Invasion of the Astro-Monsters (1965)

Invasion of the Astro-Monsters (1965)

A new planet is suddenly discovered in the solar system and the mysterious inhabitants arrive on Earth to make a deal: in exchange for the help of Godzilla and Rodan to defeat Ghidorah, who has been attacking their planet, they will provide the Earth with the cure to many of the world’s deadliest diseases. Earth agrees to let the aliens take the monsters but when they receive the cure for the diseases, they realise that it is a trick. The aliens have sent Earth an ultimatum: either agree to colonisation or they will send Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidorah to destroy the planet.

 

Invasion of the Astro-Monsters provides nothing new from the previous couple of entries, so much so that this film pretty much is a carbon copy of the previous film, the imaginatively-titled Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster. The only difference being that Mothra is not present in this one but Ghidrah still gets to tussle with Godzilla and Rodan once again (so much so that plenty of stock footage from the previous flick is used and look closely and you’ll see a little clip of Mothra). My main query with this logic is that it took three monsters to beat Ghidorah in the last film so why should two do any better considering they were both there as well?

Little nit picks aside, the film is one of the more entertaining of the earlier Godzilla films. The film has plenty of monster action but you’re going to have to wait a long time to see any. Before then we’re treated to the usual “aliens trying to take over the world using monsters” plot which became a staple of the series for the next ten years. To be fair, the plot was probably at it’s strongest in this and the next one, Destroy All Monsters, as the aliens were simply a little more campy and goofy-looking. Here the costumes are awesome, complete with matching black and grey outfits, black visors, antennas on their helmets and daft boots. Their leader, the Controller, is one of the most memorable villains of the entire Godzilla series, talking in his clipped English and making a series of weird gestures with his hands. This side of the story is more akin to the 60s spy thrillers like James Bond as the heroes race against time to uncover the fiendish plot of the aliens from Planet X. Cue gadgets, fist fights and a big hideout on an island.

American actor Nick Adams is on hand trying to blend in with the crowd but his performance is irritating and rather aggressive at times. Sadly Adams committed suicide in 1968. His inclusion was a desperate attempt to reach out to the international market and it fails because he sticks out like a sore thumb. In the original Japanese version, Adams speaks English throughout but the rest of the cast talk to him in Japanese! A bit confusing but much better than the ridiculous American dub in which everyone sounds dumb. The dubbing always added an entertaining aspect to the films which is lost during the original language version.

So apart from the goofy human-alien plot, which is a lot of fun it has to be said, there’s plenty of monster mashing as well. It takes a while for things to spice up but Godzilla and Rodan finally do battle with Ghidorah on Planet X. The fight is short but at least the alien world makes a change from Tokyo or the fields of Japan. Later in the film the action switches back to Japan as the three monsters lay waste to miniature cities left, right and centre. Then there is a final showdown which is the highlight of the film. Ghidorah was always my favourite opponent for Godzilla and the three-headed monster was and is still one of Toho’s most memorable monsters. The old-school contact fighting between the monsters adds some realism to the film instead of the ‘beam weapon showdowns’ that the 90s and 00s sequels became. I like to see the monsters getting down and dirty in the middle of Tokyo. Having said that (after laying waste to Tokyo), the monsters almost always ended up fighting in the middle of nowhere. I know it’s cheaper on sets for a couple of guys to stomp around on grassy fields but it ruins the illusion of them striking fear into the heart of Japan by toppling over a couple of mud huts instead of skyscrapers. All of this carnage to the strains of Akira Ifukube’s wonderful soundtrack.

 

It’s not the best in the series but the fights at the end should be enough to please any Godzilla fans. Invasion of the Astro-Monsters represents the quintessential Godzilla film when the budgets were still decent, the creativity hadn’t totally waned and the monsters didn’t look like they’d been dragged through a hedge backwards.

 

 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Related Movies

Post a comment