Favorite Non-Godzilla Toho Fantasy Films

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Favorite Non-Godzilla Toho Fantasy Films

Postby Giganfan » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:34 am

This topic needs to be revisited more often, because the creative geniuses at Toho in the 50s and 60s made so many more wonderful sci-fi adventure than what we see in the Godzilla series. Personally,I think that some of these classics are better than the very best Goji films. Recently, I've been satisfying an addictive thirst for Toho's most imaginative of film genre's, so I 've watched a great deal of movies over the past few weeks. I have a fresh perspective on alot of these masterworks, so I thought it was time, atleast for me to re-evaluate which ones are my favorites. Hopefully, some of you feel the same way. So, without further adeu(sp?)...

The Mysterians

Ultimately, I always come back to this film, because to my taste, it is the quintessential Toho fantary film. It's wildly colorful and imaginative in its design, and the opening act from the moment it starts until Moguera is immobilized by the destruction of the bridge, is by far the greatest thing that Honda, Tsuburaya, Kimura and Ifukube have ever done. It does get a bit slow in certain areas, but that was Honda's style. His eye for documentary-style drama has always made for a very thorough interpretation of a story. I absolutely adore this movie!

Matango

If someone where to ask me which film is Ishiro Honda's best, I'd say that Godzilla King of the Monsters! and Godzilla vs. The Thing are undisputed. but Matango is a masterpiece. Here, he gets to work with a very grim story by Kimura, excellent effects work by Tsuburay and his crew and of the best ensemble casts ever assembled. This film gived Honda the opportunity to be pessimistic for once, and when unleashed in such a manner, he depicted a very disturbing view of mankind. Vastly underrated, and should be considered in a general poll of great sci-fi/horror movies.

Frankenstein Conquers The World/War of The Gargantuas

I will never choose between these two movies. Ever. They're both equally brilliant, and represent the apex of the Honda, Tsuburaya et. al team. This was truly the golden age of Japanese sci-fi, and along with Godzilla vs. The Thing, Ghidrah The Three-Headed Monster[/i], Monster Zero and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, these two movies are simply THE cream of the kaiju eiga crop.

Mothra

The introduction of the most intelligently scripted kaiju in Toho's gallery. Not to mention the great story, effects, performances, etc. Toho mde alot of great science fiction films, but there are only a select few that qualify as bona-fide masterpieces. Mothra is one of them. My fandom of the big bug was reawakened byTokyo SOS, and whenever I watch this movie, I feel like I'm looking at a great piece of art. It simply a beautiful movie.

Latitude Zero

This film, on the whole, is not one of Toho's finest. The pressures of a practically nonexistent partnership with an American co-producer, are evident throughout. Joseph Cotten is a fine performer, and even though he is fun to watch here, I've always felt that maybe somebody else would have been more appropriate for the role of Captain Craig MaKenzie(sp?). The story is pure Toho fantasy, but the dialogue is, as written by a foreign screenwriter, not always suited to the traditonal sensibilities of Honda and Sekizawa. Still, this is a very fun movie that, at its best, exhibits how good its creators really were at making these kinds of movies. Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya shoot some of their absolute best work, and Shinichi Sekizawa writes a very vivid and believable depiction of paradise and harmony on Earth. Latitude Zero is not the film it could have been, but it's still pretty damn-fine. Atleast partially underrated in the Toho canon.

These five(six) films are the ones that I am predominantly infatuated with, but on any any given day, one of Toho's other great works could be my favorite. I feel that Dogora is also one of their best of the genre, because it's a well-constructed, wacky assortment of yakuza, sexy women robbers, great performances, occidental and Japanese, and daikaiju. And Gorath is the pinnacle of Honda's vison of mankind working together to defeat a common enemy (except for the cool, if unnecessary walrus). And of course, Rodan goes without saying. I could be here all night talking about these movies, but.....well you know! Let's see what you guys have to say.
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Postby king_ghidorah » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:22 pm

Hmm good list...in alot of ways I prefer these films..although I liked Kong Escapes too
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Postby Madison Carter » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:32 am

May not top a lot of lists, but I've always had a soft spot for Yog/Space Amoeba.
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Postby metal_bryan » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:52 am

I thought Atragon was a fun movie to watch... and Dogora is certainly great in its own right. Yog/Space Amoeba has its flaws, but I like to watch it from time to time.

Of the ones you really went into, I have no dispute. TOHO's team made so many great movies in their golden age! My personal favorite is Matango.
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Re: Favorite Non-Godzilla Toho Fantasy Films

Postby godziwolf » Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:35 pm

Giganfan wrote:
The Mysterians

Ultimately, I always come back to this film, because to my taste, it is the quintessential Toho fantary film. It's wildly colorful and imaginative in its design, and the opening act from the moment it starts until Moguera is immobilized by the destruction of the bridge, is by far the greatest thing that Honda, Tsuburaya, Kimura and Ifukube have ever done. It does get a bit slow in certain areas, but that was Honda's style. His eye for documentary-style drama has always made for a very thorough interpretation of a story. I absolutely adore this movie!



