DOGORA: THE SPACE MONSTER returns to America!!!
A. C. Cronvich | Planet Zeist | 05/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Its been about twenty years since DAGORAH- THE SPACE MONSTER played on US television, and its a welcome return for this very original and clever thriller. This Giant monster epic was created in Japan by Toho pictures, the creators of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra. The film was
distributed to US TV by American International in the 1970s where the name was changed from DOGORA to DAGORA so viewers wouldnt think it would be about a giant dog. Actually its about a giant , levitating , ever growing and multiplying space entity. It looks like a translucent jellyfish and feeds on earths carbons. Aside from the monster plot, there is a sub-plot dealing with Interpol agents hunting diamond smugglers (remember the whole carbon connection). It all intermingles very well
and plays like a plot out of Ultraman, but with no Ultraman. First, there is the mystery. Then the investigation. A monster is discovered. the Military attacks. Scientists speculate. A super weapon is devised. The monster is
attttacked again. The good guys catch the criminals. You get the picture.
This one has really clever monster effects utilising puppets, water and animation making this one very different from the other Toho monster movies. But still alot of fun. Dogora (or Dagora) never returned in another monster movie.
Special thanks to Tokyo Shock for releasing this line of legendary and lost japanese monster films in america. I hear Yog may be next in line.
If you like Dogora, please perchase Varan- The Unbelievable, The Mysterians and Matango- Attack of the Mushroom People.
In recent years it has been almost impossible to get your hands on any Toho monster movie that doesnt have Godzilla as the star. This is probably due to having younger executives at the distributors who dont even know that these other fims, and characters, even exist. There are alot of great Toho films, many with giant monsters, still not available in the US. And unseen since the early 1980s.
Amoung them are:
BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE a sequel to The Mysterians with very cool pre Star Wars/ Aliens space drop and combat sequences.
GORATH about an asteroid with a huge gravity well about to colide with Earth and featuring a giant walrus.
DAIGORA VS. GOLIATH about a friendly creature avenging the death of his mother against a horned evil monster, Has never been seen in america.
THE HUMAN VAPOR about a master criminal who can become a literal gas.
SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN about teleportation is a color film that was only distributed in B&W in the US.
ESPY is about spys with ESP.
THE INVISIBLE MAN is a modern scifi take on the old concept.
HALF HUMAN is about a Yeti protecting its young.
THE H-MAN is about hydrogen based creatures invading Tokyo through the sewers.
MOTHRA, yes Mothra, the original is still not available on DVD.
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 featuring Mothra time traveling to battle King Ghidorah has never been released on DVD in america.
MOTHRA, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, H-MAN, AND REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 are owned by Sony/tristar/Columbia in the US.
Several of the other titles I mentioned were known to have been distributed by United Productions of America. Wonder who owns them now?
Some other Toho monsters that never returned:
1) FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER, giant version from Frankenstein Conquers the World
2) MEGALON cyborg beetle from Godzilla vs. Megalon
3) GEZORA and GANIMES giant Cuttlefish and crab from YOG- MONSTER FROM SPACE.
4) TITANOSAURUS long necked dino from TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA.
5) MEKANIKONG robot King Kong from KING KONG ESCAPES
6) BIOLLANTE plant monster from GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE
7) BATTRA giant moth from Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth
8) MECHAKING GHIDORAH three headed cyborg from GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH
9) SPACE GODZILLA alien clone from Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla
10) DESTORAYAH mutant crab from GODZILLA VS DESTOROYAH
11) ORGAH alien from Godzilla 2000
12) KROIGA huge winged lion from LATITUDE ZERO
13) MAGUMA giant prehistoric walrus from GORATH"
Short on thrills, but visually imaginative
Brian Camp | Bronx, NY | 07/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Dogora is one of the most unusual monsters I've yet seen in a Toho 'kaiju' film. It's not given to wanton urban destruction like the rampaging beast that was Ghidorah. It's a hungry jellyfish-like creature, whose origins are never quite explained, who just wants the carbon it needs by plundering coal deposits and diamonds where it can find them. There's an intriguing array of strange phenomena building up to the monster's first major sighting and sufficient suspense until we get a handle on what kind of monster it is and what it looks like. When it finally makes a full-fledged assault on the coal deposits of Kyushu, the resultant collateral destruction is quite picturesque indeed. (The bridge-pulling scene is just breathtaking.) And the special effects scenes of Dogora hovering over Kyushu are among the most beautifully composed shots I've seen in any of the films for which Eiji Tsuburaya directed the effects.
