Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


RODAN (1956). Director: Inoshiro [Ishiro] Honda.

"The strongest, swiftest creatures that ever lived."

A shaft inside a mine has gone deeper than ever before, and men working below soon turn up dead and mutilated. The culprits are creepy [if unconvincing] giant worms with big bug-like metallic eyes. But they're nothing compared to what's uncovered by an earthquake inside a gigantic cavern near the mine: two huge flying, carnivorous reptiles of the species rodan that are related to the pternadon. These creatures have 500 foot wingspans and can fly at super-sonic speeds -- in other words, the earth does not need them. Shigeru (Kenji Schora), a young man who first discovered the monsters in the cavern, leads the military to their hiding place but they escape, using huge flapping wings to create cyclonic, city-destroying winds. Rodan is probably the best of the many Japanese giant monster movies, which for most people isn't saying very much. However, the film is well-directed, has suspenseful early scenes in the mines, and while the two Rodan aren't very scary-looking, they are nevertheless formidable giant monsters. Aside from the rubber beasties, Rodan has some very good effects work and good music for the finale. This American version of the movie has a prologue about atomic testing [which really has nothing to do with the movie or its monsters] and has some poetic narration at the end about how one of the monsters willingly dies because it can't save its mate.

Verdict: Probably the best monster movie to come out of Japan. ***.

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