I've never been able to get into The Mysterians. It just seems like such a strange film. Very slow, and minor-feeling, even compared to Rodan. Which is odd, given the relatively wide scope of the supposed attack.

I guess it's because the invasion seems so ineffectual and so poorly planned. Given what they were supposedly capable of, they built that tin-man Mogera, which promptly fell off a bridge and broke?
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Re: Favorite Non-Godzilla Toho Fantasy Films

Postby jellydonut25 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:55 am

godziwolf wrote:
Giganfan wrote:
The Mysterians

Ultimately, I always come back to this film, because to my taste, it is the quintessential Toho fantary film. It's wildly colorful and imaginative in its design, and the opening act from the moment it starts until Moguera is immobilized by the destruction of the bridge, is by far the greatest thing that Honda, Tsuburaya, Kimura and Ifukube have ever done. It does get a bit slow in certain areas, but that was Honda's style. His eye for documentary-style drama has always made for a very thorough interpretation of a story. I absolutely adore this movie!


Yeah, I've always been a bit embarrassed coming here considering how much everyone loves the Mysterians considering I fell asleep during it the first two times I watched it... :oops:

Matango is probably my favorite though, I really really liked it a lot

I've never been able to get into The Mysterians. It just seems like such a strange film. Very slow, and minor-feeling, even compared to Rodan. Which is odd, given the relatively wide scope of the supposed attack.

I guess it's because the invasion seems so ineffectual and so poorly planned. Given what they were supposedly capable of, they built that tin-man Mogera, which promptly fell off a bridge and broke?
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Postby Giganfan » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:22 pm

I can totally understand your sentiments, regarding The Mysterians. The film does move at a rather slow pace, even for Honda. And in some scenes it does feel as if the actors are waiting for him to call "cut." However, every time I watch it, I'm so into that first act, I'm completely tuned in for everything that happens afterwards. Technically, it may not be the best film that Honda, Tsuburaya, etc. made, but you have to remember that The Mysterians was made at a time when its creators were essentially creating the genre. They wouldn't perfect it until 1961, when they made the original Mothra. On that note, I think it's pretty damn-good. The same could be said for Rodan; an imperfect masterpiece that paved the way for the more-polished works to come.
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Postby MouthForWar » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:44 am

There are a lot of great non-Godzilla sci-fi/horror films from Toho, but my favorites are:

The Mysterians
Rodan
Mothra
Matango
Atragon
Frankenstein vs. Baragon
War of the Gargantuas
The H-Man
the Human Vapor
Pyrokinesis
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Postby Dagarah72 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:57 am

I also have a soft spot for Space Amoeba/Yog, I always loved Gezora and Ganime!

My other faves are Rodan, Dogora and Matango. I still haven't watched Latitude Zero or Battle In Outer Space.


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Postby Giganfan » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:00 pm

Let's see if I can do this in some kind of an order. From favorite, to least favorite...

The Mysterians
Matango
Atragon
Frankenstein Conquers The World
War of the Gargantuas
Mothra
Latitude Zero
Rodan
Dogora
Yog The Monster From Space
Battle In Outer Space
King Kong Escapes
Gorath
Varan The Unbelievable
The War in Space

As for The H-Man, The Human Vapor, The Secret of the Telgian, Gunhed, Yamato Takeru, Crossfire and the Mothra trilogy, I haven't seen any of them in a very long time, so for now I'll with-hold including them.
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Postby lhb412 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:04 pm

This is really hard, but I'd say Rodan is my favorite non-Godzy Toho sci-fi flick, but King Kong Escapes comes close. Mothra, War of the Gargantuas, The Mysterians, Matango, and Dogora are all in that third place...


Of course, when Sony's DVD set comes out I'll see two I have never seen before. That'll be great.
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Postby Giganfan » Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:28 am

Speaking of which, has there been any news regarding these releases? It seems rather hush-hush as of late, and I was beginning to think they weren't coming out (or atleast not coming until next year, or something).
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Postby Legion » Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:38 am

Giganfan wrote:Speaking of which, has there been any news regarding these releases? It seems rather hush-hush as of late, and I was beginning to think they weren't coming out (or atleast not coming until next year, or something).


