Monday, December 16, 2019

amoeba joe.

OK I survived turning 50 and seeing as the majority of my gifts were either Ultraman* or Kaiju based I thought I'd wind down after a hard days work yesterday with this classic.....

Space Amoeba (AKA ゲゾラ・ガニメ・カメーバ 決戦!南海の大怪獣, Gezora Ganime Kamēba Kessen!, Giant Monsters of the South Seas - 1970).
Dir: Ishiro Honda.
Cast: Akira Kubo, Atsuko Takahashi, Yukiko Kobayashi, Kenji Sahara, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Tetsu Nakamura, Yu Fujiki, Noritake Saito, Yuko Sugihara, Sachio Sakai Chotaro Togin, Wataru Omae, Ichiro Murakoshi, Haruo Nakajima and
Haruyoshi Nakamura.

Twice the monsters! Twice the terror!!!!

In a futuristic utopia where Lego has replaced concrete when it comes to construction work and a surplus of giant washing-up liquid bottles have been bought by NASA the unmanned space-probe Helios 7 has been dispatched to Jupiter for reasons best known to the scriptwriter and no-one else.

But let's be honest who needs a half decent plot when you can spend time wondering why an unmanned probe has windows and a cockpit?

Oh yes and a really large silver bell-end attached to the front.

Anyway a few months into the mission (which takes up literally ooh minutes of screen time, I mean come on there are monsters to meet) a glitter-based alien entity possesses the spacecraft and turns it back toward the earth.

A short while later we're introduced to our hero for the next 90 minutes, the exotically behatted and frightfully drunk photojournalist for hire Taro Kudo (Kubo from Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Urutora Q amongst others) who, drowning his sorrows after an unsuccessful fashion shoot in Brighton, spots the returning spacecraft crash-landing into the ocean from the window of the plane he's traveling on.

Apologies  for the clunkiness of that last sentence but it doesn't matter how hard I try it still comes across really weirdly stilted.

A wee bit like the movie.

It's like 2001 never happened.

Desperate for a story, Kudo excitedly tells his editor what he saw only to be told he's talking utter bollocks before being sent off to cover the local dog show but luckily on the way he's accosted by the button-nosed , big bonnet-ed beauty Ayako Hoshino (Takahashi - Destroy All Monsters), tourism troubleshooter for the real sounding yet entirely fictional Asia Development Company.

It appears that the company are planning to build a luxury hotel complex on the idyllic Sergio Island and want to hire Kudo to take some photos of the local fauna and flora for the brochure.

Obviously being a man of action the thought of photographing trees doesn't really excite him until that he realises that the island in question is not only rumoured to be the home of a giant monster but also exactly where he saw the Helios 7 crashland.

So, along with Ayako and the equally behatted biologistic Dr. Kyoichi Miya (Tsuchiya best known for Bara No Soretsu, Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and yes, Destroy All Monsters as well as for his research into UFOs), Kudo packs his bags and gets set to travel to Sergio Island safe in the knowledge that being the most attractive guy in the movie he'll have no trouble charming his way into Ayako's kick-flared jumpsuit.


Unfortunately his flirty deck-based chat is interrupted by the arrival of the mysterious - and mysteriously bearded - 'social anthropologist Makoto Obata (cult Kaiju star and part-time desert Sahara, who not only appeared in more Gojira movies than anyone else but was also a regular in Ultraman, which makes him a god in this house), who for all the world comes across as a slightly more sinister Japanese Rolf Harris which adds a totally new layer to the film and one I doubt the makers intended.

And so the trio sit and chat uncomfortably waiting for Dr. Miya to turn up, partly to order dinner but mainly to move the plot on a wee bit.

Meanwhile on Sergio island, Gavin the project manager (Fujiki from The Hidden Fortress and King Kong vs. Godzilla) and his portly pal Yokoyama (Togin from you guessed it Destroy All Monsters) have decided to sneak off to a hidden cove to go fishing and maybe, just maybe have a wee kiss and cuddle but unfortunately before any of this can happen a huge octopus named Gezora and with a head shaped like a freshly circumcised penis with two googly eyes attached - appears from the sea and eats Gavin whilst Yokoyama looks on in terror.

Well I say terror but it's more  akin to mild apathy.

