Jun Fukuda and special effects wiz Nakano Teruyoshi, the creators of several Seventies’ Godzilla epics, comes Toho Studios’ 1977 interstellar adventure, The War In Space (Wakusei Daisenso).
Star Wars cash-in, the final film owes as much to Gerry Anderson’s television shows UFO and Space: 1999 and the Japanese studios’ own Sixties sci-fi thrillers Atragon and Battle in Outer Space as it does to George Lucas’ intergalactic epic.
Ghoten. Once launched, the ship and its crew head for Venus, to counterattack the aliens. Along the way, the only female crewmember (lovely Yuko Asano) is kidnapped by the green-skinned, Roman-helmeted alien leader and his horned wookie, UFOs engage in high-speed dogfights with the Earth fighters above the barren Venusian landscape, and space ships explode impressively.
Ghoten features a huge drill bit (shades of Atragon!) and cool, giant revolvers that fire missiles and are also used to launch sleek, one-man fighters. The UFOs are original and unique. Made on a fraction of Star Wars’ budget, The War in Space demonstrates that ingenuity and imagination can carry the day even when money’s tight.
Discotek Media released The War in Space for the first time on U.S. home video (I believe) on DVD with a brilliant 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, completely restored and remastered. Audio options included both the original Japanese language track and an English dub, presented in both the original mono and in a newly created 5.1 remix. The Japanese track is preferable, as it’s stronger and more robust. Discotek also included a bevy of cool bonus features, including a fascinating video interview with special effects director Nakano Teruyoshi, the original theatrical trailer, an extensive still gallery, and an informative booklet that includes poster art, spaceship design sketches and liner notes.
Fantastic Films magazine. It took almost 30 years, but I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a terrific presentation of a great old-fashioned space opera, and I recommend it highly.