Okay, for this one, the title “Warning from Space” shoots out at us,
first thing, followed by the English credits of the Japanese folks who made it.
All this over a fleshy pink background.
I don’t recognize any of the names, but I will note that one credit
reads “Toyomi Karita as Hikari Aozora Space-Man Ginko.”
“Bin Yagasawa as No. 2 Pairan” follows.
Make of that what you will. Our
director is Koji Shima.
Then, we’re told that the English version was produced by Jay H. Cipes and Edward Palmer. So I guess we get to blame them.
And then, we get some actual movie, as a small craft whizzes through the starry firmament to dock with a golden space station. And we cut inside…
Okay. This is our “have your suspension of disbelief checked and rotated” moment. The aliens we see are…well, they’re people in featureless starfish costumes, with eyes at the chest level. They’re basically people in sacks holding their arms out from their sides. And they have big three-quarter eyes right in the middle of their bodies.
Granted. We’ve never met any real aliens, and they might look like this. But. Let’s hope they don’t. Because first contact is going to be a long zipper search and this might have bad consequences.
But whatever, whatever, back to the film. One alien says that the Earth people are a bunch of blunderers and need to stop their futility. So they’ll land in Japan and give us all some learning. One of them is assigned to contact Professor Amura.
Cut to a rainy day on Earth, and some folks with umbrellas are boarding a train. Some guy with a convenient umbrella pops up and offers some of this rain protecting device to one…Professor Amura. Wow, small world, eh? They agree to go to a café.
Once there, there’s some banter. The hostess points out the smiling sun picture and says that even though it might be raining, the sun is always shining in here. Umbrella Man says that the rainy days actually give the Prof some rest since he is always star-gazing otherwise! The waitress goes off to get some drinks. Umbrella Man talks about his latest article, which notes that flying saucers have been seen, and are always referred to by witnesses as “flying saucers.” So there you have it, Judge Poop. Youth here doesn’t seem to know that the ships seen earlier in this film weren’t saucer shaped.
Prof Amura has nothing to add, but Umbrella Man is adamant about getting some juicy quotes about UFOs and stuff. He is asked, well, how about a guess? And the Prof says guessing is pretty foolish and no one does that these days. The lady who, earlier, let them all in and pointed out smiling suns says that the Prof should be let alone as he is NOT a politician and thus, doesn’t have facile answers for everything at all times.
Just then, another guy shows up. He’s a news photographer, and he’s going to make big bucks with a photo of a UFO. After everyone laughs at this, he says he has a message for the Prof from his daughter, who will be eating dinner with her uncle tonight. Her uncle is a physicist.
So we then cut to an observatory. The guy manning the telescope sees two lights zip across the heavens, and he confesses that he doesn’t know what they are.
Back in the café, the radio starts going haywire and blups out some static. Umbrella Man asks if the electrical payment is up to date and Mrs. Café tells him not to be stupid as she (unlike me) pays her bills on time. She turns the radio off and the noise is still there.
Now, if you were me, that would be pretty alarming, but the Prof and Umbrella Man seem to find it pretty dull and they walk separately into the night.
Back where folks are looking through telescopes, they are very excited and want to issue warnings and stuff. But in regular people’s homes, the interference becomes just regular radio pop so they stop being worried and continue sorting fish and stuff.
Professor Guy goes home and hangs up his hat. Then, we cut back to the diner, the hostess apologizes for not getting good fish, she says that the fish have all been scared away by the flying saucer. Prof’s daughter shows up and is told her father just left, and also that he ate dinner. So she leaves.. Some other guy also shows up looking for the Prof, and is similarly told he’s just not there.
Well, Prof’s daughter runs back home through the back alleys, touches up her lipstick in the dark, then goes to see that there are scientists there in the house. They ask that she excuse them, as they are doing important work, and she is ready to respect this. So she leaves and takes her disappointment with her.
The two scientists (Prof and some young guy, Toro) discuss the flying objects. They speculate that they might be artificial, but Prof’s not so sure about this. Toro wonders if they might be flying saucers, but Prof says he’s jumping to conclusions and should cut that out.
Just then, a loud flying saucer noise appears as Prof’s Daughter is hanging up some clothes. Apparently, she’s a bit deaf as she doesn’t react to the noise at all, until someone outside shouts, “A flying saucer!” and she joins her neighbors in trying to spot it.
Well, this dot of light streaks across the sky very rapidly. If these people can say it’s a saucer, they’ve got remarkable eyes. Toro even claims it’s the one he saw recently. Prof takes this news pretty hard. They agree it wasn’t a meteor, but Prof wants more data before he’ll speculate any about what it might be. Toro excitedly says it might be a flying saucer, and Prof reluctantly says that he can’t prove it isn’t.
So we cut to the headlines on the next day’s Japan Express: “Unidentified Flying Object Sighted!” in all caps and a giant typeface. The Tokyo Herald goes more sensational as it trumpets, “Flying Saucer Falls in Tokyo Bay!” Finally, the Tokyo Times takes a conspiratorial approach: “Observatory Scientists Withhold Comment!”
And we cut to a press conference. The press are badgering the scientists for some juicy news, while the scientists protest they don’t really know anything. “We can’t even make an accurate description of the thing…only how it acts!” Other scientists are gathering data from other sites. They’re getting calls from all over, including India and London.
Prof is talking with another old guy about how they can get more data. They think a rocket might be fast enough to get a photograph, and lucky for them, some are being tested today! So they’ll arrange this, and it’s good.
Out on the beach, there are some tents where the rockets are going to be launched. And there’s some people fishing nearby, I guess. The saucer noise starts, the two guys point and say, “A monster!” and run off, knocking into a father-and-son fish team who are just arriving. What they saw was one of the starfish men slowly rising out of the lake. I guess they scared him, too, because we just see bubbling water next.
And then some more bubbling water, at night, while some guys are unloading a boat. The saucer noise starts up again, Starfish Guy pokes his head up, and the sailors all panic with cries of “monster!” and so on. Look, Starfish Guy, if you’re going to make contact you can’t go all shy on us like this. It’s just making everyone feel awkward.
Of course, it might be that when people shout out, “A monster!” and run, Starfish Guy thinks, “A monster? Damn, I’m out of here! I don’t want to see any monsters!” (They’re all Shaggys from space.)
Later that same night, some people are having a big drunk party. We see rather more of this than we need to; I got the idea, really. One drunk guy chases a lady on the balcony, before she spots Starfish Guy and screams.
Back at the lab, Toro and the Prof (sounds like an acoustic duo) are gathering facts. They call the rocket range and ask if they’re ready, and as it turns out, they are. Prof has his eye on the telescope eye-piece. Um, is he going to direct the firing based on what he sees? That doesn’t seem terribly efficient for such a fast-moving object, but then, I’m not a scientist.
He sees a bright object sail across the heavens, and settle right into the middle of the view. That’s sure convenient of it. Prof gives the word, and sure enough this is conveyed through three other people before Old Guy waves his flag and the rocket is launched.
Well, enough of that; we cut to the next day down at the shipyards, where a professor is being told that the crazy reports of monsters may not be all that crazy. They’ve found some evidence. As always, there’s a flock of reporters standing by, taking notes. They go to look at the new evidence, which seems to be some kind of radiation damage on the side of a ship. Science Man calls for his Geiger counter.
Back at the observatory, they’re developing the pictures from the rocket. The scientists all gather round and look at a picture of a white blob in a night sky. They ooh and aah over it, noting how luminous it is and everything. One guy says, “Too bad it isn’t clearer,” and that’s just what I was thinking.
”A pity it isn’t, I’m sorry,” says some guy (I think) connected with the rocket camera launch. Toro is asked about his father, who is also a scientist, and he says he’s investigating these monster reports. Maybe he was the guy at the dock. Prof and Old Guy say they’ll have to tease Toro’s Dad about this silly work, and then they both laugh exactly like Tim Ishamuri from SCTV. He was supposed to be a parody, though.
We cut to some guy’s house at night, where he (who might be Toro’s Dad) is pouring over papers and what-not, while a female frets over the dinner he’s ignoring. Toro shows up and greets the woman as his mom, and he sits down to eat. She tells him that Dad is too busy working to eat. Toro goes to see what’s got Dad all worked up.
Dad asks if the pictures helped, and Toro says no. He then asks how Dad made out, and Dad says “No results at all.” So…why’s he been in his den all evening? Too embarrassed to admit he’s “got nuthin’” to the wife? Wow, the Japanese are honor-bound and so on, but that’s going too far!
Anyway, pop looks at his watch and asks if it’s really this late.
”For dinner, yes,” Toro says, “but for supper, we’re still early!” And they both find this really humorous and laugh. Then they decide to go eat, but then Dad pauses, the music goes ominous and he sees…um, a couple of wavy bits of trash outside. I think. Kleenex is what it looks like at this stage; perhaps we’ll get a better look. Or maybe litter is ominous anyway. I don't care if no one's watching you, you shouldn't litter!
Dad asks for his gloves and a Geiger counter. Before he can ask for his fiddlers three, though, we cut back to Prof and his Daughter. She greets him on his return home and he rather gruffly says he wants no supper and his day was okay. He’s off to do some serious drinking I bet.
Prof’s daughter goes to hang up his coat, and she notices a blue flashing glow near the door. The glow walks away though, as the aliens (I bet it’s them) don’t want us to die of excitement-induced heart attacks since they’re so advanced they don’t have lawyers. Daughter opens the door and sees Starfish Guy with his glowing center eye, and when he doesn’t break the tension by saying “Trick or Treat!” she screams and faints and apparently starts a fire (that’s quite a trifecta).
Prof hears the scream and rushes in. He tactfully ignores the fire and asks what’s up, she says “An eye!” and like any of us would, he rushes out to check. I mean, how often do you see an eye these days? Of course, when he gets there, there’s nothing there. So there. But we do see that kind of tissue stuff on part of the roof.
So we cut to a headline: Supreme Headquarters of the World Council. Well, usually you need a verb or something to go with that, like “coddles dictators” or “sucks.” The small headline below says “Suspend All Activities in Launching Artificial Satellites Until Notice.” Also, it should be noted that Egypt is not going Communist on us. Whew!
We see headlines in other languages as a radio guy reads the gist of the headline, noting that if there aren’t any Earth satellites, anything else must be aliens, so they can be shot down so we can study them. A couple guys going to catch a train say that since this announcement, there haven’t been any saucers so I guess the starfish guys must get that paper too. The train guys comment on a poster advertising a singer, and we then cut to her in mid act.
