Frankenstein vs. Baragon
– the ability to look very Japanese despite being apparently Caucasian
– a brow to rival Boris Karloff
– a toothy smile
– caveman attire
– Furankenshutain manages to make himself a lovely fur caveman outfit; not sure where he sourced the materials
– accidentally killing people
With Toho’s Frankenstein vs. Baragon (known outside of Japan as Frankenstein Conquers the World – a title that makes no sense whatsoever; at no point does Frankenstein “conquer” the world or even attempt to), we are given the gift of a Japanese Frankenstein’s monster. (I should point out, while Frankenstein’s monster is initially referred to as “Frankenstein’s monster”, it’s not long before “monster” is dropped and he becomes simply “Frankenstein”. Or “Furankenshutain”, to be exact.) The mere thought of Toho – the studio behind Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and every giant monster outside of Gamera worth a damn – presenting a Frankenstein film is enough to give any kaijū fanboy a heart attack. The first question your typical kaijū fanboy may ask is: “so, does Furankenshutain become gigantic in this or what?” The answer to that, my friends, is a big fucking yes! That’s right, folks. We have a movie with a Frankenstein’s monster bigger than a house battling another giant flipping monster. And not just any monster, it’s Toho’s own Baragon! If that’s not enough to make you feel weak at the knees, let’s talk about Toho’s insane rendering of Furankenshutain.
Furankenshutain is ridiculous. Clearly modeled on the classic Karloff monster, Furankenshutain has all the features you’d expect, outside of the Universal owned neck bolts, only much, much bigger. But what of the history of this over-sized monster? Surprisingly, Toho kind of follows the continuity set by the Universal films. (The book, as always, is ignored.) Here is a little biography of Furankenshutain laid out by Wikizilla:
Frankenstein (フランケンシュタイン, Furankenshutain) was a creature created originally by Victor Frankenstein who was able to bring the creature of his own making to life, only for it to bring about his death. He was killed in a burning windmill, although, according to Toho Studios, his heart remained alive and was shipped to Japan, where it regenerated a body for itself and terrorized the countryside and later faced off against Baragon.
Yes, Furankenshutain begins as a still beating heart in Frankenstein vs. Baragon. He appears out of the ruins of Hiroshima; a body regenerated with help from the radioactivity left by the atomic bomb. The addition of radioactivity to the Frankenstein tale allows Toho to do what they were clearly dying to do from the beginning: make Furankenshutain giant. Furankenshutain is a gentle idiot, but is easily worked up into in a violent panic; usually from camera flashes. He is locked away in a cell by some supposedly caring scientists, but it’s not long before he breaks out, killing a few innocent photographers in his path.
Let me be honest with you, Frankenstein vs. Baragon, despite being directed by Godzilla‘s Ishirō Honda, is far from Toho’s finest. In fact, for the most part, it’s pretty dull and long-winded. The kaijū action is minimal and Baragon’s screen time is quite pathetic. Much of the movie is constructed from scenes of Furankenshutain panicking and running away from people and scenes of scientists discussing the ethics of killing Furankenshutain. But, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, Frankenstein vs. Baragon has one thing going for it. It’s stupid, stupid concept. Not many movies can survive on a concept alone. But “giant Frankenstein fights giant monster” allows enough steam to keep Frankenstein vs. Baragon chugging along.
The fight scenes in Frankenstein vs. Baragon are lackluster when compared to some of Toho’s respectable efforts. But they are still pretty darn hilarious. Lots of flipping, jumping, things catching on fire and grunting fills the screen when Furankenshutain battles the cartoonish Baragon. For those not bothered to see the whole movie, here are the fight scene highlights: