There were many, many requests for this movie. "I want Dr. Freez
to review this movie." I have no idea who this Dr. Freez
is, but here's the review. Never let it be said that I am unresponsive
to my public. No matter how misguided they may be.
Yog has a pretty good setup: I recall one publicity still for
it, one of those fabulously overwrought and busy Japanese creations
that had our human cast cowering in one corner, looking up at the various
kaiju the movie offered: squid, lobster, turtle and what appeared
to be humanoid bats. Now this, one thinks to oneself, (particularly
if he is thirteen years old at the time) will be a cool movie.
as they say, appearances can be deceiving.
begin with the launch of space probe Helios 7, bound for the
surface of Jupiter (does Jupiter even have a surface?). Helios
7 looks remarkably like the period's pinnacle of space technology,
the Apollo series. En route, it encounters a shimmering blue mist which
infiltrates the spacecraft and somehow manages to turn it around and
send it hurtling towards Earth.
back on said Earth, a dejected photographer named Kudo (Akira Kubo)
looks out his airliner window at the exact moment Helios 7 parachutes
through the clouds. Unable to get a picture of the probe's unexpected
return, no one believes him, and Kudo is forced to take another job,
namely taking scenic photos of an island paradise up for development
into a luxury resort. In this he will joined by pretty Ayako (Atsuko
Takahashi), the developer's protege, and the Doctor (Yoshio Tsuchiya),
an old acquaintance of Kudo's, who has been hired by the developer as
a sort of island-type home inspector. The Doctor also has a pet theory
that giant prehistoric monsters might still exist on such islands. The
developer, at least, has the sense to wonder why he hired this particular
on our island paradise, the two advance men, Sakura (Wataru Omae) and
Yokayama (Chotaro Togin), go fishing
on a taboo part of the island. They soon discover why it is taboo, as
a blue glow in the unnaturally cold water gives way to an enormous monster
squid (mistakenly referred to throughout the movie as an octopus). The
squid grabs Sakura, turns him into a doll (oh, okay, it only looks
that way), and drags him under the waves.
of this reaches our heroes, but not until after they have made the acquaintance
of Mr. Roboto (Kenji Sahara), a "freelance anthropologist".
His name is not actually Mr. Roboto, but for the first hour of the movie,
it certainly sounds that way, and like a monkey trying to suck the last
bit of juice from an orange on a hot day, we will try to draw any entertainment
possible from this movie, so Mr. Roboto he remains.
at the beach by an increasingly reluctant Yokoyama and a downright hostile
native, Rico (Noratake Saito), our heroes nonetheless set about to exploring
the island, starting with some underwater caverns. After an occurrence
of blue lights and the cold water spitting out the missing Sakura's
wristwatch, the understandably shaken Yokoyama leaves our party at the
cave and drives, the protesting Rico in tow, back to their compound,
so he can hurriedly pack. Not fast enough, though, as the squid comes
ashore and lays waste to the Gilligan's Island house, turning
Yokoyama into a doll and brutalizing Rico. Before it can finish the
native off, however, a flock of bats arrive, causing the beastie to
freak out and retreat.
Rico frostbitten and in shock, our crew retires to the nearby native
where they are informed that their nemesis is the island god "Gazora",
and the local elder (Tetsu Nakamura) is lighting a huge bonfire to appease
it, or something. Kudo confronts Mr. Roboto over his strange behavior
and elicits a confession that Roboto is no freelance anthropologist
at all, but an industrial spy there to steal the plans for the island
resort (well, we knew he was a bad guy when we saw his white suit and
weird beard, no?)
Doctor and Kudo go scuba diving and sure enough, find the Helios
7 (that Kudo is some photographer, as he managed to pinpoint
on a map exactly where he saw the probe land). They also manage to find...Gazora!