From what I've heard the earliest we should be expecting this set is in the Fall, which is when these types of Sony genre sets usually are released.
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Postby lhb412 » Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:17 pm

We recently were told that Rebirth of Mothra 3 was off the set (possibly a Rebirth trilogy set down the line) and that it would be a purely classic set. U.S. and Japanese versions of Mothra and The H-Man will be included and Battle in Outer Space (which wasn't edited in it's US release) will just include two audio tracks.
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Postby godziwolf » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:41 am

MouthForWar wrote:There are a lot of great non-Godzilla sci-fi/horror films from Toho, but my favorites are:

The Mysterians
Rodan
Mothra
Matango
Atragon
Frankenstein vs. Baragon
War of the Gargantuas
The H-Man
the Human Vapor
Pyrokinesis


What's Pyrokinesis?
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Postby MouthForWar » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:50 am

godziwolf wrote:
MouthForWar wrote:There are a lot of great non-Godzilla sci-fi/horror films from Toho, but my favorites are:

The Mysterians
Rodan
Mothra
Matango
Atragon
Frankenstein vs. Baragon
War of the Gargantuas
The H-Man
the Human Vapor
Pyrokinesis


What's Pyrokinesis?


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266870/
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Postby ryuuseipro » Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:51 pm

godziwolf wrote:
MouthForWar wrote:There are a lot of great non-Godzilla sci-fi/horror films from Toho, but my favorites are:

The Mysterians
Rodan
Mothra
Matango
Atragon
Frankenstein vs. Baragon
War of the Gargantuas
The H-Man
the Human Vapor
Pyrokinesis


What's Pyrokinesis?


The tokusatsu horror film Shuusuke Kaneko did at Toho right before GMK. Basically Toho's answer to Firestarter. It's got some very superb FX and makeup work, if somewhat disturbing!
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Postby king_ghidorah » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:21 pm

The DVD is a lil pricey...I'm a big Kaneko fan though so I always wondered if the film was any good...I may have to bite the bullet and buy it now before it disapears. This recession is killing my collecting Kurosawa films...had just made a resolution to have all of his films last fall when everything went south...may just wait till they release all of them on blue ray and the economy picks up. Anyways back to Pyrokenesis...I can't wait to see it someday.
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Postby Ichiro » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:59 am

I love Battle in Outer Space. The spfx are fantastic and it contains Ifukube's best musical score

I know its been criticized, but I also love The War in Space. Very silly, but it moves at a great pace. The musical score is really fun too.
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Postby Giganfan » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:01 am

I guess everyone is too busy watching Godzilla movies these days...ah well, you can't win 'em all, I guess.

I can't believe I forgot to mention Atragon so far. What an awesome movie! Hopefully, August, Megaloman, Ryusseipro(sp?) or one of the more scholarly fellows are paying attention to this thread, cuz they could probably give you the dirt about this film alot better than I could.
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:07 am

Sorry, I've been following this thread but I haven't posted because it's SO HARD TO CHOOOOOOOSE!! D8

But if pressed for an answer I would have to say my favorites beyond favorites would have to be The Mysterians and King Kong Escapes. The former is, IMO, Toho's best alien invasion flick (or at least my absolute favorite). It's just so grand to watch! The latter is crazy, colorful fun with a pair of smoking hot leading ladies and some wonderful miniaturework.

Though I have still yet to see it, I suspect Gorath will top both of them based on the trailer. D:
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Postby Giganfan » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:22 am

Yeah, I've really come to terms with King Kong Escapes over the years. I LOVED it when I first saw it, at the tender age of nine on the Sci-Fi Channel, But then, I got a little condecending over it, which as I look back was ridiculous. This is grade-A, quality adventure storytelling, much in the same spirit as the 1933 original (No, I'm not comparing both films to one another. I'm just saying that Toho's love for the original Kong is very evident in KKE.).

Gorath requires a straight shot of some hard liquor first, if you ask me. It's wildly ambitious, and for what it is, Honda, Tsuburaya pull it off for the most part. But I guess my real beef with the film is that it's waaaay too literal. Honda spends too much time focusing on the scientific and mathematical aspects of the Gorath death star and mayhem it will eventually wrought. Splendid for a documentary, not so much for a big budget, epic sci-fi drama. And frankly, the scripting of the human drama is very weird to me. Maybe I don't know anything about Japanese culture, Japanese filmmaking, or whatever but this was very strange to me. And then of course, you have Magma, the 'wonder walrus," who while cool-looking, admittedly stops everything dead in its tracks.
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Postby kiryugoji04 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:13 am

Anyone who looks down on King Kong Escapes is a crazy mofo in my eyes! It's my favorite Kong film, easily. I went into it not expecting to like it much (I've never much cared for KKvsG in either language, though the Japanese edit is 3000x better) but it blew me away in its awesomeness. Very, very rewatchable. Hell, the dub doesn't even bother me since almost everyone is supposed to be foreign anyway! Did not expect it to become one of my top five favorite Toho films!

Gorath... It just looks and sounds like I will adore it based on everything I've seen and read about it. Yes, including Magma the Wonder Walrus. XD
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Postby jellydonut25 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:01 am

I feel the exact same about KKE as Giganfan...

loved it...then looked down on it as a goofy kiddy movie...now love it again...and i 100% agree that the love for the '33 original is VERY evident
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Postby king_ghidorah » Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:26 am

THe end fight scene on the Tokyo Tower is just awesome...one of my all time favorites... :D
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