This week's movie review is a bit different, for 1964's 'Evil Brain From Outer Space' is made up from three different films from Japan's Super Giant franchise!
BEFORE SUPER SENTAI... BEFORE ULTRAMAN...
- Evil Brain From Outer Space
- Year Released: 1964
As a kid, one of my favorite VHS tapes was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Epic Begins, which took the first handful of episodes of the series and made it into a movie, with a lot of things left on the cutting room floor to get the story across to the viewer. The concept itself is nothing new, the original Battlestar Gallatica saw many of its episodes combined into a ‘movie’ format as well, and when the BBC released classic Doctor Who on DVD, the episodes are presented as a single ‘film’,
Which brings us to the subject of this movie review ‘Evil Brain From Outer Space’
With a narrator supplying linking dialog footage films under the Japanese ‘Super Giant’ franchisee was used to create an ‘original’ adventure with dubbing of the original dialog to try and make everything fit.
Of course I have to explain what Super Giant was: was a series of 9 superhero films films that were released from 1957 to 1959 in Japan. The lead hero Super Giant is a human-looking alien sent to Earth whenever there is trouble in order destroy evil and protect the universe. He doesn’t have a secret identity, people know who he is, and is trusted by the Japanese authorities since he works in association with them. He is nearly invulnerable, gets along with kids and will come to their aid. In many respects, Super Giant is the ‘predecessor’ of Kamen Rider, Super Sentai and Ultraman.
Now from what I understand first 6 Super Giant films having an on-going story, and they were combined into three separate films when they were released in the United States with Super Giant renamed ‘Starman’
However the final three Super Giant Films ‘The Space Mutant Appears, 1958’, ‘The Devil’s Incarnation, 1959’ and ‘The Poison Moth Kingdom, 1959’, were standalone adventures, with no connection between them other than they were Super Giant films, and so the footage was shuffled around, a linking narration was added and original story of sorts was created to make this feature possible.
The plot is this: The evil brain of Balazar lands on Earth and is creating monsters and mutants to take over the world and then the galaxy. Starman is sent to Earth to deal with this, and it’s a race against time to stop the evil brain and its various minions.
And while the story is told fairly well… the illusion of somehow all this footage being apart of the same story shatters because of the fact that it’s impossible to keep track of everything since it’s three separate stories that have nothing to do with one another. The only thing that helps is that the footage used from The Space Mutant Appears is used as the bookend for the film, because that is the only story of three that has a ‘brain’ in it.
The acting is what it is… since the original films were made in the late 50s and then dubbed into English in 1964… there’s not much to comment on here. The voice dubbing is pretty good for the time period, and for the most part conveys the body language of the original Japanese actors. The only I could really talk about is Ken Utsui, who plays ‘Starman’, and from presenting a hero standpoint, he fits the part pretty well in terms of his screen presence…. But according to what I’ve been able to find, he hated the role and never talked about it because of the costume (which looked straight out of the golden age of Superheroes) and the fact he had to ‘stuff his tights’.
What does make this movie over all standard is the use of martial arts, serving as very much a strong contrast to a lot of similar American films from the same time period (particularly serials) where there was more brawling. The fight sequences are basic but well choreographed, and you can see a lot of the same stylistic techniques used today on Power Rangers.
VERDICT: This a fairly decent, fun action-pack film that in many ways could be seen as the precursor for what a what we’ve seen in things like Super Sentai / Power Rangers. By no means is this a ‘good movie’, but it is enjoyable when taken for what it is. It’s 78 minutes of popcorn-fodder.