As we continue our trip through the land of the rising sun, I dive into the When Horror Came to Shochiku box set from The Criterion Collection. First up, The X from Outer Space (1967). With a title like that, I wasn’t surprised to find that this movie is really more sci-fi than horror. In fact, the only thing horrific was the giant monster, called Guilala.
Shochiku has a long history in film and entertainment dating as far back as 1895. Founded by brothers Takejiro Otani and Matsujiro Shirai for kabuki productions, they turned to film in 1920. In the 1960s, they made a brief venture into horror. However, it’s hard to recognize The X from Outer Space as a horror film. It plays off more like a sci-fi kaiju that might have been better suited for Toho.
The plot revolves around three astronauts under the command of Capt. Sano (Toshiya Wazaki) taking the spaceship AAB-Gamma to Mars to investigate reports of UFOs. Amongst the crew is a doctor, an American female and the mandatory comic relief. After encountering a UFO, which is described as looking like a half-cooked omelet, the crew turns back and lands on the moon, which is apparently home to a thriving base. Enroute to home, they encounter the vessel again, this time being attacked by spores. Once back on Earth, the spores grow into a giant creature called Guilala. Looking like a poor man’s Godzilla, it actually has some cool features, such as spitting fireballs. I kind of liked it but it really belonged in an episode of Ultraman more than here.
The movie comes across a lot sillier than I was prepared for. However, it just reeks of 1960s sci-fi goodness, complete with a cool theme song and a jazzy soundtrack. It’s definitely not horror but I enjoyed it all the same. I do recommend it for a fun weekend afternoon viewing. Just save it for after October. Check out the crazy opening theme while you wait for tomorrow’s next flick from this box set.