She’s dancing to a very 1930’s tune with a hunch of guys in tuxes and some backup gals dressed like her. They do some tap which is only semi-synched with the soundtrack but you can’t have everything, I’ve asked and they say “No.”
She looks up in the corner at the conclusion of her number and sees a glowing eye (was that what those tissues were?). She screams, which sounds like a slide whistle playing a Theremin. Everyone else sees the eye too (or they don’t want to be left out), and they all panic and run. Hilariously, there doesn’t seem to be an exit door on the stage so all the dancers huddle in one corner.
Next, we see a telescope view. A saucer flies across, and an excited underling shouts to the Prof to come look. But enough of that, let’s go to a bar! A radio man reveals that these “monsters” have been seen in other places as well, and the singer was “hospitalized with shock.” He then adds, “Tomorrow’s performance has been cancelled.” Well, she’s not much of a trooper I guess!
The bar maid (who’s every second word is “Ah!”) talks to the lone patron about monsters and saucers. But enough of that, let’s go back to the telescope! Then back to the bar. The radio is going all crappy again. Twenty-six minutes in, we see a flying saucer rise up from the depths of the sea. It’s a nice model shot. It’s also nice that someone thought perhaps we could use a bit of thrill.
The saucer flies back to the space station, and a starfish guy is welcomed back. Whoops, it turns out, all this time, that it was a Starfish GAL. Boss Starfish guy says that since she’s back, she must have had a success. I suppose he doesn't read the papers.
She says no, she made no contact as “even their scientists” regard them as monsters. Um, hang on, there, Number One, you didn’t even try to make contact. You ran away as soon as they screamed. You never even shouted, “Wait, I’m not a monster!” or anything. She says they can’t “infiltrate” this way. Uh, not sure how that would work.
…and these alien costumes are really starting to strain. They are just not believable at all.
Sorry for the interruption. Well, Boss Man tells Number One to stop kidding around and go and make contact, and quit stalling. No, actually he asks what the alternative proposal is, as they can’t give up. There’s a very nice spinning double-ring in the center of the station, like that one in the first Superman movie.
Well, Number One’s alternative is to mimic the human form to make contact, and she’s chosen the singer’s likeness. Boss Man notes the risk but says they have no choice. There’s some arguing—Number One thinks she should go as it was her idea and she’s already been to Earth; he says she’s too valuable, but she wins out, adding that she’s a scientist so it should be easy for her to talk to Earth scientists. It sure takes a lot of discussion though. I guess maybe the film-makers thought we couldn’t get enough of those costumes. Thanks guys.
They stand in a circle and wave their arms, then disappear. Number One stands in a circular thing and its lid closes on her, and she’s transformed into the singer. This, like the rest of the movie, is a very slow process involving superimposed rubber rings over a starfish head which slowly turns into clay and slowly shapes itself into a rough humanoid form. Finally she’s complete (even the hair) but she has no clothing. Don’t worry, though; that appears as well before we have a chance to get excited or even interested.
Fade out on that, fade in on a waterfall. Folks, we are thirty-one minutes into this thing. According to the IMDB, the running time is eighty-eight. I’ll pause while you do the math.
This really needs to get out of first gear and put some more foot on the gas pedal. Stupid aliens! Menace, damn you, menace!
Well, we get some more of the splendors of Japanese waterfalls. Yawn, how cool, etc. There’s a tree, and then there’s some old guys who talk about how glad they are that the alien invasion is all over, and they can all relax. They continue to chat about how, if these weird creatures were from another world and wanted to invade, we’d all be pretty helpless anyway, so it’s good they left and stuff. Then they chuckle and talk about how their worries are over, and then some women show up and chortle as well, and some folks in boats sail and talk about how great everything is.
But the folks in a boat find a floating body! And it’s the singer—well, actually, it’s the alien disguised as the popular singer—but the locals are all worried about drowning deaths anyway. So they’re all serious. Until someone points out the similarities between the body and the famous singer/dancer. Then they all jerk into awareness (of celebrities) and we cut to the singer/dancer doing some dancing. Those aliens will have some explaining to do!
Except, well, it turns out all of humanity is really, really stupid. Her act over, some reporters ask the Singer about the reported drowning death of her “double.” In reply, she faints. (Not a typo.)
So we cut to a train, and someone offers the Double some snacks. She declines them and they all talk about how she doesn’t remember anything, including her name. The science club might keep her at the clubhouse, and they ask the main club guy if that’s okay, but he apologizes, he has blissed out and wants the question repeated.
Elsewhere on the train, Number One in Singer Double Guise talks into her wrist radio and informs the other starfish that everything is going good. The train goes through a tunnel, and then we cut to a schoolyard where all the kids are singing. Seems to be some form of Japanese square dancing.
We then cut to people playing tennis. Because you just can’t get enough of that. Someone who might be the Alien Number One masquerading as human is making impossible (for a human!) saves and stuff. This raises some minor suspicions. But not enough so that her opponent takes any notice when he goes off to answer a phone call.
She, bored, swings her racket around before being contacted mentally by “Number Six” who tells her that if she needs help, he and some others are around. (He’s behind her in the shrubbery, and he's in human mode as well.) He then melts back into the shrubbery.
