Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#9 Frankenstein Conquers The World

The top Frankenstein film countdown continues..

No amount of premo 19th Century Chinese opium could prepare Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley for the thought of her modern literary Prometheus growing to the size of the jolly green giant, roaming the Japanese hillsides eating cow-sushi and smashing army tanks. But then again, she just might have burned her original manuscripts had she known they would some day be bastardized into something as crass and utterly shitty as I, Frankenstein or Van Helsing.

The early moments of Frankenstein Conquers The World almost seem to suggest that the US' horrific bombing of Hiroshima may have actually spared the Japanese from an altogether different, imminent fate - uncontrolled hoards of reanimated Franken-Nazis! Unfortunately for the Japanese not only do they have to endure the bomb, but later the radioactive zone changes a human-sized Frank into Kong-sized Frank!

As "Flankenstein" roams the country-side showing off his uncontrolled gingivitus and chomping down ever-larger farm animals, he encounters a true classic kaiju in the monster Baragon. Though this puppy-eared 'knee-ped' (not to be confused with Barugon, the Gamera foe with the Gene Simmons tongue) more effectively resembles a rejected creature from Ultraman, he has the dubious honor of being the only monster in all of horror-cheesedom to have been featured as a reptilian punching bag for both Frankenstein and Godzilla.

As expected, Frankie and Baragon battle it out. Boats are destroyed. Some trees are thrown around and there is of course the typical "where did that come from?" Japanese kaiju monster-fight climax as both get swallowed up in a Mid-Kentucky style sinkhole. Toho's feature followups would seem to indicate that Frankenstein is the one that doesn't make it out alive.

The excellent sequel to this film War of The Gargantuas laments some absurb DNA reanimation scenario but to be honest they should have just said giant Frankenstein knocked paws with King Kong and spawned hairy, multi-colored twins.

What makes this Frank a top tenner? Most likely the fact that the film is as totally enjoyable as it is utterly preposterous. It looks good visually and is every bit as loony as a late Sunday night commercials on Adult Swim. Got to see this one with a tub of greasy popcorn on the big screen at a Saturday drop off matinee in the 70's. It was a fine weekend. Nostalgia again trumps typical cinematic reverence.

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