Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965)
— Japanese tagline
He rolled THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD into ONE!
— American tagline
Frankenstein vs. Baragon (フランケンシュタイン対
In 1945, Hitler's Nazis seized the immortal heart of the Frankenstein Monster and handed it over to the Japanese, who kept it in a military hospital in Hiroshima. The heart was lost when the atom bomb leveled the city, but 15 years later a wild boy is discovered by Dr. James Bowen and his assistants Sueko Togami and Kenichiro Kawaji. They conclude this boy has regenerated from the irradiated heart of Frankenstein, and witness him grow to gigantic size the more they feed him. Frankenstein escapes, and is soon blamed for several disasters occurring throughout Japan. However, Togami and Bowen believe these to be caused by a separate creature, the subterranean monster Baragon. Now, the scientists work to prove Frankenstein's innocence while Frankenstein must fight to save them from Baragon.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In World War II, circa 1945, the Allied Forces are advancing on Germany. Nazis break into the laboratory of Dr. Liesendorf and confiscate the living 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 Forces' 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 Kenichiro Kawaji. One 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 succumbing to it.
The former Naval Captain Kawai, who brought the heart to Japan in World War II, is working at an oil drilling rig in Akita Prefecture, when a sudden earthquake shakes the facility and collapses a tower, beneath which he saw the ghastly face of a giant reptilian monster with a glowing horn on its nose.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bowen and the scientists find that the strange boy is growing unnaturally 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-filled 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 enrage it 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. In the aftermath of the rampage, the still living, severed hand of the monster is discovered, casting no doubt that he is indeed Frankenstein.
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 underground, he emerges 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. After negligence to increase the supply of protein with its growth, Frankenstein's severed hand is found dead, already having grown considerably. 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 to stop the monster with the grenades, to no avail. As it moves to devour Sueko, Frankenstein comes to her rescue, and a cataclysmic battle between the two giant monsters begins. Frankenstein triumphs over his foe, but the ground beneath their arena begins to tremble, and as a sinkhole opens, both monsters are dragged into the earth. Kawaji believes Frankenstein to be immortal, and his return inevitable. Bowen, however, feels he may be better off dead; the world gave him no place.
In an alternate ending, after Baragon is defeated by Frankenstein, a giant octopus clambers out of a nearby lake and immediately assails Frankenstein. Frankenstein bravely fights against the monster, but the huge cephalopod overpowers him, and drags Frankenstein below the surface, seemingly to his death.
Staff[edit | edit source]
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Kaoru Mabuchi
- Based on a story by Reuben Bercovitch, Jerry Sohl
- Based on characters created by Mary Shelley
- Executive producers Tomoyuki Tanaka, Reuben Bercovitch, Henry Saperstein, Samuel Arkoff
- Music by Akira Ifukube
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Ryohei Fuji
- Production design by Takeo Kita
- 1st assistant director Koji Kajita
- Director of special effects Eiji Tsuburaya
- 1st assistant director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano
Cast[edit | edit source]
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Tadao Takashima as Dr. Kenichiro Kawaji
- Nick Adams as Dr. James Bowen (Japanese voice actor: Goro Naya)
- Kumi Mizuno as Sueko Togami
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Daigo Kawai, oilfield worker
- Koji Furuhata as Frankenstein
- Jun Tazaki as Hideo Nishi, Director of the Okayama Prefectural Police Department
- Susumu Fujita as Osaka Prefectural Police Chief
- Takashi Shimura as Hiroshima Army Hospital doctor
- Nobuo Nakamura as Dr. Suga
- Kenji Sahara as Tadokoro, Bowen's assistant
- Hisaya Ito as Osaka Prefectural police officer
- Yoshibumi Tajima as Murata, Japanese Imperial Navy submarine captain
- Kozo Nomura as Newspaper reporter
- Haruya Kato as TTV director
- Ikio Sawamura as Housekeeper
- Yoshio Kosugi as JSDF executive
- Noriaki Inoe as Youth at Shirane Huts
- Keiko Sawai as Tsuruko Toida
- Noriko Takahashi as Youth at Shirane Huts
- Peter Mann as Dr. Liesendorf (Japanese voice actor: Kazuo Kumakura)
- Ren Yamamoto as Motoki
- Yutaka Sada as Hospital secretary
- Kenzo Tabu as Newspaper employee
- Shigeki Ishida as University professor
- Haruo Nakajima as Baragon / JSDF soldier
- Yutaka Nakayama, Senkichi Omura as TTV lighting men
- Nadao Kirino as Okabe policeman
- Yasuhiko Saijyo as TTV cameraman
- Shin Otomo as Sugiyama policeman
- Shoichi Hirose as Tunnel miner
- Junichiro Mukai as Patrolman
- Toshihiko Furata as Farmer
- Mitsuo Tsuda as Engineer
- Hiroto Kimura
- Hideo Shibuya as Weekly magazine reporter
- Yoshiko Miyata as Himemji Castle cleaning lady
- Masaaki Tachibana, Tadashi Okabe as News reporters
- Rinsaku Ogata as JSDF executive
- Sumio Nakao as Young Frankenstein
Titan Productions English dub[edit | edit source]
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Lucy Martin as Dr. Sueko Togami
- Larry Robinson as Daigo Kawai
- Kenneth Harvey as Military adviser / Osaka Police chief
- Jack Curtis as Hiroshima surgeon
- Bret Morrison as Reporter
- Jack Curtis as Radio reporter
Appearances[edit | edit source]
Monsters[edit | edit source]
Weapons, vehicles, and races[edit | edit source]
Production[edit | edit source]
The idea for this film originated with Willis O'Brien, who pitched a film pitting King Kong against a giant version of the Frankenstein Monster. The idea was never adopted by Universal Pictures or RKO Pictures, as it was stolen from O'Brien 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 giant Frankenstein Monster/Prometheus 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 Ningen)The Human Vapor, as Mizuno seeks out a scientist named Gildor, who had successfully revived the Frankenstein Monster, in the hope that he can 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 Monster 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 the Frankenstein 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 Monster and the character of Dr. James Bowen.