Sure glad we got that straightened out.
At a bar or club or some place, Prof’s Daughter and Some Other Guy We Have No Doubt Already Seen are talking about the fake human, Number One. They seem to be all aware of her and things, and just want…to stretch the running time a lot.
Number One shows up and takes off her hat, and a whole bunch of Japanese school girls go into paroxysms of gigglitude and want autographs, as Number One looks just like that singer. (You might think the aliens would have accounted for this sort of thing and chosen a more obscure person to emulate. There you go, using the word “think” in a sentence that does not value it.) Toro chases them off and then brings the tennis racket (touched by aliens) to his Dad, who says it is very strange. He says it is the girl who is strange, not the tennis racket. (He pauses to assure his mother that all is okay.)
Toro tells Dad about some other stuff, how he had to shoot at some broad but totally missed. Dad says, well, that’s okay.
Some other scientist is farting around with stuff, and Number One Human beams through the door and they casually talk about how casual it all is. But Number One Human rips out a page of formulae and says she has to destroy it before it is “too late.” Well, Farting Science Guy is suitably alarmed.
Number One Human tells Farting Science Guy that his formula, for some hyper explosive, is bad and humanity isn’t ready for it. He is astonished that some chick understands this kind of thing, but she’s pretty persuasive and besides, disappears while he’s distracted elsewhere.
So he and the other science types decide to hold a meeting at the observatory. Farting Science Guy says some dumb broad (Starfish Gal) understood his formula and left, and this was pretty much impossible for a woman; some other guy says this convinces him she’s not human, and another guy laughs until he’s told it could happen. Then they all sober up. Sure wish I could.
Toro’s dad allays these various suspicions by noting the “abnormally high white blood cell count” and everyone sobers up some more. Isn’t it time for some singing and dancing? Of course you know I’m kidding.
Anyway, some party pooper guy says, “None of this really proves anything,” so he’s shown some fingerprints. This PROVES she stole the jewels! Actually, the fingerprints show “no pattern” (we get to see this). Actually, it looks like these science goofs have confused fingerprints with fingerpaints. Happens all the time!
”I also have some other things I’d like you to examine,” Prof Fart says, sounding like a line from Gilbert & Sullivan. He hands over some “cellular material” from Human Number One’s hat. He asks that they be compared with some stuff found at a dock. Turns out they’re identical. “Then, what’s your theory?” asks Toro.
My theory is that these aliens intend to dull us to death. I mean, come on, forty-five minutes in and we’re debating stuff they found in a hat and on a dock.
Farting says his theory is…I’m out of pizza rolls. Which is not really his theory, it is my observation about my current state here, on Lonely Street in Heartbreak Hotel. His theory is that she’s from outer space. But of course Professor Dull has to say, “Hold on,” while he goes on and on about his pet theories.
Luckily, Farting cuts him short and notes that Number One was able to “jump over her own height” which even “a trained athlete” can’t do. Also, he casually notes, she can dematerialize.
So, they ask, if she is from another planet, why is she here? “I’m afraid only she can answer that.” And they all move away like there’s a bad odor and they want to escape it. I bet it was you, Prof Fart!
Suddenly, there is a strange noise from space, and after some running around, Number One appears in a tight rubber dress and makes some…vague stuff…happen. Hopefully, relevant to the plot.
Farting rushes up to her and accuses her of being not human. She cops the plea and admits she’s human only in appearance, and comes from a planet “Detrose Solvait Get Pyer” or maybe that’s what she wants to eat, it’s hard to tell. When questioned further, she says that her planet is exactly opposite Earth, so that’s why we’ve never seen it. Or detected it using gravitational theory impacting on the movement of planets…you know, the way we found the outer planets…sure! A planet on the opposite side of the sun would never affect anything so we’d never know it was there!
Sorry, it seems like this movie has taken weeks to get round to the point. And I fear it still hasn't; this feels like a very long prologue.
Anyway, she goes on to note that they are far more advanced than us, knew about us way long ago, blah blah, the usual “we are superior” stuff. The scientists all whoa about how this is unbelievable, etc. The guy who had the Super Explosive wonders why she destroyed his notes. She says that his explosive was totally unneeded by her superior types, and the explosive was unstable anyway. It can only be handled in a magnetic field, we superior types hate aggression, etc.
”All this is fascinating but you haven’t told us what you are doing here,” says Farting.
”To save the Earth from destruction,” she says.
”Destruction?” is the response.
She goes on and on about how there is some cataclysm threatening both parallel worlds, so…the starfish aliens screwed around for a long time because…um, er, well, it is complicated one supposes charitably.
And one supposes wrong, as there is a runaway planet threatening Earth. If everyone cooperates, they can avert disaster. As opposed to, oh, I don’t know, screwing around and scaring fishermen, and stuff. Why, I’m sure that always worked in he past, eh?
I mean, honestly, what would be wrong with a RADIO message, “Earth is about to be smashed by a rogue planet!”
Yes, I know the answer. “Hello! Thanks for the warning! But what do you look like?”
”AAAAAHHHHH! Monsters! Let’s NOT believe them!”
(Pardon while your narrator shakes a head sadly.)
