Today I watched Ishiro Honda’s Space Amoeba (1970)
Ending this all too brief jaunt into the giant monster movies of Japan, it is only fitting to do so with Ishiro Honda. A spaceship crash is witnessed by a photojournalist while he is on a flight. Later the same man is approached to take photos of an island to attract investors to build a resort there, what are the chances of this also being where the space vessel went down? So he and a group of scientists and researchers are sent out to look into the island where they are accosted by three giant monsters, a squid, turtle, and crab respectively. Yes, these monsters are related to the spacecraft.
The story gets going well enough but quickly hits a rather unfortunate stumbling block, the squid monster is introduced and the suit for the thing is absolutely ridiculous. It is so silly and campy and runs contrary to the mood the film was trying to build up until that point. It is kind of an asset to the film really, without something this laughably bad it is otherwise a rather average flick. I think the filmmakers knew how much of a stinker this costume was as they only feature it near the beginning of the film with the other two monsters holding up the rest of the film. Yet even with its brief appearance, this absurd piece of suitmation is the most memorable image from the film.
The rest of the story is fine enough, the lead photojournalist character is a fun antihero and the rest of the cast are also fun to be around. There is a good rapport between the characters and they all seem rather believably professional. But then they come to some really absurd leaps of logic to move the plot forward and it really breaks the mood by once again being completely silly. The performances are certainly not completely over the top or ridiculous, but the script certainly is at some points and the straight faced delivery is rather odd in contrast.
Space Amoeba is in some ways a perfect example of classic Daikaiju films, exotic adventure punctuated by giant beasts of varying levels of absurdity. Thus it is the missteps that end up defining this film, the terrible squid costume and characters that have flashes of utter genius when the plot calls for it. That being said it is certainly a fun flick and I imagine that is exactly what it set out to be, whether fun because of it’s qualities or it’s detriments it still offers plenty of entertainment. I would only recommend it to those with a love of camp though, the rest is far too flawed to offer much. 2/5