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Icons of Science Fiction: Toho Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Frankie Sakai , Hiroshi Koizumi , Ishirô Honda    DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £5.58
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Icons of Science Fiction: Toho Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Rodan & War of the Gargantuas [DVD] [1956] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Gamera: War of the Monsters Collection [DVD] [US Import]
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Product details

  • Actors: Frankie Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyôko Kagawa, Ken Uehara, Emi Itô
  • Directors: Ishirô Honda
  • Writers: Hideo Unagami, Jôjirô Okami, Shin'ichi Sekizawa, Shinichirô Nakamura, Takehiko Fukunaga
  • Format: Box set, Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese, English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Aug 2009
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0024FAG2G
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,897 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let me take you back- 29 Sep 2009
By Ian Williams TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
-to a time when men were men and science fiction movie fans would walk ten miles barefoot (shoes were expensive in those days) to catch a glimpse of special effects on the cinema screen. Here, on the cusp of the 60's, three movies from director Inishiro Honda and special effects maestro Eiji Tsburaya. When American sf movies were timid little black and white affairs, the Japanese were producing these lavish full colour widescreen masterpieces.

Okay, maybe 'masterpieces' isn't quite the right word. Let's have a closer look at them.

I've wanted to see 'The H-Man' ever since a kid at school snuck into see it (Certificate X: no-one under 16 allowed) and gleefully regaled me with tales of its wonders. The reality is a little less wonderful but not without a fair amount of fun. Basically it's a gangster turned into radioactive slime (think the Blob on a small scale) turning his enemies into similar such and absorbing them leaving behind all the clothes and such.

'Battle in Outer Space' does pretty much what it says as long as you are okay with outer space being the Moon and the Earth-Moon orbit. It's fine by me. Aliens (never actually seen except once and they're in spacesuits) attack the earth with flying saucers, space torpedoes, and a mother-ship. Earth unites to fight back and sends a couple of space ships to the Moon where the aliens have made their base. Then the aliens attack Earth full on. Trust me, this is full of special effects because of the numerous battles, space and moon sequences. Ah, in the old days we never noticed all those wires holding up the space craft and flying saucers, being too much in awe of the spectacle in front of us. Sure it's naive and clumsy compared to today's equivalents but it has a charm they lack.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Dean
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The other reviewers are right about the packaging. Although the cover is pretty nice the dvd's themselves are stack one on top of the other. You'll need to be careful taking them out or they are going to get scratched pretty quickly...

Thankfully the content more than makes up. The picture quality is excellent on each movie. The films come in English and Japanese cuts so you can play the traditional "they cut what?' game. The commentaries provided by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski match the ones they have previously provided for the Classic Media Toho releases. It's a pity their commentaries are only on the English versions but they have included clips from interviews they've done with some of the cast members. There is no commentary on H-Man but...

...but look, these are movies where giant moths save tiny singing twins, where astronauts fight aliens by having huge laser fights in the distant future of 1965, and where blobs of slime eat people. What more do you want?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movies for a baragin price 1 Aug 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was looking especially for the original Mothra and found this set of three movies, all of which are great! In the old days special effects could be made really nice without any cgs. I'm not going into the contents of the movies - it is well known to most 'fans' anyway. But I say this: View these in the Japanese versions with english text instead of in the dubbed versions. Movies are always best in their original state. Buy this if you want to view three great movies of their era.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  102 reviews
63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great movies, horrible (and cheap) package design 18 Aug 2009
By S. Boone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I was delighted to go out & buy this today, because I've wanted these movies for a long time on DVD, but when I opened up the box, I was dismayed to see that the package design has all three DVD's sitting on top of each other...no separation at all, just all sitting on the same center post. So someone at Sony probably got kudos for saving money, but we fans get an extremely cheap package & discs that will undoubtably be scratched in removal & shifting around. That is, if they're left in this configuration. I might find something better to put these in. Boo, hiss.

However, I did watch "Mothra" (my favorite of the 3) and I'd never seen the Japanese language version before, and all three films DO have the (edited and shorter) English versions, plus, the Japanese versions...which is pretty cool.

