Ticky-tacky sci-fi fun from Japan released just a year before 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY/’68 permanently upgraded the genre from low-ball kiddie fare. This one opens with some last-minute instructions before Lift-Off to Mars! Look out for that UFO, the one that looks like a banana cream pie! It’s been stopping all our missions to Mars! Sure enough, the trip is aborted; not by bananas but by sticky little asteroids. And the crew returns to Earth with a sample, a blinking rock which promptly heats up, melts thru the Earth’s crust and reappears as a full grown Giulala monster! (A sort of indestructible 200 ft. tall reptilian chicken!) The rest of the film turns into the usual fable of (barely) non-nuclear mass destruction with an erector-set Tokyo getting crushed by an angry Giulala who also takes out scores of impotent military tanks & kamikaze pilots. Finally, the astronauts come up with a rescue plan, but manage to leave the door open for possible sequels. Most of the fun is in the first half, with lots of amusing model work for the space flights, a nifty miniature launching pad complex and cool ‘International Style’ set & furniture design on the moon station that might pass for a V.I.P. lounge at the NYC 1964 World’s Fair. (Just one of many odd points in common with 2001!) And what’s up with the blonde European female astronaut? We haven’t seen one of those since Fritz Lang’s WOMAN ON THE MOON/’29. (NOTE: It was hard to choose just one poster. So, here's another.)
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Dig that catchy Pop tune covering the opening credits; groove to the nifty dance beat all over the background score; swoon for the brief ballad at the end. This score would have earned high marks on American Bandstand.