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The Asian ApertureFrankenstein Conquers the World
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, May 15, 2012    Share

One of my coolest memories of childhood is sitting at home on Saturday at exactly 2pm and watching Universalís 1931 classic, Frankenstein, on Creature Feature. That led to an early Frankenstein obsession that included Boris Karloff movies, The Munters, (around 7am and just before school started), toy action figures, Illustrated Classics editions of the novel for young readers, chocolate chip cookies in the monsterís shape, and a whole slew of Frankenstein movies. I saw everything. The good ones were Horror of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Cure of Frankenstein, Evil of Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein, and the hilarious Young Frankenstein. Then there were the bad such as Frankenstein meets the Space Monster and Jesse James meets Frankensteinís Daughter. However, one movie came along and destroyed everything I liked about the traditional Frankenstein monster and sent my youthful imagination into orbit. That was Frankenstein Conquers the World, where the creature grows to Godzilla size and attacking a local village has devastating consequences that a human sized entity lacks.

There are two different version of Frankenstein Conquers the World, one is by AIP that favored a violent monster and the other is the Toho Studios Japanese version. I have chosen to review Tohoís vision.

As the movie opens, Dr. Riesendorf, a weird looking mad scientist, is happy running around his lab conducting his strange experiments until an ominous knocking is heard at the front door. Not knowing what to expect, Dr. Riesendorf, clearly annoyed at being disturbed, looks on as evil Nazis invade his lab and steal a case containing the heart of Frankensteinís monster. The case is transported to a Japanese Navy sub, where it arrives in Hiroshima. The atomic bomb is dropped and nothing is heard about the strange heart until a few years later after the Occupation.

A homeless boy is spotted roaming the streets, hiding in the shadows, and killing small animals for protein. The locals donít understand who he is, just another vagrant.

Dr. James Bowen, played to the hilt by the always entertaining Nick Adams, and his lovely assistant Sueko Togami, played by the sexy Kumi Mizuno (rumored to be the source of Adamsís divorce due to an off screen affair,) look into the various animal deaths and during dinner, Sueko looks out her window to see a wounded boy laying on the ground as an angry taxi driver yells at him. Dr. Bowen and Sueko take the boy to the hospital and discover that he is really Caucasian and has an amazing ability to withstand the effects of radiation. While watching TV the boy see young kids partying to 60ís guitar rock and violently picks up the set and heaves it through the window where it falls to the ground smashing into pieces. This causes him to be handcuffed and chained and placed into a cage. The boy develops a healthy appetite and consume so much protein that he actually increases in size. Sueko notices that his handcuffs are digging into his wrists and orders bigger ones.

When a news team arrives to take pictures of the strange boy, they turn their lights on to get a good picture and this sends him into a rage where he destroys his cage and runs amok. Something that all monsters want to do.

The creature flees to a cooler climate, because Frankensteinís monster likes the cold because of his origins, to Mount Ibuki, where he hides in a cave and continues to kill animals for food.
Burrowing up from underground is Baragon, a dinosaur with large ears and a horn, who wreaks havoc on a village killing not only animals but people. Naturally the press blame the creature on this, even though he has never harmed anyone. It is up to the three member team of Dr. Bowen, Sueko, and fellow medical college, Dr. Kawaji, to save the monster from the military who are sending out tanks and copters to bring him down.

While looking for the boy, Dr. Kawaji explains to Dr. Bowen and Sueko that he doesnít care if the boy lives or dies, he just wants the heart to study for himself and make money off of. Later on Dr. Kawaji is knocked unconscious by falling rocks, only to be rescued by the monster and returned to the others, unharmed. This further illustrates the creatureís good intentions.

Finally the inevitable showdown happens as Baragon tries to destroy another village as the locals flee to the hills. Just before he can smash one home, the monster jumps in front of him and the ensuring fight begins. Baragon is a powerful adversity and the monster grows wearily during the confrontation. He just wants Baragon to die but Baragon will never give up. In one memorable scene, the monster leaps on Baragonís back and repeatedly punches him in the head. This works for only a short time until the monster is knocked off and forced to deal with Baragonís death ray that erupts from his gaping mouth. Several trees catch on fire, because of the ray. Finally, after so much wrestling around, Baragon dies. The monster picks him up and body slams him into the sinking earth. Together both monsters descend as fire, from burning trees, falls down from above.

A sad end to a monster that just wanted to be left alone and to leave in peace apart from people who just donít understand it and were judgmental, which is the theme of Mary Shelley novel.

Frankenstein Conquers the World has everything for fans of Japanese Sci Fi. You have European source material that has been transformed by Japanese filmmakers into something different that injects something new into the genre. You have scientists as the heroes. You have a classic Kaiju battle. Plus you have an entertaining movie that is also an interesting and exciting take on the old fashioned tried and true Frankenstein movie formula. The result is a more organic movie that combines the real life horror of being exposed to harmful radiation with the fantastic of a monsterís heart that can never die and the strange things that not even modern science can explain. This is a must see for fans of late night horror, horror show hosts, and big monster fans.

Highly Recommended.

5 out of 5 Stars

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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