Space Amoeba (Japan 1970)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Yog: Monster From Space
Review Date: 11/25/12
Director: Ishiro Honda
Music: Akira Ikufube

"You know that remote Pacific island that's rumored to have monsters on it? We're planning on turning it into an exotic resort!" Well, there's an ill-conceived idea if I've ever heard one, but the money grubbing corporate slimeballs care little about consequences or public safety. To make matters worse, an unmanned probe to Jupiter mysteriously turns around and heads back to Earth, falling into the sea surrounding said island. Unfortunately, the spacecraft brought back alien beings that can turn the local wildlife into giant monsters, namely Gezora (kisslip cuttlefish), Ganime (rubble crab), and Kamoeba (matamata turtle). They also have the ability to take over human bodies, and coerce them into doing nasty things.

The film is overflowing with genre clichés, including greedy businessmen, cocky photo-journalists, stern scientists, helpless maidens, slippery corporate spies, and scantily clad natives. Akira Ikufube's dramatic music score helps keep the atmosphere tense and full of dread, and the miniature work is pretty good, but the whole thing still comes across as overly goofy. Seeing a giant squid walking around on land and smashing villages is more unintentionally funny than horrific, and the fact that it's scared of bats makes it even more silly. And then at the one hour mark, one of the island girls comes out of nowhere to announce that's she's getting married, which cuts to a completely out of place wedding ceremony. Huh?

The space aliens' big plan for world domination is to take over one of the humans and have him destroy all of the bats on the island, and he nearly succeeds. It's not much of a plan, but it's a start. Fortunately, the requisite helpless girl that came along with the expedition gives him a stern talking to and says "Aren't you ashamed to have let the aliens take over your mind and body? What kind of man are you?" Even though he's a bad guy, this gives him the will to resist the aliens' influence long enough to commit suicide, which in turn saves the world from its would-be conquerers. Cheesy escapist fun for Japanese monster film buffs.