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Frankenstein vs. Baragon

Frankenstein Conquers the World 1965

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Nomenclature
Foreign title(s)
  • Furankenshutain Tai Chitei Kaijū
  • Frankenstein vs. the Subterranean Monster
  • Frankenstein vs. Subterranean Monster Baragonalt. JP title
  • Frankenstein Conquers the WorldUS
  • Frankenstein vs. the Giant Devilfishalt. US title
  • Frankenstein: Der Schrecken mit dem AffengesichtDE
General Information
Directed by

Ishiro Honda

Produced by

Tomoyuki Tanaka
Reuben Bercovitch
Henry Saperstein
Samuel Arkoff

Written by

Reuben Bercovitch
Takeshi Kimura
Jerry Sohl

Starring

Nick Adams
Tadao Takashima
Kumi Mizuno

Composed by

Akira Ifukube

Production Information
Distributed by

Toho Company Ltd.JP
American International PicturesUS

Release date

August 8, 1965JP
July 8, 1966US

Rating

Not Rated

Budget

$?,???,???

Box office

¥93 million

Running time

90 minutesJP
(1 hour, 30 minutes)
87 minutesUS
(1 hour, 27 minutes)

Chronology
Next

War of the Gargantuas

Frankenstein vs. Baragon (フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣,   Furankenshutain Tai Chitei Kaijū?, lit. Frankenstein vs. the Subterranean Monster) is a 1965 tokusatsu kaiju film co-produced by Toho Company Ltd. and UPA. This film features a Japanese version of the Frankenstein Monster, who becomes giant-sized to fight the giant subterranean monster, Baragon. It was released to Japanese theaters on August 8, 1965, and to American theaters under the title, Frankenstein Conquers the World, on July 8, 1966.



Plot

The prologue is set in World War II, circa 1945. Nazis break into the laboratory of Dr. Reisendorf and confiscate the heart of the Frankenstein Monster, on which he is busy experimenting. The Nazis travel by submarine to the Pacific. The Allied Forces then bomb their submarine, but not before the Nazis can pass the heart contained in a locked chest to the Imperial Japanese Navy, who take it back to Hiroshima to be experimented on. But just as they are about to begin, Hiroshima is bombed by the Allied Forces, and the heart is lost.

Fifteen years later in 1960, American scientist Dr. James Bowen and his assistants, Drs. Sueko Togami and Kenichiro Kawaji, are working to cure the effects of radiation sickness suffered by survivors of the Hiroshima bombing. That night, Sueko encounters a savage boy running rampant in the streets of Hiroshima, catching and devouring small animals such as dogs and rabbits. The following night, while Dr. Bowen and Sueko have dinner in her apartment, the feral boy is injured in a hit-and-run in front of the building before he leaves with some food given to him by Sueko. A year later in 1961, they investigate and find the boy hiding in a cave on a beach, where a mob of outraged villagers has almost caught him. Once the boy is taken to the hospital, it's discovered that he is Caucasian and his body is building a strong resistance to radiation rather than getting sick from it. While the strange boy draws media attention and is taken care of by the scientists, another astounding event evades the public's eye: The former Naval Captain Kawai, who brought the Frankenstein heart to Japan in WWII, is working in an oil factory in Akita Prefecture when a sudden earthquake shakes the factory and collapses a tower, beneath which he saw the ghastly face of a giant dinosaur with a glowing horn.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bowen and the scientists find that the boy is growing at an accelerated rate. Afraid of his increased strength, the scientists lock and chain the boy in a jail cell, and Sueko, who cares for him, continues feeding him food to sustain him. Bowen is visited by Kawai, who tells him that the boy could have grown from the heart of the Frankenstein Monster, as the boy was seen in Hiroshima more than once before. At Dr. Bowen's advice, Dr. Kawaji confers with the aging Dr. Reisendorf in Frankfurt. Reisendorf tells Kawaji of the story of the Frankenstein Monster and its noted virtual immortality, due to feeding on protein. Reisendorf recommends cutting off the monster's arm or leg, speculating that a new one will grow back. When relating this to his fellow scientists upon his return to Japan, Sueko strongly objects to this method, fearing that nothing may grow back. Even when Bowen suggests that they wait a little longer to think it over, Kawaji tenaciously attempts to sever one of the now-gigantic boy's limbs. He is interrupted by a TV crew, whom Kawaji reluctantly allows to film the boy, though they enrage him by shining bright studio lights at his face. The boy breaks loose and goes on the run from the police. He returns to Sueko's apartment and has a tender encounter with her on the balcony before he runs away. Back at the boy's former cell, the scientists discover a giant severed hand moving on its own, confirming the boy to be "Frankenstein." The scientists preserve the hand in a protein solution to continue their studies until they return to find it dead but larger from absorbing the protein.

While Frankenstein is on the run, he travels to many places, from Okayama to Mount Ibuki, where his primitive childlike activities such as throwing trees at birds and trying to trap a wild boar end in disaster. However, unbeknownst to Bowen and the scientists, Baragon, the monster Kawai saw earlier, goes on a rampage. Tunneling under the earth, he pops out and ravages villages, eating people and animals, and leaving destruction in his wake. People believe this is Frankenstein's doing and the misunderstood monster is wrongly hunted down by the military, though not before narrowly escaping. Before Bowen and his assistants have no choice but to dismiss Frankenstein, Kawai returns to tell them that Frankenstein may not be responsible for the disasters; it could be Baragon, the monster he saw in Akita. He tries to help the scientists convince the authorities but to no avail. Kawai still wishes them luck in finding Frankenstein.

