Thursday, October 25, 2012
Evil Brain From Outer Space (1958)
The 1950's is known for cheesy monsters, hokey action, and mad science. It was a time when the B-movie reigned supreme, and Japan was not immune to the fun...
Interstellar hero Starman comes to Earth seeking the brain of Balazar, who is planning to invade the planet with mutants specially created by his evil scientists...
This movie is actually a re-edited collection of three one hour films that were part of the Japanese series, "Super Giant". The original series was filmed and released in 1958, while the re-edited film was released in the United States in 1964. The "Super Giant" series, consisted of nine short films, with the last three comprising the material used in "Evil Brain From Outer Space". Since the three original films weren't really connected to each other outside of the presense of Starman, the American they had to be pieced together to tell a single story- result ing what was called "a non-ending cavalcade of characters, chases, captures, rescues and fight scenes".
Personally, I found it quite charming and fun to watch.
The story is thin and rather cliched, but provides enough of a skeleton for the action. It's not deep, or mentally engaging, relying on the flow of the chases and fights to distract you from Reality. The story knows what it is- cheesy popcorn fodder, and doesn't try to be anything more than that. Of course, the frantic pace is probably partly due to the slightly chaotic way that three seperate plots had to be cut and edited into a single one. Watching this movie, I felt like I was watching an old movie serial that had been collected together.
The characters- as can be expected from a project that takes three films and re-edits them into one, aren't very deep, or interesting. I kinda felt like they were just stock characters- which they probably were. Even Starman seemed like a cliche. Surprisingly though, this didn't stop me from being pulled into the fun. I really couldn't help but want to see what was going to happen next.
The acting is very much in keeping with movie serials and B-movies from that era: outlandish gestures during the fight scenes, and exaggerated facial expressions. The dubbing felt like it was simply read into the microphone, and was equally silly. Having said that though, I have to confess that it didn't detract from the simple fact that it moved the story along, and was fun in a campy sort of way. I will say, however, that I did find the performance of the woman playing the Kabuki Faced Mutant was rather creepy during the close-ups.
Since, one of the original three films was filmed in 4:3 ratio, while the other two were originally filmed in widescreen, the editing resulted in a bit of a mixed bag as they tried to match up the formats the best they could. Because of this, I can't blame the editors too much for the quality of editing- which felt a bit patchwork at times. I actually quite liked the way the fight scenes were edited. Even though the actions of the performers were silly, the pace and flow was fairly quick, smooth, and enjoyable.
I couldn't help but smile at the costumes for the two mutants. Even though I could tell that the Bat Mutant was obviously a man in a costume, it was still fun to watch the actor jump and run around in silly tights. As mentioned before, the Kabuki Faced Mutant was actually a little creepy when shown in close-ups. At a distance, and during her fight scene with Starman, the look was a little more ridiculous... but fun.
Would I re-watch "Evil Brain From Outer Space"? Maybe, if it was part of a Japanese Monster Movie Night, or a B-movie Night with friends, yeah. Would I recommend it for at least one fun, diverting viewing? Certainly. I'm going to place this "What Movie Wednesday" winner into "The Good".
Special Shout Out:
I want to thank everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday"- especially the following who voted for "Death in the Shadows":
Jason Hewlet (from "We Came From the Basement")
Matthew Little (from "The Wayward Tarheel")
"What Movie Wednesday" will be postponed as I conduct my "Terrorpolooza 2012" horror movie marathon on the Oct 31. "What Movie Wednesday" will return Nov 07!