Space Amoeba (AKA: Yog: Monster From Space, AKA Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no daikaijû) 1970, Ishiro Honda – Japan
In the annals of Kaiju cinema, no one director can claim to have contributed quite as much as Ishiro Honda, the director of like, friggin’ everything. Well, not everything, but he directed a lot. Most of Toho’s real, certifiable kaiju classics come from his body of work, Honda was in the director’s chair for Gojira, Mothra, Rodan, the list goes on and on. However, he also brought us Space Amoeba, which is more or less totally forgettable, so I guess not everything King Midas touches turns to gold.
THE PLOT~ After some alien space glitter hijacks a satellite and crashes it in the ocean, islanders (And some Japanese folks who have come to our island for one reason or another) find themselves terrorized by a series of giant, goofy monsters, which include a squid, two weird crab things, and a spikey turtle. I’m pretty sure the original idea for this story is credited to a five year old kid playing with some toys in the bathtub.
Although these enormous beasts are indeed a serious threat to our stable of who-cares-characters, we are delighted to learn that each one possesses it’s own unique weakness- for instance, Gezora, the squid type dude, is vulnerable to fire, and Ganime, the crab guy, is vulnerable to having both of it’s eyeballs shot off and then being thrown off of a cliff onto sharp, jagged rocks before suffering horrible injuries brought on by explosive blasts. That’s a good one to remember. We also learn that all the monsters, and indeed, the aliens who control them, are vulnerable to high frequency sounds, so our humans cook up a plan to save the world that mostly hinges on pissing off all of the island’s sleeping fruit bats- but hold up! Someone has been sneaking around and killing all of the bats somehow! Yes, apparently there is a traitor in our midst- Obata, who was kind of already the bad guy since we learned earlier that his entire purpose for tagging along on this island adventure was one of industrial espionage, has apparently been possessed by space glitter also, thereby making him double the traitor. And to think I thought he was just your typical sneaky dude in a flashy white suit with a super dope Satan goatee.
Anyway. The movie ends, as every movie should, with a giant crab wrestling a giant turtle until they both topple over into an active volcano, leaving our cast of good guys to instantly be rescued by a Japanese fishing boat, roll credits.
It’s not amazing. It’s fine, and it’s entertaining enough, but a classic this is not. I’ve read that apparently lots of Westerners have a warm place in their hearts for this film after seeing it in drive-ins or on TV under the name YOG: The Monster From Space, but without the aid of nostalgia to warm your heart, Space Amoeba isn’t going to rise above the rabble. There’s also not much to it, thematically; there’s some stuff in here about respecting indigenous cultures and the exploitation of humans and resources, but as usual, it’s a mixed message, and they sort of touch on the idea of combatting your inner-demons, but for the most part, this is just a straight up B-movie that offers little for your mind to digest beyond giant monsters and a tropical settling.
The monsters aren’t too bad, though, I especially enjoy seeing Gezora lumbering about on land, for some reason, although Ganimes and Kamoebas (the turtle dude) could have been cooler. The legacy of Space Amoeba isn’t a proud one, these monsters didn’t really go anywhere after this. Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure I killed Gezora about a million times on the Godzilla Nintendo game, and Kamoebas has a cameo in Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, but he’s a corpse already when he shows up, so all in all the class of Space Amoeba remains under-utilized and relatively forgotten by today’s movie buff. It’s also not easy to get a copy on home video, so that doesn’t help.
Space Amoeba feels a little cheap, too, almost like they had a few extra reels of film and a bunch of unused monster suits so they decided to squeeze out one more movie before going back to the producers for more funds. I think this one might be for completest only, it’s too difficult to obtain to warrant a viewing for casual Zilla fans.