Movies and Film

A Menace From Space is… – Dogora (1964)

Toho, the studio best known for its giant monsters, creates another with Dogora. In this case, they do something a little different and instead of featuring the usual man-in-a-suit like Godzilla or one of his many enemies, they use special effects to create a giant space-jellyfish that has come to Earth to feed upon carbon-based items, which in this particular instance, happens to mainly be coal and diamonds. In addition to the giant monster, the spotlight is split between it and the police who are investigating a gang of diamond thieves and by making the film a cross between monster movie and crime-caper, it is something of a oddity in the Toho universe.

Though trying something new is always a good thing, comedy and giant monsters do not go hand in hand very well. That is not to say that it cannot do so, as in some cases it can and it has, but as a general rule, giant creatures that rampage around destroying things do not a good time make. The main problem with this film is its dual nature and where it could have been a real classic of the genre, it instead is just a shadow of what it could have been. After watching this movie, what one takes away from it is how it could have squandered such potential. The very best thing that this picture manages to do is create a monster unlike any of those that rampaged through the streets of Tokyo and greater Japan before it, simply for the fact that it did not rampage. Being a creature from space and not being Earthbound presented a lot of opportunities for innovation and for a very brief periods, director Ishirō Honda and the writers of this film attempted to do so. Perhaps they thought that having an alien as the villain of the piece would not ground it enough with the audience, thus producing a second storyline with more conventional bad guys, but whatever the case might have been, it failed to work as well as they had hoped.

Starring in this feature is Yosuke Natsuki as Inspector Komai, the man hot on the trail of the would-be diamond thieves and Robert Dunham as American Mark Jackson. While the former was engaging, the latter seemed unneeded, yet it still managed to work all right with some fairly decent chemistry between the two. While both storylines would eventually come together, it was simply too much to follow, splitting the focus of the movie and thus featuring an overly large cast as well. One or the other would have sufficed.

Come the end of it all, the creature is defeated in an extremely silly way, yet quite possible as one never knows what mysteries the universe, or the Earth, may hold. It seems ridiculous, but considering that half of this film is ridiculous, it was not all that bad. Despite any faults present, Dogora is an interesting artifact from Toho’s past that provides a vastly different experience from those monster movies where Godzilla reigned supreme. Dogora is not the greatest film by any measure, but a decent one.

3 out of 5

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