Luckily before he can get scoffed too he's saved by an appearance by the local tribal elder - and council estate Brian Blessed - Onbo (Nakamura from The Manster) and his trusty sidekick Rico (Godzilla vs. Gigan's boss-eyed beefcake Saito) who after giving him a stern telling off head back to the village for tea and crumpets.

"Eye son!"

As a new day dawns our fantastic foursome arrive on the island to be greeted by a very grumpy - or is that stilted? - Rico and a jumpy and jittery Yokoyama who, after begrudgingly popping their luggage in a jeep take the group to a nearby cave to begin surveying stuff.

Or something.

But there's no time to worry about that tho' because as soon as Ayako gets out of the jeep she's fainting at the sight of a turtle, sprayed grey and with bits of eggbox shoddily stuck to him, crawling thru' the grass.

This creature may become important later.

Luckily these fairly tedious cave-based musings are cut short when a bright blue light in a rockpool freaks the shit out of Yokoyama who runs away before driving into the jungle with Rico in tow and hiding out in a nearby potting shed.

But his post traumatic tearful wank is disturbed by good old Gezora appearing from behind an albeit rather large tree and smashing everything, leaving poor Yokoyama crushed under a pile of old Razzle mags and Rico spread-eagled behind a bush.

"Is it in yet?"

Being a fairly short film it's not long before the rest of the group discover not only the devastation but also a by now conscious Rico, soaked in his own piss, shivering in a state of shock and suffering from bizarre patches of frostbite caused by Gezora's nippy tentacles.

This is because Gezora is a cold water creature and because he's so big he's colder than normal or something.

Being a girl Ayako starts to cry, worried that the beast will return and eat her whole - tho' as regular readers know it will most likely spit that bit out.

Dr. Miya on the other - less withered - hand, has no time for such girlie reactions and sternly accuses Ayako of being horribly monsterphobic.

Because being terrified that a fucking huge octopus is going to tear you limb from limb is in no way a normal reaction obviously.

Anyway this conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Rico's dusky lover (their description) Saki (Kobayashi - who once had her photo taken with Gojira and, would it surprise you to know, was also in Destroy All Monsters?) who kindly offers to let everyone stay in the village rather than sleep in the wreckage of the shed.

Which is nice.

But whilst all this native-based niceness is going on, Obata sneakily steals the company's hotel development plans from the wrecked shed.

Yup, he's an evil spy working for a rival holiday firm.

No, really.

Luckily for the team he's actually a really shit spy and Kudo spots his attempts to hide the documents up his arse and challenges him to a naked bunfight, Obata knowing that he'd be beaten proposes instead that they work together to find a way to beat the beast and get off the island so with a handshake the pair settle their differences and everyone heads off to bed.

Except Rico that is, he's in the corner dribbling and playing with his own shit, poor guy.

"Oh's the Ninky Nonk!"

The next morning, Kudo and Miya decide to go scuba-diving in order to find the Helios 7 capsule but are almost immediately (again) attacked by Gezora but are able to escape when a school of porpoises come to their rescue.

But as they reach the shore they realise that Gezora is in hot pursuit.

Luckily the villagers are on the beach having a barbecue and Kudo notices that The angry beast recoils from the flames due to its aforementioned low body temperature so to this end our heroes decide to torch the fucker using some handy petrol canisters that Onbo keeps under his bed for emergencies.

Stomping the village and tossing its inhabitants around like the rag dolls they obviously are all seems lost until a well place torch singes Gezora's arse and the creature retreats to the ocean to die.

As everyone celebrates the creatures demise they are unaware that below the surface the glittery space amoeba that had possessed Gezora is already on the hunt for a new body.

"Spice Girls number one for Christmas....Monsta!"

As the partying continues Kudo goes on the hunt for extra boozer and soon stumbles across a WWII Japanese army weapons cache in an old shed.

Which is kinda lucky seeing as the space amoeba has possessed a crab - named Ganimes - which, unusually for crustaceans, is the size of a house.

And is also currently heading their way.

Kudo, being used to fighting giant monsters by this point leads Ganimes into a nearby pit before shooting it in the eyes and blowing it up with a pile of dynamite that just happened to be lying about in an old bin bag.


As everyone starts to celebrate again poor Obata, realising that he has no chance of pulling Ayako - especially after Koda has killed to big beasts decides to leave everyone to it, stealing a boat and attempting to row back to Japan.

