In this 1963 film from Toho, Agents from an ancient underwater civilization are attempting to kidnap people in Japan. Two photographers catch a glimpse of one of the Agents and become wrapped up in a plot that involves an underwater battleship submarine and a missing Navy Captain.
When the movie opens, Sumusu and Yoshito are conducting a photoshoot by the sea, a steaming man crawls out of the water just before a kidnap victim is driven right by them and into that same ocean.
|Camera flash is oddly effective.|
The police are confounded by eyewitness reports of men who exude a high heat when touched, but pursuing the case, they find some corroboration. A strange reporter shows up the office of an ex-Navy Admiral asking about the development of an advanced submarine and a missing Captain Jinguji. At the same time, the two photographers are following a woman they believe to be so beautiful that she'll make the perfect model.
She turns out to be the daughter of the missing submarine Captain, now under the care of the ex-Navy Admiral. When a kidnapping attempt is made on the girl and the ex-Admiral, the photographers are able to thwart the plan, but the Agent escapes into the ocean. The advanced, ancient underwater civilization of Mu sends a filmed message threatening destruction if construction on the submarine Atragon isn't stopped at once. Oh, and they also want to enslave the people of earth.
|The Mu Empire spends most of their time bowing, so they need slaves to do the real work.|
Luckily, the missing Captain Jinguji has been hard at work on the advanced submarine Atragon. Not so luckily, he's still got his mind on WWII and refuses to use the sub for any purpose that doesn't include WWII-ish stuff. Also, when a group goes to speak with him, they brought along that strange reporter, who just happens to be a spy for the Mu Empire.
|That beard really should have tipped them off.|
While most Toho films of the era pitted two giant monsters against one another, this one is more about the war between the people of earth, the Mu Empire, and one Japanese captain's inability to let go of the past.
|"You call patriotism nonsense?" - Captain|
|"Take a global point of view!" - Ex-Admiral|
Sadly, the dialogue is still relevant.
As with other Toho films of the era, this one includes an interesting take on dress and culture of the underwater (or alien) civilization.
There's also some great special effects, as you'd expect from Eiji Tsuburaya.
There's even some brutal freeze-gunning when the people of earth finally fight back against the Mu Empire.
As long as you don't sit down expecting this film to be a Godzilla clone, you'll enjoy yourself. There's some really cool submarine action on display, but not much in the way of kaiju.
Poor Manda is on display here, but he doesn't get much screen time and doesn't even make it onto land.
|Atragon - the kaiju that menaces at you through an underwater window|
As long as you know what you're sitting down to watch, there's some great stuff to enjoy in this film. You get the haphazard plot of a 60s Toho kaiju film that's light on the kaiju. Instead, the special effects are poured into underwater submarine battles, and plenty of miniature destruction that will feed the same needs as other Ishiro Honda films. Recommended for Godzilla fans, 60s Japanese sci-fi fans, and anyone in your life who might be Mothra's #1 fan.