THROWBACK TO INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER
Director: Ishirô Honda (as Inoshirô Honda)
Writer: Shin’ichi Sekizawa
Stars: Nick Adams, Akira Takarada, Jun Tazaki
This is the third time I’ve seen Invasion of Astro-Monster in my life. I slept through a lot of it during an Exhumed Films marathon at the Mahoning Drive-In last summer, but I also think this is the one Godzilla movie I saw on TV as a kid, at Chet Bunting’s birthday party. I remember Ghidorah and Godzilla battling on a different planet and some sort of lakeside monster action. This must be the movie.
The first act is super weird and fun, full of great sets and bizarre imagery, like Godzilla and Rodan in their little space-balls. And the second act has enough plot turns to keep things interesting despite there being no monster plot to that portion of the movie at all. But the third act monster stuff is ultimately kind of weak, poorly motivated, and too little too late. This drags on into and through Invasion of Astro-Monster‘s finale until it comes to an abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion.
SETTING UP FOR THE FUTURE
There’s a lot to like here, especially as a fan of the series. Knowing that the Xiliens, which appear in later Godzilla movies as well, come from the Showa era both make sense and adds some weight and context to the later Godzilla movies that I like more. But Invasion of Astro-Monster kind of grinds to a halt long before it ends and gave me the Sunday afternoon sleepies.
As a side-note—I’m a big fan of rapper MF DOOM, who made an album under the name King Geedorah that features tons of samples from this movie, a thing I did not know until seeing it at the drive-in over the summer. Parts of the American dub of this are forever burned into my brain, and pieces of the music immediately call Doom’s beats to mind. Invasion of Astro-Monster is basically an earworm that I’m always going to be nostalgic for due to all the weird context it has throughout the course of my life.