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I just rented "The Mysterians" which seems to be called "Earth Defence
Force" in the Japanse version. The movie holds up well because it seems that
the people involved treated the story seriously. When I was young I remember
that the "Marcolights" were pretty cool and the music was very dramatic. The
music still sounds good today but the sound quality on the tape wasn't that
I am glad to see the writers took the job seriously and had the characters ask the questions we asked from the audience. Can the Mysterians be trusted even though they say they are peaceful? Should we ask for a nuclear strike? The Marcolights have a limited range, how can we get around that? Should we wait for the Electronic Cannon or attack right now with the giant airships and Marcolights?
There were a few flaws. For example one of the characters mentioned that a fixed base was a weakness. I assume that is because you can't depend only on a defensive shield. A base must be defended by mobile fighter craft as well. The flying saucers performed that function until they unexpectedly retreated to the base during the climatic battle. The other weak point was the giant airships Alpha-1 and Beta-1. They moved like zeppelins and the standard cannon seemed weak. I guess their plot purpose was to be shot down so that Beta-2 could built for a second attack on the Mysterian base.
If you saw this movie as a kid it is still enjoyable as an adult. If you've never seen it then it is probably only of interest to those who want to see the early days of Japanese monster movies. You may be pleasantly surprised to see the leader of the Seven Samurai as the head scientist.
We have always enjoyed the early Japanese Fantasy Films circa
1954-1963. During this time they took themselves and there subjects
seriously. What ever their technical short comings were you could see
they were in earnest. Basically after this period starting with KING
KONG -vs- GODZILLA the slide down to kiddy fare began just a step above
Though we consider the original GORJIRA/Godzilla as the first and the best THE MYSTERIANS is the one (1) we enjoyed most. This is a SPACE OPERA on a grand scale. Watching it is like seeing the old pulp Science-Fiction magazine covers of the 1930's being brought to life. Basically the team that acted and made the original Godzilla are back plus the addition of Technicolor and WideScreen. They needed a big and splashy story and THEM -vs- US for the world was the canvas that well suited this first effort.
We first saw it on T.V. in the mid 1960s and were enthralled like any early teenagers by these scenes of action and massed destruction. But even then we (my brother and I) felt something was missing. It was not until the early 1990s that we saw a restored Japanese print in it's original format (WS) and subtitled in English that what happened on screen made sense. Best of all there were more scenes of destruction.
It is a pity that TOHO did not make a direct sequel and made BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE instead (still a fun film). Now that they are more technically adapt it would be nice to see this film remade. The one (1) thing I would keep though (other then the basic plot line) is the exceptional musical score.
There's something endearing about this movie. The plot is good, casting
is good (with so many pretty faces, no wonder the Mystery guys wanted
to come to earth), and even the score (by Akira Ifukube) remains in
your head long after you see the movie. But above all there's a special
atmosphere about this movie that won't let you forget it any time soon.
Mogera (Of Godzilla vs Space Godzilla fame almost 40 years later) makes its debut in this movie, and it started its career as weapon of the aliens not a giant UN transformer robot.
Once the fact that the Mysterians showed themselves, earth defense force ( thus the movie's Japanese title Chikyu Boeigun ) musters up all its plans for super weapons and goes on the offensive against the Mysterians (who've shacked up in Japan even before they got official permission from them ).
If military technology can catch up with the aliens so quickly as in this movie, we won't have any problems. In reality from what I understand, we're not even near parity.
Special effects are good, and weapons looks cool (Designed by famous Japanese sci-fi artist Shigeru Komatsuzaki. They have kind of a retro look which still works today) which all adds up to make this movie one of Toho's best.
It's one of a kind movie, and highly recommended to watch.
The Japanese tape begins with an overture. The music with the overture is the greatest film score ever written by Akira Ifukube. So this film concerns hooded aliens who come to Earth with plans to capture and have sex with Earth women. So they release a huge bird-like robot named Mogera (it later returned renovated in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla) to prove they mean buisness. The army manages to defeat it by booby trapping the bridge and blowing it up while the monster is using it. Then the battle for the cosmos begins with the Mysterians and their ray firing ships and the humans and their markalite lasers. This is another film I believe inspired the film Independence Day. It's certainly the most colorful of any of the fifties invasion flicks. A must. Eiji Tsuburaya also did an exellent job with his marvelous miniatures and special effects.
For the first fifteen minutes of "Chikyu Boeigun" (known in USA as "The
Mysterians"), nothing happens. Scientist poking around a forest fire site
comes face to face with a giant, metallic bird like monster. Then this film
takes off, becoming more and more exciting. After the monster ravishes a
village, the military kills it. We discover it's from the planet Mysteriod,
and citizens of that planet are setting up a base here on Earth. The rest
of the film concerns the battles betwen the Earth and The
A bunch of Inoshira Honda's touches abound. There's a doomed hero
(Ahikio Hirata) literally going on a kamikaze mission through the alien
base, the plea for all nations to drop their petty squabbles and join forces
to save the Earth, and wall to wall giant monster/spaceship excitement.