Well, back to this. Number One says that if the nations that have nuclear weapons could be induced to shoot them at the rogue planet, it might change that planet’s course. In theory, natch. But theory is good enough for these guys, so we cut to some news cast called “JONR”. The announcer guy has to play his own xylophone opening, so it must be low budget. Probably public television! WE ARE DOOMED.
Well, anyway, the announcement goes out that there is a strange planet about to collide with Earth, and these aliens, from another strange planet, have come to warn us, but because they had to wear “protective clothing” they were seen as monsters, blah blah blah and so on. So they had to look like one-eyed starfish, but they weren’t really?
So what did they really look like, then?
Yeah, I know, I’ll never get an answer.
Anyway, we cut to a beach where some layabouts are dismissing the whole thing, saying that the twin planet’s name—Piram or something similar—sounds like a toothpaste. They all go to the water’s edge and yell it out as loud as they can. But get no response. Stupid youth!
The next day, at the observatory, lots of press and police are harassing the hard working scientists about what they do and don’t know. Prof Whatever appears and says they’ve been turned down about shooting all nukes at the rogue planet, because no one believes there is one on the way. But Prof Dad is sure everyone will be vindicated because everything is really gonna blow up, irrespective of who believes or doesn’t. He feels sure that everyone will rally around, because the rogue planet is due to be detectable fifteen days from now.
…fifteen days? Damn, this is going to take a long time. We are fifty-three minutes in. I bet if you played this soporific film in a double feature with the overly hyperactive Armageddon, people would be lulled to sleep then all have coronaries in the contrast between the two features!
Speaking of coronaries, I don’t want you to have one, but something exciting just happened! My cat jumped off the couch. Seriously! Oh, the movie? ‘Fraid not.
Anyway, the press conference dissolves into nattering and we get a newspaper headline: "Planet “R”: Impending Doom of World!" Then, "Planet “R” Visable in 15 Days—Say Scientists!" (Okay, here you go-- “scientists.” What do I win?) A skeptical paper announces that “Experts Doubt if Space People Exist!” “World Congress Denies Japan Request for Action!” is our last headline.
And we follow along behind some guy ringing bells, no doubt to announce another headline like “World President to Make Science Illegal!” or like that.
Actually, I guess he was just a guy who liked running along while ringing bells—perhaps some totally Method actor preparing to play Santa Claus. Because we next see a montage of people from all walks of life reading newspapers.
We cut to another press conference, where Prof Dad is asked, since tomorrow is the big day, is that great for science? Prof Dad says they’ll be able to make “direct observations” of Planet R. I wonder if Planet R is Rated R? Those science guys! No wonder telescopes are so big and all.
Where was I? Not paying attention? Oh good. Well, Prof Dad is asked what the plan is, and he says that all the atomic and hydrogen bombs, hurled against R, will cause it to miss us and/or explode. Some clown who doesn’t read the papers asks if Prof Dad thinks the World Congress will cooperate. Prof Dad says, “Certainly, once they’re convinced. If not, we’ll be destroyed.” Now, now, Prof, the World Congress could always debate about whether or not to send a strongly worded letter to Planet R! That might help!
Some other guy asks if there’s any kind of hope, and Prof Dad says there sure is, as Prof Fart has discovered...the hugely powerful explosive! The one that the aliens were so down on as being primitive and all. The one that, in fact, Number One destroyed the notes for. Way to grasp at nonexistent straws there, Prof Dad. Way to ruin everything for everyone, Number One. Well, whatever; this explosive can destroy R.
And we get a shot of some printing presses, so we know what’s next, right? That’s right, it’s headline roundup! The first one--
What the hell? No headline roundup? We cut to Prof Fart being given a newspaper because it has an article about him. He looks like he has no time for such things, or has a big headache, or maybe both. His wife says the article mentions the explosive. “It’s only theoretical I suppose they didn’t mention that,” he spits out all at once like a practiced excuse. “But the biggest problem is producing it mechanically. No one has the skill or technical capacity.” I guess he means, no one knows how to actually make the stuff. All the while the servant girl has been hovering around and she finally mentions some guy is here to see Prof Fart.
There’s some stuff about how he’s not to be disturbed and blah blah blah. I’m going to write here, “The guy comes in” because if he just goes away and adds nothing but running time, I’ll hate space itself.
The guy comes in. Prof Fart and he speak for a while. He wants to buy Prof’s bomb formula so he can sell it to some buddies. He laughs evilly when turned down, and Prof Fart tells him to go and never come back. He tells his wife that the man is “a devil.” Geez, movie, finish some of the threads you started without throwing in new ones.
Well, we cut to a cityscape while a radio guy tells everyone to stand by for announcements from the observatory. If the observatory announces that there is NO planet R, I will hate time as well as space.
Lots of people stare into the sky, and a dog barks at the sky, and a cat looks worried at the sky. In the observatory, everyone stands around. For a while. Rather a long while, in fact. Finally, “There it is! Exactly as predicted!” Well, this starts some nattering let me tell you! The press all rush in, and they’re wearing police hats it looks like. We see another view of the telescope and the Planet R has increased one hundred percent. It sure is fast! And new! With the same great taste!
Prof Dad tells the assembled press that they can look at Planet R one at a time, but “it seems to be traveling very fast!” I’ll say. By the time the last press guy gets to eyeball it, it’ll be close enough to see the Arby’s signs on its highways. I wonder if Planet R’s Arby’s still sell the subs? They did pretty good subs. Maybe we don’t have to blow them up yet? Eh? Before we get some of those subs?