Unfortunately as he's busy blowing up the rubber dingy the amoeba crawls up his leg and possesses him before informing him - and us -  that it plans to conquer the Earth and that his body will make it easier to infiltrate human society.

Albeit only the parts that involve looking like a pedo painter obviously.

"Can you tell me what it is yet?"

Back at what's left of the village Dr Miya is busying himself examing Ganimes' remains and determines that the creature grew to its monstrous size due to the aliens influence, tho' this doesn't explain how Gezora came to be so huge to begin with seeing as the islanders have worship him for years and that the alien has just turned up but let's not worry about such trivial plot points as Rico has just regained his senses and is eager to inform everyone that the amoebas control of the creatures can be thwarted by the ultrasonic sounds made by the islands bat population.

Oh and by the porpoises too.

And with that he gets down on one knee and proposes to Saki.

Which is kinda sweet but fairly unexpected if I'm honest.

But what the hell let's go with it.

"Wrong hole!"

Now having an excuse to spend quality time alone, Kudo and Ayako head off to search for the bats lair unaware that yet another monster - this time a giant turtle (told you it'd be important) called Kamoebas - is sneakily stalking them.

As the creature draws ever nearer the pair finally come across the bats cave only to discover that Obata has beaten them to it and stands ready to burn the bats (to death) with a handy box of matches he found in Yokoyama's pocket earlier.....

Will our heroes defeat the space amoeba or be torn limb from limb by the giant turtle?

Will that crab re-animate for no reason other than to allow it and the turtle to start kicking the shit out of each other?

Will the crab at one point drop kick the turtle and start pretending to play the drums on his tummy?

Will the until now not mentioned island volcano erupt?

Will any of this actually make sense?

With an opening stolen from - sorry 'inspired' by -  Nigel Kneale's The Quatermass Experiment you might be confused into thinking that you're about to view a high-brow sci-fi epic but the cinematic genius that was Ishiro Honda, (director of the original Gojira and father - alongside SFX wizard Eiji Tsuburaya - of the Kaiju genre) has other ideas - albeit ones that are solely based on toy sales - so instead creates this whack 'em bash 'em bit of brilliantly bonkers bollocks that encapsulates everything we hold dear regarding the Japanese giant monster genre.

And whilst it'll probably never make anyone's Kaiju top ten it's mad enough - and short enough - to be a pain-free way to waste 90 odd minutes.

Plus it finally answers the age old question, what would an octopus looked like if it walked on two of its legs.

And if that isn't enough, name another monster movie that has the balls to stop halfway thru' for a wedding scene just so one of the characters can be happy enough to explain the plot.



Everything you'd expect from a Kaiju caper - the ubiquitous tropical island setting, the mixed bag of bizarrely jobbed characters thrown together (in this case a fashion photographer, the obligatory science type and a spy) alongside a screaming girl whose only job is to flutter her eyelashes at the hero, face-painted 'natives', alien invaders and a collection of ever more ludicrously explained beasts alongside some vague ecological themes - are present and correct whilst the score from the legendary Akira (Gojira) Ifukube is never anything other than epic.

Yes it's (fairly) cheap looking by today's standards and the dubbing - at least on this version which sounds at times like the cast of a community centre panto who've just learned how to speak - is absolutely atrocious but look passed the obvious shortcomings and you're in for a treat.

Or at least a very guilty pleasure.

ABBA - The Brexit years.

As ever, Ishirô Honda's direction is fantastic, the cast are, well just there really whilst the special effects are exactly how you remember/imagine them with colorful matte work and a myriad of miniatures just begging to be stomped intercut with a trade-mark studio bound feel that is at once homely and strangely high-concept, almost as if the makers wanted to make everything deliberately unreal and comic book-like.

Or is that just me reading too much into a genre I've unapologetically loved since boyhood.

You decide.

Not as famous or as well loved as its Kaiju companions, Space Amoeba is well deserving of a re-evaluation.

As is Kenji Sahara's fashion choices.

Go on, I mean what have you to lose?

Not your dignity obviously, I mean you read this blog.

Go on, stop what you're doing and watch it now.

You can thank me later.

*Including probably THE coolest lamp ever.....Check it out:


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