God. What can you actually say about Starman, aka Super Giant?
I was, at a science fiction convention, blissfully spending my
money on all manner of crap (a lot of which I wish I still had,
crap or no) when I noticed that one of the small movie rooms was
scheduled to play something called Evil Brain from Outer Space.
A title like that has a powerful magnetic effect upon me;
I felt myself drawn by some sort of dreadful gravity toward that
room; barbed wired barricades could not have stayed my course.
say that I was ill-prepared is to overstate the obvious.
the time, I was still a teen-ager, and though I had already amassed
a considerable amount of b-movie experience, I don't think I really
knew what was possible; in my youthful hubris I
imagined I had already seen what depths the world of film had
to offer. Oh, I had no idea! (And the fact that I still get blindsided
over twenty years later should tell you a thing or three about
don't know much about Starman, nor is there exactly a plethora
of information easily available on the Internet, so much of this
is conjecture (and I'm sure if I'm wrong, I'll be set right in
short order): There are ten Starman/Supergiant movies listed in
the IMDb, and in 1964, four were unleashed in America, doubtless
as part of some fiendish television package. They bear titles
like Atomic Rulers of the World, Attack from Space, and,
of course, this week's entry. All appear to be cobbled together
from episodes of a Japanese TV show*.
Brain opens with a soliloquy from a Helpful Narrator, who
will become our best friend during the movie. He informs us
the planet Zima*, far within the Moveen Galaxy,
a de-controlled robot assassinated the omnipotent Balazar, who
is known to possess the most brilliant mind in the universe. So
powerful was Balazar's genius that as he lay dying, his brain
ordered built a mechanism which would keep it alive even though
his body was destroyed. And now Balazar's Brain seeks universal
But here on the Emerald Planet,
the Highest Council in the Marpet Galaxy considers the terrible,
immediate menace to the solar system of Earth, and to the planet
Earth Itself. Balazar's Brain leads the infiltration of Earth,
preparing it for the attack forces which will follow. And that
attack will be with nuclear weapons. The flood of radioactivity
which inevitably will spill out into space, is what primarily
concerns these Emerald Planet creatures. High radioactivity, the
Emerald creatures realize, will poison even the distant reaches
of outer space. As a result, it is possible that in time, others
planets such as this will become uninhabitable. The Council now
is deciding what must be done.
speech is backed by imagery of aliens which were apparently culled
from my mind in '64 when I was suffering from pneumonia and lapsed
into a sleep troubled by fever dreams, after reading my entire
collection of Journey Into The Unknown comics. Not only
are these aliens truly odd in an Art Deco lamp sort of way, they
are arranged around a long table in a manner (perhaps unconsciously)
reminiscent of daVinci's The Last Supper. They are also
in constant motion.
could, perhaps, be a uniquely Asian thing; I first noticed it
while watching Latitude Zero. The only things I took with
me from Latitude Zero to the present time are a)
the thought, "Wow! Joseph Cotten!" and b)
the moment where a monster is standing guard over an ingenue,
and although the monster is standing still, its claws were trembling.
Not trembling in an uncontrollable, spastic way, but in a very
deliberate fashion. I've since noticed it in other movies; rarely
so noticeable as it is in Latitude Zero or here in Evil
Brain territory - man-in-suit movies tend to be very kinetic,
and monsters rarely have occasion to stand still; but when they
do, it seems the filmmakers want to be sure the audience doesn't
have a chance to entertain the possibility that there may not
be a man in that suit.
motions in this tableaus, however, are so repetitive and concise
that the effect is to remind one of one of those complicated clockwork
toys, as each alien moves its arms in the same gesture, over and
over again. Except for the starfish dudes standing in back - they
just twist back and forth. (if some of this looks or sounds familiar,
yes, these aliens were quoted in the grab-bag It Came from
Hollywood - a false title, in this case).
Helpful Narrator continues:
They have learned that Balazar's
Brain already is secretly on Earth, to command the Zimarian spies
and saboteurs. If this evil force can be stopped and destroyed
before actual nuclear war begins, then the universe will be safe.
