Japanese monster flicks have been a part of my life for as long as my movie viewing peepers have been turned to the television screen. I’ve seen Japan destroyed dozens of times by rubber suited creatures of all shapes. I’ve seen scientists and soldiers race against the clock to throw a wrench in doomsday’s plans. I’ve seen some ridiculous looking monsters but up until a space spore mutated and grew, I had never seen a bulky ass antennaed chicken robot thing destroy the hell out of some miniatures and shoot balls of energy out of its beaked mouth. So I guess I hadn’t seen a damn thing.
The FAFC (Fuji Astro-Flight Center) is preparing to send a nuclear powered ship (AAB-Gamma also lovingly called Astro-Boat) to Mars. Following a few failed missions which ended in the deaths of all crew aboard and are believed to have been caused by UFO interference, the four person crew is prepared for anything. Aboard we have Captain Sano (a handsome young man who is just as boring as any American chiseled jawed wiener that ever graced a 50s monster flick, Lisa (an American space biologist and the casualty of a horribly voiced dub job), Officer Miyamato (communications man and “comic relief”) and Dr. Shioda (whose main purpose is to get sick). After they spot the UFO, communications get jumbled up and the crew doctor falls ill. This forces them to land on the FAFC moon base where Sano’s love interest Michiko works. They swipe out doctors (an obnoxious and unpleasant German man takes the place of Shioda) and head back out to complete their mission. They fail but do manage to collect some space spores and survive the trip.
Before any celebration can really kick in, the spore cracks open and one of Japanese cinema’s goofiest monsters emerges. It grows to giant proportions (of course) and does what any good chicken robot space monster would do: heads to Tokyo and kicks the shit out of buildings at every chance it gets. The Japanese military proves to be pretty useless and the creature (now being called Guilala by the idiots who brought it back to earth) absorbs any force thrown at it. It’s up to our lovable group of astronauts and scientists to figure out a way to destroy the problem they pretty much created before the world is reduced to rubble.
Shockiku’s (the second oldest motion picture studio in Japan) first foray into horror has a manic energy in its second half but falters quite a bit in its first. A lot of time is spent on the journey to Mars (which they don’t accomplish) and X drags because of it. There’s enough kitsch to get one threw but even my cornball loving ass rolled my eyes a few times. The swinging score by Taku Izumi is charming in its cheesy foot tapping way and the low rent Guilala shenanigans should bring a smile to any monster kid’s face. I also fell in love with the awkwardly voiced Lisa (Peggy Neal) as the loveliest space biologist I’ve ever seen.
Failed humor, a clunky love triangle and some bullshit science all combine to make any kaiju-eiga fan feel right at home. X would be a cheesy masterpiece if it weren’t for the patience draining opening. Still, as a budget monster flick it stands comfortably with the lower echelon of Japanese creature features. 5/10