Frankenstein Conquers the World is a 1965 Kaiju feature film produced by Toho. The film was directed by Ishirō Honda (Varan the Unbelievable; Matango; Godzilla) with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. It stars Nick Adams, Kumi Mizuno, Tadao Takashima, with Koji Furuhata as Frankenstein and Haruo Nakajima as Baragon.
This film features a Japanese version of the Frankenstein Monster, who becomes giant-sized to fight the huge subterranean monster, Baragon. In Japan, it was released as フランケンシュタイン対地底怪獣バラゴン “Frankenstein versus Subterranean Monster Baragon”). Toho’s official English title for the film is Frankenstein vs. Baragon.
The film is notable for its memorable brooding score by veteran Akira Ifukube (which would be recycled for further use), touch tones of the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the infamous giant Octopus ending (see pics below), which was intended for the US version but never used.
An even more bizarre semi-sequel, The War of the Gargantuas, was produced a year later. In it, pieces of Frankenstein’s cells mutate into two giant humanoid monsters: Sanda (the Brown Gargantua) and Gaira (the Green Gargantua).
In Germany, during the final days of World War II: A Kriegsmarine Officer barges into the laboratory of a Doctor Riesendorf with orders to seize the immortal heart of the Frankenstein Monster. The heart is summarily transported to be passed off to their Japanese allies.
In the Indian Ocean, the U-Boat meets up with a Japanese submarine to make the exchange. They are sighted by an Allied Forces scout plane and bombed, but not before the Japanese take it back to Hiroshima for further experimentation. However, just as the experiments are about to begin, Hiroshima is bombed by the Allied Forces, and the heart and the experiments vanish in the atomic fireball.
Fifteen years later, in 1960, a feral boy runs rampant in the streets of Hiroshima, catching and devouring small animals such as dogs and rabbits…
” … the cartoony child-like pulp of the Japanese monster movie has become so established that the film quickly falls into these lines without doing anything the slightest bit remarkable with the idea. The effects are cheap, although the climactic wrestling match between Frankenstein and Baragon, which looks like a reptilian puppy dog, is entertaining.” Moria
“Destruction scenes are few, but the final battle between the monsters is fun. Baragon is an unattractive ankylosaurus-triceratops combination with a glowing central horn. At the coda, a giant octopus appears for no reason. This octopus was (wisely?) cut in the American release.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“Even 35 years later, Frankenstein Conquers the World is among the most demented movies Toho ever made, and it is frankly beyond my powers even to speculate how this happened with an American moneyman (who, let’s face it, could be expected to harbor certain pre-conceived notions of what a Frankenstein movie ought to look like) looking over the shoulders of the Japanese creative team. All I can say is, there was weirder still yet to come.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
Cast and characters:
- Nick Adams – Doctor James Bowen (Japanese voice actor: Goro Naya)
- Tadao Takashima – Doctor Ken’ichiro Kawaji
- Kumi Mizuno – Doctor Sueko Togami
- Yoshio Tsuchiya – Captain Kawai
- Yoshifumi Tajima – Murata
- Takashi Shimura – Hiroshima surgeon
- Susumu Fujita – Osaka Police Chief
- Peter Mann – Doctor Riesendorf (Japanese voice actor：Kazuo Kumakura)
- Keiko Sawai – Tazuko Tooi
- Haruya Katô – TV Director
- Yutaka Nakayama – News Cameraman
- Senkichi Omura – News Cameraman
- Kozo Nomura – Reporter
- Tadashi Okabe – Reporter
- Kenji Sahara – Soldier
- Yoshio Kosugi – Soldier
- Koji Furuhata – Frankenstein
- Sumio Nakao – Younger Frankenstein
- Haruo Nakajima – Baragon