The High Council agrees that there is only one way in which they
may be able to achieve this.
scientists of the Emerald Planet have invented one of the most
ingenious mechanisms the universe has ever seen. Called a Globemeter,
it is carried on the wrist. It enables its wearer to do three
things: to fly through space, to detect radioactivity, and to
speak and understand every language on the planet Earth. In order
to save Earth from the mass attack by the Zimarians, the Emerald
Men once more must present the Globemeter to one of their fellow
creatures, and send him to Earth.
is, naturally, Starman. Who is Starman, you might ask?
He is the creature made of
the strongest steel, the creature who can disguise himself as
is also the creature wearing a transparent shark fin on his head!
He is the creature who has no cape, but small little baggy cape-type
things that hang down from each arm! He is, therefore, the creature
who looks like a Lalique sculpture! And when he flies, he makes
the same sound Astro Boy does!
this is a nice, Earthbound chase scene, in which a young man carrying
a large valise is being pursued by ominous men in trenchcoats
and (most ominous of all) hats. This is quite well-filmed and
choreographed, with the satchel-toting youngster coming within
a gnat's hair of capture several times, but always eluding his
hunters. It would be quite suspenseful, if the Helpful Narrator
hadn't piped up with information that the Hat Squad is actually
the local police, and they think their quarry is a bank robber,
but his case actually contains... Balazar's Brain!
baggage handler is eventually tackled and the case goes flying
into a river. Rules of Evidence apparently being of a different
stripe in Japan, none of the pursuing officers deigns to get his
overcoat wet by plunging in and grabbing it, no matter how much
their prisoner wails and begs for them to get the case ("...or
we're all doomed!"). A radio report states that the Bank
Robber got caught somewhere else in the city, but the cops decide
to take this poor sap in, anyway.
the poor sap's name is Kuroda, and his boss Dr. Kamayama (or something
like that. Evil Brain does not inspire precise note-taking)
came under the insidious influence of the Brain, and Kuroda stole
the Brain to destroy it. The actor playing Kuroda does an excellent
job of overwrought acting during this confession, and many teeth
marks are apparent on the scenery afterwards.
Kuroda to be a standard issue nutjob (abetted by a spurious phone
call from Dr. Kamakama), the police release him, right into the
clutches of a group of Balazar's nasty mutants, sent to kill the
little brain-napper. Things look dark for Kuroda, but Starman
shows up to kick mutant tail.
might as well address two things right now, as they will form
the bulk of
my observations about this movie. First, the legion of mutants,
who for the most part appear quite
normal - except for the Featured Mutants, which we will examine
later - are also quite easy to spot by their Mutant Uniform -
white trenchcoat and snapbrim hat. This gives rise to much risibility
later as policemen searching for the bad guys walk right past
them, again and again... if only they had read the bulletin about
the Mutant Uniform! Admittedly, if you work in one of the many
Secret Headquarters, you get a snappy black bodysuit with a skull-topped
bat symbol on the chest. Those of sufficient rank also get capes.
usually crops up in the nick of time (doubtless another function
of the Globemeter), and wearing a business suit*;
he ducks down under the camera shot and rises again (almost always
with the background shifting, as the camera was shut off in the
interim) clad in the white jumpsuit-and-shark-fin outfit we know
and love.... okay, just know.... as Starman! Then the fight
scene begins in earnest, with wave upon wave of bad guys launching
themselves at Starman. Usually, our hero seems to employ some
sort of super-aikido, as he simply slaps most of the evildoers
as they pass, and they go hurtling off in the same direction they
were already running. Occasionally, guns are pulled out, but as
Starman is made of the strongest steel
(remember?), these have no effect.
takes the rescued Kuroda to meet with a Dr. Sakurai, and the two
men team up to devise a way to destroy Balazar's Brain. You see,
it is impervious to most harm, and can heal itself almost immediately.
Finding out about Sakurai's research leads Dr. Mammajama to send
"one of our new mutants, who breathes radioactive vapors,
to get some answers from him!" This beastie is the best creature
in the movie - and there are only two monsters, anyway - it has
a creepy bat head with wire filigree for ears and cobalt claws.
