10 September, 2007


I love costumed superhero films (especially with spy and science fiction twists) from the 1960s from Gianfranco Parolini's THREE FANTASTIC SUPERMEN to the Japanese giant, ULTRAMAN.
Presented above are images from Jess Franco's 1967 Eurospy spoof LUCKY, EL INTREPIDO featuring the great Ray Danton (along with Jess Franco in two amusing cameos) and the 1973 followup (one of many) to ULTRAMAN, Toho's deliriously frenetic ZONE FIGHTER, which although made in the early 70s has a very 60s ambience. Vintage Japanese fantasy/science fiction is one of my passions along with 60s and 70s Eurogenre, Film Noir and B minus cinema.
Beside the non-stop quips delivered by Danton in high style, the element I like most in LUCKY is the typically quirky, high-spirited Bruno Nicolai score (see if you can find it on CD). The main theme, with its crazy vocals and thumping two note refrain is great fun and I never get tired of putting it on.
Having had to make do with a partially letterboxed, fuzzy looking PAL dub for years I sure would like to see a Techniscope print of this film come out on R1 DVD. I think it would do quite well since the appeal is there both for the Jess Franco club and Eurospy fans. Even those who dismiss JF's work tend to have a like it once they see it. It looks, sounds and feels as if it were made in a state of pure joy. Favorite scene: the Roman open air market where "secrets" are sold. And that ending....!
ZONE FIGHTER (RYUSEI NINGEN ZOON) was broadcast in 26 episodes in 1973. Jun Fukuda and the great Ishiro Honda (GOJIRA) were the directors. A family from the planet "Peaceland" is pursued by nasty aliens with bug-like heads to Earth where one of the sons becomes the 40 meter tall Zone Fighter to battle the invaders and other monsters. King Ghidorah and Godzilla make guest appearances in several episodes. The family travels around the Earth in a nifty flying car. The episodes last about 25m each and make terrific Saturday morning entertainment or mind clearing breaks between your evening's DVD features. I've got some of these on tapes in Japanese language only. I guess rights issues are holding up North American R1 DVD releases.
So let's hear it for R1 DVD releases of LUCKY, THE INSCRUTABLE and ZONE FIGHTER....
(C) Robert Monell, 2007

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