Alternate ending[edit | edit source]
There was also an alternate ending for the film, in which, after defeating Baragon, instead of falling in to a fissure in the ground, Frankenstein is attacked by a giant octopus. Frankenstein is dragged into a lake by the octopus, with the film closing with the same lines spoken by the main characters as in the original ending. According to Ishiro Honda, Henry G. Saperstein, the lead American producer on the film, was astonished by the Giant Octopus scenes from King Kong vs. Godzilla and wanted the creature to be included in the U.S. version of the film. Saperstein and UPA even promoted the film under the English title Frankenstein vs. the Giant Devilfish. The Giant Octopus sequence was shot specifically for the U.S. version, but when Saperstein was presented with it, he found it unsatisfactory and too abrupt and rejected it in favor of the original ending. This alternate ending has been included in Toho's home video 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 War of the Gargantuas.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Frankenstein vs. Baragon/Gallery.
Soundtrack[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Frankenstein vs. Baragon (Soundtrack).
Alternate titles[edit | edit source]
- Frankenstein vs. the Subterranean Monster (literal Japanese title)
- Frankenstein vs. Baragon (alternate reading of 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 Furankenshutain tai Chitei Kaijū Baragon, alternate Japanese title)
- Frankenstein Conquers the World (United States)
- Frankenstein vs. the Giant Devilfish (early U.S. title)
- Frankenstein: The Horror with the Ape Face (Frankenstein – Der Schrecken mit dem Affengesicht; West Germany)
- Frankenstein Against the World (Frankenstein Contra o Mundo; Brazil)
- Frankenstein, Conqueror of the World (Frankenstein, Conquistador do Mundo; Portugal)
- Frankenstein to the Conquest of Earth (Frankenstein alla Conquista della Terra; Italy)
- Frankenstein - Devilish Horror (Frankenstein - djävulsk skräck; Sweden)
Theatrical releases[edit | edit source]
- Japan - August 8, 1965
- United States - July 8, 1966
- United Kingdom - 1967
- West Germany - 1967
- Mexico - 1968
- Brazil - 1968
- Belgium - 1969
- Portugal - May 1, 1972
U.S. release[edit | edit source]
Frankenstein vs. Baragon was released theatrically in the United States by American International Pictures under the title Frankenstein Conquers the World. While Nick Adams' dialogue had been dubbed over for the Japanese version, Adams re-voiced himself in the English dubbing by Titan Productions. AIP cut approximately three minutes of footage from the film and made several alterations:
- Altered: All Japanese location supers were retained, with all but two having new English supers printed in to obscure the Japanese originals. AIP also added seven new English supers to translate instances of expository text. The two supers that set the date and location of the film's opening sequence were cut altogether by AIP.
- Deleted: A sequence in which the Imperial Japanese submarine carrying the Frankenstein Monster's heart from Germany submerges to avoid detection from an an Allied bomber. Murata and Kawai speculate they may be receiving an important political refugee, perhaps even Hitler himself.
- Deleted: A newspaper insert detailing the dead rabbit in the school classroom.
- Deleted: Sueko, having been reading the aforementioned article, hurries to prepare dinner as Dr. Bowen pulls up to her apartment in his car.
- Shortened: Dr. Bowen and Sueko sit down to dinner for her birthday. AIP deleted approximately 30 seconds of this sequence, which — in the Japanese version — included a joke by Dr. Bowen that would be echoed by Sueko later in the film. The deleted content highlights the differences between American and Japanese humor and the difficulties both Bowen and Sueko experience trying to understand each other's culture.
- Deleted: Bowen returns to Japan and surprises Sueko at the laboratory. They take a trip around the countryside, ending up in the mountains to visit the grave of Tazuko Tooi.
- Altered: A Japanese language newspaper insert describing the discovery of the radiation-resistant boy is replaced with an English version.
