|Frankenstein vs. Baragon|
Original Japanese poster
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
Henry G. Saperstein
|Music by||Akira Ifukube|
|Editing by||Ryohei Fujii|
American International Pictures (USA)
August 8, 1965 (Japan)|
July 8, 1966 (USA)
94 minutes (Japan)|
87 minutes (USA)
Frankenstein Conquers the World, released in Japan as Frankenstein versus Subterranean Monster Baragon (フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣バラゴン Furankenshutain Tai Chitei Kaijū Baragon ), with Toho's official English title being Frankenstein vs. Baragon, is a kaiju film produced in 1965 by Toho Company Ltd. This film features a Japanese version of the Frankenstein Monster, who becomes giant-sized to fight the giant subterranean monster, Baragon.
This was also the first of three Toho-produced films to star actor Nick Adams, the second being the sixth Godzilla film, Invasion of Astro-Monster, and the third being the 1967 spy film, The Killing Bottle.
The prologue is set in Nazi Germany during the final days of World War II. A Kriegsmarine Officer, flanked by three Commandos, barge into the laboratory of a Dr. Riesendorf with orders to seize the immortal heart of the Frankenstein Monster, on which he is busy experimenting. The heart is summarily transported by U-Boat to passed off to their Japanese allies via the Atlantic. In the Indian Ocean, off the Maldives, the U-Boat meets up with a with a Japanese Imperial Navy submarine to make the exchange. They are sighted by an Allied Forces scout plane, and then bombed, but not before the Kriegsmarine pass the heart (contained in a locked chest) to the Japanese, who take it back to Hiroshima for further experimentation. But just as they are about to begin, Hiroshima is bombed by the Allied Forces, and the heart and the experiments vanish in the atomic fireball.
Fifteen years later (1960), a feral boy runs rampant in the streets of Hiroshima, catching and devouring small animals such as dogs and rabbits. This comes to the attention of American scientist Dr. James Bowen and his assistants Sueko Togami and Ken'ichiro Kawaji. A year later (1961), they investigate and find the boy hiding in a cave on a beach, where a mob of outraged villagers has almost caught him. While the strange boy catches media attention and is taken care of by the scientists, another astounding event evades the public's eye. Once the boy is taken to the hospital, it is discovered that he is caucasian and his body is building a strong resistance to radiation rather than getting sick from it.
The Former Imperial Navy Officer Kawai, who brought the heart of Frankenstein's Monster to Japan in WWII, is now working in an oil factory in Akita Prefecture, when a sudden earthquake shakes the very foundations of the refinery, and collapses a offshore drilling tower. As the ground splits open, Kawai, for a moment, glimpses a monstrous, inhuman visage peering through the fissure, and an unearthly glow, before it is obscured by collapsing wreckage.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bowen and the scientists find that the strange boy is growing in size due to intake of protein. Afraid of his strength, the scientists lock and chain the boy in a jail cell, and Sueko, who really cares for him, feeds him some protein food to sustain him. Meanwhile, Dr. Bowen is visited by Kawai, who tells him that the boy could have grown from the heart of the Frankenstein Monster, as the boy was seen in Hiroshima more than once before. At Bowen's advice, Dr. Kawaji confers with the aging Dr. Riesendorf in Frankfurt. Riesendorf tells Kawaji of the story of the Frankenstein Monster and its noted virtual immortality, due to the intake of protein. Riesendorf recommends cutting off the monster's arm or leg, speculating that a new one will grow back. When relating this to his fellow scientists upon his return to Japan, Sueko strongly objects to this method, fearing that nothing may grow back. Even when Bowen suggests that they wait a little longer to think it over, Kawaji tenaciously attempts to sever one of the now-gigantic monster's limbs. He is interrupted by a TV crew, whom Kawaji allows to film the monster, though they enrage it with the shining bright studio lights aimed at its face. The monster, hereafter known as "Frankenstein", breaks loose and is on the run from the Japanese police. He even has a tender encounter with Sueko on the balcony of her apartment before he has to run away.
While Frankenstein is on the run, he travels to many places, from Okayama (where he eats more animals) to Mount Ibuki, where his primitive childlike activities (throwing trees at birds and trying to trap a wild boar) end in disaster.
Unbeknownst to Bowen and the scientists, Baragon, the monster Kawai saw earlier, goes on a rampage. Tunneling under the earth, he pops out and ravages villages, eating people and animals and leaving destruction in his wake. People believe this is Frankenstein's doing, and the misunderstood monster is wrongly hunted down by the military, though not before narrowly escaping. Before Bowen and his assistants have no choice but to dismiss Frankenstein, Kawai returns to tell them that Frankenstein may not be responsible for the disasters: it could be the monster (Baragon) he saw in Akita. He tries to convince the authorities, but to no avail. Kawaji still wishes the scientists luck in finding Frankenstein.