Or at least the squid. Kudo's knife and the Doctor' s speargun have
no effect, and they would both surely be doomed if not for a fortuitous
school of dolphin that causes the squid to freak out and release the
proves to be unfortunate for the village, as the squid goes rampaging
through the jungle and their homes instead. Ayako does notice that the
monster reacts unfavorably to sticking its tentacle in the bonfire.
This leads Kudo and the Doctor to set a trap using munitions and gasoline
from an abandoned WWII Japanese garrison to torch the squid. All very
well and good, except the badly burned brachiopod staggers back to the
water, where the shimmering blue mist abandons its lifeless shell.
all appears to be well, except for that schmuck Mr. Roboto trying to
get away in a life raft, which capsizes, apparently drowning him.. Rico's
girlfriend decides to marry him, comatose or not. Kudo obligingly takes
the wedding photos, but the flash of his camera reminds Rico of the
blue glow of the monster, prompting a flashback and sudden curing of
his state, allowing him to tell Kudo and the Doctor about the bats.
Being a S*C*I*E*N*T*I*S*T*, the Doctor puts two and two (or bats and
dolphins) together and comes up with... "sound pressure".
What? Yes, sound pressure, whatever the hell that is. Let's just
call it sonar and get on with our lives, eh?
a good thing they make this discovery too, as the mist has possessed
and mutated a lobster (or, as our heroes dub it, with typical scientific
accuracy, a crab) and a turtle (I am surprised they don't refer to it
as a dog). The shells of both creatures provide excellent protection
from fire and bullets, so the discovery of the creatures' weakness is
well-timed. Unfortunately, Mr. Roboto turns up, equally possessed, and
starts burning the bats in their caves.
plucky heroes manage to discover one last caveful of bats, however,
and when Roboto shows up, they finally get to have a face-to-face, as
I were, with the mist. It introduces itself as a colony of "astro-quasars"
which intend to destroy mankind and take over the world, as usual. Ayako
begs Roboto to throw off his alien yoke, and, heroically, he does, releasing
the last bats before they burn, and then running off into the woods
to battle his intensely personal demons. The circling bats cause the
turtle and lobster to fight each other, (finally getting our KAIJU
BIG BATTEL!) until they fall into an active volcano. Then Mr. Roboto
throws himself into the lava, taking the last of the "astro-quasars"
with him, and causing us to say, "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto",
finally justifying having that damned song echo inside our heads for
the last hour. The end. At last..
major problem with Yog, besides the fact that nothing is ever
named Yog, is the fact that it possesses absolutely nothing you have
not seen in a hundred other kaiju, magnified by it's utter lack
of charm. The only thing on display here not lifted heavily (heavily
enough to cause a hernia) from other movies is the giant squid, the
body of which billows and bubbles like a Muppet in full mugging mode,
robbing it of any real menace. The giant turtle and lobster we have
certainly seen before, and better done; at least the turtle does not
is actually an interesting hero, but everyone else is from the local
character stock pond, from the wise and all-knowing doctor to the white-haired
village elder/witch doctor. The one piece of interesting character development,
sadly glossed over, is Ayako's realization that her cherished resort
development, no matter how well-intentioned, will completely destroy
the lifestyles of the natives... that might injected some actual drama
into the proceedings.
Monster from Space skates perilously close to the one unforgivable
sin a movie can commit: it's almost boring. As it is,
it's kaiju in a blender: a little bit of everything thrown in
and pureed into a bland mess. It's a case of been there, done that,
and in the case of Yog, been that. This is particularly
astounding and saddening when one realizes that this flick was made
by Ishiro Honda, the man who guided Godzilla through many of its classic
outings, and is responsible for many gems of Japanese genre cinema!
A certain amount of disappointment can be laid at the feet of bad translation
and dubbing, but even these usual suspects cannot be used to scapegoat
and excuse this collection of cliches.
where the hell were those humanoid bats?
Two folks (the inestimable Scott of Stomp
Tokyo and Gavin Smith) have written in to say the humanoid
bats were visiting from the set of Latitude Zero, shot
at the same time. Please hold your calls, we have a winner.