BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE MYSTERIANS

By • Mar 1st, 2005 •

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Toho (1958) 88 minutes

During the summer of 1959 fantasy film fans across America anxiously waited for the release of a new, exciting, and visually stunning science fiction epic from Japan – THE MYSTERIANS. This event foreshadowed the excitement over summer blockbusters in our age of Lucas and Spielberg.

Like most other Japanese sci-fi films, THE MYSTERIANS was filmed in vivid storybook-like wide-screen color. These Japanese films had pulsating and rather revolutionary music scores. Even if their special effects sometimes looked dream-like and obvious, it was all part of a package that kept movie-goers entertained.

Film fans can now rejoice. Tokyo Shock, a branch of Media Blasters, has released THE MYSTERIANS and another film, the creepy MATANGO, on DVD. Both films are presented here in all their wide-screen/Technicolor glory, and they are not hard to find. Your neighborhood Best Buy should have them.

THE MYSTERIANS begins with more than just a bang! A mysterious giant robot, resembling a cross between a samurai and a bird, attacks a small mountain-side village. After the military kills off this rampaging robot, aliens (who call themselves “The Mysterians”), contact several select earth scientists. Their requests are few, but quite a handful. They only want a few acres of land (having already built an enormous fortress on earth) They also want about a half-dozen earth women to inter-marry with. An army attack on the Mysterians’ earth base results in Japan’s military forces nearly blasted apart or vaporized. Japanese scientists pool the politicians and weapon designers of the world to build a heat ray that will hopefully toast The Mysterians.

Made only a dozen years after Japan was an Axis power in World War II, the message director Inoshira Honda delivers here is that it’s up to brave Japanese scientists to force all the nations to cease their bickering and band together. Honda directed almost all of Toho studio’s Godzilla and sci-fi films up until the mid 1970’s, and this peace-plea was one of his reappearing touches.

Tokyo Shock’s DVD release of THE MYSTERIANS includes a commentary track by contemporary Japanese special effects artists Koichi Kawakita (GODZILLA VS. BIOLANTE) and Shinji Higuchi. They talk about how their mentor, Eiji Tsuburaya, created the mind blowing effects in MYSTERIANS by strictly mechanical means, without the use of a computer. There is also an optional music only soundtrack (the music played without the dialog or sound effects track.) Check this option during the giant robot’s rampage. Akira Ifukube’s music score is multi-layered and mega-creepy (sort of a mix of a funeral march and a rousing military cheer.)


Cast:
Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa, Takeshi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata.

Crew:
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
Written by Takeshi Kimura, Shigeru Kayama
Directed by Inoshira Honda

Extras include:
Music only soundtrack
Commentary Track by FX Directors Koichi Kawakita (GODZILLA VS. BIOLANTE) and Shinji Higuchi (GAMERA, GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE)
Photo/Drawing Gallery: Promotional photos, concept art, and story boards.

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