Saturday, July 25, 2020

ATTACK OF THE SUPER MONSTERS (1982) DVD review



Attack of the Super Monsters (1982) d. Toru Sotyama / Tom Wyner (Japan/USA) (83 min)

In the year 2000, we are informed via sonorous narration, a troop of dinosaurs living underground in a secret cave where they have been “developing an intelligence equal to that of Man and dreadful powers far beyond those of Humankind” finally decides to make their collective move and reclaim dominance over the Earth. With their chortling and taunting (yes, these dinos communicate via spoken word) leader Emperor Tyranus marshaling his minions with an iron claw, the cold-blooded behemoths mount a full-scale assault on our existing civilization, using a variety of brutal and bizarre methods. It’s up to the special forces team of Gemini Command to beat back the monstrous menace and save the day… over and over again.


HOLY SMOKES. This is easily one of my favorite discoveries of the year. Within 30 seconds, I was grinning like an idiot and laughing out loud at the outrageousness unfolding before me. My profuse thanks to Belgian blood brother Gert for putting it on my radar and for the Kryptic Army for providing the impetus to pop it in the player.


Originally produced in 1977 as a Japanese children’s program by Tsuburaya Productions, the good folks behind Kamen Rider, Ultraman, and a host of other popular series, the twist was that Izenborg (or Kyôryû sensô Aizenbôgu as it was known in Japan) combined anime with live-action kaiju/miniature work to tell its story. (The dinosaurs, vehicles, and explosive mayhem representing the latter, with the human characters and some monster effects achieved through animation.) Although the brain soon adapts, the effect is wildly jarring at first; that said, this is far from the most egregious example of WTF our gray matter is asked to digest over the next 82 minutes. (Did I mention the talking dinosaurs?)


Thanks to their advanced (and wholly unexplained) technology, our villainous chatterboxes are able to transform ordinary organic life forms into red monstrous versions of same and unleash the crimson hordes against humanity. Each wave is led by a different prehistoric lieutenant, with an Allosaurus directing the dogs, a Pterodactyl bossing the bats, a Stegosaurus running the rats, and a Triceratops teaming up with an unspecified radiation-spewing carnivore for the final assault.


On the human side of things, we have the noble brother/sister team of Jim and Gem Starbuck, who possess the “Gemini power” that allows them to literally combine forces and become one entity (for exactly 3.5 minutes at a go), and the comedy team of Jerry and Wally who prove able warriors in between pratfalls and high-pitched exclamations. Back at Mission Control, the wise and impressively mustachioed Dr. Carmody doles out the orders and exposition.


In 1982, American voice actor Tom Wyner decided to string together four 20-minute episodes into a feature film, dubbing it into English in the process, and unleashed Attack of the Super Monsters upon an unsuspecting Western world. (That’s Wyner providing the narration, as well as other characters.) Because of the serial-like nature of the enterprise, we often see the same shots used – as well as having the Gemini transformation process explained to us on four separate occasions – yet somehow things never feel overly repetitive.


There’s clearly a fair amount of stock footage used from other Tsuburaya shows, especially in the opening five minutes where we are treated to shots of random kaiju raining destruction upon cardboard and balsa sets. (In the spirit of recycling, Tyranus’ suit was used again in 1977’s equally goofy The Last Dinosaur.)


Aimed directly at giant monster-loving juveniles of all ages, this is a charming under-the-radar gem that deserves a higher profile (although it certainly benefited from the RiffTrax crew recently giving it their special brand of attention). Well worth tracking down.



Trivia: In the original TV series, the action took place in 1986, with Emperor Tyranus going by the title of "Dinosaur Satan Gottes."





Attack of the Super Monsters is available now on DVD at Amazon, Best Buy, and various online streaming locations.


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