Bowen, Sueko, and Kawaji then form a search party and venture into the forest in which they believe Frankenstein is currently hiding. Then Kawaji, to the shock of Bowen and Sueko, proceeds to attempt to kill him, believing that Frankenstein could be dangerous by his very nature and not even Sueko could tame him. He intends to blind him with chemical grenades and capture him to recover his heart and brain. Kawaji presses on to find Frankenstein and, after testing his grenades, Baragon is lured to the surface. Kawaji and Bowen try in vain to stop the monster with the grenades, and it's about to eat Sueko until Frankenstein comes to the rescue. The cataclysmic battle between the two giant monsters then begins. Kawaji gets separated from Bowen and Sueko in the chaos. After driving Baragon off, Frankenstein finds the injured Kawaji and returns him to Bowen and Sueko. The scientists proceed to help a nearby village evacuate as Baragon closes in on it. Frankenstein stops Baragon from attacking the village and the fight continues until Frankenstein snaps Baragon's neck, killing him. Then the area surrounding Frankenstein and Baragon starts to crumble, and both monsters are sucked into the earth. Kawaji says that Frankenstein's immortal heart will live on so they may see him again someday, but Bowen believes that Frankenstein is probably better off dead.

Staff

Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

Cast

Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.


Appearances

Monsters

Weapons, Vehicles, and Races


Production

This idea for this film originated with Willis O'Brien, who pitched a film pitting King Kong against a giant version of Frankenstein's Monster. The idea was never adopted by Universal Pictures or RKO Pictures, so it was stolen by independent producer John Beck and pitched to Toho Company Ltd. under the title King Kong vs. Prometheus. Toho agreed to produce a film using Beck's project but decided to replace the Frankenstein/Prometheus creature with their own monster, Godzilla. The project ultimately became King Kong vs. Godzilla after Toho arranged a deal with RKO to use the character of Kong.

Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka had originally commissioned a film called Frankenstein vs. the Human Vapor (フランケンシュタイン対ガス人間,   Furankenshutain tai Gasu Ningen?), with a draft written by Kimura. This also follows up with the film The Human Vapor, as Mizuno finds the Frankenstein Monster's body, and revives him, so that he can help him use the Frankenstein formula to revive his beloved girlfriend Fujichiyo (who died at the end of said film). This was also supposed to be Toho's co-feature with the Japanese release of the film My Fair Lady.

When this idea was scrapped, Toho revived the idea of a giant Frankenstein for a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla called Frankenstein vs. Godzilla. In this draft, Godzilla would be discovered in an iceberg in the Bering Sea while a giant monster grows from the irradiated heart of Frankenstein's Monster. The J.S.D.F. lures both creatures to the forests near Mount Fuji in the hopes of Godzilla killing Frankenstein before he could begin to eat humans. Toho ultimately thought the idea made little sense and produced Mothra vs. Godzilla instead. However, Toho kept the Frankenstein vs. Godzilla screenplay and replaced Godzilla with the new monster Baragon, ultimately creating Frankenstein vs. Baragon. The finished film shares many similarities with the Frankenstein vs. Godzilla script, including the origin of the giant Frankenstein and the character of Dr. James Bowen.

There are many references to the 1931 Frankenstein film adaptation, an iconic representation of the monster featured in the famous book by Mary Shelley. In general, the monster is referred to by the name of his creator ("Frankenstein"), as opposed to "The Frankenstein Monster" (which Dr. Bowen did refer to him as once in this film).

Alternate Ending

There was also an alternate ending for the movie, in which, after defeating Baragon, instead of falling into a fissure in the ground, Frankenstein is attacked by a Giant Octopus. During the fight, Frankenstein is dragged into the sea and presumably drowned and eaten by the Giant Octopus. According to Ishiro Honda, the American backers for the film were astonished by the Giant Octopus scenes from King Kong vs. Godzilla and wanted the Giant Octopus to be included in the American version of the film. The sequence was shot specifically for the U.S. version, but Henry Saperstein, the lead U.S. producer of the film, felt it was too abrupt and rejected it. This alternate ending is often included in Toho's DVD releases of the film and was previously accidentally aired on Japanese television, confusing many viewers who had seen the film in theaters. The Giant Octopus would go on to appear in this film's loose sequel, War of the Gargantuas.

Theatrical Releases

U.S. Release

Frankenstein vs. Baragon was released theatrically in the United States by American International Pictures under the title, Frankenstein Conquers the World. AIP cut approximately three minutes of footage from the film and dubbed the dialogue to English. While Nick Adams' dialogue had been dubbed over for the Japanese version, it was preserved in the American cut.

Sequel

Main article: War of the Gargantuas.

Toho produced a loose sequel to this film, War of the Gargantuas, the following year in 1966. This film revolves around two monsters, Sanda and Gaira, regenerated from Frankenstein's cells. Sanda, like Frankenstein, was raised by human scientists and became kind and gentle, while Gaira grew up in the wild to become a violent and savage man-eater.

Trivia


Film media
Godzilla films
King Kong films
Mothra films
Gamera films
Other films
Cancelled or scrapped films

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