April 20, 2001
I remember being in 3rd grade and getting a series of books about movie monsters. It was the whole Troll book order thing, which gave us those glorious days when you would walk into the classroom and see that bigbox of books you knew contained your Empire Strikes Back storybook and your humorous posters of chimpanzees saying things like "Go Bananas!" or "Bless This Mess." That was great stuff, rivaled in adult life only bythe rare arrival of a box from UPS. Anyway, it was a four book set. One book was all about the Wolfman, the other all about vampires, the third about the woefully underused mummy, and the fourth sort of a free-for-all celebration of on-screen creatures. I'd become a horror and sci-fi fan by age five, and even at that early age, I was staying up past midnight in order to catch a glimpse of the Wolfman or any other monster on WHAS-11's Memories of Monsters show. And Sunday afternoon was Japanese monster day, of course, and I sat back with a bowl full of Count Chocula and watched Godzilla kick a little booty. It was in the fourth book, which had a fair amount of material on Godzilla, that I first saw a photo from The Mysterians. It was a collage of the Mysterian invaders, lasers, tanks, and the giant Mogera robot. I didn't know much about it, but from the promotional still, it looked like the greatest movie ever made, at least through my eight year old eyes. Well, years later I finally saw it, and while it most certainly isn't the greatest movie ever made, it's still a fine space adventure that puts a smile on my face. The action centers around a mysterious fire and a disappearing scientist. Investigators soon learn that the scientist is working with The Mysterians, a group of space aliens who wear helmets and want to live on Earth. They request a few square miles and the right to buy human women and use them to interbreed with. Whoa there, bucko! If science fiction the world over has taught us one thing, it's that you don't go messin' with Earth women. Nothing gets a red-blooded human male's fightin' dander up quite like a race of alienswho have come to take our women away. When the humans explain that they will not let the Mysterians have the women, the aliens shrug, say "Fuck y'all!" and launch an all-out offensive against Earth. Their first weapon is that Mogera robot, which I always thought would play some major role or something, seeing how it was on every damn piece of promotional material I found for the movie. Turns out it shows up,waddles around for a few minutes, melts some tanks, and then gets pushed into the river. I guess the Mysterians only brought the one Mogera, because that's the last we see of it. But they have heat rays and stuff, so all is not lost. Once again, humanity bands together to fend off the aggressive aliens who want to take our women. The whole "interbreeding" thing is left-over fromxenophobic science fiction of the Cold War heyday, when Americans were afraid of foreigners coming in and polluting the gene pool by intermingling with fine white women. Only a fool would claim that Japandidn't harbor the same attitude toward outsiders. I really think here it's more of a simple plot device than an actual political statement, but I could be wrong. By the time The Mysterians was made, the political undertones had been pretty much lost, though theplot remained a staple of science fiction. The final verdict is a positive one. A fun story, lots of sci-fi action,and top-notch effects make for a thoroughly enjoyable Saturday afternoon. Once again, effects maestro Eiji Tsubaraya dominates his time with incredible miniature work and the requisite "city in ruins" stuffthat he does so well. In the end, the Mysterians beat a hasty retreat, and the nations of the world learn they must stay united in order to prevent more alien races from pushing us around.