Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) Aka: Frankenstein vs. Baragon
Directed by Ishiro Honda special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya Music Akira Ifukube
FCtW begins with movement in time portrayed with wonderful visuals. 1945 Germany, over a snow covered mountainside, we see a German scientist in a unique piece of Toho Gothic. He’s experimenting with the Frankenstein Monster’s heart which continues to beat despite the destruction of the Monster’s body. The heart is then being transported in the Pacific Theater during WW II, a naval waterfront of battleships and submarines. Next it’s In Japan at that moment of the Atomic blast that ended WW II.
Several years later, scientists are working with a Frankenstein feral boy. He continues to grow to giant size and eventually breaks free from his cages. When destruction occurs in the nearby villages, they authorities want to blame Frankie, much to the dismay of scientist, Sueko, who helped raise him like a son. It turns out the destruction is being caused by another Kaiju, Baragon. The two eventually duke it out in an action packed battle as Frankie uses his speed and smarts to defeat the bigger Baragon. The battle and military assault causes an earthquake and Frankie sinks into the earth with a defeated Baragon lying at his feet.
The film stars Nick Adams who had been lending his talents to various science fiction films of the time. It also stars familiar Toho actors, Kumi Mizuno, Tadao Takashima Takashi Shimura, Kenji Sahara, and Yoshio Tsuchiya. There’s some good ol’ time rock n roll in this film especially in the dance hall that is destroyed by Baragon. Awesome dancing! Haruo Nakajima the famed costumed Godzilla actor plays Baragon, and Koji Furuhata plays Frankenstein.
Lets face it, if you were not indoctrinated into the world of Toho films as a kid then you will find faults with the film. The flat-head prosthetic doesn’t transition smoothly into the face, you can sometimes see the wires and mechanics of the effects, especially nowadays with HD TVs and big screens. Not to mention the horse that looks like a little puppet on a stick, but if you can overlook some of these small inconsistencies, you may be entertained by the simple story and visual dynamics.
The American release partner, Harry G. Saperstein, was impressed with the octopus battle in King Kong vs Godzilla and urged Honda to film a similar sequence for the Frankenstein film. It was shot but ultimately not used because Honda didn’t feel it fit the storyline. It was re-shot as the opening scene in War of the Gargantuas with Gaira doing battle in the ocean.
However, the Rare Flix/Tokyo Shock DVD has the complete octopus battle in the special features listed under International Extended Scenes. It starts with the full (longer) main battle with Baragon and goes right into the battle with the Octopus.
behind the scenes
unused octopus battle scene
unused octopus scene
awesome model kit diorama – don’t know who made it
I was going to put all my picks in one post, but I’m such a Godzilla geek, I couldn’t stop writing and make these reviews shorter. So if you haven’t checked out 1-5 of my fave Godzilla movies, the link is at the bottom of the page. These are in chronological order by year they were released – not by which ones I like best.
6 thru 10 – the later years
6) Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Godzilla’s radioactive cells are found in a riverbed. These cells are infused with a plant by a scientist looking to create a weapon against Godzilla. The plant is an animal/plant hybrid made of Godzilla’s own DNA and grows to monstrous proportions in a nearby Lake. When Godzilla shows up they battle. This film also introduces, Miki, a young lady with psychic abilities. She is able to feel the thoughts of Godzilla. She will be a recurring character in several of the Heisei era films. Godzilla and Biollante break into a battle in the center of the city which causes much destruction. Biollante continues to mutate as it absorbs more of Godzilla’s DNA and grows much larger than Big-G, making it a formidable enemy. Toho finally got back to its roots in having the battle scenes in city landscapes rather than off in some countryside area. The buildings and skyscrapers provide the scale proportions that tell us we are watching giant monsters. Without the cityscape, were just watching wrestlers in monster costumes. This is highly regarded by Godzilla fans as one of the best modern G-films.
7) Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
This is another favorite amongst Godzilla fans, introducing a newly reconstructed Mechagodzilla to defend Japan from Big-G, and a newly revamped, Rodan. Also introduced is a baby Godzillasaurus who will grow in consecutive films until it reaches adulthood. The film starts with a battle between Godzilla and Rodan on a small Pacific island. They both seem obsessive about a large egg recently unearthed by scientists. As they battle, the scientists remove the egg from the island. Back at a scientific headquarters the egg hatches to reveal a baby Godzilllasaurus. It’s not long before Baby-G feels threatened and calls out telepathically to both, Godzilla and Rodan. G-Force (the Godzilla fighting military unit) will use Baby to lure Godzilla out of hiding and attack him with the new weapons of Mechagodzilla. However, Rodan shows up first and Mecha-G must fight off the heat-ray shooting Pterosaur, before concentrating its energies on big daddy. There’s a heavy duty brawl on the edge of the city, which includes Big-G stomping a baseball stadium, Rodan being buried by the ruble of a giant skyscraper and Godzilla throwing Mecha-G into a cluster of office buildings. Mecha-G is armed with some ingenious new weapons and it seems they have taken down Godzilla, until he is helped by an unlikely partner.
8) Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
This is the 2nd film in the Godzilla Millennium series and a sequel to Godzilla 2000. ‘G-Grasper’ (a new team of scientists and pilots assembled to fight Godzilla) is developing a weapon that opens a black hole in space for a short span of time. They plan on using it against Godzilla, forcing him through, to rid the earth of his menacing attacks. When they test the weapon in the remote countryside, unbeknownst to the scientist, a small creature similar to a dragonfly flies through to land on earth. It starts out small and reproduces, invading the sewer systems and attacking humans discretely like a classic horror movie. The swarm, in a need for more and more energy is attracted to Godzilla for his high concentration of power. They swarm around him and drain his radioactive energy in a fantastic scene on a pacific island. Having absorbed much power, the swarm flies off to feed the mother dragonfly, a giant winged beast. It awakes. It flies, it attacks Japan, and it fights Godzilla in a monster Kaiju rumble. Fun stuff! I love the creature design of Megaguirus. The ‘science’ in this film is actually plausible and Godzilla’s heat-ray is a blazing white-hot special-effect.
9) Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Monsters All Out Attack (2001)
Seriously, this is one bad-ass Godzilla in this film! This film (aka: GMK) takes the Japanese mythological approach to the monsters, addressing them as Demon, Dragon, and Butterfly (Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Mothra respectively). Godzilla has no eyeballs with this design; only whites, which make it look demonic for sure. Its body is more like the original with the unique multi-spiked fins of the early films. Here, Ghidorah, the dragon is more a force of good (it was hard for me to wrap my head around that) and protector for Japan. Along with Mothra and Baragon, they try to save Japan from the demon. There’s actually a very good sub-plot about a young filmmaker, Yuri. She makes pseudo-documentaries about ghosts, myths, and legends, which is equivalent to a filmed version of ‘strange but true’ tabloids such as “News of the World.” When she gets a hunch about a real story developing–the earth tremors and deaths caused by the waking of Baragon deep in the earth–her boss rejects her investigating plans and tells her to stick to the assignment. She ignores him and hunts down the trail that leads to the monster’s big battle with Godzilla. You really want to see Godzilla in this film taken down. The film shows innocent people getting injured and dying, better than all other Godzilla films. There are great camera angles, not usually shown in Kaiju films, to depict this. A terrified mother in her home as Godzilla’s foot comes crashing thru and an injured young woman in the hospital screaming as the place is destroyed by the beast’s tail are just a couple of examples. You have to commend director/co-writer, Shūsuke Kaneko, for that. I like the realism in this aspect of the film. The film is also loaded with fairy dust, golden rays, and spiritual connotations, but if you can accept these fantasy aspects, the film is a real treat. The fairy twins usually associated with Mothra films are not part of this tale but the film does have an homage appearance of the twins as normal citizens (regular size).
10) Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)
A new Mechagodzilla was (in the previous film, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla), constructed upon a unique frame – the skeletal bones of the original Godzilla (Gojira – 1954), which had been lying dead upon the seafloor for over 50 years. This 3rd generation Mechagodzilla is a formidable weapon. It has a Hyper-maser in the center of its chest, a rocket launcher on its back and it shoots lightning bolt lasers from its mouth. Mothra comes to defend Japan as the princess fairies try to warn the military not to use the new Mechagodzilla. They don’t trust those bones and the spirit of the dead in the bones stops Mechagodzilla from killing Godzilla early in the movie. Mothra is a beautiful creature in this film, the best looking incarnation I’ve ever seen of this Kaiju. Its design is magnificent. Its wings flow with a natural grace and its flying, (fast or slow) is believable with realistic movement. Godzilla gets the best of Mothra, smashing her through buildings (impressive scenes) and damaging her wing with his fire-breath (a fast, blue stream that also looks fantastic). But, on a small Pacific Island an egg hatches revealing two Mothra Larvae which come to the aide of the dying Mothra and Japan. There is a much bigger military attack by Japan’s Defense systems in this film than there has been in many years, featuring Naval War ships, tanks, Maser cannons, and more. The scale city and building models are more detailed than they had been in many years, too, as the shots taken from street level are numerous. The 3-way battle devastates Tokyo, toppling the Tokyo Tower and eventually destroying the Capitol Building – previously destroyed in Gojira. In the end Godzilla is alive, but truly defeated, wrapped in a cocoon and sunk to the ocean floor with Mechagodzilla. This would have been a good send off for the Toho Godzilla franchise. Unfortunately, Toho did one more film, “Final Wars” which wasn’t nearly as good. This film is one of the only films with a detailed special effects featurette. It is an impressive behind-the-scenes look at what makes Toho special-fx. No narration, it just documents the set-up and execution of the big sequences of the film. They immediately show the final mastered clip after the docu-clip, with the slo-motion adjustments, editing and sound. All the secrets of their filmmaking are laid bare in these clips.
Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994)
Awesome special effects of the crystal ‘lightning’ and electric arcs exploding across the screen make this one a great action-packed entry.
Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966)
This film is small in scope compared to other Godzilla films but the giant shrimp/lobster design of the Sea Monster is awesome and the Godzilla/Sea-Monster battle if fun. One of the highlights of the film is Godzilla’s jump off the cliff into the water as the massive bomb counts down to destroying the entire island. As a kid, this scene made me nervous. This is one of the first films to have Godzilla portrayed as the good guy or hero of the film.
Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)
Godzilla fights Mothra in a Kaiju showdown. However after sitting though Mothra (1961) you wonder why we have to watch the complete Mothra origin story again, in this film.
Okay, I got a huge photo Gallery here because I’m sure some of you haven’t seen some of these newer movies. I think when you see the modern special FX, you may be interested in checking out some of these fantastic newer Godzilla flicks.
Godzilla Vs Biollante, Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II, Godzilla vs Megaguirus
Biollante early stage
Biollante – monster stage
Godzilla v Mechagodzilla II
New Rodan design
Oh, my! Girl makes new best friend…
Rodan’s face close-up
godzilla vs megaguirus
Second photo Gallery: GMK: All Out Monsters Attack. Godzilla: Tokyo SOS
Godzilla – the demon
Baragon finally gets some respect in this film
Ghidorah – designed to look like a dragon
Godzilla: Tokyo SOS
New Mechagodzilla design is awesome!
Lighting up to shoot his radioactive ray
Mothra gets thrown through an office building
new fairy twins
the set designs were probably most detailed since early years