HJU XMAS Review: Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection – Henshin Justice Unlimited

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Seen every Godzilla movie hundreds of times over?

Gamera flixs don’t seem as exciting as they once were?

Think you’ve might have seen it all where US releases are concerned? Maybe maybe not.

A few years ago, as part of their “Icons of” line, Sony/Columbia Pictures released Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection. A three disc collection of some classics movies, all directed by the legendary Ishiro Honda. One of the creators of Godzilla… for the two or three of you not in the know, I’m assuming it’s a really big rock you guys have been under but I digress. The collection includes the classic Mothra and two movies released for the first time on DVD, The H-Man and Battle in Outer Space.

The latter two are the reason to buy this particular set. To my knowledge neither movie has been released on the home video market in any format before now. Granted my research on this particular subject didn’t go farther the wikipedia and imdb so I may be wrong. But the two, along with Mothra, did have a US theatrical release. And if you grew up in the 70s and 80s you might have caught one or two of them on a weekend movie matinee on TV, hosted by a horror character type of host if you were lucky.

I should go into each movie so you’ll know what to expect before you buy.

I’ll start with the one most of you have probably seen several times now, just to get it out of the way, Mothra. This is the original one that has seen several VHS and DVD releases. You more than likely know this one by heart. A Group of scientists(and a reporter) travel to an island they think is destroyed by nuclear testing only to find a lush tropical area as well as the tribesmen and two teeny, tiny little priestesses that inhabit the hidden paradise. One of the scientist takes something they shouldn’t and the world, and the viewers, are introduced to the island’s mystical protector Mothra.

The second movie in the collection is Battle in Outer Space. Now this movie is considered to be a loose sequel to the Mysterians. Evil alien (why are the space aliens evil 95 percent of the time?) target Earth and start abducting several people. Of course Earth doesn’t take this lying down and quickly develop a space mission to stop them. But the aliens find out and plant a saboteur on the mission. Now on a personal note I’m pretty sure this one might have been shown on those weekend matinees I mentioned earlier because some of it did seem familiar.

Which brings us to the last film in this triple feature The H-Man. The movies starts with a person apparently melting in the rain, which leads to several similar death including a man with criminal ties. The police suspect his girlfriend in his disappearance, as does his former associates, so to speak. But a researcher friend of the one of the investigator thinks there might be something else involved. And he starts to think a man made of hydrogen might be the culprit(an H-Man get it… never mind move along nothing to see here). Now not to spoil anything but they do figure out a way to defeat the H-Man and I’m assuming the plan works… I’m just saying might have wanted to put just a little more thought into it. If you watch it you’ll know what I’m talking about.

All three movies are presented in their original “Toho Scope” film ratio. And all three movies have both English and Japanese audio track and of course English subtitles. And as in some cases in movies released at the time the Japanese version is longer than the English version, sometimes by several minutes. And I have to say that I was actually surprised at the amount of English that was in the Japanese version of Mothra. I should also point out point that these movies were released during the late 50s and early 60s so there is no CGI anywhere.But there are a lot of models, miniatures and drawn in special effects. So if old school practical effects turns you off just beware. And if those type of effects get you going then you guys might want to keep a box of tissues handy. (Joking) For those of you who have watched Toho films from this particular era will see some familiar faces cast in some of the roles.

The set itself isn’t that bad. All three movies are in a regular size DVD case. The one downside to this packaging is that these’s no middle flap like there usually is with cases like this with multiple DVDs inside. Instead they’re all stacked on top of each other, so scratching might be an issue. Extras are a tad slime. Commentary tracks are available for Mothra and Battle in Outer Space and some previews of various collections on the H-Man disc. I not sure why there’s not a commentary track for H-man, perhaps they couldn’t record one in time before the release date. And I personally would have liked some theatrical trailers for the three movies but what can you do?

Now would I recommend this set? If you can deal with the lack of extras and old school special effects then yes I would recommend it. If you’re looking for a daikaiju movie set, well Mothra the only movie that fits the bill. The other two are your standard sci-fi and sci-fi/horror type of movies. I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

This set can currently be found on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.

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