examsheets braindumps selftestengine certkiller testking  

Directors: Eijiro Wakabayashi, Koji Ota
Dark Sky Films/MPI

In the late 1950s, super space heroes where a new rage in Japan alongside their various mammoth monstrosities. The "Starman" movies featuring actor Ken Utsui as the hero known as "The Super Giant" appeared around the same time of two similar efforts: PRINCE OF SPACE (Yusei oji, 1959) and INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN (Uchu kaiso-sen, 1961). Like the Starman films, PRINCE and INVASION were dubbed into English, re-edited and sold directly to U.S. television by Walter Manley Enterprises, where they were distributed by Teleworld. In recent years, both films have gained notoriety with select clips utilized for 1982's IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD, and as part of the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” spoofed catalog, so you know what to expect here: lower tier Japanese fantasy flicks that provide pleasant enough Saturday afternoon thrills after you’ve put your mind on the shelf.

PRINCE OF SPACE concerns yet another alien race bent on conquering the earth for a supply of rocket fuel invented by the revered scientist, Dr. Mackin. The leader of the aliens is known as Phantom of Krankor (Joji Oka) and he has an enlarged hook nose, a chaotic moustache, and a mini TV antenna on his head. With a small army of similar chicken-looking men behind him, Phantom's trademark is his irritating “ha ha ha” laugh. When the earth people don’t adhere to his demands, Phantom kidnaps Mackin and four other prominent earth scientists. The only one who can stop them is a super hero in tights and visor helmet who’s named “Prince of Space” (Tatsuo Umemiya) and befriended by a pack of overzealous schoolboys. Prince of Space is really a shoeshine boy (!) named Wally, but in his hero guise and stick weapon (looking something like one of those automatic grill lighters) in hand, the aliens are defenseless against him. Prince of Space flies his rocket to their planet where he has to fend off an ugly giant monster (with body padding similar to that of Hans and Franz) before saving the defenseless captured scientists.

Similar in plot, INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN has a baby-faced, twenty-something Sonny Chiba as a costumed hero known as Space Chief, as named by yet another pack of excitable schoolboys in short pants. Some invaders from Neptune, who resemble a string of irate welders, attempt to kidnap the boys until Space Chief, riding in his futuristic sports car, intervenes. The aliens don’t give up there, destructing Japan though the courtesy of some wild WWII stock footage which displays the image of Adolph Hitler in front of a building before being blown to bits! Space Chief, who in his true identity is actually a mild-mannered lab technician, rockets his vehicle for some impressive dog fights against the Neptune men’s soaring laser-attacking saucers.

Larger than life heroes and angry aliens in ridiculous tights, obnoxious kids, tin toy flying space ships and atrocious dubbing are just some of the attributes of these mind-numbing Japanese sci-fi imports. PRINCE OF SPACE is probably the more fun of the two, as it always pollutes the screen with various aliens vs. hero action, and the incredibly laughable image of the Phantom of Krankor and his hook-nosed soldiers is hard to let down. Despite boasting an early performance by future cult hero Chiba (he does a little, and I mean a little martial arts bit), NEPTUNE MEN is not as action packed and a bit too talky for its short running time. The films are perfectly paired together, and provide some outrageous mindless fun if you let them.

Presented legitimately on home video for the first time in the U.S., PRINCE OF SPACE and INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN both look quite good on DVD. The black and white image on both is sharp and unblemished, with very strong black levels. Both films are presented 1.78:1, most likely to achieve anamorphic transfers. While the ratio is questionable (as INVASION was shot full frame and PRINCE was reportedly shot 2.35:1 Shintohoscope), the matting hardly causes any visible obstruction on the top and bottom of the screen, but the sides often look too tight. The mono English-dubbed audio tracks sound absolutely fine. Optional English subtitles are also included.

This release marks the first in Dark Sky Films’ “Drive-In Double Feature” series, so you can play the entire program with a number of vintage concession stand films from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as trailers for other Dark Sky releases: THE FLESH EATERS, DOG EAT DOG and the upcoming ESPIONAGE IN TANGIERS. The disc is simple and very nicely done, and with the lack of MGM Midnite Movies double features to expect in the future, this new series of B movie double bills is much appreciated. (George R. Reis)