*. The X from Outer Space didn’t have a theatrical release in North America, going straight to TV. The first time I saw it was as part of Criterion’s Eclipse collection When Horror Came to Shochiku, where it’s packaged together with three other fantasy films: Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell, The Living Skeleton, and Genocide (the last of these being the only other directing credit for Kazui Nihonmatsu).
*. I mention this because I quite like the Shochiku collection. Three of the movies are well worth checking out. Alas, the one that I don’t think worth bothering with is The X from Outer Space.
*. If you’re just looking for kooky ’60s kaiju fun then it may satisfy. Of course there’s a giant monster played by a guy in a rubber suit. Its name is Guilala, and he (it?) can only be destroyed by a substance known as guilalanium. There are lots of cute little rocket ships, and even an alien flying omelet the role of which is never explained. There’s a lady astronaut (her spacesuit has red trim around the belt, setting it apart from the men’s), and when hearing a complaint about the food on the ship she gets to say “I’m a scientist, not a cook!”
*. And there’s more. There’s some business about the alien burning a hole through the floor that may have been an inspiration behind the acid-blood trail left by the xenomorph in Alien. There’s a wall-size map at mission control that they use to track Guilala’s movement by repositioning a big red cut-out of the monster. And there’s a bouncily incongruous score that plays along through the whole picture, no matter what’s happening on screen.
*. So sure, it’s fun. But I think even kids at the time must have realized that what they were getting was second-rate kaiju. The effects are sub-Toho, and the monster design isn’t very impressive. Guilala doesn’t have any of Godzilla’s personality, I think largely because he only has glowing red eyes with no pupils. And the rest of him just looks ridiculous, a bunch of parts that have been thrown together without any coherence.
*. What The X from Outer Space represents, at least for me, is a textbook case of how cynicism fails in the arts. This is the worst of the Shochiko horror films because the others are idiosyncratic, creative, inspired, bizarre, and original bordering on unique. Meanwhile, The X from Outer Space was always meant to be a rip off of Toho’s Godzilla and that’s just how it plays. As such it rates maybe a bit higher than some of the lesser known kaiju of the same period but is still scarcely worth watching even once.