Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Movie Review - "The X From Outer Space" (1967)
I want you to take a good, long look at this monster. Big red bug eyes, long antenna, a head that looks like a flying saucer and seemingly normal-sized body, when it is all in the shoulders and this creäture actually has a tiny frame and chest. This is Guilala, the monster from the 1967 Japanese film "The X From Outer Space" and he encapsulates the tone and atmosphere of this film through is body structure alone - goofy, cheesy and a tongue-in-cheek parody to other kaiju films that came before it.
"The X From Outer Space" came in the middle of the daikaiju boom of the mid-1960s in Japan, when Toho was making two or three monster films every year, including a Godzilla film, Daiei had begun creating the Gamera and Daimajin movies, and other Japanese studios were creating their own monsters to compete with the big boys. This one is Shochiku Studios' attempt to cash in on the monster-craze, and it has strangely taken on a life of its own. "The X From Outer Space" has been added to the Criterion Collection - the only other daikaiju film I can think of that's in the Collection is the original "Godzilla" - and is often considered a cult classic among monster fans.
The plot follows a group of astronauts from all other the world boarding the AAB Gamma to travel to Mars, something no other ship has done before due to unknown interference. After a quick stop at the moon base, the crew finds out what might have destroyed the other space ships - a UFO. The aliens eventually flee, but not before leaving a strange substance on the AAB Gamma, which turns out to be small eggs that will grow into giant monsters that feed off all sorts of energy.
The pacing of "The X From Outer Space" is similar to Godzilla films like "Invasion Of Astro-Monster," which takes the time to show the progress we've made in the future, including international peace, moon bases and spaceships that can travel vast distances. Where this film differs from its Godzilla predecessor is that "The X From Outer Space" does not take itself seriously at all and embraces the bad special effects and cheesy acting.
This film knows that it bad and just rolls with it.
The sequences onboard the AAB Gamma are filled to the brim with bad acting, especially with American actors being directed by Japanese filmmakers, and have to do their best at pulling off zero gravity, which doesn't work out well at all. There's an unexplained love triangle among the lead characters, which is the backbone of one character's pain and anguish, but it contributes to about three lines of dialogue.
The music is just as ridiculous, sounding like something out of a Spanish soap opera or a groovy 1970s disco. The main theme of the movie is childish and silly, like it was made for a kids television program and is unfitting for this movie mostly about space exploration.
I would describe "The X From Outer Space" as a parody of the diakaiju genre, while still being entertaining in its own right. It has ridiculous references to Godzilla and Gamera with its story, tone and characters, while playing mostly for laughs. Once Guilala shows up, the film takes a drastic turn from where it had previously been going, switching from a sci-fi adventure to a monster-attack movie, but once it gets there the effects are well-done and on-par with other daikaiju effects of the time. Watch this one with plenty of alcohol and friends and have a good time.
Final Grade: C+