I'll also be charitable and assume that the eye painted on its
belly is for decoration, and not supposed to be a real eye. Since
its appearance also signals something interesting might happen,
I'll also overlook the fact that it's wearing a leotard. If you
guessed that Starman arrives in the nick of time, give yourself
five more points. And that's our first episode.
already quite late with this review, so let me just provide you
with a list of my notes, instead of my usual (shyeah, right) cogent
|The dubbed script
tries to give the impression that Balazar's Brain and its
minions are moving toward a sort of "zero hour"
for their global coup d'etat. The truth is, this attack
starts over and over again - and the first time, it's apparently
our bat-faced friend doing all the heavy lifting, in a horrid
display of stock footage and bad miniature work.
|This leads to the first of many genuinely
delightful lines - if dubbed today, the line would be, "1-Adam-12,
1-Adam-12, go to the corner of Toho and Bates, See the monster."*
|Starman gives the
local Kenny a crystal sphere - this is his version of the
Superman Signal Watch. If there is ever trouble, Kenny is
to throw the crystal, and Starman will come. This is especially
notable as Kenny (and the crystal) will now vanish from the
story until the very end of the picture.
|At the beginning of the second episode, the Helpful Narrator
informs us that the mutants are perpetrating a series of daring
robberies "to obtain money for food and clothing."
If I was working for an all-powerful, disembodied brain
bent on universal conquest, I think the least I should
be able to count on is three squares and a nice uniform. Otherwise,
screw you, Mr. Oblongata, I shall hie myself to the local
|The local police chief gives a speech
to his men that Humanity Is Counting On Them. In the next
scene, one of the scientists working with the Department of
defense is walking home when he is waylaid by two murderous
mutants, and his briefcase full of secret papers is stolen.
Humanity is counting on them, and they let scientists walk
home alone at night with secret papers? We're doomed. We're
firkin' doomed. (Unfortunately for the deceased scientist,
Starman was apparently changing the batteries in his Globemeter
when the mutants attacked)
|Things you don't hear every day: "You're a policeman,
right? Looking for mutants?"
|Okay, so another short-pantsed brat
saw the two mutants after the theft and BY AN AMAZING COINCIDENCE
is checked into a hospital which is a front for the Balazar
War Machine. Starman of course arrives to kick mutant butt,
but the surprising thing is that the cops attack en masse
on the word of a 7 year old girl (but she is the Kenny's
sister, so I guess the awesome discretionary powers awarded
by the government to Kennys can carry over).
|The mutants try to assassinate a visiting head of state,
but Starman has taken the leader's place and has a good larf
when the bullets bounce off him. Then remarkably, he brings
out the real head of state without disarming the mutants
first. Even more incredibly, the mutants do not take this
opportunity to make Swiss cheese out of the dignitary. Perhaps
we are not so doomed after all.
|No, instead of taking advantage of
Starman's tactical blunder, the head bad guy
pulls out a cylinder and announces, "If you try to stop
me, I'll throw this nuclear grenade!" Everybody
runs when he throws it anyway. Some nuclear. It knocks down
a wall, and there is no appreciable radioactivity. I've seen
Molotov cocktails that are more nuclear.
second monster is a beak-nosed woman who appears mysteriously
and kills a couple of people with a single touch. This is,
we eventually find out, the physical manifestation of a Super
Germ that another evil doctor has devised. Isn't that kind
of an inefficient way for a deadly germ that's supposed to
wipe out mankind to operate? And the real Super Germ
is some pulsating lump in a jar. Super, indeed - it's the
size of a Denny's omelette!
|While introducing us to the Super
Germ, the Helpful Narrator tells us that the mutants are starting
to kill people indiscriminately. Then we are treated to a
full two minutes of carnival stock footage, leading me to
wonder, "Where are the mutants, killing people indiscriminately?
Wait! The cotton candy!! ..... No, that wasn't it. The merry-go-round!
It's a mutant! ....no, I guess not.... Wait!...."
|Let's see, Dr. Hubbabubba is in a wheelchair, his assistant
has only one leg... Dr. Super Germ has a horrible burn on
one side of his face, and his assistant has a hook for a hand....
yep, cripples are evil.
|Man, these Zima guys love their secret
panels. There's no such thing as a front door to any of these
|Starman finally tracks the radioactive Bat-Breather to Balazar's
Secret Headquarters..... hey! That's the same secret headquarters
as the one under the hospital!
Come to think of it, it also seems
to be the same secret headquarters as the one where the
Super Germ was being developed. Maybe the Evil Brain just
shops at Ikea.