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Now I'm a fan of hammer horror so I was all geared up for some amateur special effects and silly plot-lines...but this was a real disappointment. The plot is so slow and the dialogue so poor (or poorly subtitled) that even the great fancy dress costumes can't save it. All in all a bit too much like PowerRangers for my liking.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
SPOOK WARFARE: Bizarre, but entertaining!6 Jun. 2003
STEPHEN W YANKOWICH
- Published on Amazon.com
ADV Films has done it again by bringing us yet another lost treasure... YOKAI MONSTERS: SPOOK WARFARE (A.K.A. GHOSTS ON PARADE)! Although Daiei's Gamera films got to be cheesy by this time, SPOOK WARFARE gives us chills and thrills! The demon Daimon is awakened after a four thousand year hibernation by treasure hunters in Babylonia and heads to Japan to start a campaign of world domination. "Good monsters" are summoned and team up to stop Daimon once and for all. The overall entertainment value of SPOOK WARFARE is excellent... You will not see naked babes screaming their heads off, but you will see a good amount blood and an abundance of monsters unlike anything you have ever seen! There are also scenes in which Daimon looks like a guy in a rubber monster suit, but the scenes in which he is stalking his victims in atmospheric lighting are really effective... At that point, Daimon looks absolutely terrifying! The rousing music score really adds to the film: Chilling horror music! The special effects are mixed in quality, but for the most part are excellent! (The scenes involving the miniature work at the beginning and the snake woman throughout the movie are flawless!) The monsters that confront Daimon range from cheesy to scary, but are quite unique. The DVD... Sharpness and contrast of picture is superb. The sound is a bit distorted at times when the music reaches its peak, but still excellent. The special features include previews for other films of this trilogy, YOKAI MONSTERS: 100 MONSTERS and YOKAI MONSTERS: ALONG WITH GHOSTS (which are unreleased on DVD as of this writing) as well as the more recent GAMERA films, the DAIMAJIN (MAJIN) trilogy and the Godzilla epic DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. ADV has brough us another great DVD package. Unlike Toho, Daiei is more liberal about the international market. Thank you ADV and Daiei!!! :)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Spooks on the warpath9 May 2006
E. A Solinas
- Published on Amazon.com
Okay, it's a cheesy monster movie. But it's a GOOD cheesy monster movie.
"Yokai Monsters - Spook Warfare" is one of the best examples of old Japanese horror, with traditional monsters in a comic battle of wits and magic. While a lot of the costumes aren't very convincing -- unsurprising for the 1960s -- it's a funny and very weird story.
A pair of Arab tomb-raiders are pillaging an ancient Babylonian ruin, when they accidently set free the ancient vampire Daimon. Daimon travels (for no apparent reason) over the sea to Japan, and takes over the body of the magistrate. After he trashes shrines, kills the dog, and starts sucking blood out of his servants, his daughter Chie (Akane Kawasaki) and her boyfriend Shinhachiro (Yoshihiko Aoyama) start to figure out that there's something wrong.
Daimon also evicts the house's water demon (or kappa), who flees to the Monsters' Shrine to ask for help from other apparitions. The other spooks don't believe him, until a pair of fleeing children confirm his story. Now they must wage war against a creature much more powerful than any of them -- and even killing Daimon might not end the battle.
Women with two faces. Kappas. Long-necked goblins. And ghosts with long weedy hair. Most of these aren't familiar to American moviegoers, but anyone who knows about Japanese lore will know why these are all in this movie. And it's loads of fun to see them try to oust the outside that's infringing on their turf.
What makes this movie different from most period flicks is the sense of humor. The various spooks tend to bumble and make mistakes (including getting sucked into an enspelled jar), before finally taking on a hundred-foot-tall Daimon. And the dialogue tends to be kind of wacky, at least (there's a special "Monsters Social Register" book).
Since this movie was made in the 1960s, there are a lot of rubber suits -- Daimon looks like a rubber dinosaur, and a lot of the spooks have papier-mache heads. And I won't get into that one-legged umbrella. But the actors do a good job with odd body language (like the kappa's flailing and crouching), and the humans even get some cool swordfights.
"Yokau Monsters - Spook Warfare" lives up to its name, with plenty of Japanese monsters and goofy antics. A charming cult film.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating insight into traditional Japanese superstition and storytelling4 Jan. 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
These older fantasy Japanese films are terrific, and not necessarily in the ways that most people think. Imagine this scenario--North Pacific natives, with their Shamans and animism and such--find themselves on a large island where inherent limits of growth and scarce resources (and a few other things of course) promote the development of a fairly sophisticated culture with many roots straight into its tribal past. Then it quickly Westernizes within less than a half century and in such a way that it does not ignore its traditions but instead incorporates them. With these myths and legends going right back, untouched, to its early tribal days, by the time it gets around to creating fantasy films they tend to reflect a much different historical consciousness than their Western equivalents. Around 1960 the West produced Jason and the Argonauts and Japan saw these Yokai movies featuring individuals portraying magical nature creatures and wearing costumes strikingly not far removed from those used in rituals in the Northwest Pacific and certainly elsewhere. To approximate this phenomenon, Westerners would have to reference roots going back to before civilization, neolithic almost, largely forgotten history for the mass consciousness. I'd argue that Japan might be the single most astonishing nation on the planet.
