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Blu-ray Review: Warning From Space (1956)

Flying saucers from the planet Paira, which lies on the opposite side of our sun, appear in the skies over Tokyo. The occupants of these craft, a race of human-sized cyclopean starfish, are hellbent on warning mankind about their eminent destruction at the hands of a runaway celestial body, Planet R by name.

The big problem with all of this is that humans will doubtless be up to their tits in fear over giant starfish from space and won’t listen to their apocalyptic info, so our friendly buddies from beyond the stars transform one off their own into the likeness of a comely nightclub singer.

To that end they attempt to contact a Japanese egghead that’s developed a potent new energy source which they hope to use to construct a big ass bomb that will blow that pesky planet to pieces thus saving Earth and Paira… but before any of that can happen, the scientist is kidnapped by enemy agents with a decidedly less altruistic plans for that big ol’ boom-maker!

In the same vein as 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, which featured an alien delivering a bleak message to mankind, Warning From Space is definitely it’s own thing, and that has it’s good and bad points.

In the good column, the design of the aliens and the interior of their craft comes off as both stagey and surreal, and my lord if it isn’t the beastly bees knees. This representation of the alien is just that; an impression of something so foreign that nay attempts to present it more realistically would in turn make it look far less outre and bizarre than it does. it was a bold move to go arty here cats n’ creeps, and in my not so humble opinion, it works like a mother fucker!

Speaking of arty, those aliens and their environs are presented in a near-black and white manner (in sharp contrast to the bright color photography of the more earth bound scenes… a rarity for Japanese cinema at the time), with only their glowing brilliant blue irises punctuating their sequences with a splash of color.

Additionally, the model work and animation are also top-notch, and had to have looked spectacular on the silver screen, and the body transformation sequence is cool as all hell… true artistry indeed cats n’ creeps!

On the downside, there is no discernable “main character” present who’s plight we can become involved in (think 2016’s Shin Godzilla, but instead of bureaucrats, you get scientists)… just a bunch of lab coats jawin’ away. Also, the film has a deliberate pace that I feel grows the tension of the narrative well, though your mileage may vary…

Along with the feature film, Arrow Video (along with MDV Entertainment) have offered up a few extra features on this blu-ray release!

First up we get an ultra-informative, scholarly scene specific audio commentary courtesy of author Stuart Galbraith IV, followed by the English dub of the film.

Also included are a duo of theatrical trailers for the film, as well as an image gallery featuring some great promo images where our alien pals appear as giant kaiju and are vibrant red (or sometimes blue), rather than the grey they are depicted as in the film.

All of the aforementioned goodness comes in a package containing a reversible sleeve featuring new artwork from Matt Griffin, and a collector’s booklet featuring an essay on artist Taro Okamoto by Japanese art historian Nick West, and an essay on the production of the American edit of the film by writer David Cairns.

When all is said, Warning From Space is a nice lil’ slice of 50’s era sci-fi fun; full of science, flying saucers, and far-out aliens, it’s a delirious drive-in concoction indeed!

 

 

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