Blu-ray Review: Warning From Space

After the success of Godzilla in Japan and foreign countries, other Japanese movie studios realized there was a market for science fiction movies. While we think of Daiei as making Gamera as their response, the giant turtle didn’t arrive until 1965 which was 11 years after Godzilla first stomped Tokyo. Turns out Daiei’s first shot at science fiction came in 1956 with Warning From Space (released as Spacemen Appear In Tokyo). Instead of a reptile destroying real estate, their new threat was a planet buster. Warning From Space gave a twist on Hollywood’s alien invasion films too. However this warning wouldn’t arrive in the United States until 1963 when it got picked up by American International Pictures for their TV distribution arm. Now both the Japanese original cut and the AIP recut are part of the Blu-ray of Warning From Space.

On Earth people have been seeing strange lights on Earth. There’s suspicion that it’s UFOs, but nobody has any solid evidence. Even Dr. Toru Itsobe (Keizô Kawasaki) at the observatory is unsure what’s really happening. They see lights through the telescope, but can’t define the objects. He won’t say either way to his journalist pal. Although a nearby kid swears he’ll get a photo of them to prove it’s UFOs. It turns out to really be UFOs except the aliens aren’t looking to stay a secret. The aliens are star shaped with an eye in their middle. They know this appearance won’t go over well with Earthlings so they transform one of them to look like famous singer Hikari Aozora (Toyomi Karita). After she makes contact, she delivers her message to the planet. Instead of the usual “we are your new rulers” speech, it turns out the aliens want to warn the Earth that something big is coming straight at the planet and you might want to something about it. Amazingly enough, people are very suspicious of the aliens. Instead of taking the warning seriously, they think it’s some sort of scam. Maybe it is a scam or maybe people are just stupid? We’ll find out at the end of the movie.

Warning From Space is entertaining because it doesn’t give us the normal space alien design. This isn’t a bunch of people with ping pong balls over their eyes and a few antennas. The starfish shows they aren’t even humanoid. You might not even notice the biggest special effect in the film. It was filmed in color at a time when black and white was the norm for science fiction films. You’ll appreciate being able to see parts of Tokyo in full color. You might nerd out to getting to see the details in the various shops and bars in the film. If you enjoyed Arrow Video’s boxset of Gamera, you’ll want to add Warning From Space to your video shelf.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer looks so much better than previous releases on DVD. The color shows off life in Tokyo during this time. The audio is PCM Mono in the original Japanese. The movie is in subtitled in English. But you can always watch the American cut to hear the English dub.

Audio commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo! He gives a sense of the history of the film and the people in the movie. This is scene specific and ends after 65 minutes.

American Version (88:02) is the first-ever HD transfer of the American release version of the film. They restored the original English dub track. The English audio track was done by Titra Sound Studios so you’ll hear Speed Racer voices. The movie is subtitled in English.

Theatrical trailers includes the Teaser trailer (2:28) and Theatrical Trailer (3:05). They build up the action as a News Flash in the teaser.

Image Gallery (8:00) are still photos and promotional pics.

Arrow Video presents Warning From Space. Directed by: Koji Shima. Screenplay by: Hideo Oguni. Starring:
Keizo Kawasaki, Toyomi Karita, Bin Yagasawa, Shozo Nanbu, Bontarô Miyake, Mieko Nagai, Kiyoko Hirai & Isao Yamagata. Running Time: 87 minutes. Released: October 20, 2020.

Tags: , ,