Anyway, that's the way to watch and appreciate this film, and the others in the series. Hardly Sid and Marty Kroft territory and not exactly kiddie fare, these Yokai flicks are, in fact, striking studies in cultural anthropology. They also stand alone as beautifully crafted fantasies, rich in visual magic, and a good education in first class fantasy film art direction.
I think a lot of people get disappointed in these movies because they're expecting something camp and cult-y and on that level they just don't deliver. Sadly, since the Seventies or so, a lot of fine Japanese studio product from the Sixties and earlier has been unconscionably lumped in with Z-movies like "Teenagers from Outer Space" or Mexican wrestler flicks. Hip and trendy people looking for cultural goofiness were attracted to them for this reason; this film is even distributed by a company called "Rubbersuit" and that pretty much sums up the attitude. This is unfortunate, and I'd say it's also disrespectful to works that clearly had a lot of talent and imagination poured into them. Many of these Japanese products have excellent acting and first rate costumes (rubber suit aside--even the first "Alien" from that series was a rubber suit and anyway, those things aren't easy to fabricate or make work!). Stick any sci-fi or fantasy film made in the West from 1950 to 1975 (excepting Harryhausen's work which is sui generis, still underappreciated, and deserving of individual study, and any vintage Mario Bava--the man who could make $20 in props look artistic) against these remastered, subtitled, wide-screen Japanese films and you will be shocked. Many of these "camp" Japanese films are, at the least, better looking, more visually coherent, and far more magical. Notice that the Japanese even integrated stock footage more artfully, taking time to even (gasp!) match up the real jet fighter type to its special effects miniature--something even the best American films didn't bother to take time doing. [In an "equivalent" vintage American movie,"The Black Scorpion," (incredibly an O'Brian of King Kong fame flick) a train wreck features a steam locomotive whose tender clearly bears the legend "Lionel Lines"!] All in all, this is excellent entertainment that needs to be appreciated on its own terms. I'm glad to see them available on DVD. Check out similar offerings from Tokyo Shock and Rubbersuit's other films, especially "Daimajin."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Flying Babylonian Vampire Asparagus Monster Versus A League Of Japanese Apparitions!8 Jun. 2010
Robert I. Hedges
- Published on Amazon.com
"Yokai Monsters Spook Warfare" is one in an established series on Japanese films about weird spirit monsters battling evil. Made in 1968, this movie is not for you if you need the latest in digital weaponry and gore, but it is entertaining for its stunning originality and peculiarity. This film would probably be most appreciated by the Japanese as it takes much of its substance from Japanese folklore and traditions, almost none of which are known outside of Japan.
The story commences with some fairly boring narration about an ancient evil spirit, Daimon, who is entombed in Babylonia 4,000 years ago. All was going swimmingly until a couple of explorers unleash Daimon the demon, who promptly decides to relocate to Japan for a reason I cannot entirely comprehend. The film is in Japanese with English subtitles, so occasionally nuance and subtlety of thoughts aren't well conveyed, therefore it's entirely possible that this makes more sense than it seemed to for a typical native English speaker. Daimon promptly makes his way to the Izu Magisterial Palace, where the kind Magistrate, Hyogo Isobe (Takashi Kanda,) is patrolling his grounds during a storm. He is killed by Daimon, who promptly takes his body, which is a good thing if he wants to fit in, as Daimon's normal form vaguely resembles a flying stalk of asparagus with talons. When the Magistrate comes back to his home he finds his devoted assistant samurai Shinpachiro Mayama (Yoshihiko Aoyama) and his daughter, Lady Chie (Akane Kawasaki) greeting him along with their dog. He kills the dog with his sword and starts tearing his home apart, insisting that all religious artifacts be destroyed. Dismayed by this rapid personality change, Chie and Shinpachiro (who are dating) try to figure out what's going on.
It doesn't take them long with a little help from their friends. The first of the "Japanese apparitions" to appear is Kappa the Water Imp, whose appearance made me laugh out loud. He has a flat head and a duck's bill, and I wondered if Sid and Marty Krofft has consulted on the film, as this is definitely as weird as "Lidsville" (I would love to have seen Charles Nelson Reilly as a samurai, but I digress.) Kappa diagnoses the problem as demonic possession, and summons his army of apparitions, while Shinpachiro consults with his uncle, a Buddhist monk, to learn how to defeat the demon. I will admit that I grew quite tired of his uncle's chanting (though the subtitles are amusing,) but was intrigued by their plan to defeat Daimon. Kappa (whose chief weapon is head-butting,) introduces us to lots of very strange creatures: the Two-Headed Woman (Keiko Yukitomo) is actually pretty creepy as she has a normal and quite lovely face on one side of her head, and a horrible witch face with excessively long nose on the other. (I greatly enjoyed the scene where she confuses and terrifies the two guards. Watch for it.) There is a little guy who has the head of a beet, and there's Ikuko Môri as the Long-Necked Monster, whose neck resembles part anaconda, part Stretch Armstrong. My favorite of the monsters by far is the Umbrella Monster. Most of the monsters are played by actors in costumes, but some are not. The Umbrella Monster is one of the mechanical characters, and it is absolutely as weird as it gets. He is an umbrella with one leg, eyes, and a really long tongue which he uses both to lick his enemies with, and for communication.
