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TALKBACK: The Mysterians • Monster Zero x SciFi Japan

TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Godzilla wasn't the only daikaiju to go stomping through Asia! From Rodan and Mothra to Yongarry and Gappa, discuss other JAPANESE/ASIAN kaiju films here!

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TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby Benjamin Haines » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:24 pm

This movie has nostalgic value for me, even though I didn't see it until I was 16, all of seven years ago. Aside from Rodan, I never saw any of the non-Godzilla Toho SFX films from the golden age as a child, but I was aware of their existence thanks to books like The Official Godzilla Compendium. In the late '90s, if they weren't at any local video stores, as far as I knew they weren't on video at all, so to me those movies were always things of wonder, the mysterious first appearances of many of the monsters I knew from Godzilla films, lost to time, never to be seen.

Then in 2005, out of nowhere comes Media Blasters with a quartet of obscure Toho classics on DVD, starting with The Mysterians. The moment the menu screen came up and I heard Akira Ifukube's "Preparing to Attack" cue, it dawned on me what I was in for. For some reason it had never clicked in my head before then that these elusive Showa era SFX films were cut from the same cloth as the Godzilla classics I grew up watching, with the same kind of look and style that all felt so familiar to me. That was when I really started to appreciate the unique sensibility that Ishiro Honda, Akira Ifukube, Eiji Tsuburaya et al. brought to the table, as well as the recurring actors that pop up in so many of these classics. Realizing that the total number of Showa Era movies was more than double what I had thought was exciting to say the least.


I really like The Mysterians. Rewatching it now, it's clear that there isn't all that much of a story here. It's not as thin on plot as Battle In Outer Space, but after the first 40 minutes or so it's really just a series of escalating action sequences. What makes it work is the intrigue the movie builds up in the first act. The mystery of Shiraishi's disappearance, his incomplete report on Mysteroid, disasters in the form of a forest fire and a giant robot, and strange activity on the moon all lead up to the sudden revelation of the Mysterian dome.

I like how Mogera is handled. Unlike Godzilla and Rodan, the giant monster (or robot in this case) is a precursor to the film's main conflict, appearing early and unexpectedly. The outstretched arms, lumbering gate and lack of a voice make Mogera effectively ominous and the nighttime attack on the town is wonderfully shot. The brief appearance of the second Mogera toward the end of the movie is hilarious.

There is really bizarre scene in which a U.S. official speaks in English and a translator repeats the message in Japanese to the Japanese characters. Then when they all sit down, the American suddenly speaks Japanese, so why did he ever need a translator? I think the white actors were probably native Japanese speakers with no idea what they were saying in English. I wonder why Honda had them speaking Japanese in the film at all, though I guess he figured Japanese audiences at the time wouldn't be bothered by that inconsistency.

The miniature effects are just spectacular. Combined with the dynamic rotoscoping and Ifukube's riveting score they make for some unforgettable sequences of the Earth Defense Force fighting the Mysterians. This is the ultimate 1950s alien invasion movie.
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:40 pm

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Postby kiryugoji04 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:47 pm

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Postby Mac » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:58 pm

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Postby king_ghidorah » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:59 pm

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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby Tyler E. Martin » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:18 pm

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Postby king_ghidorah » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:22 pm

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Postby MekaGojira3k » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:29 pm

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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby kiryugoji04 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:33 pm

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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby Tyler E. Martin » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:37 pm

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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby Benjamin Haines » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:56 am

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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby Tyler E. Martin » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:30 am

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Postby MouthForWar » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:00 am

I love this movie, but I agree that the pacing is a bit too sluggish. Still, its one of my favorites.
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Postby sentaison » Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:40 pm

It's one of my all time favorites. Yes the story seems to bog down a bit in the middle, but the battle scenes and all of the effects are just spectacular. And the music is among the best Ifukube ever did for Toho. Now I just have to find the free time to watch it again!
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Postby Giganfan » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:02 pm

The Mysterians is my favorite of all Toho's fantasy films. To me, it contains all of the hallmarks of what a classic Toho science fiction epic is supposed to be; the ecclectic use of colors, the wildly imaginative costumes and weaponry, Ishiro Honda's universal theme of international unity against a common threat, the INTENSLEY blue skies (you gotta love Toho's backdrops in those days!) and a ROUSING Akira Ifukube score. When considering The Mysterians I cannot help comparing it to another of my all-time favorite films, Tod Browning's Dracula with Bela Lugosi, in terms of it's basic construction. In both films, you are immediately drawn in by the expository action. In Dracula the opening moments in Transylvania are often regarded as some of the finest of horror cinema that's ever been filmed, while in The Mysterians, the carefully paced and brilliantly moody "act one" with Moguera is simply one of the best sequences that the Honda/Tsuburaya/Ifukube trio ever conceived. However, in the case of both films, it seems the popular consensus is that everything that follows is considerably inferior. With Dracula, it becomes the victim of an extemely stage-bound script and a notoriously un-flashy director who was finding it difficult to adjust to the dawn of the talking picture era. In The Mysterians, with the exception of the effects sequences, most fans and critics feel that the story bogs down and Honda directs at a somnambulistic pace (that's just the feeling I have gotten from reading reviews and opinions of fans over the years; I could be wrong). To me, even though both movies are admittedly flawed, and not perfect, The Mysterians and Dracul are still great films, and are highly effective because they hook you from the start. Honda, Tsuburaya and co. start out with a loud "BANG" and they instantly get you interested. For me anyway, that's all they really needed to do to have me invested in whatever story they were trying to tell. The brilliant opening moments are what elevate the rest of the material beyond their imperfections. And besides, Ishiro Honda was, respectfully, an economy-minded and deliberately methodical director, sometimes to the benefit of a movie, sometimes not. Howard Hawks once said that a good movie consists of two or three great scenes, and no bad ones. Now, whether or not you agree with that statement (I do), I think it's safe to say that The Mysterians has three great scenes, atleast two and, atleast to my liking, no bad ones.
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Postby Giganfan » Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:58 am

D*mn...guess I didn't convince anyone :(
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Postby MekaGojira3k » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:17 pm

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Postby metal_bryan » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:38 am

I very much enjoy The Mysterians, but I don't know if I could possibly rate it higher than Matango. I know they're very different movies, but Matango always struck me as one of the best movies in general, whereas The Mysterians is a good Toho sci-fi flick.
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Postby The Real McCoy » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:28 pm

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Postby MekaGojira3k » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:30 pm

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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby daijinryuu775489 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:40 am

The Mysterians is an excellent film, but it could still benefit from a more well developed plot. It was great to see the human stars from Godzilla and Rodan brought together for a strong alien invasion entry. Also, the Beta was an awesome aircraft. I tend to imagine that maybe the Beta was a precursor to the Gotengo...
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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby Silver Kamen » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:41 pm

My biggest problem with The Mysterians is that the human drama is minimal. Even though there are countless actors here who could have carried the film. There’s no attempt to deepen the relationship between the lead characters, even though it’s at a critical point, as the aliens desire the main group of females for breeding. There’s not much time to deal with any of these issues. Which really hurts the film, in my opinion.
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Re: TALKBACK: The Mysterians

Postby Gman2887 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:41 pm

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