Oh yeah—the movie! Sorry. Some guy calls Sidney, Australia and they all agree they saw the planet, and they agree really loudly and agree to yell loudly if they think there’s something they can yell loudly about and it happens while yelling is still possible.
Toro asks Prof Dad when the collision will take place. “Fifty days from today,” Pop says, “but we’ll be scorched well before then.” A reporter asks about shelter from the heat, and Prof Dad says, that might help for a while, sure, but the best bet is to smack Planet R til it goes away.
Fade to the observatory, the reporters are still nattering away though it is night now and they should go home. “The World Congress must help us! They must be convinced now!” some guy yells. Well, there has to be a debate, first, and all sides must be presented fairly—after all, maybe we’re the ones who are blocking Planet R’s rightful path! Did you ever think about that? No of course not, you only think about yourself. You think your silly Earth is the only planet that counts, when Planet R might have been in this orbital path centuries before you were even discovering algebra!
Well, that’s what the World Congress would say, one imagines. The voice yells some more. “What are they going to do? Wait until it’s too late?” I think you’ve guessed it!
Just then, the loudspeakers announce that the World Congress has agreed to reconsider whether or not to let Japan have all the atomic weapons to toss at Planet R. Some guy asks Prof Fart if this isn’t just great news, and the guy shakes Prof Fart’s stomach to kind of, you know, drive the point home. Prof Fart looks ill at ease. He’s not used to stomach shaking in these kinds of situations.
The chief of police arrives and says he’ll evacuate Tokyo. But, hilariously, no one pays any attention to him at all. He looks utterly put out as we fade to black.
Fade in on some air raid sirens blaring and panicked civilians rushing for, uh, something. Shelter, I guess, or maybe some of those Arby’s subs. Oh wait, sorry, wrong planet. Some kid is being passed off by his/her parents into a school while trains suddenly disgorge their passengers and luggage largely by hurling—which I did not know trains could do. I guess all these people had to “go” and couldn’t wait.
Some Buddhists pound drums, and there’s panic in the streets. Etc.
Toro tells maybe Prof Dad that Planet R’s velocity has increased. Oh, good. Prof Dad says that soon Planet R will be seen with the “naked” eye. Oh la la! You see, it is named Planet R for a reason!
--what?&nbbsp; No, that can’t be! You are being absurd. Absurd!
Toro and some others decide to get the relevant documents downstairs, so they’ll be safe.
And you know what? Prof Fart is being harassed by that Devil Man from earlier, who wanted to buy his formula. Yes, it all fits! It fits into this deluxe DVD box of “The Best of Mollusk Opera.” No, it doesn’t fit. Gangsters! In a science fiction film! Such a thing never fits!
Well, Prof Fart gets up, runs to the window, breaks it, and looks out upon a deserted alleyway. Gangster Steve laughs and says Prof Fart can’t get away so easily. Also, clams can’t blink. He makes it clear he wants the formula, but the Prof ain’t budgin’ on that score. So Gangster Steve tells his goons, “Make him talk!” and they grab his arms and kind of make him go back and forth somewhat.
Fortunately we cut from this sadistic display to see some young lady herding some children into the basement of the observatory. I think it may be Prof’s daughter, seen some time ago.
Elsewhere, worried scientists note that Prof Fart hasn’t shown up yet, even though he left his house some time ago. Prof Dad reminds us all that, “If the World Congress doesn’t act—and they haven’t yet—there’s only one chance, and that’s his formula!”
Another scientist points out that even if they get the formula, no one knows how to make it. Uh, how about by following the formula? Never mind, we cut to Prof Fart all tied up in a Comfy Chair and looking out a broken window as evening steals over the city.
We watch this every evening fall over many, many vistas of the cityscape, and it gets darker and darker as worried music plays. Everywhere appears pretty deserted. And more everywhere. And then some dust clouds blow in, and the waves start crashing, and the wind blows some more as the music gets kind of “this is tense” so we’re aware that wind and dust clouds are bad things in this scenario.
In the basement of the observatory, the children are all huddled by…the window, okay, whatever, which suddenly shatters as the kids scatter and chatter about the matter. Some adults herd them toward some more solid fortiments, while some other guy sees about repairing that window (papers are blowing in). They all start putting heavy things in front of the window. Way to be proactive, there.
A pair of random women, one of whom is Mrs. Fart, worry about Prof Fart. And the window is barred, so the chief puts the kids to work picking up the papers, which they do with relish. Actually, they use hands, but they’re damn glad to be working.
Toro runs down and howls out that Planet R is accelerating again. How come you only have bad news to yell, Toro? The adults run up to look, leaving the remarkably non-panicking children behind. Of course, as soon as we cut upstairs, a voice tells us, “Acceleration now steady. No further increase in velocity apparent.” So is Toro just jumping the gun again? Or was he worried no one was paying him any attention?
Whatever, now Planet R (which looks now like a Christmas Tree ornament) will smack us a good one in twenty days. Appealing to the World Congress really hard seems like the best plan they have. “I don’t understand what they could be waiting for,” says some guy with a jacket and tie. I would guess "kickbacks" if anyone asked me.