I noticed that all the other reviews for this were all "in anticipation" of this set & not from anyone that had actually gotten their mitts on it yet. I'm certainly glad to have these films, but the crappy package design did not set well with me...bet you won't see many used copies of this on Amazon posted as "like new". Five Stars for the movies, One Star for the package, which averages out to Three Stars.....
69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This should please fans of Japanese monster/fantasy fans 23 May 2009
By D. Steigman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This DVD contains Mothra, H-Man and Battle in Outer Space - This DVD has both Japanese and English language versions of the movies & are widescreen transfers. I expected these to be clean & crisp letterboxed actually - in Tohoscope & that is what they are.
All 3 of these movies were made by the people who brought us Godzilla such as Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya and music by Akira Ifukube.
MOTHRA (1961) would be the main attraction starring Jerry Ito and the 1 inch Peanuts as they were called. Mothra rescues them after being kidnapped by gangsters. A magnificent movie done with style and taste.
BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE is a loose follow up to The Mysterians minus any monsters but it is a spectacular effects and an endless array of laser ray light show with rocket ships, UFOs and other space crafts. Great special effects during its day.
The H-MAN was the one I watched first since I hadn't seen this in ages..it is relatively short (under 90 minutes) and it basically about a person who becomes an H-Man (hydrogen man) as a result of hydrogen bomb testing - the h-man is a greenish blob that eats other people turning them into oozing blob monsters which also appear in a 'ghost' like form. I watched the English language version and the transfer is nice, and the film is ok,basically it is a lesser title, but still fun to watch. Great effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and lots of lovely Japanese ladies. More or less a Japanese version of the Blob..
All 3 were on VHS in full frame versions and were somewhat obscure. Now we can get them all in letterboxed transfers and see them how they were originally meant to be seen.
The DVD packaging for this is terrible. 3 discs with each movie stacked ON TOP of each other like a layered cake or pancakes. This is an easy way to damage the DVD's.
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very bad packaging 19 Aug 2009
By J. Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The movies themselves are great but the packaging is terrible. All three movies are sitting on top of each other in a single case. They could of at least made it a double dvd case so only one would be stacked on another. Other than that they came in good condition and the movies are great. All are in original TohoScope ratios, Englis running time 259 minutes and Japanese running time 277 minutes, English subs, English and Japanese Languages. Special Features are commentaries on Mothra and Battle in Outer Space by Authors and Japanese SciFi Historians Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOHO Rules! 7 Sep 2009
By Grrrr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
1. Okay, bad idea on the packaging, but
2. 3, count em' THREE Japanese science fiction classics in both Japanese and American versions!
3. On seperate discs !!
4. You guys might complain about the packaging, but some of you are probably too young to know just how precious, for us old time Japanese Sci-fi fanatics, a collection like this is! LETTERBOXED! Original Japanese versions! With commentaries to boot!!!
As a guy, like myself, who has scoured the sci-fi conventions for years for titles like these and has settled for bootleg versions on VHS tapes, this is like finding the lost treasures of Solomon! And all for only $19.95 !!!!!
Thank you TOHO! Thank you Columbia! Thank you Sony Pictures!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Three-Pack...Except for the Packaging 1 Mar 2010
By Mark Rainey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE:
This release of Battle in Outer Space is part of Columbia Pictures' Toho Collection three-pack that also features The H-Man and Mothra, all of which were originally released domestically by Columbia in the late 50s/early 60s. The DVD includes both the U.S. and Japanese versions of the film, along with commentary by Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle. The prints for both U.S. and Japanese versions are fairly good, if not excellent. The packaging, unfortunately, is severely lacking, with the discs all being crammed into one side of a single-width case. To remedy this, I just put the discs in separate cases and fixed them up with reproductions of the original Japanese one-sheets.

If Battle in Outer Space is not a direct sequel to The Mysterians (Chikiyu Boeigun, 1957), it certainly shares common characters and characteristics. It's unclear whether Dr. Adachi, played by Koreya Senda, and Etsuko, played by Kyoko Anzai, are intended to be the same characters from The Mysterians (played by Takashi Shimura and Momoko Kochi, respectively), but Dr. Immelman, played by Harold Conway in both films, is obviously meant to be the same individual. More as a result of budget limitations than creative intent, the alien spaceships are slightly modified holdovers from the former film, and the same sound effects are used while they are in flight.

