Frankenstein Conquers the World


1h 27m 1966

Brief Synopsis

During WWII, a human heart taken from a certain lab in Europe (Dr. Frankenstein's) is kept in a Japanese lab, when it gets exposed to the radiation of the bombing of Hiroshima. The heart grows in size, mutates and sprouts appendages, and eventually grows into a complete body and escapes. Later, a feral boy with a certain physical deformity (a large head with a flat top) is captured by scientists who refer to the boy as Frankenstein. The creature grows to the height of 20 feet, escapes again, fights police and army, and is practically indestructible. Later, a reptilian monster goes on a rampage. Eventually the Frankenstein creature and the reptile face off in a terrible battle.

Film Details

Also Known As
Frankenstein versus the giant devilfish, Furankenshutain tai Baragon
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: Jun 1966
Production Company
Henry G. Saperstein Enterprises; Toho Co.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Toward the end of World War II, a sealed box containing the living heart of the Frankenstein monster is shipped from a Nazi laboratory in Germany to Japanese scientists at Hiroshima. As the scientists are examining the organ, the atom bomb is dropped on the city. Ten years later, an American medical scientist, Dr. James Bowen, and his Japanese assistants learn of the existence of a mysterious wild boy who subsists on wildlife. After befriending the creature and discovering that he is growing to monstrous proportions at an amazing rate, the scientists theorize that the fallout from the bomb has brought about his birth from the Frankenstein heart. This theory is confirmed when the boy escapes his steel shackles by tearing off his hand and then quickly generating a new one. The boy grows to be almost 100 feet tall and takes refuge in the forests of Mount Fuji. Soon it is reported that a huge creature is wreaking destruction in the area, and the "Frankenstein boy" is blamed, but actually an earthquake has released a giant prehistoric reptile. As the army, police, and scientists pursue the gigantic boy, he struggles with and overcomes the reptile, but he himself perishes in another earthquake.

Film Details

Also Known As
Frankenstein versus the giant devilfish, Furankenshutain tai Baragon
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: Jun 1966
Production Company
Henry G. Saperstein Enterprises; Toho Co.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Frankenstein Conquers the World - FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD - The Craziest Mutation of the Mary Shelley Novel You'll Ever See!


Of all the countless horror and fantasy films inspired by Mary Shelley's famous 1818 novel, Ishiro Honda's Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) is easily the weirdest entry in the entire genre. Although some have accused it of exploiting the Frankenstein connection for purely monetary reasons, that doesn't make it any less bizarre or enjoyable if you have a fondness for Japanese science fiction films. The only challenge facing fans of Honda's film, especially if you saw it on U.S. television in the sixties, is the option of watching three different cuts of the film on the special edition DVD release from Tokyo Shock: There is the American cut, released here as Frankenstein Conquers the World, the longer International cut known as Frankenstein vs. Baragon which includes an encounter with the giant Devil-Fish at the climax, and the Japanese theatrical cut (original title: Furankenshutain tai chitei kaiju Baragon).

The delightfully absurd storyline, which begins in Germany during World War II, is set up in the film's atmospheric opening sequence as the camera pans across a laboratory complete with colorful beakers and typical mad scientist paraphernalia. Armed troops suddenly burst into the lab and commandeer a strongbox containing a beating heart. They quickly depart with their cargo, leaving the scientist to trash his underground research center. The valuable cargo is then smuggled aboard a submarine bound for Japan as a scientist (Takashi Shimura of The Seven Samurai [1954] fame) explains the origin of the heart. According to him, it turns out that Mary Shelley's novel was no fantasy but a true story and the monster actually existed! In fact, that's his heart inside the box! After arriving at its final destination in Hiroshima, the heart is prepared for a transplant operation but during surgery the atomic bomb falls and....we flash forward to 15 years later. No one seems to know what happened to Frankenstein's heart but American scientist Dr. James Bowen (Nick Adams) and his assistant Dr. Sueko Togami (Kumi Mizuno) think there might be a connection between the missing organ and a strange feral boy who haunts their neighborhood, kidnapping and eating people's pets. To describe much more would be spoiling your own discovery of this wacky opus so I'll only mention that in the second half the film reverts to the usual Toho monster mash shenanigans by introducing Baragon, a ridiculous looking lizard monster with a horn that lights up (extremely lame!) and the most immobile face you've ever seen. It's capped by something even more ridiculous in the international version's final scene: Frankenstein tussles with the Giant Devil-Fish, a pathetic octopus creature which looks like it escaped from Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster (1955). The slurping, sucking sound effects it makes are an added embarrassment.

On a purely visual level, however, Frankenstein Conquers the World is a glorious funhouse ride. The stylish art direction, moody lighting effects and some of the special effects are quite striking. Koji Furuhata, the actor who plays the title creature, sports some genuinely disturbing makeup and is quite effective in his early scenes, trying to communicate with the scientists. His best moment comes when he witnesses a rock 'n roll act on television (a Japanese version of "American Bandstand") and when the lead singer lets out a piercing wail, the monster boy goes nuts and picks up the television and throws it out the nearest window. Could it be that this peculiar fad among rock musicians began with Frankenstein Conquers the World?

One reason to watch the American cut is to enjoy the ludicrous English-dubbed dialogue and to be amazed by the casual way an incident like the Hiroshima bombing can be reduced to a simplistic rationalization by a research scientist: "The story of Hiroshima is tragic but it's given us the opportunity to study the cellular tissues of the human body. It's ironic but science progresses in this way." Indeed, and so do some movies. It's also interesting to consider the actor Nick Adams and wonder where and how his career went off the rails so quickly. I was never a fan of his mannered and overly intense acting style but just two years before Frankenstein Conquers the World he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for Twilight of Honor (1963) and had appeared to good advantage in such well regarded films as Rebel Without a Cause (1955), No Time for Sergeants (1958), Pillow Talk (1959) and Hell Is for Heroes (1962). Adams is adequate as the American scientist trying to comprehend his Japanese colleagues' scientific views but he seems to be playing the same character he played in The Interns in 1962 - a glib ladies' man who is popular with his female patients. Much more captivating is Kumi Mizuno whose numerous appearances in Japanese sci-fi films (Attack of the Mushroom People [1963], Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, 1965) have made her a cult icon on the international level of a Barbara Steele or Martine Beswick.

Tokyo Shock's presentation of Frankenstein Conquers the World is certainly more than anyone ever expected. The U.S. version is an acceptable transfer but the way to go is the international version which is a much sharper and attractive transfer with English subtitle options plus the choice of an audio commentary featuring Sadamasa Arikawa, a member of the original production crew on the film. Here's hoping Tokyo Shock will follow this up with the unofficial sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World which is just as demented - War of the Gargantuas (1966).

For more information about Frankenstein Conquers the World, visit Media Blasters (Tokyo Shock). To order Frankenstein Conquers the World, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeff Stafford
Frankenstein Conquers The World - Frankenstein Conquers The World - The Craziest Mutation Of The Mary Shelley Novel You'll Ever See!

Frankenstein Conquers the World - FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD - The Craziest Mutation of the Mary Shelley Novel You'll Ever See!

Of all the countless horror and fantasy films inspired by Mary Shelley's famous 1818 novel, Ishiro Honda's Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) is easily the weirdest entry in the entire genre. Although some have accused it of exploiting the Frankenstein connection for purely monetary reasons, that doesn't make it any less bizarre or enjoyable if you have a fondness for Japanese science fiction films. The only challenge facing fans of Honda's film, especially if you saw it on U.S. television in the sixties, is the option of watching three different cuts of the film on the special edition DVD release from Tokyo Shock: There is the American cut, released here as Frankenstein Conquers the World, the longer International cut known as Frankenstein vs. Baragon which includes an encounter with the giant Devil-Fish at the climax, and the Japanese theatrical cut (original title: Furankenshutain tai chitei kaiju Baragon). The delightfully absurd storyline, which begins in Germany during World War II, is set up in the film's atmospheric opening sequence as the camera pans across a laboratory complete with colorful beakers and typical mad scientist paraphernalia. Armed troops suddenly burst into the lab and commandeer a strongbox containing a beating heart. They quickly depart with their cargo, leaving the scientist to trash his underground research center. The valuable cargo is then smuggled aboard a submarine bound for Japan as a scientist (Takashi Shimura of The Seven Samurai [1954] fame) explains the origin of the heart. According to him, it turns out that Mary Shelley's novel was no fantasy but a true story and the monster actually existed! In fact, that's his heart inside the box! After arriving at its final destination in Hiroshima, the heart is prepared for a transplant operation but during surgery the atomic bomb falls and....we flash forward to 15 years later. No one seems to know what happened to Frankenstein's heart but American scientist Dr. James Bowen (Nick Adams) and his assistant Dr. Sueko Togami (Kumi Mizuno) think there might be a connection between the missing organ and a strange feral boy who haunts their neighborhood, kidnapping and eating people's pets. To describe much more would be spoiling your own discovery of this wacky opus so I'll only mention that in the second half the film reverts to the usual Toho monster mash shenanigans by introducing Baragon, a ridiculous looking lizard monster with a horn that lights up (extremely lame!) and the most immobile face you've ever seen. It's capped by something even more ridiculous in the international version's final scene: Frankenstein tussles with the Giant Devil-Fish, a pathetic octopus creature which looks like it escaped from Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster (1955). The slurping, sucking sound effects it makes are an added embarrassment. On a purely visual level, however, Frankenstein Conquers the World is a glorious funhouse ride. The stylish art direction, moody lighting effects and some of the special effects are quite striking. Koji Furuhata, the actor who plays the title creature, sports some genuinely disturbing makeup and is quite effective in his early scenes, trying to communicate with the scientists. His best moment comes when he witnesses a rock 'n roll act on television (a Japanese version of "American Bandstand") and when the lead singer lets out a piercing wail, the monster boy goes nuts and picks up the television and throws it out the nearest window. Could it be that this peculiar fad among rock musicians began with Frankenstein Conquers the World? One reason to watch the American cut is to enjoy the ludicrous English-dubbed dialogue and to be amazed by the casual way an incident like the Hiroshima bombing can be reduced to a simplistic rationalization by a research scientist: "The story of Hiroshima is tragic but it's given us the opportunity to study the cellular tissues of the human body. It's ironic but science progresses in this way." Indeed, and so do some movies. It's also interesting to consider the actor Nick Adams and wonder where and how his career went off the rails so quickly. I was never a fan of his mannered and overly intense acting style but just two years before Frankenstein Conquers the World he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for Twilight of Honor (1963) and had appeared to good advantage in such well regarded films as Rebel Without a Cause (1955), No Time for Sergeants (1958), Pillow Talk (1959) and Hell Is for Heroes (1962). Adams is adequate as the American scientist trying to comprehend his Japanese colleagues' scientific views but he seems to be playing the same character he played in The Interns in 1962 - a glib ladies' man who is popular with his female patients. Much more captivating is Kumi Mizuno whose numerous appearances in Japanese sci-fi films (Attack of the Mushroom People [1963], Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, 1965) have made her a cult icon on the international level of a Barbara Steele or Martine Beswick. Tokyo Shock's presentation of Frankenstein Conquers the World is certainly more than anyone ever expected. The U.S. version is an acceptable transfer but the way to go is the international version which is a much sharper and attractive transfer with English subtitle options plus the choice of an audio commentary featuring Sadamasa Arikawa, a member of the original production crew on the film. Here's hoping Tokyo Shock will follow this up with the unofficial sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World which is just as demented - War of the Gargantuas (1966). For more information about Frankenstein Conquers the World, visit Media Blasters (Tokyo Shock). To order Frankenstein Conquers the World, go to TCM Shopping. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

The original plot of this film had Godzilla facing Frankenstein. It was scrapped because Toho felt that the proposed fight scenes were to implausible.

Akira Ifukube reused some of his score from _Daikaiju Baran (1958)_ .

Material issued by American International credited an actress named "Sueko Togami" with playing a major part in this film. "Sueko Togami" is actually the name of the character played by Kumi Mizuno.

One of the proposed titles for this film was "Frankenstein Vs. the Giant Devil Fish". In fact, one of the lobby photos features the title monster doing battle with a giant octopus. However, that scene was deleted from the film. Ironically, the sequel, Furankenstein no kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira does feature a battle between Gaira, the Green Gargantua, and a giant octopus.

Notes

Released in Japan in 1966 as Furankenshutain tai Baragon; running time; 95 min. Originally titled Frankenstein vs. the Giant Devilfish. Kenchiro Kawaji and Seuko Togami are listed only in non-Japanese sources. Several scenes are used in Destroy All Monsters, q. v.