Just then, the coincidence meter kicks it up a notch as a radio voice announces that the World Congress has decided maybe these science guys aren’t all full of hot-air bologna and they’re going to send “an atomic barrage” against Planet R. This will happen at 8:00 later. Everyone’s happy about the news.
Toro runs down stairs to the waiting children. “Hey, listen! Everybody! Hey! Hear this! You know what they’re going to do tonight? They’re going to try and shoot that Planet R!”
A little girl leaps up and squeals at the news as Toro continues. “They’re gonna take a whole lot of bombs and blow it up!” More squeals. Finally, the whole class erupts in a paroxysm of yelling and Toro gets the adulation he craves. The children sing tunelessly and dance around. Then, they’re put to bed.
Up in the regular part of the observatory, everyone’s watching the clock tick toward eight PM. Lots of tense faces as Prof Dad keeps his eye glued to the telescope. One of the guys looks like a Japanese Bela Lugosi and he helpfully wipes Prof Dad’s brow for him. The clock ticks loudly. Ten more seconds! Finally, the clock dings (and stops ticking).
Through the telescope, we see Planet P. Tiny, tiny explosions—the kind that look more like damaged film elements than actual explosions—start to dot the surface of P without much enthusiasm. Prof Dad sadly rises and tells them all that the atomic barrage “had no effect. Nothing at all happened.” Sounds like a review of this movie to be honest.
Downstairs, a nice lady is reading Sleeping Beauty to some kids. She finishes and tucks the kids away and goes to see the descending Toro. Well, since Toro usually is a harbinger of bad news, she shouldn’t have to guess what’s happened. He gives her the bad news, and we see briefly a view of the Earth in space, tossing tiny missiles at Planet R. Apparently these missiles get to R in a few seconds; why R isn’t using those same seconds to smash us isn’t clear. I suppose it’s a sporting planet and wants to give us a chance.
At the telescope everyone is hot and sweaty. Either they're all nervous or Planet R is radiating a huge amount of heat (to be fair, it does glow pretty brightly). This still begs the question of, if Planet R is heating us up, why isn’t it closer than twenty days? Not that I want the Earth smashed, but it would end the movie.
Anyway, at the telescope, sweat is high and the light is so intense they have to use bitchin’ sunglasses to look through the scope. We’re five days away from collision. Prof Dad faints. (Not a typo.)
We get a montage of animals suffering because of the heat. A spider struggles, a crow falls, some…um, bits of trash are bothered by fire, a dog staggers like a drunk, fish are in a bowl of water that is actually boiling. (This last one is rather disturbing, as it is pretty clear that the fish die onscreen.)
Huge waves buffet the city’s infrastructure and spill over breakwalls and stuff. In the basement, everyone is waving hand fans and they have the electric kind on full. There’s a brief bit of excitement as the kids scream at a rat, but overall everyone seems pretty despairing.
Whatever happened to the aliens, anyway? Since they have all this superior technology, why aren’t they helping? I thought this was going to be bad for them as well, but maybe I missed the part where they said “…just kidding! It’ll be fine for us. Sorry about you guys but there you go.”
Another tidal wave smashes through the makeshift window in the basement. Some guy runs up to it with a rag; you have to admire his drive and enthusiasm anyway. The children are all herded upstairs. The water, obligingly, takes its time and mostly spouts over by the window until everyone gets upstairs. Then it gets attacked by men with boards and other water-fighting equipment.
Elsewhere, Prof Fart is still tied and gagged in the comfy chair! Since that was three and a half weeks ago, I’m surprised he’s still alive. Or has Gangster Steve given him food and bathroom breaks? He struggles and makes his chair fall over. Suddenly the wall cracks and he screams and screams (behind his gag). The building he’s in must be really heat-sensitive (I assume this is why the light is hot pink) because it’s just crumbling all around him. He just screams and struggles and screams and struggles.
At the observatory, they have a new indoor pool and everyone complains about the heat. Even the nice lady singing can’t make the children stop crying. They cry like car alarms, honk-honk-honk-honk over and over. The sweaty scientists note that they could still turn things around with Prof Fart’s explosive. (I thought they didn’t know how to make the stuff?)
You know, this is just getting grim and depressing. If they’re going to destroy the world, can’t they just get on with it? Suddenly, the sort of sleigh-bells sound that always heralds the arrival of the aliens is in the air. Number one and some henchmen materialize and walk over to the sweaty scientists.
”Hello everybody. Cheer up!” she says. “I think we are going to be able to help you. But where is [Prof Fart]?”
The others confess they know not whereby he currently takes his leave. But Number One says that Prof Fart is wearing one of “our rings” so they should be able to find him. It’s explained that this is a tracking system. So the four aliens fade off to find Prof Fart and save the world.
Speaking of Prof Fart, he is damned lucky, as even though he is passed out and weak, the wrecking of the building stopped just before it could have tumbled him to the street. The aliens show up and free him, explaining that they’ve made a “urium bomb” but they need his formula. Uh…didn’t the aliens destroy his formula? This is confusing.
At the observatory, a nice lady is trying to cool the brows of the weary children, and we get a long pan across the sunken basement to a pair of shoes. We pan up to see that these shoes belong to Dr. Bela Lugosi and we see the other scientists and they are hot and miserable.
