• Krieg im Weltenraum (Battle In Outer Space)

    Released by: Anolis Entertainment
    Released on: August 18th, 2017.
    Director: Ishirô Honda
    Cast: Ryô Ikebe, Kyôko Anzai, Minoru Takada
    Year: 1959

    The Movie:

    Directed by Ishirô Honda “in Toho-scope” in 1959 (but set in the future of 1965!), Battle In Outer Space opens with a sequence in which a trio of alien spacecraft approach one of Earth’s space stations. Its inhabitants know something is up, so they fire at the ships, but it has no effect. When the ships return fire, the space station is obliterated! A short time later, on Earth, a train is destroyed when one of those same ships lifts up a bridge, causing a crash. Clearly aliens are out to get us.

    A few more accidents occur in other countries, causing the United Nations to hold an emergency meeting in Tokyo’s Space Research Center. Here various scientists try to make sense of this mess, but they become distracted when India’s Dr. Achmed (Malcom Pearce) becomes hypnotized by something, walks away from his station and then just disappears into thin air. Thankfully Japan’s own Major Katsumiya (Ryo Ikebe) and his team have just finished their experimental laser heat ray, but things get complicated when Achmed returns out of nowhere and throws various experiments into disarray.

    Around this time, strange distress signals are picked up, coming from the Moon. At this point it’s clear that the Earth must do something – and so Dr. Atachi (Koreya Senda) and Dr. Richardson (Leonard Stanford) are put in charge of a pair of spaceships, armed with a few laser heat rays and sent out into space to investigate those strange signals. Things go from bad to worse when one of the crew members, Iwoura (Yoshi Tsuchiya), falls under control of the aliens and starts sabotaging things, which causes the ships to have to land on the Moon. When they do, they soon learn of its inhabitants – aliens from the planet Natal who have setup a base - and their dastardly plans!

    While there isn’t much in the way of character development and most of the film is populated by pretty standard sci-fi movie clichés, Battle In Outer Space is still very much a worthwhile film. Why? The effects work. There’s a lot of it here and if you have any appreciation for miniature work and good old fashion practical effects, you’ll find plenty to appreciate here. None of it is all that convincing, mind you – there’s a scene late in the film where some ‘explosions’ make the stars that are clearly lights on wires in the background shake and vibrate – but it’s all really cool looking and remarkably creative. Not only do we get scenes of rampant destruction that rival what Toho was doing in the Godzilla movies in the sixties but we get all the requisite scenes of space travel, we get a ray gun versus moon base battle, plenty of laser attacks and plenty of neat old school optical effects too (a good example of that being Archmed’s disappearing act).

    The movie is reasonably quick in its pacing. After the opening attack scenes things slow down just a bit while the scientists try to figure out what to do and while the cast of characters is introduced, but once we get past that part and onto the mission itself, there’s plenty of quirky action to take in. Anolis offers both the Japanese version of the movie as well the North American version of the film.


    Both cuts of Battle In Outer Space arrive on Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that looks quite good on a 50GB disc. There’s some minor print damage here and there but it’s small stuff, white speckles and what not, rather than large distracting scratches. Colors are generally reproduced quite nicely and black levels are solid. Detail and texture are quite good and there are no problems with any obvious compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction.

    For the longer cut of the film German and Japanese language tracks are provided in DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with subtitles provided in German only. There are no English audio or subtitles options available for the longer cut of the film. The shorter version, however, includes German and English language DTS-HD Mono tracks with optional German subtitles. The English track is clean, clear and properly balanced and the film’s score and unusual selection of sound effects come through nicely here.

    Extras on the Blu-ray disc include two audio commentary tracks, the first with Dr. Rolf Giesen and Jörg M. Jedner and the second with Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski. The first track is in German with no subtitles, the second track is carried over from the Sony DVD release that came out in North America some years ago. It’s quite an interesting talk that puts this movie into context alongside other Toho sci-fi films of the period, talks up Honda’s directing style, offers insight into the contributions of the cast and crew members and quite a bit more. Also included on the Blu-ray disc is a German theatrical trailer, three separate still galleries, a seven minute long Super 8 version of the movie, menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release, a DVD version containing both cuts (and the same language options) and the extras from the Blu-ray disc is also included.

    Also packaged with the two discs is a sixteen page color insert booklet containing a German language essay on the film.

    The Final Word:

    Battle In Outer Space is pretty great stuff, a sci-fi epic that could only have come out of the Japanese film industry of the late fifties that features some great miniature work, a colorful cast of characters and some impressive set pieces. Anolis’ Blu-ray release is a good one – it’s just a shame that it isn’t 100% English friendly (though this won’t be a problem for their native German market!).

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!