"Frankenstein Conquers the World" (or "Frankenstein vs. Baragon") is a wonderful Japanese-American kaiju movie presented here by Tokyo Shock in a beautiful package. The package contains two discs and three versions of the movie, one primarily a Japanese release, one primarily for American audiences, and one for International audiences (which seems to be the Japanese version with the alternate giant octopus ending). Note that there are other versions out there, but three versions are plenty for me. The set has numerous extras including deleted scenes, extra footage, previews, still photos (of lobby cards, advertising materials, etc.), and a wonderful commentary by Sadamasa Arikawa, the chief cameraman and director of special effects (who appears over the International version).
The short version of the plot is that the Germans realize defeat is imminent in World War Two, so they give the heart of Frankenstein's monster, which cannot be killed, to their ally, Japan, for secret military purposes. Unfortunately, the experiments get underway in Hiroshima early in the morning of August 6, 1945, just as a B-29 drops an atomic bomb on the city. Fast forward fifteen years and a mysterious mute waif who eats dogs starts terrorizing the community, while nearly simultaneously Baragon appears destroying some oil fields. Clearly the film is headed for a conflict of epic proportions, and over the remainder of the movie Frankenstein grows enormously, tangling with Baragon in amusing fight scenes. Depending on which version you watch, a third kaiju, in this case an enormous octopus, wanders through the forest to join the fight as well.
This is a very entertaining film on a lot of levels, but mostly in a fun man-in-a-rubber suit (or lots of makeup) takes on all contenders way. The film is the first Japanese-American kaiju joint venture, and features Nick Adams as a scientist in the lead role. The supporting cast are largely Toho regulars, and the acting is above par for the genre.
For me the single most enjoyable feature of this package is the commentary with Sadamasa Arikawa, who is very informative and entertaining. He reveals many techniques of technical filmmaking and discusses working on kaiju films (and especially provides insight on director Ishir˘ Honda). He addresses editorial differences between the versions and attempts to explain (with marginal success) the giant octopus issue. He is also to be commended, as the lighting and special effects on this film, while not totally perfect by today's standards, are excellent for the time.
I highly recommend this set to fans of kaiju, and to people who just want to watch a great and unusual Japanese sci-fi picture from the 1960's.