Elsewhere, we see a weak and weary Prof Fart stagger down an alley. Pity the aliens couldn’t have whisked him away with them, eh? I assume there wasn’t enough room in the transporter or they’re all radioactive or something. Still, I sure hope Gangster Steve doesn’t show up, it’ll add another hour or so. Suddenly, some huge refinery type buildings nearby blow up spectacularly. The debris starts to rain down on Prof Fart. Sure sucks to be him! He hides behind an oil drum.
Back in the observatory, the children are restless. They’re making an incredible din. Outside, Prof Fart staggers up to the observatory doors. He must have an incredible sense of decorum—he’s still wearing his jacket and tie while everyone else is in tee-shirts. He staggers across the floor and out of shot. He makes his way to the basement and everyone is like, “Whoa, we’re saved!” They ask him what happened to him, invite him to sit, etc.
His ring starts making noise and he flips it open. “Attention, Earth men, attention Earth men,” says Number one. “Pylon satellite calling. The new superweapon is ready. [Prof Fart] told us exactly what was needed. His theoretical knowledge and our technical skills enabled us to make it now, and we are preparing to launch the missile now.” There are hearty handclasps all around in the observatory basement.
Number one says they should all watch this, so they all rush to the boarded up window…which is like a farm fence, how did they keep the water out? Oh, anyway, they all whip out their ultra-cool sunglasses and look out at the hot pink sky. A voice counts down from “eight.”
Then, a little missile launches from the alien satellite; it strikes Planet R and huge cracks appear in it, then it explodes pretty darn spectacularly. There is much rejoicing…until the impact makes the observatory start to shake to pieces. These people just can’t get a break! Except in their buildings, of course. And we fade to black and the sounds of destruction! Damn, is this how it’s going to end?
I guess not, as we fade in again in the observatory’s basement. One guy staggers to his feet. The rat that freaked everyone (there’s a horror movie title) wanders around, and in the woods there’s a bunny. Some other creatures (a bear-like badger, some birds, some crabs and some turtles) and stuff also crawl out of their hiding places while children sing in the background. Then we see the observatory, and the doors open and masses upon masses of children emerge, throw their pants into the air and run happily through the…wilderness. Well, okay, fair enough I guess most observatories are located away from city lights. Sure means Prof Fart had to stagger some distance, though. All in his coat and tie, too!
The children hordes are met by parent hordes and the bells on the soundtrack tells us this is winding up. Sure enough we fade…
…and fade in as Number One, in human guise, is being put back into the transmogrifier to be returned to her normal star-shaped form again. It slowly closes around her, and we pretty much get the whole transformation in reverse. Honestly, guys, I assumed she would be put back to her former shape, I woulda trusted you so you didn’t have to prove it. We do get to see the stitching on the starfish costume. Then the chamber slowly opens up. And we get a Japanese symbol that probably means “The End.” Sure enough!
You know, I hate to think that someone made this movie because of the starfish costumes. It's kind of depressing to think that someone watched another person waddle around in that ungainly getup and thought, "Hey, we could probably make a movie about this!" But I don’t really see any unifying idea behind it all. I mean, yeah, there’s a definite plot here, but it takes forever to get started, forever to get to any point, then they seem to have run out of what they wanted to tell us but still wanted to keep filming stuff. So we get endless padded bits of people being miserable and Gangster Steve. I fear I can see the film-makers, happy they took their time with the aliens, then the human Number One, then the build-up of Planet R—then suddenly realizing they had a whole lot more film to fill-up. “How about a gangster?” one of them said. “Hey, we could show people being hot, sweaty and miserable! That will take up some time!” said another. “Make sure the United Na—uh, I mean, World Congress acts like jerks!” "Songs! We need songs and dances!" said the producer's cousin, who couldn't be banned from production meetings.
So they did all that, then blew up the rogue planet in a few seconds and realized they needed more film. “Let’s show that lady turning back into a starfish!”
I'll say this for the aliens. Their design is...unique. As has been pointed out elsewhere, their stiffest competition comes from the alien in the John Carpenter/Dan O'Bannon film Dark Star. Of course, that was a comedy and this film is anything but funny. I'm given to understand that effects in Japanese science fiction films aren't aimed at realism, but at spectacle and flashiness. People aren't supposed to think, "That's believable," but "That's incredible looking!" If you ignore the fact that the aliens are astonishingly unconvincing, they are strange to look at. You do have to wonder how they managed to cough up the technology they have with their arms perpetually straight out from their sides, but perhaps they make a habit of becoming humanoid for such purposes. They've got a machine that does just that, after all.
It's a well-intentioned film, I suppose; stories about benevolent aliens are pretty rare at the movies, other than obvious examples like It Came From Outer Space or The Day The Earth Stood Still. I just wish it had such well-intentioned motives toward its audience. "Let's throw in some gangsters, they will thrill the audience!" was a stupid idea, and most of the other bits of padding we see here weren't much better. You can't promise the end of the world and decide to allay us with gangsters; I mean, talk about lowering your expectations. Stick to the point you promised us. Of course, if they'd done that, the movie would have been about forty minutes long.
You can't have a movie that's only forty minutes long, but taking the opposite road, one must admit it's pretty bad when you want the world to explode, just so something exciting would happen. Singing a song and wearing a tie just isn't enough any more. I've always said that.