Monster Fight: 8/10
Fire Bad: 5/10
The third installment of the dueling reviews between myself and Chako, author of The Awesome Man’s Burden, is finally here. You’re welcome.
There are many incarnations of Frankenstein (or Frankenstein’s Monster for you purists out there). From the original creature in that classic book by Mary Shelley (which I never finished in English class) to the frightfully delicious and possibly homosexual Frankenberry, many people have thought up and explored their own version of this dynamic character. It should be no surprise that the Japanese had taken the iconic Frankenstein and done something that was quite unique to their culture…made him in to a giant monster capable of destroying cities. Maybe the Japanese are collectively insecure about being a short people, maybe the giant monster thing is a way of personifying the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, or maybe that’s just how they view the American culture….I don’t know, I’m not a scientist (if that wasn’t already obvious). Whatever the reason, Frankenstein has his work cut out for him when he has to face another giant monster (known as a daikaiju), the lesser-known Baragon, in Frankenstein Conquers The World.
To kick things off, our old friends the Nazis are stealing a strange crate from a mad scientist who appears to be experimenting with Kool-Ade. The Nazis are only (superior) delivery boys, however, and they soon pass the crate off to its intended recipients, the Japanese. The crate contains the still-beating heart of Frankenstein, and the story goes that it will never stop beating, since Frankenstein is apparently immortal. They decide to store the crate in the safest place that they can think of, and it being August 5th in the year 1945, that place is Hiroshima.
Suddenly, it’s 15 years later, and things are finally starting to be put back together in Hiroshima. A strange series of animal disappearances has the people talking about a mysterious boy who has been seen running around the city. They capture him at his home, a cave, and are shocked to discover that he is growing at an alarming rate. Then the bomb is dropped (sorry Japan) that the boy may even be the German monster known as Frankenstein, but there is only one way to prove it: cut off his arm and leg, then wait for the limbs to grow back. If they do, then its definitely Frankenstein, and if not, then….oops. Before they have the opportunity to test their theory, however, the boy breaks free from his cage in the basement (which was apparently much more humane than a cage at the zoo) and somehow manages to elude the authorities, despite his 3 story height.
During all of this, another monster has started to make trouble throughout Japan by causing a series of earthquakes. Baragon, the digging daikaiju, is doing major damage, but all of the blame is falling on our poor Frankenstein, who is doing nothing more than eating farm animals that he stumbles upon. It all comes to a head when the two giants eventually cross paths, and the fight (that we the viewers spend over an hour waiting for) finally begins. Frankenstein favors using the hip toss, and manages to give quite a few to Baragon, whose main attack is….digging. Then, Frankenstein takes to throwing rocks and trees, which don’t seem to have any real effect against the lizard, but I’d imagine that getting hit in the nuts with an oak tree takes a psychological toll after a while. Finally, Frankenstein uses his old nemesis, fire, to light the forest ablaze, and takes down Baragon for good. He hasn’t necessarily conquered the world, but he has conquered our hearts…or something. At the end, Frankenstein gets swallowed by an earthquake, and the people watching remark that he was indeed a monster, and that he will never die due to his immortal heart. Way to be appreciative, assholes.
Apparently, the original idea for this movie was to have Frankenstein fight Godzilla, but the wunderkinds at Toho Inc. decided that the concept was too goofy, so they threw in the forgettable Baragon instead. Then, they cut out the original ending in which Frankenstein has to battle a giant octopus after Baragon dies. It would have been a completely random battle, but damn I would have wanted to see it. The fighting sequence really is the best part of this movie, and it’s a shame that you have to sit through 80 minutes just to get to it. The rest of the time is just boring interactions between characters trying to explain why Frankenstein is so god damn big. It’s because of nuclear radiation, like everything else in Japan. That’s all someone needs to say, and yet it just remains a mystery to everyone (sort of like in bad movies where unexplainable things are put down to “magic”). There also seems to be some kind of confusion as to whether Frankenstein is a man or a monster. They finally decide in the end, but it seems like they are just beings dicks at that point. I mean, Frankenstein does save them from Baragon, so what the hell? Anyway, to all my bad movie peers out there, you really need to watch this, and to anyone else, it’s probably best if you avoid it. It’s definitely a “love it or hate it” movie.
Special thanks to Chako, author of The Awesome Man’s Burden, for watching this one with me. I know it wasn’t easy. As always with the dueling reviews, you can vote for your favorite, or just enjoy having your mind blown by our combined badass-ness. Until next time, boys and girls, keep watching those bad movies, but remember to use the buddy system for the really bad ones. I’d hate to have one more stupid child’s death on my conscience…
P.S. This is what triumph looks like: