Queen of Schlock! Japanese B-movies

In October of 2019 my b-movie partner in crime, Zoltan Dulac, and I went to Japan for most of October. You know… back in the before times. While we were there, I made an attempt to find DVD’s of Japanese b-movies, but didn’t have much luck. I seemed to have better luck finding them online. Where we lucked out was finding Japanese Rockabilly and Surf music on vinyl. At some point in the future we will be returning and I will be better prepared next time and will hopefully score big. Gojira big!

Speaking of Gojira! When I was a kid, my first introduction to Japanese cinema was of course Godzilla. Since then I have learned, experienced and loved so much more than just the monster movie master pieces of Toho studios. Though they are some of my all time favourite movies to watch, you haven’t truly enjoyed Japanese cinema until you have feasted your eyes on some b-movies!

Below are some of my favourite all time Japanese b-movies! As always, there are trailers or links to full movies where I can.

Battle in Outerspace (1959) is a 1959 Japanese science fiction film produced by Toho Studios. Directed by Ishirō Honda and featuring special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film starred Ryō IkebeKoreya Senda and Yoshio Tsuchiya.

The film was released theatrically in the United States in the summer of 1960 by Columbia Pictures. {source Wikipedia}

Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) is a 1965 kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. The film stars Nick AdamsKumi MizunoTadao Takashima, with Koji Furuhata as Frankenstein and Haruo Nakajima as Baragon. The film was a Japanese-American co-production; it was the first collaboration between Toho and Henry G. Saperstein. In the film, scientists investigate a child’s resistance to radiation that makes him grow to monstrous size, while a second monster ravages the countryside.

Frankenstein Conquers the World was released in Japan on August 8, 1965 and was given a theatrical release in the United States on July 8, 1966 by American International Pictures. In 1966, Toho/UPA released a sequel titled The War of the Gargantuas. {source Wikipedia}

Matango (1963) is a 1963 Japanese horror film directed by Ishirō Honda. The film stars Akira KuboKumi Mizuno and Kenji Sahara. It is partially based on William H. Hodgson‘s short story “The Voice in the Night” and is about a group of castaways on an island who are unwittingly altered by a local species of mutagenic mushrooms.

Matango was different from Honda’s other films of the period as it explored darker themes and featured a more desolate look. Upon the film’s release in Japan, it was nearly banned due to scenes that depicted characters resembling victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The film was released directly to television in the United States in a shortened form. Retrospective reviews generally commented on how the film varied from Honda’s other work, with its darker tone. {source Wikipedia}

Latitude Zero (1969) is a 1969 science fiction film. It was directed by Ishirō Honda and written by Ted Sherdeman, based on his radio serial of the same name. The film stars both American and Japanese actors including Joseph CottenCesar RomeroAkira TakaradaMasumi OkadaRichard JaeckelPatricia Medina, and Akihiko Hirata. {source Wikipedia}

Starman Attack From Space (1964) is a 1964 film edited together for American television from the Japanese short film series Super Giant. It is available on YouTube as of June 2020. {source Wikipedia} 

The Green Slime (1968) is a 1968 science fiction film directed by Kinji Fukasak and produced by Walter Manley and Ivan Reiner. It was written by William Finger, Tom Rowe and Charles Sinclair from a story by Reiner. The film was shot in Japan with a Japanese director and film crew, but with the non-Japanese starring cast of Robert HortonRichard Jaeckel and Luciana Paluzzi. {source Wikipedia}

The H Man (1958) Following a routine nuclear experiment, the ship Ryujin Maru II disappeared while in the South Pacific. Days later, another ship, bound for Izu, stumbles upon the craft adrift at sea. Six members of the crew decide to board the ship. To their surprise, they find no one on board at all, only clothes lying around, but in a way that makes them look like the person wearing them simply disappeared. {source Wikipedia}

The Mysterians (1957) is a 1957 Japanese science fiction film directed by Ishirō Honda and stars Kenji SaharaYumi Shirakawa and Takashi Shimura. The film begins with a giant fissure destroying an entire village. This leads to an investigation whereby the source is discovered to be Moguera, a giant robot, who is then destroyed by the military. The remains are analyzed and discovered to be of alien origin. Shortly after, an alien race known as the Mysterians arrive, declaring they have taken some Earth women captive and that they demand both land and the right to marry women of Earth. {source Wikipedia}

Warning From Space (1956) is a Japanese science fiction tokusatsu film released in January 1956 by Daiei, and was the first Japanese science fiction film to be produced in color. In the film’s plot, starfish-like aliens disguised as humans travel to Earth to warn of the imminent collision of a rogue planet and Earth. As the planet rapidly accelerates toward Earth, a nuclear device is created at the last minute and destroys the approaching world. {source Wikipedia}

Each month I run a b-movie night called Killer B Cinema. Join Lizzie Violet & Zoltan Du Lac for a monthly evening of b-moves from the 1950s to 1990s! There will also be trivia with prizes & much more! Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

2 comments

  1. When ever possible get the original Japanese with subtitles – the American edits often rewrite the movie & the dubbing is distractingly bad. Nick Adams Japanese film career deserves a well-researched book.

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