1966/Director: Ishirô Honda/ Writers: Reuben Bercovitch (story),
Cast: Nick Adams, Tadao Takashim, Kumi Mizuno, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Koji Furuhata
Frankenstein Conquers the World is one of the oddest entries into the history of the Frankenstein library of often already odd films. It crawls out of Toho Studios and is directed by the great Ishiro Honda. It stars American actor Nick Adams (the Johnny Yuma TV show) in one of his three films with Toho. He plays scientist James Bowen who is hot on the trail of the Frankenstein Monster (though it is referred to throughout the film as Frankentstein) with the help of his lovely assistant Sueko Togami (Kumi Mizuni) and fellow scientist Dr. Kenichiro Kawaji (who is determined to obtain one of Frankenstein’s members or organs for future research).
The action originates in Nazi Germany towards the end of WWII when a mad scientist’s laboratory is raided by Nazi guards and the heart of Frankenstein (the monster) is taken then transported to Imperial Japan by submarine. Exactly why the Nazi’s would give away this potential asset to their conquests is never explained, but the heart winds up in the safest of places in Japan to carry out secret research, the city of Hiroshima. Fifteen after Hiroshima is baked to a crisp a strange kid begins to appear around the city and eats some of the local small animals. The boy is captured and for some odd reason is said to possess Caucasian features, no doubt to tie the beast in with the European creator and monster, but actor Koji Furahata does not look in any way Caucasian. Soon the lad has grown to gigantic proportions and escapes his holding cell leaving one of his severed but animated hands behind. In no time he is being blamed for the destruction of local villages and inns, but that is actually the handy work of subterranean monster Baragon (the alternate title is Frankenstein vs Baragon). Needless to say a duel is inevitable between the titans and as usual it is full of giant monster doing judo flips and spewing fire.
The photography and miniatures are excellent -if you are easy going on those matters- as they usually are in Honda’s films, though the super-imposed scenes are lacking in quality. Nick Adams seems a little dim witted to be a geneticist but it makes the movie even more fun. Scenes that the American distributor wanted included with Frankenstein fighting another duel with a giant octopus were deleted from the final version, but reappeared later as an alternate ending. The monster is one of the oddest on film (and there have been plenty of odd Frankenstein based monsters) and in many ways the creature stays in line with the legend: flat head, mistaken crimes, good heart and intentions that are misread and fascination with a beautiful woman. Baragon later reappeared in Destroy All Monsters and Frankenstein reappears in War of the Gargantuas. Maybe not for non-Toho fans, but a must for big monster (Kaiji) and detailed miniature lovers.