Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

*. A title like that (the original Japanese title, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, was both more literal and more accurate) calls for some explanation. Things kick off with Frankenstein’s heart being shipped from Germany to Japan via submarine during the Second World War. For what reason I wasn’t entirely sure, as they don’t seem to know what to do with it in Japan. Is it going to be a secret weapon? Supposedly it holds the secret of eternal life since it can’t be killed. Maybe the idea was that the Japanese Army would be able to create a race of supersoldiers out of it. I don’t know.
*. Alas, the heart’s destination is Hiroshima, and the dropping of the bomb puts an end to any further scientific experiments being done. But the heart then grows into a boy Frankenstein who is later discovered by some other scientists. Indeed, Kid Frankenstein can’t stop growing and eventually he turns into a giant with a nasty set of chompers who wrestles with the kaiju Baragon (in his first film appearance) before both fall into a giant crack that opens in the earth.
*. You’d think that with that back story this would be a fun sort of mega-monster mash, but in fact it’s terribly dull and the action scenes are few and poorly done. There are the usual toy tanks and model buildings getting smashed, and even at one point a shot of a toy horse that was kept in just because it looked so silly. The fight scenes are very bad, being frantically cut and including lots of close-ups so that the action, in addition to being repetitive, is hard to follow.
*. So despite the studio and director (Godzilla icon Ishirō Honda) this is very much a B-grade kaiju movie. B or lower. And given that Honda had just done the excellent Mothra vs. Godzilla the year before it’s not like the genre was played out. I just got the feeling they weren’t trying very hard.
*. Nick Adams (about whom I said a bit in my notes on Die, Monster, Die!, released the same year) plays the token American. He’s terrible, and actually sinks below the script, which has him saying things like “Yeah, the story of Hiroshima is tragic. But it’s given us the opportunity to study the cellular tissues of the human body. It’s ironic, but science progresses in this way. We’ve got to work to turn tragedy into happiness in the future.”
*. The monster Baragon tunnels through the earth and has a glowing horn, but he’s pretty boring. The plot doesn’t make much sense. As per usual, after smashing up a town the monster just disappears. But Giant Frankenstein disappears as well. “If he’s really so big, why can’t you find him?” someone asks. The answer? Because he’s good at hiding. Indeed, both giant monsters are so good at covering their tracks that no one is sure which one of them is wrecking all the villages because I guess there are no survivors or no one gets a good look at them.
*. At one point, when the scientists are trying to figure out where Frankenstein may be hiding, they reckon that he’ll like cooler temperatures because “he’ll instinctively seek for a climate like that of Frankfurt, where his ancestors came from. That’s a cold place.” One scientist (you can tell he’s a scientist because he wears a white labcoat) then gets up and goes to a globe and shows that the mountain they suspect Frankenstein is at is on the same latitude as Frankfurt. But the spot he points to looks like it’s in Mongolia. Frankfurt is located at 50° N latitude and the Japanese alps at 35° N.
*. OK, you can laugh at that bit of nitpicking. Or you can laugh at the toy horse in its shed. Or you can laugh at the way Frankenstein’s clothes get bigger as he does so he never grows out of them. But the bottom line is that even at only 85 minutes (the version I saw) this feels much too long and there’s nothing good I can say about it.

21 thoughts on “Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

      1. Fraggle

        We watched the latest Boston Strangler movie which reminded me of your true crime book series will you be doing a movie series to co-incident with it?

  1. Bookstooge

    There’s a reason I avoid all kaiju inspired old movies. Even the good ones are not that good and the bad ones, oh my, they are bad.

    This sounds like it is ripe for the Rifftrax treatment…

      1. Alex Good Post author

        Oh you kids today don’t know what you missed. Saturday and Sunday afternoon Creature Features on channel 29 out of Buffalo . . .

  2. Alex's Review Corner

    Oh but Baragon is always a cute and funny on screen presence. Is he good in this? Every other film I’ve seen him in he either just looks cute at the camera or is a punching bag, and both normally work for him at least.

    1. Alex Good Post author

      He’s really the bad guy here, just burrowing through the earth and then coming out to flatten a village so that all the blame goes on Frankenstein. He’s a lot cuter than Franky though, that’s for sure.

      1. Alex's Review Corner

        My favourite Baragon apperance is in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack (actual title of the film) in which Baragon is a key player but missing from the lengthy title. All he does is burrow around for a bit, look cute and then dies the moment he meets someone else.

    1. Alex Good Post author

      Oh there you are!

      Yes how the kaiju keep hiding out from everyone gets to be a stretch. At least Baragon can go burrowing underground.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.