Invasion of Astro-Monster
This reviewer never saw Invasion of Astro-Monster (aka Monster Zero aka Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero etc.) in a theater -- it dates from a time when the Japanese giant monster movies began to recede in visibility, and was the first such title that we could only ever catch up with on television, years after its original release (in fact, after the death of its American star, Nick Adams). Thus, it wasn't until Scimitar put it out on DVD in the late 1990's that we got to see it in widescreen; and while that transfer was a considerable improvement over any prior release, the 2007 Classic Media DVD at hand is significantly better, still. Indeed, the latter actually looks superior to the preceding Godzilla film, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, which Classic Media issued issued concurrently with this disc. As with this entire DVD series of Japanese giant monster films, the disc contains both the US and Japanese editions of the movie (the latter with optional subtitles), as well as a bunch of extras. The movie looks good enough that it would be worth buying in this edition, in any case, but the commentary track by Stuart Galbraith IV is an extremely valuable bonus feature. Galbraith's discussion delves into the differences between the two editions, as well as the origins and evolution of the project, and also provides some long-neglected insights into the personal side of director Ishiro Honda and biographical accounts of the actors. A documentary on producer Tomoyuki Tanaka is the other major bonus feature, and it's a finely detailed, beautifully written and produced, affectionate tribute to the man behind Godzilla and the origins of the entire genre of Japanese giant monster movies. The letterboxed (2.35-to-1) transfers of the two editions of the film are good to look at, and the US edition is far superior to prior releases of this title (while the Japanese version is unique to this release). The sound is particularly crisp and mastered at a good, healthy volume on both versions of the film. The disc opens with an enjoyable array of trailers for other Japanese giant monster films, before going to a menu that is is great fun to use, in addition to being very easy to maneuver around. Both versions of the movie get a dozen chapters, and the original trailers are included for each edition.