Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Evil Brain From Outer Space|
Actor: Ken Utsui
Director: Teruo Ishii;Akira Mitsuwa;Koreyoshi Akasaka
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Gotham (dba Alpha) Release Date: 07/27/2004
Starman Vol. 1 good, but get even weirder Vol. 2 first!
Surfink | Racine, WI | 01/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Longtime fans of Starman must be dizzy with disbelief that these are actually out on DVD (beating hundreds of revered film classics to the format), although Something Weird has wisely (from their perspective anyway) not grouped the movies chronologically, but essentially give you one of the two better features on each disc, with one of the lesser efforts second-billed. All four movies (heavily reedited from the original late-1950s serial episodes) open with the same scene of the ruling council on the Emerald planet in the Marpet galaxy, one of the all-time bizarre set pieces in film history. An indescribable menagerie of alien mutants on a papier mache background gesture, nod, and sway as a large cutout of Saturn swings to and fro. If the movies could have somehow sustained the unsettling imagery and strange mood of these opening scenes they'd be revered as surrealist classics. A narrator sets up the plot, which always involves sending Starman, a "creature made of the strongest steel," to Earth to stop some menace or another. Stonefaced Ken Utsui wears a white spandex winged, hooded costume, with sometimes augmented codpiece, and a "Globemeter" on his wrist, which allows him to 1) fly in space, 2) detect radioactivity, and 3) speak and understand any earth language. Starman movies remain a curious melange of 1930s/40s American serials, comic-bookish martial arts action, A-bomb paranoia, gangster/film noir thrillers, kabuki theatre, freaky monsters, and cutesy kids. The odd, stylized choreography and lame-but-amusing camera tricks utilized in Starman's battles with the alien monsters (sometimes decked out in garish, Ben Cooper-on-acid costumes) and hilariously inept flying scenes, complete with clearly visible harness, create a specialized brand of cinematic cheese that simply must be experienced for full effect. SW's digitally remastered transfers look as good as these movies ever have, and Starman fans likely will never see a more definitive release than this pair of discs. While all four flms suffer from varying degrees of speckling and lining, all have good tonal values and crisp detail, except in some of the stock footage.
Evil Brain from Outer Space is the better of the two pictures on Volume 1, but still finishes second to the even crazier Invaders from Space on Volume 2. After a robot assassinates Balazar, the most brilliant mind in the universe, his brain is kept alive by agents from the planet Zemar. Seeking conquest, the Zemarians infiltrate Earth, and plan a follow-up attack with nuclear weapons. Concern about ensuing leakage of radiation into space prompts the ruling council to send Starman to the rescue. The brain is sought by gangster-look Zemarian agents, and fanged, reptilian mutants wreck trains and ships at sea. The Zemarians, who have established a clandestine base behind a secret passageway in a hospital (discovered by a little boy, of course), all wear black tights and wide belts with bat symbols on their chests. The alien leaders also sport capes and hoods, making them look like shlumpy Batman knockoffs. Zemarians disguised as humans commit robberies to finance the invasion, and a freaky, smoke-spewing, glowing-eyed, chirping mutant with "solid cobalt nails," huge eye on his belly, ugly veins on chest and arms, and large fanlike ears shows up to do kabuki battle with Starman. The mutant escapes and replicates, showing up again for the climax at the Zemarian base. Plenty of oddball gymnastics, reverse filming, and dummy-tossing ensues. Print quality is pretty solid, with very good to excellent tonal values, brightness, sharpness, and detail, marred somewhat by recurrent light to moderate speckling and blemishing and some occasional light lining. Still, quite watchable overall, probably better than you remember from Saturday afternoons.
Attack from Space gets my vote as second-least of the four Starman features. It opens with a leisurely interstellar voyage by Starman, who happens onto a Superian warship loaded with enough radioactive material to destroy Earth. Astronomers and scientists feverishly work in secrecy preparing a spaceship, while traitorous Earthlings cooperate with the Superians on another one. After observing one of the Superians' thuggish agents descending a secret passage in a graveyard to their underground base, astronomer's kids Kaoru and Ryuichi are kidnapped at gunpoint and held as ransom for engine blueprints the Superians need to make their rocket work. Starman, in street clothes, addresses a group of military brass, then flies off on highly visible wires to retrieve the stolen blueprints and rescue the hostages. The Superians launch their rocket, Starman detects their supreme headquarters (a space station), kicks Superian ... in a typical display of gymnastics/acrobatics, rescues Kaoru, and flies her through the void of space (maybe she's holding her breath). Although we get more plentiful cheesy spaceship sequences than in the other three films, the bad guys just look like humans in military uniforms, and there are no appearances of the bizarre mutants that make Evil Brain and especially Invaders from Space so delightfully demented. Print quality overall is, ironically, a bit cleaner than Evil Brain or Invaders, with the usual light to moderate speckling/blemishing and sporadic light lining, but otherwise quite watchable.
Volume I extras include an approximately 25-minute B&W Prince Planet episode (ca. 1965) in old-school manga style, and a 20-minute color 1950s "educational" short, My Milkman Joe, produced by the Denver Dairy Council, in which a creepy, annoying puppet from outer space helps Milkman Joe propagate dangerous misinformation about dairy products. Both volumes include an extremely detailed essay on the Starman/Super Giant phenomenon, packed with all the information about Starman you probably need. While this is a solid set for serious Starman freaks, I would recommend Volume 2 first to the uninitiated, casual fans who only want a 'sample' for their movie collections, or anyone with limited funds."
Kaiju Manna from Heaven
Robert H. Knox | Brentwood, NH United States | 12/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"STARMAN Vols. 1 and 2 offer four heretofore frustratingly rare films with lots of extras and the customary Something Weird quality (though don't expect the prints to look as though they'd been released yesterday). All fans of Japanese psychotronica NEED these two DVDs...nothing more need be said."