Whereas The Mysterians built slowly, setting up a grim, brooding atmosphere before introducing the giant robot Mogera and then progressing to a massive artillery/aerial battle, Battle in Outer Space opens with an alien attack on a space station, immediately followed by several other violent assaults on the earth. The film moves at a fairly brisk pace for the duration, with two Earth rockets, called the SPIPs, making a journey to the moon to combat invaders from the planet Natal, concluding with a major battle as the Natalians make a desperate final attempt to conquer Earth.

Though technically not a daikaiju film, Battle in Outer Space features many of the trappings that would eventually come to permeate the Godzilla series--invading space aliens, high-tech spaceships and aircraft engaged in spectacular battles, and the graphic destruction of major miniature cities. Eiji Tsuburaya's special effects certainly take a front seat in this film, mostly involving battles between spacecraft. The effects work succeeds to varying degrees, with the best taking place on the surface of the moon. The design of the SPIP rockets is typical of those from the 50s and 60s--tapering, needle-like fuselages with large base fins--and they appear quite convincing, especially during launches and landings. For the most part, the lunar surface miniatures and sets work exceedingly well, and the ground cars used by the SPIP astronauts appear functional; cuts between miniatures and full-size mock-ups are oftentimes flawless.

While anything resembling respect for the laws of physics might be rare in outer space movies--whether then or now--Battle in Outer Space makes only a few token nods to the concepts of weightlessness, effects of acceleration in gravity, et. al., and these are particularly odd at that. Most of the time, under said weightless conditions, the characters carry on as if they're in normal Earth gravity, except that--from time to time--one of them might rise unexpectedly in the air and then joke "he forgot." And one line, uttered quite ironically, is "Doesn't this weightless feeling feel odd?" even as the characters are hoofing through the spaceship's corridor as if they're on a sidewalk in downtown Tokyo.

Because the story is so fast-paced and plot-driven, none of the characters are very well-drawn or memorable, though Yoshio Tsuchiya plays a fairly tragic character who succumbs to the Natalians' mind control--the kind of role for which he came to be well-known in numerous Toho films, such as Dr. Otani in Destroy All Monsters and Masafumi Kasai in Matango. The romance between handsome leading actor Ryo Ikebe and Kyoko Anzai is understated--almost to the point of superfluousness--but further development would needlessly slow the pace of the picture.

Most fans of Toho science fiction films tend to rate Battle in Outer Space as inferior to The Mytserians--as do I--but also find it exciting and engaging. Despite the packaging, which hardly does justice to these DVDs, a decent presenation of both the Japanese and U.S. versions of the film--with very perceptive commentary by Messrs. Godziszewski and Ryfle--is a most welcome thing.

MOTHRA:
Mothra has always been one of my least favorite of Toho's giant monsters. It's a bug; depending on its incarnation, either an unremarkable, big honking caterpillar or a terribly unreal-looking giant moth. Yet Mothra has also starred in some of Toho's best Showa-era epics, from the original Mothra to Mothra vs. Godzilla (1963). Later incarnations of the critter, such as those in Godzilla - Mothra - King Ghidorah: All-Out Monster Attack and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS have been outright impressive. Go figure. Of course, then there was the 1992 Godzilla vs. Mothra. Eh. Not so much.

After the dark, somber moods set in Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again, and Rodan, the Flying Monster, all of which were based on the disturbing premise of science gone too far, Toho opted to produce a friendlier, fantasy-based daikaiju movie. Mothra introduces a giant monster who wreaks havoc but is essentially gentle, driven to destruction only because of its loyalty to the benevolent Shobijin (which means "little beauties"): a pair of one-foot-tall young women from the radiation-blasted Infant Island, who are exploited by a greedy entrepreneur named Clark Nelson. In his zeal to make money, Nelson abducts the Shobijin and forces them to perform in an exotic nightclub act in Tokyo. However, unknown to him, the Shobijin are using their performances to telepathically summon Mothra to their rescue, and when the big bug eventually does appear, Eiji Tsuburaya and his special effects crew get a chance to more than go to town.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Toho monster movie without spectacular scenes of miniature city destruction, and on this count Mothra definitely delivers, especially during its rampage in larval form. Several different larva puppets of various sizes were constructed, as well as a suit (only of the caterpillar's fore section) worn by actor Haruo Nakajima, which allowed for the use of very large-scale, super-realistic miniatures. Unlike in some later appearances, in this movie, the larva's movements appear very natural and lifelike, and the mottled tan and brown skin texture looks far more realistic than most of the subsequent puppets', which were a more uniform, glossy brown.

