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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Horror > Giant Monster > Mystery > Murder > Drugs > Japan > Icons Of Sci-Fi Toho Collection (Battle In Outer Space/The H Man/Mothra/Sony DVD Set)

Icons Of Sci-Fi Toho Collection (Battle In Outer Space/The H Man/Mothra/Sony DVD Set)

 

Picture: C+†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C+††† Films: B-

 

 

Ishiro Honda is the king of Japanese live-action genre films, having directed so many important films in Sci-fi and Horror at Toho that few directors can compete with the quantity and even quality of his work.Now more than ever, as genres are in flux and usually the works related to them are poor and worse, when you watch any of his films, you can see a personal touch, an enthusiasm, a sense of energy and even excitement, no matter how aged and dated the films can be in parts.Sony and Toho have restored three of his key films and issued them as part of the Icons Of Sci-Fi Toho Collection DVD set.

 

Armed with some of the best model-makers in Japan, plus the underrated widescreen cinematography of Director of Photography Hajime Koizumi, the pair created some of the most stark, rich and memorable pop culture in world cinema history.Sony and Toho have included both versions of three really fun, terrific films, including one giant monster classic that is among the most famous such films ever made.

 

 

Mothra (1960) is an all-time classic about the peaceful flying title monster who is a good monster and protector of a secret island.He even has a group of human followers (one of the most politically incorrect aspects of the film) and can be summoned by two very small (try five inches) singing women whose song brings the beast to life to attack when necessary.King Kong style, they are brought to civilization to sing on a tour, but of course, it is not nice to mess with nature and here comes a huge path of destruction.Of course, nuclear radiation is linked to this.

 

The H Man (1958) is a very interesting story of a man who becomes so infected with a dose of the nuclear that he becomes a walking menace.Though the special effects portray his menacing presence more like The Blob than The Incredible Melting Man, it starts with a drug deal gone bad and everything for everyone in his way just gets worse and worse.The sense of mystery is a plus and is a film worth rediscovering.

 

Battle In Outer Space (1959) is a space battle film as aliens invade the earth and make the mistake of picking Japan as their landing spot.From a moon base, they attack, but the Japanese have their latest technology and rocket battle ships to stop them.A very entertaining film that is well shot and edited, it is fair to say it was a Star Wars forerunner and though the effects can be dated, the designs and form of the battles and film in general make this for a fine sit-through.They knew it was meant to be seen on a very big screen and it shows.

 

 

Though the budgets could be limiting, the makers found clever ways to get around any limits the casts are always very good.The most important thing is no matter how campy these might have become or obvious some filmmaking choices are, these were made seriously by serious-minded people who wanted to build films that would last and in many ways, they have succeeded.With the wave of mostly highly forgettable digital effects films like these, here we are enjoying these films a half-century later and counting.Watch them on the biggest screen you can find!

 

 

All the films are presented in restored, anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 framings and look really good for their age.I donít think DVD is going to be able to do total justice to the color and some of the detail the films are capable of and they tend to have unique, complex color palettes.Sometimes an English Sony Columbia print is sharper and more colorful than a Toho Japanese print, than sometimes it is the reverse, but the Toho prints tend to be longer and have more footage.They are all both worth looking at and you can see how the U.S. editions were also slightly censored.

 

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in all cases is fine, but all show their age, despite being as clean as Sony and Toho could make them.The Japanese prints often say they have Perspecta Sound, which is a faked stereo, so if you have a receiver that can boost the Mono, you might try to experiment with all the sound to listen for details that might not be normally obvious.

 

Extras include theatrical trailers for all the films, while English editions of Battle and Mothra have terrific feature length audio commentary tracks by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski that you should listen to after watching the films.Too bad they did not have them for H Man, but they should have them back for more Toho films and there should be many more after this strong set.

 

 

For more titles related to Mothra, try these links:

 

Mothra Vs. Godzilla

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/4613/Godzilla+Raids+Again+++Godzilla+Vs.

 

Godzilla & Other Movie Monsters (also reissued by Capcom)

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/805/Godzilla+&+Other+Movie+Monsters

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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