Bowen, Sueko, and Kawaji then form a search party and venture into the forest in which they believe Frankenstein is currently hiding. But Kawaji, to the shock of Bowen and Sueko, then proceeds to attempt to kill him, believing that Frankenstein could be dangerous by his very nature, and not even Sueko could possibly tame him. He intends to blind him with chemical grenades and capture him to recover his heart and brain. Kawaji presses on to find Frankenstein, and instead finds Baragon. Kawaji and Bowen try in vain to stop the monster with the grenades, and when it is about to eat Sueko, Frankenstein comes to the rescue. The cataclysmic battle between the two giant monsters then begins. After the fight, the area where the fight took place starts to tremble, and then both monsters are sucked into the earth.
The unfortunate Giant Octopus, Oodako, drove many fans up the wall. This monster appeared in several stills from Frankenstein Conquers the World, but no one could spot it in the film. Ishiro Honda explains apologetically: "The movie was made in co-production with an American company, Benedict Pictures Corporation. The bosses were so astonished by the octopus scenes from King Kong vs. Godzilla, they begged to include it into the screenplay, even in spite of logic. So we shot some scenes with the Giant Octopus but, in the end, they were left out of the picture."
For accuracy, it should be added that after many years, in the Japanese video edition of Frankenstein Conquers the World, that discarded scene was tagged on as an “alternate ending.” The management of Benedict Pictures stood by their guns, however, and in the following co-production, War of the Gargantuas (1966), the octopus rolled through the screen officially and in its full slimy glory.
In addition to this scene, American International Pictures also requested several scenes of a more violent Frankenstein. Unlike the extra ending, these scenes were used in the American version.
- Dr. James Bowen - Nick Adams (Japanese voice actor: Goro Naya)
- Dr. Ken'ichiro Kawaji - Tadao Takashima
- Dr. Sueko Togami - Kumi Mizuno
- Captain Kawai - Yoshio Tsuchiya
- Murata - Yoshifumi Tajima
- Hiroshima surgeon - Takashi Shimura
- Dr. Riesendorf - Peter Mann (Japanese voice actor：Kazuo Kumakura)
- Tazuko Tooi - Keiko Sawai
- Frankenstein - Koji Furuhata
- Young Frankenstein - Sumio Nakao
- Baragon - Haruo Nakajima
Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka had originally commissioned a film called Frankenstein vs. the Human Vapor (フランケンシュタイン対ガス人間 - Furankenshutain tai Gasu Ningen), with a draft written by Kimura. This also follows up with The Human Vapor (1960), as Mizuno finds the Frankenstein Monster's body, and revives him, so that he can help him use the Frankenstein formula to revive his beloved girlfriend Fujichiyo (who died at the end of said film). This was also supposed to be Toho's co-feature with the Japanese release of My Fair Lady.
Parallels to the source materialEdit
There are many references to the 1931 Frankenstein film adaptation, an iconic representation of the monster featured in the famous book by Mary Shelley. In general, the monster is referred to by the name of his creator ("Frankenstein"), as opposed to "The Frankenstein Monster" (which Dr. Bowen did refer to him as once in this film).
The sequel to this film is War of the Gargantuas (titled Furankenshutain no Kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira in Japan). In said film, pieces of Frankenstein's cells mutate into two giant humanoid monsters: Sanda (the Brown Gargantua) and Gaira (the Green Gargantua). The former is a benevolent and peace-loving creature, the latter is murderous and savage. However, United Productions of America, the US co-producers, obscured all references to Frankenstein in the American version, possibly because the two monsters could not be recognized as "Frankenstein" monsters. However, a reference is made to a severed hand.
- Released: 2007
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.35:1) (anamorphic)
- Sound: English/Japanese mono and 5.1
- Region 1
- Note: Includes three cuts of the film: Japanese, International (with Giant Octopus ending), and US.
- Famous Monsters of Filmland. June 1966 (#39). Cover, and p. 10-24. (pictures & plot summary)
- Frankenstein Conquers the World at the Internet Movie Database
- Frankenstein Conquers the World at AllRovi
- DVD Review: Frankenstein vs. Baragon
- Frankenstein vs. The Giant Devilfish Or Pardon Me, Your Tentacles Are In My Soup!
- "フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣 (Frankenstein tai Chitei Kaijū)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1965/co002680.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-17.