A monstrous evil brain from outer space leads his minions on a crusade to conquer the universe, and unleashes hideous monsters on Earth that spread deadly diseases. Superhero Starman must rescue Earth from the menace of the evil brain while battling armies of monsters the brain sends against him.
Ken Utsui ... Starman / Super Giant
This movie seems to be edited together from episodes of a serial -- it jumps from sub-plot to sub-plot, and introduces a whole raft of new characters without developing any of them. It's Shin-Toho Studio's entry in the Superheroes from Space genre, which puts it side-by-side with those MST3K staples, "Invasion of the Neptune Men" and "Prince of Space".
Like those other movies, this one is frequently laughable. Jump cuts are used to make it seem as though the hero, Starman, and his monster opponent are jumping great distances... but the effect only works if you're under the age of ten and in a very forgiving mood. The meandering plot is juvenile; and the opening scene features an interplanetary council of some of the most hilariously unlikely aliens you'll ever see. Worst of all, I find Starman an uncharismatic and slightly stuffy hero.
What distinguishes "Evil Brain", though, is its monsters, which are genuinely disturbing: one is a swift, chattering beast, with glaring eyes (one of which is on its stomach), huge fangs and long "cobalt nails". It also has two filigreed crests on its head (like bizarre Mickey Mouse ears), breathes smoky radioactive fumes, and has the ability to turn invisible... The other mutant is a silent woman whose face resembles a beaked bird of prey. She also has special skills: she can turn invisible, and she kills with one touch from her fingertips. In fact, she kills a young mother while her two small daughters are playing (a scene which probably explains why this movie doesn't turn up on TV any more!).
Finally, as I write this, I note that IMDB recommends I might also enjoy "Tanin no Kao/The Face of Another". Hmmm... I'm afraid if I followed "Evil Brain" with Kobo Abe's intense, disturbing, and very mature fantasy, my head would explode.
This is a bad film, but enjoyable in a childish sort of way; I'm certainly willing to waste time on it after a hard night's work.
Most of the other comments on the film so far have been dead-on; it does look like a re-edited serial or TV show, it is a Japanese variant on the Capt. Marvel type serials of the '30s, it does include some of the same tonality as the later Kaiju films, and it is not very well made. But, as I say, it goes along at a pretty good clip, so its never really dull, and can be watched without using much mental muscle.
Historically, the most important thing about this movie is that it's right now the earliest example we have widely available in America of the choreography of martial arts in Asian cinema. (The IMDb date is clearly that of its American release, everything else says this was made in the early-mid-'50s.) The fight scenes are important - Capt. Marvel essentially brawls and wrassles when he fights, like every other Hollywood hero of his era; the fight scenes in "Evil Brain" are brief, well-choreographed dances; this actually makes it more advanced than similar American films of the period, and for this reason worth seeing at least once for all Martial arts fans.
I rate this movie 7 for its theme, purpose, country & time it was produced.
This movie is a compilation/compression of the last three one hour features of the "S?p? Jaiantsu" (Supergiant) series. "Starman" for us or "Spaceman" for European audiences, was Japan's first film superhero and lead the way to future stars such as Ultraman and several animated heroes my own children enjoyed. I highly recommend these movies for people able to look at them with objectiveness and respect for the time-frame they were produced 1957~59. They are also inoffensive for children for parents caring about their youngster's innocent minds. Despite some "ugly" if not "goofy" monsters by today's standards, there is no gratuitous violence or gory scenes and the fight scenes are "gentle" if not dance-like. Special effects match what was available with similar resources like "The Outer Limits" of the mid sixties. Dubbing is average for a production that old which was post-synch in the US –It is also difficult to dub Japanese with English language because of the marked difference in phonetics (sound generation by mouth motion). The original music was replaced with dubbing studio file soundtrack in the US.
One has to be cautious criticizing older features especially of foreign origin and not compare them verbatim to our modern computer-graphic FX-loaded violent features of American TV fame. Back in the mid fifties, Japan was still recovering from the ravages of a horrible war that had devastated all of their major cities. Under US occupation, Japanese elders felt threatened of loosing their ancestral identities and traditions. The recent and too-close-for-comfort Korean War had barely missed Japan and ended in a stalemate at a time when fear of another nuclear holocaust was very fresh and real in their minds.
Shortly after, Japanese "baby boomers" (yes, Japan had their very own boomers too!) rejected their parent's post-war humiliation and needed to believe in something along Japanese customs, fairy tales, and mythology... so S?p? Jaiantsu or Supergiant was born. Several Supergiant movies feature Starman protecting or defending children from dangers especially from space (i.e. threats for "above"). According to some natives, this theme had roots in the memory and horror of WWII's firebombing campaign over Japan.
I saw these movies in their dubbed and chopped version back in 1964 in Grammar School on our monthly "Midnight Theater" actually shown at 0600 PM midweek. We (kids) were very impressed if not "terrified" by the space creatures but we were all happy that Starman did save the day and the movie ended "like a fairy tale". Forty years later, I was actually touched to relive these same scenes that had fascinated me so much as a kid and impressed me for years to come. I recommended these if you are interested in foreign cinema history or as relatively "clean" thrillers for our younger generation.
This is remindful of the bad television shows that made up the majority of offerings of the fifties. It may have been the golden age but there was a lot of lead among the gold. This has a sappy superhero in tights (like Superman) who clicks with little kids. He doesn't seem to have any problem beating up 60 or 70 bad guys at a time. There is a threat from outer space and a brain that controls everything. It must be destroyed. The monsters are a collection of Japanese guys in weird costumes. They seem versed in the martial arts, but come to no good end. This isn't a show for adults and if you were to update it and substitute cartoon characters for the humans here, it would fit right in on Saturday morning. Hardly worth the effort.