Sunday, February 1, 2009

Diamond In The Rough: Dogora The Space Monster(1964)

The year 1964 was a busy period for Toho, creators of Godzilla and all the films this legendary monster stars in. Mothra Vs Godzilla and Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster were released in Japan theatrically in April and December of 1964, respectively. In between, another Toho kaiju movie gem was also released, called Dogora The Space Monster.

This movie differs somewhat from other Toho kaiju films in that the monster can and does change form, and is also not, for the most part, the dominant part of the movie's least until later in the film. The "cops and robbers" element of the movie was no doubt a nod by director Inoshiro Honda to the popularity of these kinds of movies in Japan during the 1960's.
In this movie thuggish and sullen faced diamond thieves(including a very cool looking Eisei Amamoto) find their shenanigans interrupted by a local cop, an American diamond "secret agent" of sorts, "Mark Jackson"(played by the late Robert Dunham) and last, but certainly not least, an alien creature that has an appetite for carbon. Turns out the mysterious disappearance of diamonds around the world is not the handiwork of diamond thieves but rather the work of an alien monster. At first the creature is little more than a glowing, amoeba-like creature that can make objects around it levitate. Later in the film the monster, now called "Dogora" by the authorities and scientists, reenters Earth's atmosphere and descends to reveal itself to be an absolutely gigantic, tentacled and squid like monster. This rendering of the monster is quite interesting and the tentacled monster's attack on the long suspension bridge is one of my absolute favorite effects scenes in all the Toho sci-fi films I've watched.
The movie concludes with a skirmish between the diamond thieves and the police and one final battle with the monster which has a plausible, albeit not completely satisfying ending.
Dogora The Space Monster may be hit or miss with the younger Godzilla and giant monster movie fans. There are, to be sure, some stretches of the movie with lots of talking scenes and I would have liked seeing the tentacles, enlarged version of Dogora more in the film. Still, this movie is a very nice change of pace from Godzilla movies and was released not to long ago on quality Region 1 DVD by Mediablaster's Asian DVD label, "Tokyo Shock". The print of the movie on this DVD is outstanding, the film presented in it's original widescreen(2:35.1) aspect ratio.

The Region 1 DVD of this film is for sale at - click the text title of this blog to see the R1 DVD at Deep Discount.

The original Toho trailer for Dogora The Space Monster: