25 October 2004 | slokes
When Good Kids Make Bad Choices
A flying saucer has just landed near your backyard. Do you:
A) Contact the police?
B) Grab a camera and sell a photo to the local tabloid?
C) Climb into the craft with your best Occidental buddy and fly off into space, counting on a giant space turtle to save your biscuits?
"Attack Of The Monsters" as a title is a bit of a misnomer. From it, one might expect a film that features whole slew of monsters charging en masse either on a defenseless Japanese city or else each other, but this typical cheapo offering from the "Gamera" folks presents only three monsters, Gamera and two outer-space creatures, one of who looks like a silver Rodan and the other which has a giant blade for a forehead. The three never have a grand battle, either; it's just a series of one-on-one match-ups.
All this meant something to me back in the day, when "Attack of the Monsters" was on the local "4:30 Movie" and it was a welcome alternative to bad old Godzilla. Sure, Godzilla would save your occasional child, but he'd destroy three city blocks doing so. Gamera cared about kids, too, only he had more respect for property values in the process.
Plus this film had special appeal for me because it featured two boys going off on a strange adventure. I could imagine my buddy Stephen and I doing the same thing, except he'd have to be the one to get his head shaved.
After walking into a UFO and being whisked onto the planet Terra, Akio and Tom find themselves in a planet devoid of life, except for two comely ladies with antennae heads and the occasional wandering monster. The boys are happy with their new friends, but the women, being women, have ulterior motives. They want the boys' brains for something to munch on during the long flight to Earth. After all, why take a chance on airplane food?
Back in my middle school days, I enjoyed the battle sequences where Gamera fought his alien adversaries while the kids avoided the sexy cannibals and explored an expansive Star Trek set with blinking console lights. Now I see special effects that make the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic" video look like a George Lucas production, dialogue as halting as a Berlitz beginners' course, and a storyline that sags at every turn.
But you know something? It's still a joy watching it. Most times, the pleasures of youth turn lame in adulthood. "Attack Of The Monsters" is just as much fun to watch now as it was then, especially if you have enough alcohol around.
Definitely try to get the Sandy Frank version; which has the zaniest dubbing. Better yet, find the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, where little Tom is basted with numerous Richard Burton riffs and Mike Nelson as Michael Feinstein brings it all home with a Cole Porter-ized version of the "Gamera" theme.