Today’s selection: The X From Outer Space (1967, dir. Kazui Nihonmatsu)
Available from: Criterion
In 1967, the kaiju boom was in full effect, with Toho head and shoulders above other studios, Tsuburaya on the upswing, and Daiei playing swift catch up. Toei and P Pro had TV projects, Nikkatsu released Gappa the Triphibian Monster and even South Korea had Yongary, so it would be dumb for Shochiku not to get a piece of the pie. The X from Outer Space is one of four movies that served as part of Shochiku’s brief experiment with horror/monster movies (for the 60’s, anyway), and is the only one featuring a daikaiju. It’s clearly influenced by Toho’s sci-fi works: there’s a multiracial cast, romantic entanglements that would probably bore young children, and scientific macguffins left and right (even maser tanks!), however, I have to wonder if some of its spaceship design (including lots of moonbase settings) may have in turn rubbed off on Destroy All Monsters the following year.
As a monster, Guilala is suitably alien, and while simply calling it an “X” doesn’t do it justice, I’m not really sure what else to call it, “the bumpy chicken-looking thing with googly eyes and antennas from outer space” would be too much for a marquee.
In a weird way, the Guilala franchise might be the third biggest kaiju franchise from Japan, after Toho’s Godzilla/Mothra and Daiei’s Gamera. Guilala returned for for 2008’s Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit, a somewhat painful-to-watch parody by Minoru Kawasaki. The monster also got a DTV special crossover with Den Ace, and popped up in an American TV commercial. Not shabby!