Musician Akira Ifukube's score is militaristic, throbbing, and perfect.
While "Gojira" is the best Japanese sci-fi classic, "The Mysterians", a
candy coated treat is a close second, being the most fun.
Trivia note: Musician Akira Ifukube invented the famous Godzilla roar.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Many have seen this 1957 space invasion film in poorly-dubbed, panned and scanned TV versions, but if you have not seen the uncut Japanese version, in letterboxed format you have not really seen THE MYSTERIANS. Until I finally saw the uncut version, a lot of things were not very clear but MGM or someone snipped several little moments back in 1959 for U.S. release. Also, full-frame versions cheat you out of a lot of the picture as the film was framed for TohoScope (and this film was the first widescreen Japanese film). The landslide scene is much better in widescreen as is the scene where Mogera first comes out of the side of the mountain. This scene actually achieves some suspense as the soldiers flee from Mogera only to have their jeep melted. The flooding scene never made any sense in the pan and scan version. I thought a dam had broken and I missed it. The widescreen version makes it clear what is happening. Also, there is a brief appearance of a second Mogera near the end of the film comically being fouled by a Markalite falling on it as it attempts to surface. The effects are just as good as anything that the Americans were doing at the time, with excellent matte paintings and miniatures. Akira Ifukube's score sounds much better than it did in earlier versions and is one of his finest scores. Soon, we will be seeing Spielberg's $200 million alien invasion film, WAR OF THE WORLDS and it should be cool, complete with ILM effects, a John Williams score and Tom Cruise but it will never top this masterpiece for sheer fun. Seeing the MYSTERIANS again is like seeing an old friend again, looking better than ever.
This is a pretty decent invasion film. This time around, Honda seems to
have been inspired by the films "War of the Worlds" and "The Day the
Earth Stood Still" and does a good job in conveying a lot of themes
that pretty much permeate a lot of his films, fear of nuclear war and
the world unifying for a common cause. Also, Akihiko pretty much built
on his portrayal of the tragic hero that sacrifices himself at the end
to save humanity and did his usual good job.
The only complaint I have about the film is the fact that the appearance of Moguera takes place too early in the film and his destruction is much too early. They do return him to the end, but I would have preferred to see him as the weapon of last resort that the aliens use to try to deliver the crushing blow. Other than that, this is a pretty good movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although "Matango" is my favorite Japanese sci-fi film and my favorite Ishiro Honda feature, this flick, "The Mysterians", is still a pretty remarkable piece of sci-fi fluff from the Land of the Rising Sun. It is incredibly predictable and almost totally devoid of characterization, but its fantasy elements are terrifically inventive, its color schemes are out of this world, and its production values are high. Beings from Mysteria, a dead planet, arrive on Earth intent on taking over. To their credit, they also want a half dozen gorgeous Japanese women for mating purposes. Who can blame them? They make their presence known initially by sending a Big Bird-like robot on the rampage in the mountains outside Tokyo. They then release a fleet of flying saucers and finally establish a base to which Japan's most brilliant scientists are lured. When the color-coded Mysterians, who look like regular Japanese civilians under their helmets,demand the pretty women, the powers that be declare war and non-stop combat ensues right up 'til the closing credits. There is a charm and innocence to this rather unscientific science fiction opera, but it brilliantly captures the spirit of the old Amazing Stories covers and possesses that infectious "sense of wonder" the late Cinefantastique publisher, Frederick S. Clark, described as being essential to the best fantasy cinema. The Toho special effects department do a grand job with their miniatures and space sequences and they imbue a spectacular flood scene with a scary sense of realism.
I saw this film in Tohoscope in 1958 or 1959 in Jamaica,N.Y. The "star" of
the movie is its excellent storyline. You might
say that this film is a Japanese version of "War of the
The film with its technological weapons and style has a resemblance to the
James Bond films that would come a few years later. My nickname above is
actually a tribute to those films that featured such fabulous
The battle between the mysterians' Helicons and the Earth's Marcolights
first rate. Also quite neat are the two flying airships deployed against
the Mysterians by the Earth forces.
I believe this was Toho's studios' best film made. Those who may think this film is too antiquated by the standards of special effects that have developed since "200l" and Lucasfilms should still try to view this film if they have never seen it.
How many American science fiction movies have conceived of survivors of the lost 10th planet (source of the asteroid belt) occupying a small chunk of territory before being attacked? NONE! Although "The Mysterians" uses some logical lapses to make the invaders clearly the bad guys (just WHY did they send the giant robot BEFORE attempting peaceful coexistance) and progresses WAY too quickly to its rousing finale (the world had these plans for superweapons just laying around), "The Mysterians" is an exciting, entertaining addition to any one's collection of "space invader movies." Well photographed, beautifully scored, decently executed (for the 50s) special effects" and freshly conceived, "The Mysterians" is better, in many ways than later films such as "Independance Day" and "V". Too bad Toho didn't make it longer and make a sequel (though it appears, that's what "Battle in Outer Space" was originally supposed to be.) See it.
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