Wednesday, February 22, 2012

REVIEW: The Mysterians

The Mysterians
Director: Ishiro Honda
Year 1957
Mothers hide your daughters... the Mysterians are coming! The Mysterians is simply a delight.  Produced by the Toho Company, adding to their already high volume of memorable films, and directed by the legendary Ishiro Honda, the movie is an enjoyable science fiction romp that puts the fun in FUNdamentally fantastic. Bringing the same dark lessons of the atomic age that Godzilla and H-Man had brought to the table, The Mysterians tells its own cautionary tale of man’s tendency to destroy and his corruptible nature for the pursuit of power.
The film begins with a series of strange events that eventually escalate into the destruction of an entire village in the rural area of Japan. Scientists are sent out to investigate the phenomena, but are surprised to come face to face with a giant mechanized robot. After a long and destructive battle, an alien race known as the Mysterians announce their presence to the people of Earth, asking for only a small track of land to call their own plus the right to marry any Earth woman of their choosing. This ‘Friends with Benefits’ offer doesn’t go over so well with the people of Earth, so they combine their efforts into driving away this alien menace before it’s too late. God help us all!

Ishiro Honda brings another Toho gem to the masses, keeping that signature style and sensibility that has made his other efforts so captivating. The story, though simple and straight forward, has an intricate underlying allegory that echoes Japan’s fears of the atomic bomb and the possibility of experiencing another atomic age. This very real fear fits nicely in-between the fantasy confines of a battle between a future society like the Mysterians and the inhabitants of Earth. The moral dilemma that the main characters face in this film is quite compelling. Should they resort to atomic weapons again in order to thwart these newfound enemies or are there other ways around repeating such a horrible moment in the Earth’s history? Such a dramatic quagmire for a film to contain, but Ishiro never dwells too much on the gloom and doom of atomic parables.
Luckily he is accomplished enough as a director to be able to balance such heavy issues with a whimsical sense of adventure and awe. Much like his approaches with the films Godzilla, The H-Man, and Battle in Outer Space, all three films deal with moral dilemmas for their main characters but he’s able to mask that serious tone behind extravagant events to better tell the tale metaphorically instead of literally. The same can be said for George Romero’s work. He also likes to blend social and political metaphors within his movies, giving the films an added layer that makes them more of a substantial work of art rather then just entertaining fluff. Ishiro’s films may look like run of the mill popcorn flicks to the mass audiences out there that don’t appreciate such work, but underneath the spectacle remains a rather poignant statement on the culture’s mind set at the time.

Metaphorical statements aside, the film is a tremendous bit of fun. The notion of an alien race coming down and demanding to reside among us while taking Earthlings as their own is just too wild not to be fun. Plus the fact that they appear to be technologically superior to us in ever way only seems to add to the intriguing nature of the premise. How would we repel such a foe? I found myself being swept up in the drama of it all even though it was on the surface meant to be a fun bit of fantasy. It seems that with all of these Toho science fiction films that I’ve been running through lately, that they seem to nail those absorbing concepts that fascinate the mind and keep you hooked.
It also doesn’t hurt that the films look spectacular. The Toho Company at this time had such a consistent output of visually enthralling films that you really have to commend them on producing such a large array of outstanding productions. Their effects and miniature work alone is so beautifully constructed and lovingly recreated that it makes for one hell of an enjoyable viewing. Visible strings on the spaceships aside, I’ve always been impressed with the science fiction films of this era and Toho is one studio that has never disappointed me with their ambitious outpouring of quality films. The Mysterians is a wonderful example of the kind of extraordinary stories that they were able to tell, ones that are both fun and compelling all at the same time.

The Mysterians is a science fiction film that balances the cerebral fears of a society still recovering from the after effects of atomic warfare with the adventurous nature of what could await us out there beyond the stars. The culture clash between the Mysterians and the people of Earth doesn’t disappoint and the overall epic span of the production is felt throughout the entire runtime of the film.
If you’ve got an itch to check out what the Toho Company has to offer, then pop this Ishiro Honda created behemoth into your player and enjoy the insanity of Japanese Sci-Fi. You really can’t go wrong with this one. I mean come on, aliens coming down to take our women away, that’s just too crazy to miss! The Mysterians is a good time at the cinema, but most of all it’s…….

We don't need no water let the motherfucker burn! Burn Motherfucker!

We'll come up with a plan to beat those Mysterians.... just right after the game.

Hello there folks.

The only way they're gonna get my girl is over my dead body.

This film is a real scorcher.

Hello again foks.

Something sneaky is happening on the moon.

Well, after you gentlemen.

You look FABULOUS!

Stop watching your Soaps and get back to work!


Damn I can't wait to tap all that Earthling ass.

This..... is a mountain.

You have a little Mysterian in you? Do you want to? Real slick buddy.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Brides of the Mysterians.

Everyone enjoying the show?

No! Not the mashed-potato gun! You fiend!

Look! Here come the end credits!


  1. It's a "tract" of land; "straight forward" is one word. Why would you ruin your whole review with a profanity (" ... Burn ... !")? Otherwise well-written and for everyone.

  2. Thanks pylgrym! I try not to get too anal about the grammar and punctuation on this site because it is just a hobby of mine and in reality I have no real writing experience to speak of, and to top it all off I don't get paid for any of this work. I'm just a guy that loves movies and who wants to spread the word on a few good flicks. Plus I find that it takes the fun out of reviewing if I'm worried about offending anyone on the grammar police squad.

    My main purpose for this site is to pass along some of the interesting flicks that I encounter and hopefully help people find something that they might not have been aware of.

    As for the profanity, I use it when needed and in that instance I was quoting from a song. I was once told that the captions for the images are too silly and comedic for what is a rather straight forward review, and to that I say that's a great opinion to have.

    The only problem is that for me this is my space and I actually enjoy the format that I currently have in place. The way the site is set up and displayed is what I'm comfortable with and hopefully you can accept it for what it is.

    I really do appreciate the tips and suggestions, but I thought it would be fair to give you the rundown on why I put together this whole site in the first place. Again thanks for the comments and for taking the time to read the review and tell me what you thought.

  3. I've always wondered why the Japanese preface "the World" then in time of crisis attempt to take on the invaders themselves? At the time the film was made the occupation was still firmly in the minds of the public who probably didn't want to be reminded but with help from the rest of the world, I wonder if the film would have been seen as weak rather than a nationalistic diatribe? I mean, the U.S. Has a base in Japan at this time that doesn't get attacked by the Mysterians, nor is reference made to them attacking anywhere else on Earth. This is the same problem with many Japanese productions where "the bad guys" will only attack Japan, where they always lose in the last reel. I've seen the same though in all these Chinese movies over the years where, even in Hong Kong, no Europeans are ever shown. It seems obvious then that the film is meant as an internal document for the home audience and not something that is meant to be viewed by an outside audience. Cultural values being what they are, eh?