The adult "imago" Mothra doesn't fare nearly as well. For scenes of the flying Mothra's assault on Newkirk City, the capital of the fictional nation of Rolisica, the miniatures are smaller and less detailed, resulting in a far less satisfying look. Much like Rodan, Mothra is able to generate typhoon-force winds with its wings, but most of the shots of miniatures whirling around like paper confetti leave more than a little to be desired.

The musical score is provided not by either of Toho's most frequent composers--Akira Ifukube and Masaru Sato--but by Yuji Koseki, who scored relatively few films but provided a distinctive and exotic musical backdrop for Mothra. Koseki wrote the song that the Shobijin use to summon their guardian, but it was later re-orchestrated by Akira Ifukube for use in subsequent films, such as Mothra vs. Godzilla and Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster.

Although little good can be said about Sony's packaging job (see comments in the Battle in Outer Space review), the DVD presents generally fine prints of both the U.S. and Japanese versions of the film. During the film's initial release in 1962, Columbia inexplicably trimmed a considerable amount of footage from the film, including some impressive special effects scenes--presumably just to shorten its running time. Unless one has a serious aversion to subtitles, there's not much point in watching the (reasonably well-dubbed) U.S. version except to listen to the insightful commentary by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski. Despite the poor packaging, this set is a good value for any kaiju eiga fan on this side of the water.

THE H-MAN:
At long last, Toho's 1958 foray into the more horrific side of science-fiction, The H-Man, is now available on DVD, as part of the Columbia Toho Collection package that also features Battle in Outer Space and Mothra. The story is openly based on the 1954 Lucky Dragon incident--oftentimes referred to as the third nuking of Japan--when a Japanese fishing boat strayed into waters contaminated by nuclear fallout, resulting in the crew succumbing to radiation sickness. The H-Man goes a step further, in that the radiated crew members are transformed into green, blob-like entities who prey on other humans by dissolving and consuming their bodies. Their ship drifts into Tokyo harbor and the H-men (short for "hydrogen-bomb men") escape into the city and are soon making a grim and gooshy mess of things.

Noted Toho regular actor Kenji Sahara plays Dr. Masada, an up-and-coming nuclear physicist who deduces the origin of the H-men but has a tough time selling it to skeptical police investigator Tominaga (Akihiko Hirata). Yumi Shirakawa plays nightclub singer Chikaku Arai, the girlfriend of gangster Misaki (Hisaya Ito), who the police believe is in hiding--though in reality, he has been dissolved by the H-men. Masada, understanding what has actually happened to Misaki, becomes involved with Chikaku, but she is abducted by a rival gangster who, like the police, believes she is actually hiding Misaki. At the climax, the H-men intervene in their own gruesome way; Masada rescues Chikaku; and the authorities, in their efforts to purge Tokyo of the slimy, radioactive invaders, leave a large portion of the city's harbor district enveloped in flames.

With its grim atmosphere and suspenseful plot, The H-Man succeeds as a horror thriller, while retaining plenty of the trappings of standard, 1950s-vintage science-fiction melodramas. The early scenes aboard the abandoned, radiated ocean vessel are outright creepy, and Eiji Tsuburaya's unique special effects bring the mutated humans to life in very convincing fashion. The "dissolving" scenes were accomplished via life-size balloons created to resemble the actors, which were rapidly deflated, filmed at high speed, and optically enhanced, so that when replayed at normal speed, the illusion is of a human being dissolving into an oozing blob.

Composer Masaru Sato offers an enjoyable, somewhat frenetic orchestral score, occasionally accompanied by staccato, pinging percussion that adds an unsettling mood to the visuals. In the U.S. version, the opening theme is edited to accompany an abbreviated credit sequence, but thankfully is otherwise left intact, unlike too many other Japanese imports from this period.

The prints of both the Japanese and U.S. versions of the film are very good, though the American version is edited somewhat. Stick with the Japanese to get the fullest, best viewing experience.
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