Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965)
Frankenstein vs. Baragon (フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣?, lit. Frankenstein Against the Subterranean Monster) is a Furankenshutain Tai Chitei Kaijū1965 tokusatsu kaiju film co-produced by Toho and UPA. This film features a Japanese version of the Frankenstein Monster, who becomes giant-sized to fight the giant subterranean monster, Baragon. It was released to Japanese theaters on August 8, 1965 and to American theaters on July 8, 1966.
The prologue is set in World War II, circa 1945. Nazis break into the laboratory of Dr. Reisendorf and confiscate the heart of the Frankenstein Monster, on which he is busy experimenting. The Nazis travel by submarine to the Pacific. The Allied Forces then bomb their submarine, but not before the Nazis pass the heart (contained in a locked chest) to the Imperial Japanese Navy, who take it back to Hiroshima to be experimented on. But just as they are about to begin, Hiroshima is bombed by the Allied Force Enola Gay, and the heart is lost.
Fifteen years later, in 1960, a savage boy runs rampant in the streets of Hiroshima, catching and devouring small animals such as dogs and rabbits. This comes to the attention of American scientist Dr. James Bowen and his assistants Sueko Togami and Ken'ichiro Kawaji. A year later (1961), they investigate and find the boy hiding in a cave on a beach, where a mob of outraged villagers has almost caught him. While the strange boy catches media attention and is taken care of by the scientists, another astounding event evades the public's eye. Once the boy is taken to the hospital, it is discovered that he is caucasian and his body is building a strong resistance to radiation rather than getting sick from it.
The Former Naval Captain Kawai, who brought the Frankenstein heart to Japan in WWII, is working in an oil factory in Akita Prefecture, when a sudden earthquake shakes the factory and collapses a tower, beneath which he saw the ghastly face of a giant dinosaur with a glowing horn.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bowen and the scientists find that the strange boy is growing due to intake of protein. Afraid of his strength, the scientists lock and chain the boy in a jail cell, and Sueko, who really cares for him, feeds him some protein food to sustain him. Meanwhile, Dr. Bowen is visited by Kawai, who tells him that the boy could have grown from the heart of the Frankenstein Monster, as the boy was seen in Hiroshima more than once before. At Bowen's advice, Dr. Kawaji confers with the aging Dr. Reisendorf in Frankfurt. Reisendorf tells Kawaji of the story of the Frankenstein Monster and its noted virtual immortality, due to the intake of protein. Reisendorf recommends cutting off the monster's arm or leg, speculating that a new one will grow back. When relating this to his fellow scientists upon his return to Japan, Sueko strongly objects to this method, fearing that nothing may grow back. Even when Bowen suggests that they wait a little longer to think it over, Kawaji tenaciously attempts to sever one of the now-gigantic monster's limbs. He is interrupted by a TV crew, whom Kawaji allows to film the monster, though they it enrage by shining bright studio lights at its face. The monster, heretofore known as "Frankenstein", breaks loose and is on the run from the Japanese police. He even has a tender encounter with Sueko on the balcony of her apartment before he has to run away.
While Frankenstein is on the run, he travels to many places, from Okayama (where he eats more animals) to Mount Ibuki, where his primitive childlike activities (throwing trees at birds and trying to trap a wild boar) end in disaster.
But unbeknownst to Bowen and the scientists, Baragon, the monster Kawai saw earlier, goes on a rampage. Tunneling under the earth, he pops out and ravages villages, eating people and animals and leaving destruction in his wake. People believe this is Frankenstein's doing, and the misunderstood monster is wrongly hunted down by the military, though not before narrowly escaping. Before Bowen and his assistants have no choice but to dismiss Frankenstein, Kawai returns to tell them that Frankenstein may not be responsible for the disasters; it could be the monster he saw in Akita, Baragon. He tries to convince the authorities, but to no avail. Kawaji still wishes the scientists luck in finding Frankenstein.
Bowen, Sueko, and Kawaji then form a search party and venture into the forest in which they believe Frankenstein is currently hiding. But Kawaji, to the shock of Bowen and Sueko, then proceeds to attempt to kill him, believing that Frankenstein could be dangerous by his very nature, and not even Sueko could possibly tame him. He intends to blind him with chemical grenades and capture him to recover his heart and brain. Kawaji presses on to find Frankenstein, and instead finds Baragon. Kawaji and Bowen try in vain to stop the monster with the grenades, but it is about to eat Sueko, until Frankenstein comes to the rescue. The cataclysmic battle between the two giant monsters then begins. After the fight, the area where the fight took place starts to trumble, and then both monsters are sucked into the earth.
In an alternate ending, after Baragon is defeated by Frankenstein, a giant octopus clambers out of the ocean and immediately starts attempting to fight Frankenstein. Frankenstein bravely fights against the monster, but the huge cephalopod is stronger, and drags Frankenstein below the surface, seemingly to his death.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Reuben Bercovitch, Kaoru Mabuchi, and Jerry Sohl
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Reuben Bercovitch, Henry Saperstein, and Samuel Arkoff
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Ryohei Fujii
- Production Design by Takeo Kita
- Assistant Director Koji Kajita
- Director of Special Effects Eiji Tsuburaya
- Assistant Director of Special Effects Teruyoshi Nakano
- Based on characters created by Mary Shelley
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Nick Adams as Dr. James Bowen
- Tadao Takashima as Dr. Kenichiro Kawaji
- Kumi Mizuno as Dr. Sueko Togami
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Captain Kawai
- Yoshifumi Tajima as Murata
- Takashi Shimura as Hiroshima Surgeon
- Peter Mann as Dr. Reisendorf (Japanese voice actor: Kazuo Kumakura)
- Keiko Sawai as Tazuko Tooi
- Koji Furuhata as Frankenstein
- Sumio Nakao as Young Frankenstein
- Haruo Nakajima as Baragon
Weapons, Vehicles, and Races
This idea for this film originated with Willis O'Brien, who pitched a film pitting King Kong against a giant version of Frankenstein's Monster. The idea was never adopted by Universal Pictures or RKO Pictures, so it was stolen by independent producer John Beck and pitched to Toho under the title King Kong vs. Prometheus. Toho agreed to produce a film using Beck's project, but decided to replace the Frankenstein/Prometheus creature with their own monster, Godzilla. The project ultimately became King Kong vs. Godzilla after Toho arranged a deal with RKO to use the character of Kong.
Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka had originally commissioned a film called Frankenstein vs. The Human Vapor (フランケンシュタイン対ガス人間?), with a draft written by Kimura. This also follows up with the film Furankenshutain tai Gasu NingenThe Human Vapor, as Mizuno finds the Frankenstein Monster's body and revives him, so that he can help him use the Frankenstein formula to revive his beloved girlfriend Fujichiyo (who died at the end of said film). This was also supposed to be Toho's co-feature with the Japanese release of the film My Fair Lady.
When this idea was scrapped, Toho revived the idea of a giant Frankenstein for a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla called Frankenstein vs. Godzilla. In this draft, Godzilla would be discovered in an iceberg in the Bering Sea while a giant monster grows from the irradiated heart of Frankenstein's Monster. The JSDF lures both creatures to the forests near Mount Fuji in the hopes of Godzilla killing Frankenstein before he could begin to eat humans. Toho ultimately thought the idea made little sense and produced Mothra vs. Godzilla instead. However, Toho kept the Frankenstein vs. Godzilla screenplay and replaced Godzilla with the new monster Baragon, ultimately creating Frankenstein vs. Baragon. The finished film shares many similarities with the Frankenstein vs. Godzilla script, including the origin of the giant Frankenstein and the character of Dr. James Bowen.
There was also an alternate ending for the movie, in which, after defeating Baragon, instead of falling in to a fissure in the ground, Frankenstein is attacked by a Giant Octopus. During the fight Frankenstein is dragged into the sea and presumably drowned and eaten by the Giant Octopus. According to Ishiro Honda, the American backers for the film were astonished by the Giant Octopus scenes from King Kong vs. Godzilla and wanted the Giant Octopus to be included in the American version of the film. The sequence was shot specifically for the U.S. version, but Henry Saperstein, the lead U.S. producer of the film, felt it was too abrupt and rejected it. This alternate ending is often included in Toho's DVD releases of the film, and was previously accidentally aired on Japanese television, confusing many viewers who had seen the film in theaters. The Giant Octopus would go on to appear in this film's loose sequel, The The The War of the Gargantuas.
- Main article: Frankenstein vs. Baragon/Gallery.
- Main article: Frankenstein vs. Baragon (Soundtrack).
- Frankenstein vs. the Subterranean Monster (Literal Japanese Title)
- Frankenstein vs. Subterranean Monster Baragon (フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣バラゴン?, Alternate Japanese Title) Furankenshutain tai Chitei Kaijū Baragon
- Frankenstein Conquers the World (United States)
Frankenstein vs. Baragon was released theatrically in the United States by American International Pictures under the title Frankenstein Conquers the World. AIP cut approximately three minutes of footage from the film and dubbed the dialogue to English through Titan Productions. While Nick Adams' dialogue had been dubbed over for the Japanese version, it was preserved in the American cut. Two scenes involving Frankenstein's escape also contain alternative footage shot for this version, portraying Frankenstein as more violent and destructive.
Tokyo Shock DVD (2007)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (1.0 Mono, 5.1 Surround), English (1.0 Mono, 5.1 Surround)
- Subtitles: English
- Special Features: Audio commentary by Sadamasa Arikawa, deleted scenes (5 minutes), trailers
- Notes: Includes the alternate ending in which Frankenstein battles a Giant Octopus. Out of print.
Toho Blu-ray (2017)
- Region: A/1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (DTS-HD Master Audio Mono and 5.1)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special Features: theatrical and alternate ending viewable on main film through seamless branching, isolated score, audio commentary by Sadamasa Arikawa, theatrical trailer (HD), newsflash trailer (HD), deleted scenes (SD), presentation of Eiji Tsuburaya's shooting script (HD).
- Main article: The The The War of the Gargantuas.
Toho produced a loose sequel to this film, The The The War of the Gargantuas, the following year in 1966. This film revolves around two monsters, Sanda and Gaira, who have regenerated from Frankenstein's cells. Sanda, like Frankenstein, was raised by human scientists and became kind and gentle, while Gaira grew up to become a violent and savage man-eater.
- Supplementary materials for the Millennium series Godzilla films Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. reveal that the events of Frankenstein vs. Baragon took place within the same continuity as those films, along with several other non-Godzilla Showa era films, including Rodan, Varan, Mothra, Gorath, Atragon, Dogora, The The The War of the Gargantuas, King Kong Escapes, and Space Amoeba.
- This film introduced the monster Baragon, who would go on to become a very popular member of Toho's roster of kaiju, appearing in the films Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.
- This is the second Toho-produced film to feature a monster that had previously appeared in an American film, the first being King Kong vs. Godzilla.
- Frankenstein vs. Baragon was the first of three films Toho co-produced with UPA, the others being Invasion of Astro-Monster and The The The War of the Gargantuas.
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- Steve Ryfle and Ed Godzizewski. Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film. Wesleyan University Press. p. 226. 2017. ISBN: 9780819577412.