Film

Film

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Research shows that if you’ve seen three Godzilla movies you’ve seen ’em all, so it’s fortunate that several of Toho’s lesser-known monster flicks are still available on VHS. Topping the list is Attack of the Mushroom People (1963), an apocalyptic allegory of post-war decadence and decay that unfolds with the glum beauty of a nightmare. Dagora the Space Monster (1964), an oddball yakuza/sci-fi twofer that features a herd of flying jellyfish siphoning off Tokyo’s riches, is a worthwhile curiosity, while fan-favorite The Mysterians (1957) involves a posse of spacemen plotting to breed with the women of Earth (or Japan, anyway). Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) has everything to do with the Hiroshima bomb and nothing to do with Mary Shelley, and its sequel, The War of the Gargantuas (1966), is a genre highlight: American songstress Kipp Hamilton’s shrill warbling prior to her gory (some would say deserved) manhandling is a true showstopper. Finally, those craving more of Toho’s poster boy could do worse than Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971), a weird, satisfyingly campy entry that manages to tweak series conventions.

A caveat: These tapes are English-dubbed and panned-and-scanned, and most are long out of print. Most are rentable from Kim’s, but if you’ve got the dosh (and a multi-region player), Toho’s home video division offers pristine prints of many of them on DVD.