor. The battle between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill: Volume 2 was called the “War of the Blonde Gargantuas,” with Tarantino screening the film for Hannah. And both Tim Burton, Nicholas Cage and Guillermo del Toro cite the film as one of their favorites.

Maybe it’s because of the scene where Kipp Hamilton sings “The Words Get Caught In My Throat,” which ends with one of the titular beasts grabbed her as she finishes her act. Has any monster movie been this gleefully crazy? I mean, would Devo cover any other monster movie song?

It all begins on a dark and stormy night, as a fishing boat is attacked by a giant octopus, which is then destroyed by a green giant who proceeds to decimate the boat. Only one survivor makes it, telling the authorities that it was Frankenstein.

The press picks up the story and interviews Dr. Paul Stewart (Tamblyn) and his assistant, Dr. Akemi Togawa (Kumi Mizuno, who starred in plenty of kaiju epics), who once had a baby Frankenstein in their possession.

Yes, in the original film, Frankenstein was born in a very strange way. German officers had taken the heart of the original Frankenstein’s monster from Dr. Riesendorf and sent it to Hiroshima for further experimentation. Of course, once the bomb dropped, the beast was irradiated and became a feral boy running loose through the streets, eating small animals and becoming immune to radiation. He eventually becomes a giant and battles Baragon, who would go on to appear in many Toho films (you can also see his skull in Pacific Rim Uprising).

There end up being two beasts in this one: Sanda, who is the original from the first film and Gaira, a piece of tissue that was torn off, made its way to the sea and fed off plankton until it grew into giant form. The new creature hates humans and is hurt by daylight, while Sanda attempts to save people.

The final battle, as the two monsters fight into Tokyo Bay, is amazing. Their skirmish is so violent, an underwater volcano ends up taking both of them out. Sadly, there would be no third film in the series, despite rumors that one of them would battle Godzilla in an upcoming film.

There are multiple American versions of this film, with the Saperstein cut removing all references to Frankenstein Conquers the World and the creatures called gargantuas instead of Frankensteins.

Haruo Nakajima, who played Godzilla in 11 of the original 15 movies, has claimed Gaira as his favorite role, as the costume was very easy to move in and his eyes were visible, allowing him to show more emotion.

I have a test as to whether or not I can be friends with someone. If they watch a kaiju movie and make fun of how cheap it is or how fake it looks, they have no imagination. In my mind, this movie looks incredible, with huge sets and intricate monster costumes. I’ve watched this hundreds of times and it gets better with every single viewing.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Daimajin (1966)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Daimajin takes place in feudal-era Japan. It opens with a small village being overthrown by an evil overlord named Samanosuke (Yutaro Gomi.) He kills everyone in the royal family except the young Princess and Prince Tadafumi who go into hiding on the mountain where the statue of the ancient god Majin stands. Legend has it that Majin has the soul of a warrior trapped inside him and must not be angered lest there be grave consequences.

After ten years of repression and starvation, an attempt is made to restore the old regime but Samanosuke is simply too powerful. That is, until he decides to mock Majin. He instructs his cronies to pound a chisel into the head of the statue to try and destroy it. Majin wakes up in a really bad mood and goes on a wild rampage to set things straight.

Daimajin holds up very well after more than 55 years. It is different from most giant monster movies of the 1960s in its period-piece setting makes it timeless to modern audiences. It can just as easily be called a Samurai film as a giant monster movie. There’s also plenty of good acting and special effects to be had. Sadly, we don’t get to see Majin until the final reel of the film and the action ends just as abruptly as it began. The miniature sets are extremely well photographed with some of the shots eclipsing the bigger budget efforts of the time. The supernatural elements of the story are expertly interwoven with the human drama and Majin never comes off as a fun monster the way Gamera (Daiei’s other star of the period) did. Daimajin is a serious film with very little humor to be had but it is still very enjoyable. Adding to the moodiness of the piece is a brooding score by Akira Ifukube who composed the majority of the Godzilla films over at Toho Studios. The good news is, Daimajin has been released in the U.S. in the widescreen format with its original soundtrack with Japanese subtitles. For those with Region Free players, the entire Daimajin trilogy has been released in a pristine boxed set in Japan. I suspect Majin would be pleased.

PPS (1966)

Also known as The Secret SocietyP.P.S. (Prostitute Protective Society) is when the ladies of the oldest profession smarten up when organized crime — led by Carney Bill! — tries to get protection money out of them.

The girls refuse and as the result, several of them are stabbed, shot and hung before the thick accented Madam Sue got things moving in the other direction. They aren’t giving ten percent to any man, even if they have to sit around and sunbathe and discuss what they’re going to do. Seriously, with all the murder and mayhem in this, the ladies spend plenty of time lounging around and having long conversations about their friends dying.

Also, there are no actresses credited for this. Instead, it literally stars “Madam Sue and her Time Square Girls.”

I wouldn’t say that this is a good film but it’s 62 minutes, has lots of Times Square and Coney Island footage and ends with the big bad — spoiler warning — losing his little bad. So there’s that.

You can download this from the Internet Archive.