However, such a monster doesn't quite provide the unabashed thrills we expect from a Japanese monster movie. Without a "good guy" monster like Godzilla or Gamera to oppose Dogora, there are only standard-issue military battles, with Japanese SDF troops firing artillery endlessly and uselessly at the sky. And when a diligent professor finally devises a scientific method to combat Dogora, it's pretty far-fetched and not terribly cinematic, leading to a distinctly anti-climactic finale. To make matters worse, too much of the action is taken up with a subplot involving a clichéd band of gangster movie diamond thieves who try to take advantage of Dogora's diamond-grabbing activity. During the final stage of the effort to neutralize Dogora, the movie shifts to a much less interesting shootout on a beach between the diamond thieves and the police. It's as if, during the climactic monster battle in a Godzilla film, the action suddenly shifted to a lover's quarrel on the outskirts of Tokyo. It might be interesting in another movie, perhaps, but not this one.
One bonus of DOGORA for longtime kaiju fans is the chance to see American actor Robert Dunham in a major role, as Japanese-speaking insurance investigator Mark Jackson. Dunham appeared in a handful of Japanese monster and sci-fi films whenever a westerner was called for (e.g., MOTHRA, GODZILLA VS. MEGALON, as well as the all-western cast in THE GREEN SLIME), but we almost never heard his real voice. Thanks to the inclusion of the original Japanese soundtrack on this DVD, we get to hear him speak Japanese in his own voice, since the dialogue was recorded sync-sound. There's even a funny line by a Japanese detective questioning him who declares, "I don't know where you learned Japanese, but you had a vulgar teacher."
Also on hand is the beautiful Akiko Wakabayashi, known to western audiences for playing Aki, first of the two Japanese Bond girls in the fifth James Bond film, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967). Here she plays a sexy, duplicitous member of the robbery gang. The obligatory good girl counterpart is Masayo, the pretty assistant to the elderly scientist who takes the job of analyzing Dogora, and she's played by Yoko Fujiyama, who, alas, is given too little to do.
I liked the mix of extensive location shots with occasional studio sets and effects sequences that sometimes combine the two. It's visually well-crafted throughout and the print used for this DVD is very high quality. Overall, I just wish there'd been more of an emphasis on the monster and less on the diamond thieves.
Peter Berns | USA | 08/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An excellent DVD of a Toho classic. A space ameba that digests carbon is sucking up the worlds diamonds and some diamond thieves are in the middle of it. A one shot monster that never caught on like Godzilla or Mothra, but an enjoyable movie with some of the most recognized actors in Japan at the time."
No, Not Dog. Jellyfish. From Outer Space.
Mark Rainey | Greensboro, NC USA | 02/08/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With their first-class DVD releases of Varan, The Unbelievable; Matango; and The Mysterians, Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock showed folks on the wrong side of the water just how it ought to be done. Essentially repackaged versions of the Toho Region 2 DVDs, the aforementioned releases have included all the original extra features as well as a choice of English subtitles or dubbing (except for Varan, which offers subtitles only). The newest Tokyo Shock release, Dogora (a.k.a. Space Monster Dogora, a.k.a. Dagora, The Space Monster) comes to us without the benefit of a Region 2 release to work from, and the difference between this package and the others is quickly evident. It features no commentary tracks, featurettes, or other noteworthy extras typical of Toho's domestic DVD releases. Though it does provide a still gallery and original theatrical trailer (sans subtitles, alas), compared to the previous products, Dogora seems somewhat bare bones.
Know what? I don't care very much. I've yet to peruse all the extras on the other DVDs anyway (though I eventually will, to be sure). I pick up these DVDs for the movies themselves, and while I love having the extra goodies, by no stretch do they make or break the package's value for me. In the case of Dogora, the near-pristine print, wide-screen presentation, and choice of subtitles or dubbing makes this release another clear winner. A few reddish marks appear on the print during the opening titles of the film, but otherwise, the visual presentation appears flawless. As is generally the case, the Japanese audio track is much higher quality than the English one, with deep, full-bodied sound even in mono; the English audio track is recorded at a much lower volume and sounds very tinny. On the positive side, the dubbed soundtrack is the same one used in the original 1964 American International release and is of reasonably high quality--unlike the redone English audio production on Tokyo Shock's DVD of The Mysterians, which is downright horrible.
In a nutshell, Dogora is about an odd life form that has developed in the upper reaches of the atmosphere and has a singular taste for materials composed of carbon. At the beginning of the film, an unknown force destroys a new satellite as it orbits the earth; soon afterward, significant quantities of diamonds begin disappearing all over the world. Naturally enough, investigators believe that human culprits are responsible, but as more and more people witness large amounts of carbon-based material, such as coal, being suddenly sucked into the atmosphere, it becomes clear that something else is doing the pilfering. (Not that this revelation sways our intrepid authorities from stubbornly staying on the trail of a notorious gang of diamond thieves.) As the space creature devours more carbon, it continually mutates--or evolves--until it becomes a gigantic, airborne, jellyfish-like creature with an insatiable appetite.
