Today’s selection: The Magic Serpent (1966, dir. Tetsuya Yamauchi)
Subgenre: Historical Fantasy
Available from: Image (low quality dub-only release, fansubs also available)
Any fan of Naruto should probably watch The Magic Serpent: it’s got ninjas with crazy powers, like the hero Jiraiya who summons a giant toad to battle Orochimaru’s giant snake monster, and kunoichi Tsunade has a giant bug…just like in the anime! (Okay, so all of those characters come from ancient folk tales.) The movie is fun in the action-packed way that Toei Studios loves, with our ninja hero constantly pulling new tricks out of the ether. It’s one of the movies made at the peak of the kaiju boom, so the giant monster factor is sort of gratuitous, but even without it the monsters, there are special effects to spare. It’s sort of a shame that the movie’s largely forgotten (the only English DVD release is sort of poor), but at least there are pretty high-quality fansubs in circulation.