Sometimes, I'm just in the mood for a good ol' Japanese giant monster movie, or kaiju as they're known in Japan. TCM ran THE X FROM OUTER SPACE (1967) recently. I watched it for the first time last night and enjoyed it.
For a kaiju film, X sure takes it's time in getting there. It starts out as an outer space adventure movie with a crew of four (three men, one beautiful blonde woman, shades of FANTASTIC FOUR!) venturing into space aboard the "space boat" AAB Gamma, a spacecraft that is literally designed like a hydrofoil yacht. They encounter a UFO, land at the Japanese moon base, and dodge asteroids before finally encountering a mysterious, barnacle like substance on their engine cowling. They take a sample of this material back to Earth where it grows into a giant monster. The monster, dubbed Guilala by the scientists, goes on a rampage, absorbing energy and growing larger by the minute. The only way to defeat the monster is by spraying it with a substance called "Guilalalium" which looks a lot like shaving cream. The substance shrinks the monster back to it's original egg like state which is then placed in a rocket and shot into outer space.
Guilala is one of the stranger kaiju creatures in Japanese cinema. Elements of the rubber suit look like they were borrowed from Godzilla (he spews energy blasts from his mouth) but the triangular head and wobbly antennae are completely original.
The miniature/model work ranges from not bad to WTF?! The actors play everything with straight faces, no matter how ridiculous the dialogue and situations. The music varies from standard melodramatic action with pounding drums to inexplicable pop/rock instrumentals that are totally at odds with the onscreen action. There's even an outer space themed love song at the beginning and end of the film.
THE X FROM OUTER SPACE was released in Japan in March, 1967 but was never theatrically released in the United States. It was sold directly to American television in 1968. The Criterion Collection (bless 'em!) released the film in a box set entitled WHEN HORROR CAME TO SHOCHIKU in 2012. The print that TCM ran was from this collection. It's a nice transfer in Japanese with English subtitles.
THE X FROM OUTER SPACE is the perfect Saturday night popcorn movie. Absurd, goofy and downright bizarre, it's a ton of fun. Recommended.