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When Horror Came to Shochiku

 

The X from Outer Space (1967)                   Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell (1968)

The Living Skeleton (1968)                    Genocide (1968)

 

Following years of a certain radioactive rubber beast’s domination of the box office, many Japanese studios tried to replicate the formula with their own brands of monster movies. One of the most fascinating dives into that fiendish deep end was the short-lived one from Shochiku, a studio better known for its elegant dramas by the likes of Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu. In 1967 and 1968, the company created four certifiably batty, low-budget fantasies, tales haunted by watery ghosts, plagued by angry insects, and stalked by aliens—including one in the form of a giant chicken-lizard. Shochiku’s outrageous and oozy horror period shows a studio leaping into the unknown, even if only for one brief, bloody moment.

Titles

 

 


 

The X from Outer Space
Kazui Nihonmatsu 1967
When a crew of scientists returns from Mars with a sample of the space spores that contaminated their ship, they inadvertently bring about a nightmarish earth invasion.

Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell
Hajime Sato 1968
After an airplane is forced to crash-land in a remote area, its passengers find themselves face-to-face with an alien force that wants to possess them body and soul—and perhaps take over the entire human race.

The Living Skeleton
Hiroshi Matsuno 1968
In this atmospheric tale of revenge from beyond the watery grave, a pirate-ransacked freighter’s violent past comes back to haunt a young woman living in a seaside town.

Genocide
Kazui Nihonmatsu 1968
The insects are taking over in this nasty piece of disaster horror directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu. A group of military personnel transporting a hydrogen bomb are left to figure out how and why swarms of killer bugs took down their plane. 

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1967 - 1968

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse 37: When Horror Came to Shochiku (4-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:28:15, 1:24:06, 1:20:24 and 1:24:18
Bitrate:  The X From Outer Space
 
Bitrate: Goke, The Body Snatcher From Hell
 
Bitrate: The Living Skeleton
 
Bitrate: Genocide
 
Audio Japanese (original mono) - optional English DUB on The X From Outer Space
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 2.35:1

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date:
November 20th, 2012
4 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box
Chapters:
12, 19, 17, 16

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 4 main features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above and below) they are not sold separately, by Criterion, at this time. Although have seen some DVD covers by other companies of a couple of the films - I believe these particular NTSC editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series 37 package at present. I am unaware of any reputable English-friendly editions available elsewhere - although I won't deny that they exist.

All four DVDs are single-layered. They are also progressive in their original, approximate, 2,35 aspect ratios. The X From Outer Space is the only one with any issues as it is soft, pictureboxed and shows some sporadic, inconsistent, combing. The rest are acceptable although not stellar with the only black and white film The Living Skeleton looking the strongest.

The sound is original Japanese mono - imperfect but without major issues and The X From Outer Space offers an optional English DUB that maintains the campy nostalgia of the presentation. The dialogue is clear enough and audible - I noted a couple of instances of minor hiss, but overall it is supporting the films well enough to enjoy them for what they are worth. There are optional English subtitles (font samples below).

Bitrates are reasonably strong ranging in and around high 6.0's-7.5 Mbps for the transfers.

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover there are no supplements - as typical for Eclipse.

I know there are MANY 'B' film fans that will appreciate this package as Eclipse are continuing with their mission statement although the term 'classic' might be debatable here: "...a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer."

This set won't be for everyone... but is right up my alley. I often thought of Nobuhiko Obayashi's House although without as many effects. The X From Outer Space and Genocide are quite poor as straight films but in a 'so-bad-it's-good' way. The Living Skeleton is somewhat more polished but Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell was my favorite of the package (best title I've heard in a while too!) These can get downright goofy but remain highly amusing. The quality is not stellar but this may also be a reflection of the source and meagerness of the productions. Wires and marginal effects are frequently visible - but this, and the many scream queens, too can add to the charm. I had a hoot - and for the right audience, who knows what they are in for, we can certainly recommend!

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus



 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

When a crew of scientists returns from Mars with a sample of the space spores that contaminated their ship, they inadvertently bring about a nightmarish earth invasion. After one of the spores is analyzed in a lab, it escapes, eventually growing into an enormous, rampaging beaked beast. An intergalactic monster movie from longtime Shochiku stable director Kazui Nihonmatsu, The X from Outer Space was the first in the studio’s short but memorable cycle of horror pictures.

 

Screen Captures

 

The X from Outer Space (1967) aka 'Uchū daikaijū Girara'

 

Directed by RKazui Nihonmatsu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

After an airplane is forced to crash-land in a remote area, its passengers find themselves face-to-face with an alien force that wants to possess them body and soul—and perhaps take over the entire human race. Filled with creatively repulsive effects—including a very invasive bloblike life-form—Hajime Sato’s Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell is a pulpy, apocalyptic gross-out.

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Goke, The Body Snatcher From Hell (1968) aka Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro

 

Directed by Hajime Sato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

In this atmospheric tale of revenge from beyond the watery grave, a pirate-ransacked freighter’s violent past comes back to haunt a young woman living in a seaside town. Mixing elements of kaidan (ghost stories), doppelganger thrillers, and mad- scientist movies, Hiroshi Matsuno’s The Living Skeleton is a wild and eerie work, with beautiful widescreen, black-and-white cinematography.

 

 

Screen Captures

 

The Living Skeleton (1968) aka 'Kyūketsu dokuro-sen'

 

Directed by Hiroshi Matsuno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

The insects are taking over in this nasty piece of disaster horror directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu. A group of military personnel transporting a hydrogen bomb are left to figure out how and why swarms of killer bugs took down their plane; the answer is more deliriously nihilistic—and convoluted—than you could imagine. Also known as War of the Insects, Genocide enacts a cracked doomsday scenario like no other.

 

Screen Captures

 

Genocide (1968) aka 'Konchū daisensō'

 

Directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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