Dogora is one of Toho's most unusual daikaiju films for numerous reasons, perhaps most notably for the fact that the monster is something of a minor character. Though the "outer space cell" may be the catalyst for the story, most of the movie's running time is devoted to the antics of our fairly amusing diamond thieves and the efforts of the detectives who want to stop them. As a youngster watching this movie on TV for the first time, sometime in the late 60s, I found it all rather dull and boring and without imagination; in later years, however, I repented and began to enjoy the movie for its unique merits. The plot still seems a wee bit convoluted (but it does makes a weird kind of sense if you hold your mouth just right), and the intriguing human drama never runs out of steam. Above all else, from a dramatic standpoint, Dogora showcases the talents of American-bred actor Robert Dunham, who stars as the enigmatic (read silly) "Diamond G-Man" Mark Jackson. Though Dunham may have later shouted his way to something like fame as the emperor of Seatopia in Godzilla vs. Megalon, it's in Dogora that he really chews up the scenery and proves, once and for all, that Japanese soybeans have a nice flavor. Unlike most Caucasian actors in Toho productions, Dunham spoke excellent Japanese, which meant that his lines did not need to be dubbed for the Japanese language release. Thankfully, his dubbed voice in the English version preserves much of the humor present in the original, and if anything, the dubber's frequently exaggerated delivery makes the Mark Jackson character all the more memorable.
The cast of Dogora comprises many familiar faces from the pool of Toho regulars. Playing almost the same role he played in Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster, Yosuke Natsuki makes for a likable police detective named Komai, who first falls victim to trickster Mark Jackson, but eventually becomes an effective foil. In the course of his investigation, Komai meets an aging scientist and "young soldier"--a gag that is repeated a couple of times in the film--named Munakata, who is working to develop artificial diamonds, hence his interest in a diamond-eating space monster. Komai also takes a romantic interest in Munakata's lovely assistant Masayo, played by Yoko Fujiyama, who is, as anyone who has seen Atragon can testify, the prettiest girl anyone has ever seen outside of a dream. Masayo also happens to be the sister of satellite mission control director Kirino, played by Hiroshi Koizumi, though his part is so small as to be nearly negligible.
The diamond thieves are a fairly colorful lot, led by a Mr. Big-type villain played by Seizaburo Kawazu. Akiko Wakabayashi, familiar to western viewers from her appearances in You Only Live Twice and What's Up Tiger Lily? (not to mention King Kong vs. Godzilla and Ghidrah, The Three-Headed Monster), plays her rather treacherous character with cat-like charm. And eccentric as always, Eisei Amamoto (best known as Dr. Who from King Kong Escapes and the ghostly "prophet" in Godzilla - Mothra - King Ghidorah - Giant Monsters All-Out Attack), renders some comic relief as Eiji the Safecracker. While the movie provides little in the way of well-rounded characters, the cast moves with the vitality typical of Toho's early-to-mid 60s fantasy fare, and as such can't help but be entertaining.
Eiji Tsuburaya's special effects are less extensive in Dogora than in many of his prior and subsequent efforts, but the film does feature a number of highly impressive sequences. The opening outer space scenes come off fairly well, highlighted by an eerie Akira Ifukube score. Most impressive are the shots of Dogora sucking columns of coal and debris into the sky-particularly once it has developed into its gigantic jellyfish form. Swirling cyclones form above piles of coal outside the huge refineries and draw the black matter skyward, the effect being utterly convincing. Certain other effects, though, such as a truck leaving the road and being drawn into the air, appear considerably less successful.
Dogora's most dramatic appearance comes late in the film, in the sky above Kyushu. Suspended in the air just as if it were floating in water, the immense creature lowers its perfectly articulated tendrils from the clouds, and with the use of obvious but interesting cartoon animation, destroys a suspension bridge. The model bridge does not rate as one of Tsuburaya's best miniatures, but the scene is the only major interaction between Dogora and the earthly environment. Given the airborne monster's remarkably lifelike aspect, the scene stands out as one of the highlights of the film.
Because of its unique and often peculiar storyline and characters, it's easy for modern audiences to hurl stones at Dogora. However, that very peculiarity also serves to make the movie all the more endearing should one be inclined to give it an opportunity. Tokyo Shock has once again given us a chance to enjoy a Toho monster movie in its original glory, and I will hereby happily give it a (radioactively) glowing recommendation."