Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

Frankenstein Conquers the World is yet another example of why it was such a bad idea for the Japanese to team up with Germany in World War II. In the waning days of the conflict, the Germans decide to do their Axis ally one last “solid” and deliver a mysterious briefcase to them. The case is opened once it is safely in a Japanese lab. Inside is a mint condition eternally beating Frankenstein heart! Thanks for that, Fritz!

The usual plans for invincible soldiers are floated, but those are the sorts of plans that have a better chance to come to fruition if they aren’t being made in August, 1945 in Hiroshima!

Years later a strange boy is spotted wandering around eating dogs and leaving torn up rabbits in classrooms. Eventually captured, he is studied by a trio of scientists, who notice that he never stops growing! (Scientists are observant like that – probably part of that scientific method they like throwing up in our layperson faces.)

After his inevitable escape, the presence of his still living severed hand confirms to the scientists that this in fact the Frankenstein monster, only super-sized, presumably due to the radiation. A desperate search ensues as he leaves a trail of animals picked clean to the bone behind!

In a totally unconnected part of the film (at least until the last act), an earthquake wakes up the subterranean dinosaur, Baragon, who is also really hungry and eats everything in sight. (The film ably drives this home with its breathtaking scenes of Baragon burping up chicken feathers and eating a toy that was supposed to resemble an actual horse.)

Frankenstein and Baragon meet up in the same forest and put on a rather lengthy match, notable for Frank’s limited offense of throwing rocks and bear-hugging Baragon, while the saurian uses his radioactive breath to little effect as the scientists and soldiers watch from a safe distance appropriately stupefied by it all.

The deadly seriousness with which this monster mish-mash is treated, thankfully lends itself to unintentional chuckles such as when one scientist throws some dynamite to try and smoke Frankenstein out of hiding, but accidentally rouses Baragon instead. You literally cannot throw an explosive in Japan without hitting a giant monster!

The so-called international cut of the film is highly recommended for the aficionado of the absurd because just when Frankenstein is reveling in his hard fought victory over Baragon, Giant Octopus slithers up on land, demanding an immediate title shot! The abruptness of it all is captured perfectly on the faces of our human heroes who all wear a shellshocked “what the fudge?” look as they watch Frank violated by slimy tentacles.

And when Giant Octopus drags Frank under the water for the last time, the deflated look on one of the scientist’s faces calls to mind a fan realizing his favorite sports team just lost the big game. There’s always next year, right? (Not a rhetorical trick! Toho released the sequel The War of the Gargantuas the following year.)

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