Through concerted efforts the forces of good get Daimon to leave Isobe, but he comes back as the new Magistrate, who orders Shinpachiro executed for the murder of Isobe, as Shinpachiro is the only honorable samurai who understands what is actually happening and is a genuine threat to him. This death sentence revitalizes the Japanese apparitions, who call on their peers from across the country to mount an all out attack on Daimon. Daimon clones himself and at one point becomes gigantic (Godzilla sized in his asparagus monster form,) which proves to be his downfall, as one of the now much smaller apparitions is able to blind him, leading to his ultimate defeat and justice for their cause, and assuredly future romance for Lady Chie and Shinpachiro.
The film can definitely be viewed as a camp classic, but it is more than that. It is extremely imaginative, and entertaining as a classic good-versus-evil story. The special effects are not that spectacular (I did like the ending shot of the apparitions reverting to the spirit world even though it was a bit overlong,) and the continuity is sometimes a bit hard to follow, mostly due to language and cultural barriers. I have to admit that when watching it I occasionally had thoughts of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and actually considered the title "Lady Chie and Her Pets" for my review, but in the end I decided to be more respectful as I liked the film too much. This is too original and too bizarre of a movie to view only as a camp classic, so feel free to laugh if you must (there's times you will have essentially no choice,) but also enjoy an amazingly original example of 1960's Japanese cinema, and view it for the cultural oddity and artifact that it is.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Most thrilling entry in the "Yokai Monsters" trilogy9 Aug. 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
This is the best of the three "Yokai Monsters" films, about traditional Japanese "apparitions," made in 1968-69. Of the three (the others being 100 MONSTERS and ALONG WITH GHOSTS), this is the only one to give its demon, or "apparition," characters a major stake in the action. We actually get to see the demons a lot as they take the initiative to respond when an outside demon, a genuine threat to the human characters, enters the scene and forces the local demons to act and protect their interests. It all starts when Arab tomb robbers unleash "Daimon," an ancient demon in "Babylonia," which then, for some inexplicable reason, flies to Japan to wreak havoc, first by taking over the body of a kind and benevolent local magistrate and then doing the same to his steward, alarming the magistrate's daughter and his loyal samurai retainers. Kappa, the water imp, emerges from the pond at the Izu Magisterial Palace, where all this takes place, and sees the demon's true form and tries to subdue it, to no avail. So Kappa seeks out his demon compadres and tries to convince them to help him fight Daimon. Eventually, two children, fleeing abduction by the possessed Magistrate's men, ask for help from the demons, who are moved by an appeal to national pride. The "nippon no yokai" must band together to uproot the foreign interloper who threatens to bring shame on "Japanese apparitions."
One of the samurai retainers, Shinpachiro, takes an active role in fighting Daimon as well, going as far as to visit his uncle, a Buddhist monk, to get the necessary occult weapons. He actually makes some headway, forcing Daimon to depart the magistrate's body to seek a new host. But in the process, the good Japanese demons wind up trapped in a vase with an occult seal. When the new magistrate, newly possessed, sentences Shinpachiro to death for killing the previous magistrate, Lady Chie, the dead magistrate's daughter, is forced to seek help from the only two demons who hadn't been sealed up. Eventually, it all culminates in a battle royale between the Japanese apparitions and the now-giant-sized monstrous Daimon.
This has the most suspenseful story and imaginative action of the three films in the Yokai Monsters trilogy. It also has the greatest participation of its demon characters. Kappa, a cute creature with lily pad garments and a duck's beak, is the most proactive of them, but he gets lots of help from the umbrella demon with a long tongue, the woman with a long snake-like neck, and the two-faced woman with a pretty face on one side and a monstrous crone's face on the other. One fox-like fellow has a big stone belly that's able to "tune in," television style, to the antics of the demon villain. These characters are mostly played by actors in costume and makeup, although some, like the umbrella demon, are created via mechanical effects. It's all fun to watch.
This was made by the Daiei Studio, which also gave us the Gamera films of the 1960s and '70s. The Yokai films suffered a bit from having lower budgets than their counterparts at Toho Studios and Toei Pictures would have had, but, as in this film, a little imagination went a long way in making up the deficit. This particular entry in the series is often cited as the movie that inspired Takashi Miike's remake, THE GREAT YOKAI WAR (2005), also reviewed on this site. Miike, of course, took the subject in a whole new direction, and the result was a very different kind of film and not one that I found as entertaining as this one.