- Deleted: Bowen suggests restraining or caging Frankenstein after the latter throws a TV out a window.
- Altered: Frankenstein's escape from the Hiroshima hospital. This was one of three sequences filmed by Toho at Saperstein's request. In the additional footage, two police officers are shown shooting at Frankenstein while he breaks through a wall. He pauses for a moment to observe one of the policeman who had been injured by falling debris from his escape.
- Altered: Frankenstein eludes two police cars after having visited Sueko.[c] In the Japanese version of this sequence, Frankenstein hides from the vehicles and ultimately causes their crash after darting away at the last moment. The expanded sequence in the U.S. version has Frankenstein ambush the first cruiser using a light post. Frankenstein then picks up and throws a sedan parked nearby, causing an explosion, before he runs away from the scene.
- Deleted: The wild boar Frankenstein had been hunting earlier runs past the JSDF soldiers that had been pursuing him.
- Altered: The U.S. version fades out sooner into a credit reading "American International," while the Japanese version's end title is superimposed over the forest fire.
The alternate Giant Octopus ending shot specifically for the U.S. version was rejected by AIP studio head James H. Nicholson. AIP's version uses the same ending that Toho had used for its theatrical release in Japan. Visually, it is unaltered, but AIP used music from the rejected ending to underscore Frankenstein falling into the fissure, and inserted new sound effects, from a possible lack of sound elements provided for the Japanese ending.
Video releases[edit | edit source]
Tokyo Shock DVD (2007)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono, 5.1 Surround), English (2.0 Mono, 5.1 Surround)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Audio commentary by Sadamasa Arikawa, deleted scenes (5 minutes), trailers, image gallery
- Notes: Includes a version of the film with the alternate ending in which Frankenstein battles the Giant Octopus. Out of print.
Anolis DVD (2007)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), German (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: German
- Special features: Audio commentary by Jörg Buttgereit, The Man in Costume - Interview with Godzilla actor Haruo Nakajima, German trailer, Japanese trailer, American trailer, image gallery, German film program, Rolf Giesen on the relationship between Toho and King Bros., standalone commentary (Easter egg), German black and white 8mm version (Easter egg)
- Notes: Includes the Japanese version with the alternate ending in which Frankenstein battles the Giant Octopus, and a reconstruction of the German theatrical version. Also includes an audio CD of Jörg Buttgereit's radio drama Frankenstein in Hiroshima. 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).
Videos[edit | edit source]
Trailers[edit | edit source]
Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]
Sequel[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The War of the Gargantuas.
Toho produced a loose sequel to this film, The War of the Gargantuas, in 1966. This film revolves around two monsters, Sanda and Gaira, who have regenerated from Frankenstein's severed flesh. 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. The War of the Gargantuas only loosely acknowledges the events of Frankenstein vs. Baragon, renaming and largely recasting the scientists from the previous film and moving their laboratory to Kyoto instead of Hiroshima. Dialogue and flashback sequences seem to place Sanda into the role of Frankenstein from the previous film, although Toho officially considers the film a direct continuation and maintains that Sanda was spawned from Frankenstein.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Frankenstein vs. Baragon was theatrically released in Japan on a double bill with Young Guy at Sea.
- According to the 2014 book Godzilla Dictionary [New Edition], both Frankenstein vs. Baragon and its sequel The War of the Gargantuas take place in the same timeline as the Godzilla films of the Showa series.
- 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 the events of several other non-Godzilla Showa era films, including Rodan, Varan, Mothra, Gorath, Atragon, Dogora, The War of the Gargantuas, King Kong Escapes, and Space Amoeba. These materials state that the Giant Octopus appeared alongside Frankenstein and Baragon in 1965, suggesting that the alternate ending to the film is canon in this continuity.
- 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 subsidiary Benedict Productions, followed by Invasion of Astro-Monster and The War of the Gargantuas.
- The boar which Frankenstein unsuccessfully attempts to trap in this film received an official ornament from Cast in 2018 as part of the company's Godzilla Ornament Special Effects Collection Mini series, which treated the creature as a kaiju and gave it the official name "Giant Boar."
- The climactic fight footage from Frankenstein vs. Baragon was illegally used for the 1978 Bollywood caveman film Aadi Yug where it portrays both titular characters as regular-sized beings considering the re-dubbed sound effects.
[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The kanji 地底怪獣 is normally read as "Chitei Kaijū," meaning "Subterranean Monster." However, the furigana バラゴン attached to the kanji in the title indicates that in this case it is read as "Baragon."
- Credited as "Henry G. Saperstein Enterprises" in the film's American release.
- Although Teruyoshi Nakano's quote seems to suggest Toho shot Frankenstein's visit to Sueko's apartment for Saperstein, it is more likely that the following sequence described hereafter was the other sequence shot at Saperstein's request. Frankenstein's visit is identical in both the Japanese and U.S. releases while the character's escape sequence is significantly different across both versions of the film.
References[edit | edit source]
This is a list of references for Frankenstein vs. Baragon. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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